Global order under stress; choices by India will have increasingly important consequences: Jaishankar

India's growing "weight" will ensure that the overall balance in the world order remains in favour of freedom, openness, transparency and a rules-based order, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

New Delhi | India's growing "weight" will ensure that the overall balance in the world order remains in favour of freedom, openness, transparency and a rules-based order, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday, amid increasing global concerns over China's bullying behaviour.

In a virtual address at the Nikkei Future of Asia Forum, Jaishankar, delving into geopolitical challenges, also talked about the "disregard" for international law and agreements in Asia and the Indo-Pacific as well as use of "economic coercion", in remarks seen as an oblique reference to Beijing's actions and policies.

He said the world is undergoing a flux driven by geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-technological developments and that India's choices will have increasingly important consequences.

"Today, the global order is visibly under stress, with Asia and the Indo-Pacific very much part of this transformation. But it is not just change we are seeing; there is also much greater risk-taking," he said.

"It is visible in the conflict in Ukraine, in violence in the Middle East and the disregard for international law and agreements in Asia and the Indo-Pacific. This has economic facets, perhaps even more concerning," he said.

Jaishankar argued that the supply chain challenge, over-concentrations stemming from globalisation and the use of "economic coercion" by states have put a premium on "resilience and redundancy".

"Equally important is the technology challenge that has created a new level of inter-penetration and inter-dependence. As a result, the era of AI (artificial intelligence, EVs (electric vehicles), green and clean technologies have brought both hope and anxiety in equal measure," he said.

"As both market shares and data harnessing are leveraged, national security has become crucial to many economic transactions."

Jaishankar said the transformation of India is critical to strengthening multipolarity in Asia itself, which is a prerequisite for a multipolar world.

"India's growing weight will ensure that the overall balance in the world order remains in favour of freedom, openness, transparency and a rules-based order," he said.

"Equally, its greater sense of responsibility and more contributions are also making a difference. Indian naval ships are currently operating in the Red Sea to protect maritime shipping," he noted.

The external affairs minister said India has been a "first responder" for natural disasters across the Indian Ocean, sometimes even beyond.

He noted that India's approach to the uncertain world has been shaped by our broadening horizons, widening interests and reformist agenda.

"We believe that a free, open, safe, secure, peaceful, prosperous and stable Indo-Pacific is a necessary precondition for peace, security and prosperity of the world," he said.

"In that endeavour, the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership is a key factor," he said.

In his address, Jaishankar also elaborated on India's ties with the countries in its neighbourhood, Global South, the the Gulf region, Central Asia and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states.

"Today, India seeks to lead by example. The ongoing Indian elections underline that democracies can really deliver. That delivery is seen in socio-economic benefits being efficiently distributed on an impressive scale," he said.

"Whether it is digital delivery of public goods and services or the ease of living, our start-up and innovation ecosystem or ease of doing business, India is now racing to catch-up even while seeking to leapfrog," he said.

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