Post-pandemic world will be a different place than just wearing masks, says Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar

WION Web Team
Dubai Published: Mar 24, 2021, 12:03 PM(IST)

India's external affairs minister S Jaishankar speaks during WION's Global Summit Photograph:( WION )

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Alluding to the theme of WION'S Global Summit, "Power Play in a Post-Pandemic World", External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said power plays have always existed and will continue, but in a changed playing field.

India's visible leadership, rapid capability response, effective supplies to the needy and strong social discipline have all stood out during the COVID-19 pandemic, external affairs minister S Jaishankar told the WION Global Summit in Dubai on Wednesday.

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“As a society for whom the world was a workplace, we mounted an unprecedented repatriation operation through the Vande Bharat Mission,” recalled Jaishankar, who was the chief guest at the fourth edition of the annual event.

“Our domestic priorities were harmonised with our global outlook in the 'Vaccine Maitri' [vaccine diplomacy] that now extends to almost 80 nations,” he added.

Alluding to the theme of the Global Summit, "Power Play in a Post-Pandemic World", he said power plays have always existed and will continue, but in a changed playing field.

“Capabilities may be different, perhaps reputations as well. But the mother of all Black Swans will ensure that our very manner of thinking will be different,” he said, referring to the pandemic.

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"In an incredible and dynamic global situation, the pandemic has introduced many more variables, some of which came as a shock to the entire global system," he said.

"The pandemic has raised fundamental concerns about the virtues of globalisation by bringing out the importance of reliable supply chains."

“It has also brought out in the open the behaviour of states at times of stress, thereby highlighting the more uncomfortable realities of global politics," India's external affairs minister asserted.

"It made us realise the quality of leadership and the strength of motivation. It has made health security and perhaps food security far more integral to national security of countries,” he said.

The pandemic, he said, has accelerated digitisation, whether it is by work from home, delivery to the vulnerable, or monitoring the pandemic itself.

“The full extent of these changes is still far from clear. But for sure, the world will be a different place than just wearing masks,” said Jaishankar.

Outlining power plays that existed well beyond the pandemic, and could be a continuous factor in the evolution of the world order, he noted that multipolarity and rebalancing are the main characteristics of the current world order.

“The first represents the emergence of more consequential players, as opposed to two major ones during the Cold War, one after that, and a few more thereafter in the making.”

The second, rebalancing, not only captures the different weightage of players, but also the changes in our assessment of their importance and influence. “The process is set against backdrop of globalisation and debates around its merits,” he said.

When it comes to power plays, the rise of China and to some extent of India is one part of the story, Jaishankar said.

“Significant changes in American strategic posture are equally important, and not unconnected. The collective character of the West, including its alliance manifestations, is no longer the same. Historical players like Russia or Turkey or Iran are far more active in their near vicinity, in the case of Russia, well beyond.”

He noted that the influence of middle powers has grown much more in a flatter world, making challenges and solutions far more regional than before, for example, in the Gulf. Africa and Latin America are more aware of their interests and more focused on pursuing them, he added.

Globalisation has also come with its own constraints and dependence. The resulting anxieties have had both political and cultural expression, the minister said.

“The game-changing nature of technology has had sweeping consequences, among them the growth and power of Big Tech. New metrics of power have emerged, such as connectivity,'' he pointed out.

Complimenting WION for the summit, Jaishankar expressed confidence “that we will benefit from its exceptional coverage of global happenings.”

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