Home / News / India /  Our sense of technology in the past has been very narrow: Jaishankar

New Delhi: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday batted for a more strategic and political view of technology, and said, with much of the global economy driven by technology, it is impossible to ignore the political connotations of this key domain.

Speaking at the Global Technology Summit organised by Carnegie India in New Delhi, Jaishankar said “Our sense of technology in the past has been very narrow. If you asked people in government about their sense of strategic technologies, they would say defence, nuclear and space. That perspective is 50 years out of date. It’s a completely different world out there. What we in India call Atmanirbhar Bharat, you can call an economic ‘strategic autonomy’".

While technology export controls mark a key intersection between tech and politics, the former also affords the ability to influence politics and decision making in societies.

“We cannot be agnostic about technology. We have to stop pretending that there is something neutral about technology. Technology is no more neutral than economics or any other activity," said Minister Jaishankar.

Globalisation, which Jaishankar calls a “deep reality", also plays a role. As the world has grown closer, technology has played a crucial role in bringing economies, politics and societies closer. For Jaishankar, the future of globalisation will also be driven by technology. The nature of this process will be a key concern.

“The key question is: are you for collaborative globalisation or are you for a model that allows domination by a few players? How flat or broad is the globalisation model? That debate will very much be driven by technology," the Minister remarked.

Technology and globalisation have also undermined the international system as we have known it for the last few centuries.

“We live in an era where the Westphalian model of international relations is over," Jaishankar said. In an age of technological interpretation, state boundaries are not sacred and nations are not blackboxes. India, according to Jaishankar, was intimately familiar with the challenges thrown up by these changes. The question of data generated by Indian users being stored and processed in foreign nations remains a concern. The answer to these shifts in geopolitics, Jaishankar argued, was increasing trust and transparency.

“In a domain like telecom, we have already seen the concept of a trusted provider. I think in the digital realm, we are going to hear more about the concept of trusted geographies," the Minister added.

Trust in the digital realm must be complemented by resilience and reliability in supply chains, according to India’s Foreign Minister. Countries, he stated, were increasingly concluding that “just-in-time is just too risky".

India’s choice of partners will also define its position in the geopolitics of technology. India’s choice, according to Jaishankar, will be determined by three questions: “who gives access, who is our collaborator and who is our market?"

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