Covid-19 highlighted importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains, says Jaishankar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Covid-19 highlighted importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains, says Jaishankar

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Aug 20, 2020 02:02 PM IST

The Covid-19 crisis has shown up the lack of multilateralism at a time when it “was most in demand”

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains as well as the relevance of the concept of strategic autonomy, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.(ANI)
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.(ANI)

The pandemic also underscored the need for broader rebalancing and a more equitable world view, which for India means the urgent need to strengthen national capacities through the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) initiative, he told a roundtable of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks (AINTT).

The Covid-19 crisis has shown up the lack of multilateralism at a time when it “was most in demand”, Jaishankar said in his address to the virtual event. “If we saw little leadership, it was not just due to the admittedly anachronistic nature of key international organisations. Equally, it reflected the intensely competitive nature of current international politics,” he said.

Going beyond organisations and structures, this was “even more evident in the individual behaviour of many states”. He added, “Therefore, the big issue that confronts the thinking world is not simply the state of the economy, the damage to societies or the challenges to governance. It is actually a debate on the future directions of global affairs and what kind of world order – or disorder – we are going to live in.”

As a consequence of all this, “the commodity that is perhaps most valued in international relations today is that of trust”, and national security is being redefined to include economic security while concerns have also arisen about technology security, he said.

In an apparent reference to China, he said “the actions of nations during times of crisis determine how the world really perceives them, and they did bring up many of the risks inherent in the current global economy”. He added, “Consequently, concerns about supply chains are sought to be mitigated at the very least through greater emphasis on their diversification and resilience.”

The concept of strategic autonomy, which was once fashionable in a unipolar world, has assumed relevance again in terms of global supply chains, Jaishankar noted.

The Covid-19 crisis has led to an unprecedented challenge and a great deal of uncertainty and the true extent of its destruction remains unclear. “We cannot pretend that this is just another happening, only bigger. On the contrary, the impact of the Coronavirus has been beyond our collective imagination,” he said.

“Current estimates put the cumulative loss in the range of $5.8-8.8 trillion or approximately 6.5-9.7% of the global GDP. The contraction of the world economy being predicted will surely be the largest since the Great Depression,” he added.

The relationship between India and Asean was founded on the shared interest in globalisation and the pandemic has brought out the indivisible aspect of human existence that underpins globalisation, Jaishankar said.

“Whether it is climate change, terrorism or indeed pandemics, these are not challenges where those affected have a choice. The limitations of purely national responses or sometimes living in denial have become evident,” he said.

Jaishankar said Asean and India can together help shape Asia and the world, and need to debate issues such as the Indo-Pacific. “As global relationships alter, we too need to take stock...As we come out of this pandemic, let us be clear on one fact. The world will never be the same again. That means new thinking, fresh ideas, more imagination and greater openness,” he added.

AINTT was established to provide policy inputs to governments on future cooperation between India and Asean.

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