India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is not only proximate to each other but together help shape Asia and the world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday while highlighting that ASEAN is one of the crossroads of the global economy.
“India is the fifth-largest economy in the world. ASEAN is one of the crossroads of the global economy. We are not only proximate to each other but together help shape Asia and the world. It is important that at this juncture, we put our heads together,” Jaishankar said at the sixth roundtable of ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks (AINTT). He said that the contemporary relationship between India and ASEAN was founded very much on our shared interests in globalisation. “In Asia at least, ASEAN were pioneers of that process and helped bring India into it. But as it comes under stress today, we need to go beyond its economic and even social definitions,” the minister noted.
“Globalisation may be reflected as trade, travel and financial flows. But in reality, it is something very much larger. In fact, what the pandemic has brought out is the indivisible aspect of human existence that underpins globalisation. Whether it is climate change, terrorism or indeed pandemics, these are not challenges where those affected have a choice,” he said.
“The limitations of purely national responses or sometimes living in denial have become evident. It, therefore, underlines the need for the international community to work together much more sincerely in search of collective solutions,” Jaishankar continued.
He said the concerns about global supply chains are sought to be mitigated at the very least through a greater emphasis on diversification and resilience.
“For these reasons, it is incumbent on all of us to think through these challenges and come out with a more positive and practical model of cooperation,” the minister added.
“The irony, however, is that just when multilateralism was most in demand, it did not rise to the occasion. 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 international politics,” he said.
Jaishankar underlined that trust is perhaps the most valued commodity in international relations.
“If one goes beyond structures and organisations, this was even more evident in the individual behaviour of many states. A big issue confronts the thinking world is not simply the state of the economy, damage to societies or challenges to governance. It is actually a debate on future directions of global affairs and what kind of world order or disorder we are going to live in. As a result, the commodity is perhaps most valued in international relations is that of trust,” he said.
Jaishankar further said, “We have already seen in many quarters, national security being redefined to include economic security.
More recently, this then led to questions and concerns about technology security. The pandemic has now added to that the importance of health security. In fact, the concept of strategic autonomy that was once fashionable in a unipolar world has now assumed relevance once again in terms of global supply chains.”
He stressed that “whatever we may profess, the actions of nations during the times of crisis determines how the world really perceives them.”