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Why should nationalism be defensive

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New Delhi, Feb 29: The rise of nationalism is one of the "defining characteristics" of present era, and countries need not be "defensive" about it, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

He was speaking at the 6th India Ideas Conclave on the theme of "New India: Turning to Roots, Rising to Heights.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

"The rise of nationalism is one of the defining characteristics of our current era. It has expressed itself in many different forms across various geographies, many with visible democratic validation," he said.

Among its "obvious examples" are current politics in the United States, emergence of China, Brexit and "the return of Russia to the arena of great power politics", he said.

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India's world view is now "more global, not less", and on issues such as climate change, radicalization, counter- terrorism, and pandemics, the country's contribution "is making a difference", he said.

While understanding the rise of nationalism, all nationalisms should not "painted with the same brush" as it then makes it easy to "demonize" some countries, he said.

"But as we have seen with China or Russia, nationalism need not be defensive. It could constitute a claim for a greater role in global affairs or a revival of influence after years of being under pressure," Jaishankar said.

"...for large parts of the world, nationalism is a perfectly natural expression of discovering their roots and asserting their independence," the diplomat-turned-politician added.

"So where does all of this leave India?...it is today a polity which is demonstrating that the genuine spread of democracy will lead to the discovery of roots, heritage and traditions," the Union minister said.

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"Its growing capabilities and influence will clearly shape global rebalancing and determine multipolarity. As a civilizational power now making a comeback on the global stage, it will help create a different global cultural equilibrium," he said.

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