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India must build ‘deep national strengths’ to drive its transition towards leading power: EAM Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar highlights the era of AI, EVs, Chips, Green, and Clean technologies at Asia Economic Dialogue 2024.
| Photo Credit: X@All India Radio News

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has said that in the next 25 years, India must build “deep national strengths” that will drive its transition towards a developed economy and leading power.

Flagging the dangers of dependence on a limited number of suppliers, challenges of technology, and “weaponisation of market dominance”, he asserted that the country’s goals and ambitions cannot be determined by “the goodwill of others”.

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Mr. Jaishankar’s recorded video message was played on February 29 during the inaugural event of the 5th Asia Economic Dialogue, a three-day annual geo-economics conference organised jointly by the Ministry of External Affairs and Pune International Centre.

The theme of the conference this year is ‘Geo-economic challenges in the era of flux’.

Mr. Jaishankar said the present geo-economic challenges fall in three categories ¬ supply chain challenge, technology challenge, and the challenge of “over-concentration stemming from the nature of globalisation”.

Whether it is finished products, intermediates or components, the world is dangerously dependent on a limited number of suppliers, he said.

“Even as importers, the production centres have built their own sourcing chains. How to introduce greater resilience and reliability is central to de-risking the global economy. All of us need more options and must work to create them,” the External Affairs Minister said.

Digital era

The technology challenge is growing by the day given our reliance on technology for more and more aspects of daily life, Mr. Jaishankar said.

“The digital era has given it altogether a different connotation because it is so intrusive. It is not just our interests that are at stake, but often the most personal of our decisions and choices. Such an era demands more trust and transparency, but in fact we are seeing the reverse where technology providers are concerned,” he said.

“Over-concentrations” which stem from the nature of globalisation are heightened by unpredictability and opaqueness, the Minister said.

“We discovered this more sharply in the Covid times, but from time to time we’re also reminded when market dominance is weaponised for the global South and this is particularly serious given the extent of this dependence,” Mr. Jaishankar added.

“We all know that this is indeed the era of AI, EVs, chips, green and clean technologies. What we are confronting is no longer a matter of comparative economic advantage, if it ever was. We are actually talking about the future of the global order,” he said, adding that there are no easy solutions to the challenges posed by this era.

Only greater international cooperation can mitigate unilateral demands and “economic domination of technology assertions”,EAM Jaishankar said.

For India, this means moving across broad front domains that contribute to comprehensive national power, and it requires a massive upgrade of our skills base which suggests an environment that promotes start-ups and talent, he said.

“It will benefit from ease-to-do-business and modern infrastructure, but most of all it demands robust manufacturing that alone can provide the foundation for technology development,” Mr. Jaishankar added.

“As the most populous country that will be the third largest economy very soon, our goals and ambitions cannot be determined by the goodwill of others. We must build deep national strengths during the ‘Amrit Kaal’ that will drive the transition towards becoming a developed economy and the leading power. This is the vision of the (Narendra) Modi government and our initiatives and programs of the last decade are aimed to this very end,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

The Modi government refers to the 25-year period culminating in the nation’s centenary of independence in 2047 as ‘Amrit Kaal’.

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