Speaking on the "Agenda for Global Aspirations of India" at the India Ideas Conclave here, the former diplomat cited names of world leaders such as US president Donald Trump to state that the world was becoming increasingly nationalistic.
"In a world becoming increasingly nationalistic, you cannot play well without a strong nationalistic leader," he said.
Jaishankar stressed that India should continue to play its role in shaping the agenda on world issues like it did on environment pollution and terrorism.
He also asserted that India needs to make difficult choices on regional and international matters if it wants to realise its global aspirations.
"It is important for this country to behave differently, more decisively and punitively when the occasion warrants," he said when asked about how to deal with international transgressions, which some countries such Israel have done effectively.
The ex-foreign secretary said in past two years a "willingness" to deal with such matters was visible.
"Historically, we tend to be mistaken towards inaction. We tend to be in a difficult situation and then say the risks of action are so high, let us not do it and find a more engaging way. We are trying to get over it," he said.
The traditional concepts are no longer effective in guiding policy making, he said and added "world believes you if you live up to your aspirations".
"A country which can not protect itself or seen to be protecting itself and seen to be exacting a price from those who harm it... There is a credibility issue there," Jaishankar said.