‘Committed to global order based on rules in post-Covid-19 world’:Harsh Shringla on foreign policy priorities
The pandemic has disrupted the world order that has been in existence for long, and shaping and reforming this system has been a major foreign policy priority, he said in his virtual address at the inaugural session of a course on “India and the reshaping of the world order” at his alma mater, St Stephen’s College.Updated: Sep 21, 2020, 19:10 IST
India believes multilateralism must be rules-based and reformed to accommodate current realities even as it works on a new form of globalisation based on fairness and equality in the post-Covid-19 world, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said on Monday.
The pandemic has disrupted the world order that has been in existence for long, and shaping and reforming this system has been a major foreign policy priority, he said in his virtual address at the inaugural session of a course on “India and the reshaping of the world order” at his alma mater, St Stephen’s College.
“Multilateral diplomacy has to be based on rules. We are committed to an international order based on rules,” he said. “We also believe that the content of globalisation needs to change. We believe that multilateralism must be reformed to accommodate current trends and realities.”
Referring to the prime minister’s call for human-centric globalisation that transcends a purely economic agenda, he added: “We would like a new form of globalization, based on fairness, equality and humanity in the post-Covid world.”
One of India’s priorities in the post-pandemic era is to make the country the nerve centre of global supply chains in line with the prime minister’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Shringla said. “We are actively engaged in promoting India as an alternative manufacturing hub and an innovation destination,” he added.
Though crises such as the pandemic alter geopolitics, the fundamental orientation of India’s policy remains “neighbourhood first” and initiatives such as Bimstec link this policy to another fundamental pillar, “Act East”, he said. Think West, India’s outreach to the Gulf and West Asian countries, has also become an increasingly important pillar of foreign policy, and India has outlined a vision for a free, open and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of disputes and international rules, he said.
All decision-making is done in a highly complex multi-layered and multi-dimensional operating environment and the “business of statecraft is not one of binaries”, Shringla said.
Amid the pandemic, India tried to act as a “pharmacy of the world” and provided medicines and essential medical supplies to more than 150 countries and sent rapid response medical teams to Kuwait, the Maldives, Mauritius and Comoros. India also “went out of its way to be a net provider of security”, Shringla said.
Looking to the future, which he described as uncertain, Shringla said India needs to be “prepared to continuously adapt and innovate”, build resilience and capacity, and be agile and flexible in international diplomacy.