External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that Indian politics and the Indian cricket team are the two most inclusive examples and proof that democracy has deepened and it really works.
Jaishankar, in conversation with Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) Vice Chairman Rakesh Kaul, said that when he looks at the Indian Parliament, the cabinet, the people in politics, and also look at the cricket team, “you ask yourself, compare these people to where it was 20 years ago, maybe even 10 years or 30 years ago. How much narrower was our political class”.
“If you ask me the two most inclusive examples, proof that democracy has really deepened and it really works – to me one is Indian politics, the other is the Indian cricket team,” Jaishankar said, adding that this is not a facetious observation.
Jaishankar was responding to a question on inclusivity that is now being reflected in Indian democracy at a special book talk on “Modi@20: Dreams meet Delivery” organised by the IAAC on Thursday.
“And by the way, it’s no judgment. There were very talented people, many of them did splendid things and I’m not in any way doubting that. I’m making a basic observation that if you look today at the origins of people in politics, if you take even the Parliament of India as a representative sample, and say which towns they are from, where they studied, what was their background, what language are they most comfortable in, what are their social habits – it’s very, very different.” the minister said.
“That applies to the Indian cricket team as well,” he said.
To the suggestion that Modi brought about that change, Jaishankar said that “I would actually say Modi himself is a product of that change. The fact that someone like him has eventually become the prime minister of India itself shows how much the country has changed.”
Jaishankar said that he reads debates about how democracy is doing around the world and different people give labels to countries of their choice.
He said that in India the number of people who go to vote is continuously rising, and the number of women voting is rising even faster.
“Look at the integrity of the democratic processes. The fact that it’s a country where elections are respected. People win, people lose, nobody challenges the process,” he said amid laughter from the audience as he added that he is speaking only about India and they should not read anything more into it.
“My point is, I think we have a great deal to be proud of. Now, the results we throw up may not suit everybody. So there would be people who, as part of politics, will give it a twist and call it things. But I really think when you go around the world, and I do sometimes get these debates in other societies, ‘So are you optimistic about your politics? So where do you think your society is going?’ I think Indians are optimistic, and frankly, have a very good reason to be optimistic,” Jaishankar added.
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