A day after US President Joe Biden claimed that several countries, including India, are “xenophobic” because they do not welcome immigrants, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today rejected the remarks.

Speaking to The Economic Times, Mr Jaishankar highlighted that India has always been open and welcoming to people from diverse societies.

The US President, in his remarks, also alleged that India’s economy was faltering and not doing well, while the US economy was growing. Rejecting President Biden’s claims, Mr Jaishankar made it clear, “First of all, our economy is not faltering.”

Mr Jaishankar’s statement is based on the fact that India has been the fastest-growing major economy in the world for the last few years, while also becoming the fifth-largest global economy last year. India is also poised to become the world’s third-largest economy before the end of the decade.

On May 2, President Biden had said “You know, one of the reasons why our economy is growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants. We look to the reason (behind this)…think about it. Why is China stalling so badly economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they’re xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants.”

The US President said this while campaigning for his re-election for the US Presidency at a fundraising event in Washington.

Responding to the claim on “xenophobia”, Mr Jaishankar said, “India has always been a very unique country… I would say actually, in the history of the world, that it’s been a society which has been very open… different people from different societies come to India.”

Mr Jaishankar gave an example of the Citizenship Amendment Act, more popularly called CAA, in making his point. He highlighted how the CAA, introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, showcases India’s welcoming approach.

“That’s why we have the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), which is to open up doors for people who are in trouble… I think we should be open to people who have the need to come to India, who have a claim to come to India,” Mr Jaishankar said.

Mr Jaishankar also spoke about the narrative created by a section of the western media and backed it with an example of the ongoing protests at US universities.

Mr Jaishankar spoke about the ongoing anti-Israel protests in American university campuses and criticised a section of the Western media for its biased coverage, suggesting that it is “very ideological” and not at all “objective” reporting. He said that this section of media wants to shape the global narrative and has been targeting India as well.

To curb the diplomatic fallout of President Biden’s remarks terming India, Japan, and other nations, “xenophobic,” the White House issued a clarification on the President’s intentions, emphasising his “respect” for allies and partners.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre asserted that the President’s comments were part of a broader message emphasising the strength derived from America’s immigrant heritage. She stressed that Biden’s focus remains on bolstering diplomatic relationships with nations such as India and Japan, evident in his actions over the past three years.

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“Obviously, we have a strong relationship with, India, with Japan, and the President if you just look at the last three years has certainly focused on those diplomatic relationships,” she said.

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