External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said that globalisation has been weaponised, designating currency, trade, and tourism as “weapons.” While acknowledging the positive outcomes of globalisation, he highlighted its negative side, emphasizing the concentration of economic power in a few regions, upon which much of the world depends.
Addressing the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos, Mr Jaishankar noted that the world order established in 1945 persists, with those in control reluctant to create more opportunities for others.
Mr Jaishankar said, “When I spoke about globalisation and concentration a different challenge emerging out of that is how globalisation itself has been weaponised that today currency is a weapon, trade is a weapon, tourism is a weapon, that dominant players they may be dominant as producers they may be dominant as consumers that they often with very little hesitation leverage their market shares on the global system for their particular national purpose and of course underlying all of this since this is an Institute dealing with International Affairs is a challenge that we know very well which is a world order that was devised in 1945 when the members of the United Nations were roughly 25 per cent of what they are today and that world order continues obstinately because those who are in the driving seat don’t want to create more seats for other people to be at that engine.”
He noted that the global agenda in so many ways today is about restoring the world to its natural diversity. Mr Jaishankar called restoring natural diversity a “collective objective” and highlighted the challenges that the world faces in the process.
In his remarks, Mr Jaishankar said, “The global agenda in many ways today is about restoring the world to its natural diversity because the world was diverse the world is diverse it was distorted by the period of Western domination and in a post-Colonial world today restoring that natural diversity is actually a collective objective. Now what are the challenges to that process one of course is while many of us attained independence we have all built our Nations and societies.”
The minister underscored the challenges of the current global agenda, stating that it revolves around restoring the world to its natural diversity. He referred to this as a “collective objective” but acknowledged the difficulties involved in achieving it.
“The reality is also that the old domination has not let go that in different ways it may not be the imperialism of the 19th and early 20th century but in different ways today many of those who dominated the world for the last 200 to 300 years continue to do so with new instruments with new regimes with different techniques and how do we contest that how do we overcome that how do we make sure the world is a fairer place that is challenge number one. Challenge number two is of a more recent vintage we we have for the last three decades spoken about globalisation.”
He said that globalisation today is a combination of Economics of interdependence of interpenetration of a shared common dependence or technology of a degree of mobility.
He said, “Globalisation has been a game changer some people argue that there was always globalisation, people always moved from one place to another that is correct after all people moved from Africa to other parts of the world that’s how the globe became the globe but globalisation today has a very specific sense it is a combination of economics of interdependence of interpenetration of a shared common dependence or technology of a degree of mobility that we have never experienced before.”
“Now while globalisation has had many positive results. It has also undeniably led to such deep economic concentrations that much of the world today depends on production of a few geographies. Now it worked when we believed that the entire world could be run in the manner in which Japanese cars are produced in Nagoya that everything came just in time to meet the requirements of the day. We were wrong but we didn’t know it and then COVID came and COVID brought home to every one of us that the most basic things of our life,” he added.
He said that the world depended on suppliers and producers from far away before COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted how people struggled for gloves, masks and basic medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed that world today needs to be de-risked from over-concentration.
“We were often dependent on suppliers and producers from far away not just dependent on them as we discovered during COVID we were hostage to them that many of us struggled with masks and gloves and ppes and ventilators and basic medicines and vaccines, we struggled for food. So, one of the big takeaways from the covid experience is our world today needs to be de-risked from the over-concentration that if you speak about a more balanced World a more democratic,” Mr Jaishankar said.
“World Democratic is not just political Democratic it is not just the rights of different nations. Democratic also means every region sometimes every large country must have within its own grasp the basics of its production so that it is economically and socially secure this is our challenge number two.”
Speaking about the third challenge, Mr Jaishankar said, “The setting of narratives and I spoke about the old domination, the old domination today doesn’t tell you what to do with a stick the old domination will tell you what to do through social media through regular media through devising what is politically correct to setting standards and this narrative setting is actually a very powerful force today in international relations. There are thinking there are ideologies there are regimes which are raised up brought down made irrelevant brought to the center through narrative setting in all of this of course we have the challenges of the polarization of the world.”
He noted that India knows the challenges of the polarization of the world as the country struggled with it during the G20 Presidency. He stressed that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has polarised the East and West. He emphasised that globe itself is divided.
“We in India know it particularly strongly and recently because we struggled with it during our G20 presidency that a conflict such as one taking place in Ukraine has polarised the East and the West. The developmental issues have polarized the North and the South so how do we today talk of a global agenda when the globe itself is so divided that is a challenge in itself,” Mr Jaishankar said.
“There are of course the traditional what are called global issues these are challenges which threaten every nation but are bigger than what could be contained within the borders so it could be terrorism, a challenge which I know Nigeria has had to experience in its own way like we have had to in in a different way or maritime security, piracy, challenges of course of climate events that we are seeing more and more frequently. So, these are some of the challenges that we have to overcome if you have to really get along with the global agenda some as I said are traditional some have evolved some are more recent,” he added.
Notably, Mr Jaishankar is on a visit to Nigeria from January 21-23. During this, he will co-chair the 6th India-Nigeria Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) with his counterpart and meet with other leaders.
The EAM will also inaugurate the 3rd edition of the Nigeria-India Business Council meeting. He will also chair the regional conference of Indian Heads of Missions.
India and Nigeria have traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations. This is EAM’s first visit to Nigeria, which will further consolidate bilateral relations between the two countries, according to Ministry of External Affairs release.
Prior to this, he also led the Indian delegation at the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), to be held in Kampala, Uganda. He also met several foreign leaders and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the summit.