Two episodes in the first week of June starkly illustrate both the promise of Indian foreign policy and the pitfalls it faces as a result of the country’s increasingly toxic domestic political culture.

The promise lay in a response by India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to a question posed by an interviewer at the GLOBSEC 2022 forum in Bratislava, Slovakia, which focused on the Ukraine war. Jaishankar’s response resonated so powerfully that it quickly went viral, not just in India, but also in Europe and many other countries. Anecdotal evidence abounds of Iranians and Arabs extensively forwarding video clips of the exchange, subtitled in their own languages. Some international commentators even called it, albeit with some hyperbole, “India’s coming-of-age moment.”

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