New Delhi: In a kind of testimony that Indian citizens and voters appreciate the work done by “technocrats” who have never indulged in electoral politics of any kind, Union Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar emerged as one the top rated ministers in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose second regime commenced in May 2019 with the surprise announcement of retired Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar as the Union External Affairs minister as a replacement for the late Sushma Swaraj who had retired from active politics by then.
This was revealed by a nationwide survey for IANS conducted by CVoter in the month of May, 2022 that included respondents from all age groups, all educational and economic backgrounds as well as ethnic identities.
The extremely high ratings given by ordinary Indians to Jaishankar also bursts the myth that the Indian voter is not concerned at all with foreign policy or strategic issues. While NDA supporters gave him a rating of 7.69, opposition voters gave him a rating of 6.31. While Jaishankar was rated as the fourth best performing minister by NDA supporters, the opposition voters placed him a notch higher at rank three.
While his predecessor Sushma Swaraj had acquired a formidable reputation for transforming the once distant and haughty diplomatic corps into a truly citizen friendly service with her frequent personal interventions via Twitter, Jaishankar has displayed polite nevre of steel while espousing the strategic national interests of India in a rapidly changing multi-polar world. Without being harsh or rude, Jaishankar has firmly told western governments and the media in various international forums that they have no right or moral authority to judge and lecture India. While this approach has upset many “old world” diplomats even in India, the average Indian voter clearly seems to think otherwise.
What has been surprising in the rating of Foreign Minister is that is he hardly a household name in terms of political standing. Probably it is the approval of Foreign Policies and performance of MEA that has been appreciated well by majority of Indians. This actually is even better considering that earlier only the big shot political names used to get top of the mind recall in performance evaluations. But the general public is now less interested in the name that is heading a certain ministry or department, and more in the actual output of that particular department.
Goes without saying that respondents with higher education levels and those who have better access to news and current affairs have rated Jaishankar better than other demographics, but it is heartening to see his name and ministry getting among the top-rated ones even by the less educated and low-income respondents. A technocrat’s performance in governance getting appreciated going beyond the elite sphere is something new that we haven’t come across in the past.