Addressing the Nikkei “Future of Asia” conference, foreign minister S Jaishankar called for diversification of supply chains from the current over-dependence on China. India, said Jaishankar, can “derisk the global economy through more effective partnerships” calling for multiple engines of growth, in a multipolar and “rebalanced” world.
“It is only with such redundancy that the world can face the next pandemic better than we are doing the current one.”
The pandemic, he said, had upended the global conversation on globalisation with countries focusing more on strategic autonomy at least in critical areas of the economy and supply chains. “Trust and transparency” are foremost in the minds of countries after the pandemic. “It was bad enough to be confronted with shortages and disruptions; worse that they could become pressure points.” This is a veiled reference to China’s coercive actions on supplies both in the first and second waves of the pandemic.
There was a subtle reference to the fact that countries went into extreme nationalist modes during the pandemic. “Few practiced what they preached. Some even stopped preaching altogether,” Jaishankar said. “Call it buying nationally, middle-class concerns, dual circulation of self-reliance—there is no question that many polities are seeking to hedge against excessive exposure internationally.”
Jaishankar said, “Meeting the health and medical requirements of the world effectively requires a mature recognition of the global nature of the underlying supply chains. … it cannot be addressed purely nationally and in fact needs a collaboration of a very different order. The answer to the pandemic challenge is to expand and smoothen the global flows, while creating confidence that the outcomes are for the benefit of the world.”
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