Delivering a lecture at the IIM Calcutta on 2nd of November, 2022, S. Jaishankar, India’s Union Minister for External Affairs, said that there is a larger change today underway in international affairs that is very important to comprehend. “This emanates from the weaponization of everything. In recent years, we have already seen how trade, connectivity, debt, resources and even tourism have become the point of political pressure. The Ukraine conflict has dramatically widened the scope of such leveraging,” Jaishankar said on the topic of “India and the World”.
Jaishankar said the scale of measures, technology control, infrastructure and service restrictions and seizure of assets, has truly been breathtaking.
At the same time, it is also a fact, that global rules and practices have been gamed for national advantage, in a manner that can no longer be overlooked,” he added. The minister said sharpening great power competition is inevitably creating stress factors across multiple domains. “At one level, it induces caution about international exposure but beyond a point that cannot be safeguarded because the very nature of existence is now globalized,” he said.
In a marvelous speech with historic proportions, he mentions 10 reasons why India is now taken seriously even as we are moving towards becoming a leading power.
- Handling of the Covid crises – Cowin portal, vaccine production and exports etc. (Disclaimer: I am unvaccinated and to the best of my knowledge this was a massive and unprecedented medical-politico conspiracy and should soon be public knowledge, as the lid blows off.)
- Robust economic recovery and the digitally enabled socio-economic delivery on a massive scale at a time when the global economy continues to face serious headwinds
- A growing economic relevance to the world reflected in greater FDI inflows, greater manufacturing, stronger exports and embrace of startups.
- An independent foreign policy in an increasingly polarised world, one that also speaks for the Global South.
- An innovative diplomacy that has introduced new concepts and platforms, without according a veto to others on our choices
- A resolute national security policy that has seen us standing up to daunting challenges in border areas, even during the Covid period
- A determination to look after our own abroad – Operation Ganga in Ukraine, Operation Devi Shakti in Afghanistan
- A willingness to look out for others and often serve as a first responder in humanitarian or disaster response situation, especially in our own neighborhood
- Contributing to global betterment through initiatives in solar energy, disaster resilience, maritime security and counter-terrorism among others
- A perception that India as a civilizational-state is finding its place once again in the global order
A combination of changes in our political standing, economic weight, technology capabilities, cultural influence and the success of the Indian diaspora is moving India today into a higher orbit. But let us not underestimate the tasks ahead. For any power to rise in the global order is never easy. But to do so amidst the turbulence that I have described is doubly difficult. We see growing recognition in the world that India is getting its act together. Equally there is a realization that the big issue of our times cannot be solved without India’s contribution or participation. This is a moment when India resets the terms of engagement with the world. It is also a juncture when we should be prepared to take up greater responsibilities. India matters more to the world and we must make the best of it.
The inspiring talk was followed by an equally engaging interaction in which the Minister meticulously replied to every question. In response to IIM Calcutta’s announcement on its LinkedIn page, many alumni shared their interest to participate.
Interestingly, the idea of ‘weaponization of everything’ resonates with my presentation at the General Assembly of the World Health Council in April ’22 that tracks the historical markers over the past two millenia on how dehumanising forces in an intensely globalised world, have weaponoised every aspect of life from trade and commerce, education, agriculture, religion, professional guilds, nationalism, gender relations, and now, even healthcare. You can also look up the slides here.
As an alumnus of IIM Calcutta, I have written to the Director for a continuing dialogue on ‘India and the World’ as I share here for your feedback, comments and further participation in forthcoming events on this interesting subject.
Dear Uttam da,
Hearty congratulations to my alma mater for organizing the Dr S Jaishankar lecture on “India and the World’ on 2nd of November.
As Convenor for Gaia Earth Sansad, a civil society start-up for global peace, equality, dignity and prosperity, I have a keen interest in the climate and ecological restoration, geopolitics and India’s role in an increasingly turbulent, violent, insecure and dangerous world teetering at the brink of human extinction. Thinking aloud, I always wondered why IIMs didn’t engage more actively in national and global policy discourse and to shape the new emerging narrative in the post-industrial world order.
I am glad and hopeful that the 33rd Institute Lecture by Dr Jaishankar will mark a new beginning in this direction. Through this email, I would like to call for a continuation of the ‘India and the World’ dialogue with Hon. Minister and IIM Calcutta – students, faculty and alumni.
Dr Jaishankar, in his talk on ‘India and the World’, refers to how the world order is fixated with old positions dating back to 1945 at the formation of United Nations, a most diabolical organisation based on the treacherous and fatally flawed precept of awarding permanent seats with veto powers in the Security Council to the aggressors of WWII, when its Charter explicitly calls to avert any further war and talks about peace, equality and dignity.
Yet, why does Hon. Minister stick to hackneyed notions of ‘developed’ world financing the ‘developing’ countries in the ‘Global South’ to meet climate targets, as he shared in response to a question on the Glasgow COP failure?
When in reality, the solution to climate crises lies in the large populations in the developing countries to exit the globalized predatory financial system and thus ‘de-financialise’ the ‘developed’ countries in the Global North and to stop the resources being siphoned and drained away in the neo-colonial era.
BRICS is making good moves in this direction but we need far more innovative approaches to achieve a breakthrough. In his brilliant and thought provoking speech, Dr Jaishankar talked about a combination of 10 factors that have moved India to a higher orbit in the global perception. This includes points 4,5 and 10 as I cite below.
4. An independent foreign policy in an increasingly polarised world, one that also speaks for the Global South.
5. An innovative diplomacy that has introduced new concepts and platforms, without according a veto to others on our choices
10. A perception that India as a civilizational-state is finding its place once again in the global order
He mentions how ‘there is a realization that the big issue of our times cannot be solved without India’s contribution or participation. This is a moment when India resets the terms of engagement with the world. It is also a juncture when we should be prepared to take up greater responsibilities.’
My questions to Hon. Minister in this regard are as follows:
How can we, in the civil society and academia, work together with the government and especially the Ministry of External Affairs, for India to carry this momentum forward?
How can we together build capabilities and deliver on the responsibilities from this higher orbit and lead the much needed global reforms to address global challenges that as he says are increasingly affecting our daily lives, which cannot be ignored?
PGDM IIM Calcutta – 1995-97 (32nd batch)
B.Tech. IIT Kharagpur
Convenor – Gaia Earth Sansad