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 the topic “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 today India looms large 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 businesses are, and where its services are required.
“It is important to start doing that now if it is to mature and be relevant over the course of 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 to that effect.”
Highlighting the development in various sectors in the country over the past nine years, he said that as a foreign minister, how effectively he performs is a direct derivative of how the country has done at the domestic level. No amount of smart diplomacy is going to compensate at times when the comprehensive national power of a country is lacking.
He opined that India’s digital delivery capability is the secret to its ability to ramp up its performance. India’s digital platform has transformed governance and dramatically cut down on “leakages”.
Stating that the digital deliveries have benefited hundreds of millions, he said it could be to the farmer for the crop, to the vendors for their unsecured loan, or to women to run their businesses out of their homes or in their neighborhoods.
“It is actually this digitally driven change, obviously with the vision and leadership to apply, that is actually bringing about what I would call both a silent democratic revolution and actually a democratizing of technology,” Jaishankar said.
Urging the students to think of the 25 years ahead of the country, he asked them to look at aspects such as the global workplace, the global tech place and global supply chain.
On the global workplace, he said the gaps are visible in where the skills and talents of the world are and in the demands for them. 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.
On the global tech place, he said the digital era has not just revolutionised technology, it has also revolutionalised politics and international relations. People are now concerned with where their data resides, who harvests it, who monetises it, and who deploys it.
“Digital era therefore puts a premium on the concepts of trust and transparency. Every country and every player is not the same. It is therefore important today that we position ourselves,” he said, adding that at the end of the day, India as a country, as a society, and its people are trusted in the world.
Citing the example of the chip industry, he said there is a shortage of chip designers and engineers in the world. As this industry re-architectures itself and moves to more trusted locations, there is an opportunity to India staring it in its face.
On supply chains, he said that prior to Covid, the entire world assumed an uninterrupted and infallible smooth working of supply chains because of globalization. It took one virus to put that entire belief into question, and beyond struggle.
Referring to the Covid-led lockdown, he said India kept the food supplies to the Gulf going as it was an absolutely vital supply chain. Now the world has learned from that experience that it actually over-invested in a limited geography. If something happens, it could happen due to a pandemic, or it could happen due to policy, or tomorrow it could happen due to the climate as well.
He said the biggest challenge for the world is how to de-risk the global economy and have more redundant, resilient, and reliable supply chains. This is an opportunity waiting to happen, he added.