The Quad is a very contemporary arrangement having an open-minded and creative approach that has helped it in moving “very effectively” in addressing various problems, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.
Talking about the importance of critical technologies and India’s journey in acquiring them in the backdrop of the Indo-US nuclear deal around 15 years back, he said though Washington discovered a certain value in ties with New Delhi, there were others who were “dogmatic” in their views of the world and found it hard to do this.
Jaishankar was asked to comment at an interactive session at the Global Technology Summit 2021 that the perception that existed before the inking of the nuclear deal was that the US was reluctant to share critical technologies but later it came out that the problem was somewhere else (China).
The minister spoke about India’s technology-driven transition and particularly highlighted the way it handled the challenges that confronted the country following the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, he stressed the need for enhancing India’s domestic supply chains and economic growth with a focus on the creation of jobs.
“People talk about supply chains. I would say, first of all, look at your domestic supply chains that should be your first responsibility. So we need to continuously strengthen our domestic supply chain,” Jaishankar said.
“We cannot have economic growth without these strengths and without commensurate employment growth. Jobless growth is not really growth, not certainly for a country like us,” he said.
Jaishankar said the focus should be on education, skill development, startups, creating greater employment and fostering a climate for the growth of technology.
“To promote that, I do not think we should be defensive about it,” he said.
Jaishankar said that “years of certain kind of economic logic” caught the country in a situation where it was unprepared for basics when COVID-19 hit it.
“Today we have the capability…the last two years, what we have done is incredible,” he added.
Referring to the Quad comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia, Jaishankar said it has moved “very very effectively”.
“To my mind, it has moved well precisely because it is a very contemporary arrangement that is loose, it is creative and it is open-minded. You throw ideas, you like it, you pick up on it; you do not like it you put it on the side, sometimes you revisit it, so it is a new way of working,” he said.
Jaishankar said the Quad has been working effectively in areas such as producing vaccines, connectivity projects, facilitating the mobility of students, and looking at promoting startups and technology collaboration.
The external affairs minister said enhancing India’s own capabilities in various sectors should be the focus of its partnerships with foreign countries.
He said India, with its size, potential and ambitions, must have robust and reliable national capacities.
“If you are open to a point where those capacities get hollowed out which, I would argue, happened to us certainly for the early part of this century where our own industrial capacities have been allowed in many ways either to not grow or not grow commensurately with the growth of the economy,” he said.
He said the purpose of partnerships with foreign countries should be to increase India’s capabilities.
“The idea that you should be so open to the world that other people can come and operate in your economy on terms which are advantageous to them because that is supposed to be how a global economy works to my mind is ridiculous. I think we need to be clear that this is about building our strengths,” he said.