According to Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, India’s various initiatives in the external affairs sector are aimed at preparing the country for the next 25 years (amrit kaal).
Delivering the 29th Leadership Lecture on ‘India in Amritkaal’ at the TA Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) in Udupi on Sunday, he said one way of preparing India is to start developing a global footprint.
Stating that global footprints do not happen overnight, he said that today India is in its immediate vicinity.
If India wants to look 25 years ahead, it has to think about where its interests are, where its people are, where its jobs are and where its services are needed.
“It’s important that we start doing it now if we want it to mature and be relevant over the next two decades,” he said.
Stating that the country is preparing the ground for amritkaal, he said, “A lot of what we are doing today is actually in that vein.
Highlighting the development in various sectors in the country over the past nine years, he said that as the foreign minister, how efficiently he works is a direct derivation of how the country has worked domestically. No amount of clever diplomacy will compensate for the moments when a country’s comprehensive national power is lacking.
He opines that India’s digital delivery capability is the secret to its ability to increase its performance. India’s digital platform has transformed governance and dramatically reduced leakages.
Stating that digital deliveries have benefited hundreds of millions, he said it could be farmers for their crops, vendors for their unsecured credit or women to run their businesses from their homes or in the neighborhood.
“It is this digitally driven change, obviously with the vision and leadership that needs to be applied, that is actually leading to what I would call both a quiet democratic revolution and actually a democratization of technology,” Jaishankar said.
Inviting the students to think about 25 years ahead of the country, he asked them to look at aspects such as the global workplace, the global technology place and the global supply chain.
In the global workplace, he said gaps are visible in where the world’s skills and talents are and in demand. Demographics and demand are not congruent; in fact, they are not even convergent in many areas. It is necessary for India to prepare for this.
Regarding global technology, he said that the digital era has not only revolutionized technology, but has also revolutionized politics and international relations. People now care about where their data is, who is collecting it, who is monetizing it and who is using it.
“The digital era therefore emphasizes the concepts of trust and transparency. Every country and every player is not the same. That is why today it is important to position ourselves”, he said and added that India as a country, as a society and its people are ultimately trusted in the world.
Citing the example of the chip industry, he said the world lacks chip designers and engineers. As this industry reorganizes and moves to trusted locations, there is an opportunity for India to stare it in the face.
Regarding supply chains, he said that before Covid, the whole world assumed uninterrupted and unfailing smooth operation of supply chains due to globalization. It took one virus to challenge that entire belief, even outside of combat.
Referring to the Covid-led blockade, he said India is maintaining food supplies to the Gulf as it is an absolutely vital supply chain. Now the world has learned from that experience that it actually invested too much in limited geography. If something happens, it could happen because of a pandemic, or because of politics, or it could happen tomorrow because of the climate.
He said the biggest challenge for the world is how to de-risk the global economy and have redundant, more resilient and reliable supply chains. This is an opportunity waiting to happen, he added.