External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that Quad consisting of the US, Japan, Australia, and India is “very much for real” and has moved “very effectively and well” in the past year.
During a discussion at the Global Technology Summit 2021, the EAM said, “Quad is very much for real. It has moved very effectively, well precisely because it’s a very contemporary arrangement. The subjects Quad is looking at are practical subjects that will make a difference”.
He also said that the new grouping between India, Israel, the UAE, and the US, would be focusing on technology, including green tech, digital, and start-ups.
On the activities of the new grouping of India, the US, Israel, and the UAE, he said, “that some part of it will be tech-focused, whether in green tech, or digital, or start-ups, as in these areas all four have great strengths”.
Asked by C Raja Mohan, Director at ISAS, National University of Singapore, whether the Quad was an aspirational grouping between India, the US, Australia, and Japan, or if it was real, the EAM said that Quad has moved “very effectively and well” in the past year.
“Last year has shown it is very much for real. I think it has moved very, very effectively, and moved well, precisely because it is a very contemporary arrangement. It is loose, it’s a new way of working, not just for us, even for the other three Quad partners; they too were used to a more cumbersome way of working, and if you see the outcomes, these are very practical subjects, whether on vaccines, student’s mobility, looking at start-ups. We have taken a very sensible view of problems of the landscape and how do we find a practical solution,” said Jaishankar.
On the Quad countries’ interdependence with China, about trade, EAM Jaishankar said, “Decoupling is a fashionable word. Anyone with serious business experience would challenge it. Decoupling is much easier said than done. What you are going to see is hedging and de-risking… multiple supply chains, shorter supply chains, and more transparent options.”
He said that countries in smaller groups are discussing the need for smaller resilient supply chains.
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking about global norms for technology such as social media and cryptocurrencies so that they are used to empower democracy and not undermine it, the EAM said: “A point he made forcefully. Technology today is a critical tool to deliver on democratic governance, and it is important not to be cynical of democracy or governance.”
On India’s tech diaspora, and Indian engineers and scientific diaspora shaping the global tech scene, he said that there is a growing demand for technology talent in the world and on the need to put technology at the center of growth.
“With time, the importance of the global marketplace has grown,” he said adding that India’s position is unique – as a “major stakeholder in the global workplace”.
Earlier, in his remarks, welcoming UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver the opening remarks, the EAM said that the summit is the outcome of a productive partnership between the Ministry of External Affairs and Carnegie.
“In human history, technology is a double-edged sword, it has opened up new vistas of progress and new threats. The aim is to find a new balance,” he said.
He said that in a world that is globalized and tech-driven, mastery of key domains is a symbol of mastery.
“In society, the implications of technology are significant and transformational. It is a key governance tool and communications medium,” he said.
Welcoming PM Johnson, he said that the UK PM Johnson has brought new energy to the India-UK partnership, and the 2030 Roadmap in the bilateral strategic relations.