Captain Modi gives his bowlers certain freedom: Jaishankar


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a cricket team captain and said he gave his bowlers a certain amount of freedom while expecting them to take wickets.
Jaishankar said Modi’s knack of taking tough decisions was also on display when India decided to announce the lockdown after the outbreak of Covid, step up production of vaccines, roll out an inoculation programme and help countries in need of vaccines.
“With Captain Modi, there is a lot of net practice. The net practice starts at six o’clock in the morning and goes on till fairly late,” Jaishankar said during an interactive session at the Raisina Dialogue with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen.
The external affairs minister said captain Modi also gave a certain latitude to his colleagues and trusted them to deal with a particular situation. “If you have a particular bowler you have trust in or you have seen perform, you would give them the latitude, you throw the ball to them at the right moment. You trust them to deal with that particular situation,” he said.
“In that sense, Captain Modi does give his bowlers a certain amount of freedom. He expects you to take that wicket, if he gives you the chance to do it,” Jaishankar said.
He also recalled watching the prime minister take tough decisions when the Covid pandemic broke out three years back.
“All of us, if we look back for the past three years, the decision to lockdown was a very very tough decision. But, it had to be taken at that point of time. If we now look back, what would have happened if we had not taken that decision,” Jaishankar said.
The minister recalled how he had worked closely with Blair to ensure supply of raw materials for production of AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccines.
Jaishankar said another tough call was to send vaccines to nearly 100 countries when there was a lot of questioning within the country.
“It was a tough call. Whether it is sports or any competitive situation it is the willingness to take the difficult call, stand by those calls, give the people the confidence that you will stand by them when they take the risks. This is all about competition and leadership,” the minister said.
Responding to a question on India emerging as a bigger economy than Britain and its dominance in the English sport of cricket as indications towards reversal of power, Jaishankar said, “I would call it rebalancing.”
“I would also say it is history which is switch-hitting. It’s hitting the other way. But seriously, in history, you have these ups and downs. It’s not often that actually, countries get a second or third bite at the apple,” he said.
Jaishankar said India was in an unusual situation as it was once more a very decisively upwardly mobile nation, which a lot of other civilisation states, barring one, are not anymore in a position to do.
“Where the UK is concerned, it is a very complex relationship. The most popular film in India last year was RRR and this had to do with the British era and just I would like to put it delicately ‘you weren’t the nice guys in the movie’,” he said referring to his co-panelists Blair and Pietersen.
“The fact is when you have this kind of complex history there would be the down side of it. There would be suspicions, there would be these unresolved problems at the same time there would be bonds, there would be similarities, and cricket happens to be one of them,” he said.

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