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NEW DELHI: Multilateralism has failed the test as the world lives through an “unprecedented challenge” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which has thrown up “trust” as the most valued commodity in international relations today, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said.
In an address at a roundtable of Asean-India Network of Think Tanks, the minister said national security is being redefined to “include economic security while concerns have also arisen about technology security”, an indication that India will take a non-Huawei path to 5G technology in the backdrop of border tensions with China.
Jaishankar said, “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 current international politics.”
He said the pandemic not only found the international system wanting, many countries too behaved in selfish ways. “The big issue… is not simply the state of economy, the damage to societies or challenges to governance. It is a debate on the future directions of global affairs and what kind of world order, or disorder, we are going to live in.”
Observing that “the impact of coronavirus has been beyond our collective imagination”, he said, “For India, this means, …the urgent requirement to strengthen its national capacities. It also underlines the importance of de-risking critical aspects of societal existence, specially health. And at the same time, complementing the domestic priority of building an employment-generating economy, not just a profit-generating one.”

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