What About Holidays, S Jaishankar Explains How It’s Like To Work With PM Narendra Modi

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Foreign Minister S Jaishankar says staying fit is key to surviving a busy schedule

New Delhi:

An old viral post by Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extremely tight work schedule, from his official visits abroad to how many hours he sleeps and meetings he attends in how much time, has now been explained with more details by the Foreign Minister in an interview to NDTV.

So how does an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer manage holidays – or find time to play golf – when working with such a boss?

“First of all, I don’t play golf,” Mr Jaishannkar told NDTV, and smiled.

“In a way it’s just an image, that diplomats do these things… You have to find different ways of taking a break. We are not machines,” Mr Jaishankar said.

“You have to stay physically fit. In a year I go abroad some 30-40 times. Forget other things, the least you need is fitness. You get down from a plane, and the next day you are again going somewhere far,” he said.

“Every morning, I spend an hour either playing squash, badminton, if not by stretching. I do something at least that keeps me fit. I listen to music, reading. For me, I have always been interested in the world. That’s why I joined the foreign service. Travel also in a way is calming, and you observe many things,” Mr Jaishankar said.

“But going for a holiday for a week or two, that’s not possible in Modi sarkar. We knew it from the start. It is not only the situation for ministers. Even when I was a secretary it was not possible to take leave for many days. So you have to find different ways of handling things. Sometimes, people tell me ‘I saw you on TV, you looked tired’. What can I say? If you’re jet-lagged, you look like that,” he said.

India’s foreign policy has fully transformed in the past 10 years under PM Modi, and there are many markers in the journey so far that highlight this face, Mr Jaishankar told NDTV.

He has just published a book, ‘Why Bharat Matters’, which he said acknowledged the word “Bharat” as a “mindset”, an “approach”.

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