Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said that India needs to be strong on the home pitch and look for growth with job creation in the post-Covid-19 era.

“I think it is important to be strong at home, to build capabilities at home. The litmus test of good governance, which I would say, is employment. That if you have jobless growth I don’t think that’s a great testimony to policies of any country,” he said while speaking at the inaugural session of the 5th edition of Asia Economic Dialogue (AED) 2021 jointly organised by Pune International Centre (PIC) and the Government of India’ Ministry of External Affairs.

Jaishankar along with Marise Payne, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs was in discussion in the sessions titled ‘Resilient Global growth in a Post Pandemic World’.

Jaishankar said that going back to 1992 was not the answer. “If you do not build more capabilities at home, openness by itself is not the solution to a society. It means leaving yourself wide open to other people who may have far more predatory practices. I think it is very important to be strong at home, to build capabilities at home.”

He said that during Covid-19 pandemic government has taken steps towards deep reforms. “The Covid period was not just a health response period. It was also a period which the government used to push through, to fashion new policies, what I would argue, were much-needed reforms which previous governments were reluctant to take, whether it was in agriculture, it was in labour or whether it was in education. And a lot of that mindset is reflected in the budget,” said the Minister.

He said that India was looking at more equitable globalisation where the benefits are fairer between countries and societies. He added that India has supplied Covid-19 vaccine to 74 countries.

He said that China should not be blamed for India’s dependency on imports “Chinese walked in because you opened the doors in conditions which were advantages to them. We are to be blamed for it. We needed to do preparations, which we didn’t. I can see huge potential to manufacture which has not been fostered by right policies at home,” said Jaishankar.

Jaishankar said that there is a strong business sentiment that in the last 25 years domestic industry had a very rough deal. Minister added that it was the business of the government to support business. “Every government in the world does that. We in India haven’t done that enough. And I think that’s changing. This realisation is strong. We need to stand up for our business. Not just big business but MSMEs,” he said.

Marise Payne insisted on India- Australia cooperation and added that the post-Covid world has changed the landscape to do business.

Border issues

Minister said that India had to deal with Covid and border issues at the same time. “There was active debate ( on border issue) which continues today. It is natural for people to offer advice often on matters which they may not have a particular knowledge of. That is a human trait. But again if there was what came through, it was that we were resolute, we were strong about protecting our interest. We thought through very complicated issues. Listened to everybody and fashioned a response,” he said.