Known for metaphors to describe complex situations, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid today compared India with legendary boxer Muhammad Ali who tired his adversaries and then with a single left hook, floored them.
Maintaining that India has the history that if someone wants to take a few blows at it, the country will be able to withstand them, he said, "All we should know is how to protect the face, how to protect the muscle that we would need to strike back."
"I think in South Asia we see ourselves (India) as a little bit like Ali of those days which should be. We should know that we have the strength, we have the stamina, we have the bulk, that we have the presence, the reputation and we have the history that if someone wants to take a few blows at us we will be able to withstand them," said Khurshid.
He was addressing the inaugural session of an 'International Conference on Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation in South Asia: Trends, Challenges and Prospects'.
"We can't go into a battle with everybody, we can go into battle of wits, we can go into battle of offering something better and greater and expect this. When I went to Africa I had said this, we have special charms and we have special abilities and this is true about all of South Asia.
"We have special charms and special abilities that we somehow seem to overlook when we continue to worry about competition of different nature. Competition is good and we should have competition," said Khurshid.
The Minister said that for him, "Today, India needs to pick from the life of Ali. When Ali was young and very swift on his feat and perhaps didn't had the burden of reputation and a long career...
"He used to be very provocative towards his adversaries and he used to write little poems and there was one poem which stuck my mind in which he challenged his adversary psychologically by saying, 'I dance like a butterfly and I sting like a bee, your arms can hit but eyes can't see, I am Muhammad Ali', and that was it. That is how he went into battle," Khurshid said.
Many many years later when he was far more experienced but little bit slower fighting much younger men than he was, he couldn't do all that, the minister said. "So what he used to do was that he has this something called a rope-a-dope trick in which he used to go back to the rope and say come hit me and invite his younger opponents to come and start hitting him. "But he was so strong and he had so much stamina that they would tire themselves out trying to hit him and then one single left hook was all that it would take to floor him. That is how Ali went on from greatness to greatness to even greater greatness," he said.