“Bharat is a statement of independence”: Jaishankar emphasises building strong ‘Bharat’ narrative

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New Delhi [India], December 4: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday underscored the importance of building a comprehensive narrative for ‘Bharat’, asserting, “Bharat is a statement of independence.”
In an address during the ‘Knowledge India Visitors Programme’ organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the EAM expressed his gratitude for the ICCR’s initiative and commended the dedication of the participants to India.
Jaishankar began by shedding light on the diverse symbolism of the term ‘Bharat’ in various domains.
“The subject, which I thought would be appropriate at this time, is building a Bharat narrative, because in many ways that is exactly what is happening in India. Now, what does it mean to build a Bharat narrative?” said Jaishankar.
“People sometimes see it as politics; sometimes they look at the word play and think that this is some kind of linguistic message but if you really look at the term Bharat, it today actually has multiple symbolisms in different domains,” he added.
The EAM emphasised that beyond politics and linguistic nuances, ‘Bharat’ holds economic significance, encapsulated in the concept of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat.’ This, he noted, reflects resilience, self-sufficiency, and the expression of talent.
“Economically, we would speak about Aatmanirbhar Bharat. So it has a connotation of a certain, resilience, a certain self-sufficiency, a contribution, a talent out there, which is expressing itself,” he also said.
Developmentally, Jaishankar pointed out that ‘Bharat’ signifies a commitment to creating an inclusive, just, and fair society, ensuring that no one is left behind–a true test of development.
“Developmentally today, when we speak about Bharat, it also implies a commitment to creating an inclusive, just, fair society where no one is left behind and that is actually, in many ways, the true test of development,” he added.
Jaishankar also said that politically, Bharat affirms that India’s engagement with the world need not adhere strictly to external frameworks but should allow the nation’s unique personality and qualities to shine.
“Politically, Bharat is a statement of independence. It is a declaration that as India engages the world, it doesn’t have to be done necessarily in terms set by others or in frameworks determined by others; our objective in that engagement is in many ways to actually let our own personality and qualities come out,” the EAM said.
In terms of culture, ‘Bharat’ encompasses languages, traditions, heritage, and practices. Jaishankar highlighted the global image India aspires to project–a ‘Vishwamitra,’ a friend that steps up in crucial moments, defying conventional expectations in international relations.
“And then there is, of course, the cultural domain. When we speak about Bharat, we could be speaking about our languages, our traditions, our heritage, and our practices. And when it comes to the world, really, the Bharat that we seek to set the narrative about is a Bharat that would like to be perceived as a ‘Vishwamitra’, as a friend, which at crucial moments has really stepped up in a way that countries and societies normally don’t do in international relations,” he added.
Reflecting on India’s role on the global stage, Jaishankar cited the success of India’s G20 presidency. He emphasised India’s ability to bridge gaps between the East and West, North and South, showcasing a culture that harmonises amidst a deeply divided world.
“At the G20, we did it with a cause and commitment for the global South… During the G20, we showed a culture that can harmonise. At a time when the world is so deeply divided, not everybody expected us to succeed in our G20 presidency. We were able to find a bridge between the East and the West and the North and the South,” said EAM Jaishankar.
Jaishankar further outlined India’s ambitious vision for the future–an ‘Amrit Kaal,’ a 25-year plan focused on addressing historical challenges and establishing a significant position in the international order.
“Bharat today is linked to how we look ahead. Typically, governments look at the term that awaits them. The thinking of a government runs from an election to an election. And in that country, at best, that is a 5-year plan that you can have. Today, we are talking about an Amrit Kaal. A 25-year vision where we actually think that we will see a remarkable transformation in our country. We will be able to address a lot of historical problems while establishing our place in the international order,” he also said.
Minister for Ports, Shipping Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal, inaugurated the ICCR’s ‘Knowledge India Visitors Programme’.
During his inaugural address, the minister highlighted the global achievements of the Ministry of Ayush in promoting traditional medicine.
MoS for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakashi Lekhi, also addressed the programme. She said, “If we go back to the knowledge systems, we will find far more in common in the world than the differences, everybody is connected.”
The ICCR-organised ‘Knowledge-India Visitors’ Programme’ brought together over 80 eminent academicians, mainly heads of departments teaching subjects of Indian Knowledge Systems, in Delhi from December 4 to 6.
This initiative of ICCR fosters cross-cultural dialogue, aiming to elevate the standard of higher learning in Indian knowledge systems on a global scale.

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