India Global Forum: S Jaishankar On Climate Change, New World Order And India-U.A.E. Ties
Countries that were relatively more dormant are now seeking out more space, and taking on more responsibilities, says Jaishankar.
Along with economic and political rebalancing, the world is witnessing cultural rebalancing as a new order emerges, according to Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar.
"As globalisation progresses, there is more rebalancing, resulting in the rise of multipolarity, which is the emergence of various power centres around the world," Jaishankar said while delivering keynote address at the India Global Forum UAE 2022. "
According to him, the world is seeing the return of countries and regions that were relatively more dormant. "They’re now seeking out more space, exercising more space, and taking on more responsibilities. Both past and future are equally embedded in the present."
Jaishankar cited the example of India-U.A.E. relations. "If you look at the ability of India and the UAE to collaborate and do business, a lot of that comes from the intrinsic comfort between us. There are times we may have a different perspective, but that is expressed subtly," he said.
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement would be the defining moment in terms of India-UAE relations, he said.
"The fact that we were able to conclude a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement so quickly and that it has led to effective results speaks volumes. We’re moving into newer agendas for discussions—space, AI, startups, and health."
He described India and the U.A.E. as "two countries that are very comfortable with each other but have rediscovered their relationship in the last decade". The India-U.A.E. relationship, he said, will not just survive in the changing world but play a role in shaping it.
New World Order
The globalisation that the world saw from the late 1990s until about five or six years ago created a "globalisation ideology", said Jaishankar.
"It created the idea that there is one globalisation, one truth, one narrative, and a certain narrow set of people that will decide what is right or wrong. Brexit and Donald Trump’s election are inflection points where economic globalisation continues but societies that don’t want to lose cultural identities are reasserting themselves."
According to him, there's a contest going on in the world today. "We’ve seen political rebalancing and economic rebalancing, but one of the toughest disputes we’re now entering is cultural rebalancing. It’s about who gets to define what’s right and what’s wrong. That’s a very big issue in international relations right now."
The world currently has two big divides: the east-west and the north-south. "The east-west divide is centered around Ukraine, and the north-south divide is centered around development. India can play a bridging role between these divides, but not alone. There’s a need today to bridge these divides," he said.
Jaishankar sees nations competing based on technological capabilities. "Different nations and groupings will assert their influence or dominance. It’s not a matter of prediction; it’s already there."
In terms of the hegemony of big tech, Jaishankar said the idea that tech is neutral is not true, either geopolitically or within societies. "Some tech companies’ market caps are big enough to qualify for the G-20. In the name of narrative setting and political correctness, we can’t keep ducking these issues."
The big arguments in the next 10 years will be around technology, he said. "The big manoeuvres are going to be around data, chips, AI, and space."
Jaishankar also underscored lack of sincerity of the developed countries on climate change.
Climate change, he said, has two components: climate action and climate justice.
"The action part is having the capabilities, economies, and efficiencies to put practices in place so the growth is greener. But the other, tougher part is climate justice. It’s about the promises made to the developing world. Those who are occupying carbon space have kept promising they would help others."
However, the real problem is that the developed countries are still not sincere about keeping their promises, he said. "Frankly, they’ve been shortchanging the world. Every COP they come with some new arguments, evasions."
Watch the full interview: