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Make In India, Atmanirbhar Bharat were completely validated by our Covid experience: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (Photo: ANI)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India has to plan for the fact that the global environment in the foreseeable future will be “very difficult”, noting that the country learned the lesson during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jaishankar made the remarks while interacting with industrialists at an open discussion on Viksit Bharat @2047 in the national capital on Wednesday. The event was organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

Jaishankar noted that India should have the capability to meet at least the basic Indian requirements in many areas, stressing that the nation should plan for this as there are two major wars ongoing in the world.

On strategic measures India was adopting considering the prevailing geopolitical situation, Jaishankar said, “Look, we are growing. We will continue to grow. You know, it can slow down or be faster depending on what the circumstances are. But what we have to do is to plan for the fact that the global environment in the foreseeable future will be very, very difficult. We learned that lesson during COVID when our exposure to other economies, we did not receive components, bulk drugs and supplies, so, business was affected in this country.”

“So, the lesson from that is that the more production and manufacturing we do at home. To me, make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat were completely validated by our Covid experience. So I would say today, and I don’t even regard that anymore as an economic issue. I regard it actually as a national security issue, that, for me, national security means in a large set of domains, India should have the capability to meet atleast the basic Indian requirements in many areas. And we must plan for this, because, as I said, right now we are having two major wars. I mean, for many, many years, people cannot remember the world in this kind of situation,” he added.

He stressed that the mentality that existed during globalisation is now gone, noting that they have to make choices about whether they would work with the West or an alternative.

“So if we plan for a very disturbed environment and then say that is the basis on which we should grow, I think we should look at it very differently. And in a way, I would say, you know, that mentality which existed during globalisation, that at the end of the day, we look at the world and say, let us look at comparative cost,” EAM Jaishankar said.

“I think that era is now going behind us. In some cases, in fact, there will be very sharp divisions. You know, there will be, say, digital. You know, you will have to make some choices, do we work with the west or do we work with an alternative. Because it will not be possible in every area to say, we will do both, we will get the best,” he added.

In 2014, ‘Make in India’ initiative was launched to facilitate investment, foster innovation, build best-in-class infrastructure, and make India a hub for manufacturing, design, and innovation.

Jaishankar noted that the world is very clinical, very ruthless about judging countries. He stated that India’s image has gone up as the

Asked about India having largest industrial investment in Qatar, Thailand and other places and changes that have been witnessed over the last 10 years, Jaishankar said, “Well, I think, you know, in terms of how the world sees us, there are two parts to it. One, the world is very clinical, very ruthless about judging countries and judging, you know, people. If our image has gone up, it is because actually the country has changed. You know, when they see a country recovering after Covid 7 per cent growth, infrastructure being built, different domains, things are happening.

“You know, people, people look at it because in every domain, I mean, you yourself mentioned Thailand, Qatar, people look saying, okay, this is what they are doing in green hydrogen, this is what they are doing in telecom today. They are manufacturing telephones, they are doing defense experts. So they look actually at real performance the way a business world would judge a competitor because world is competitive, you know. So don’t think that anybody is being nice to us. I mean, the world is very, very clear in a performance evaluation of India. If today they give us more respect because they rate your performance evaluation, our performance evaluation better, number one,” he added.

Emphasising that a country’s image is associated with its leader, he stated that it is a globalised world and countries see how India came out of Covid-19 pandemic, rolled out 5G and reached the moon.

“Secondly, as it happens, in many cases, you know, your product can be very good, your services can be very good. But what is the confidence? What is the marketing? What is the branding? How do you actually position it in the world? And I think in many cases they see that, you know, that once Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, they in many ways, look, any country’ image is associated with the leader,” he said.

“I mean, today, if you think of France, you would say Macron, you think of America, you would say Biden, you would think of Russia, you would say Putin. Today, in the eyes of the world, it is Modi. So, if your performance has been very strong and the projection of it, the positioning of it, the confidence with which you deal, and all these crises that I gave you, those six, seven, eight examples, this is not just a conversation between Indians. It’s a globalized world. They also say, how are you standing on the China border? How did you come out of COVID. How did you deal with 5G? Whose technology do you have?How did you reach the moon?Each of these actually is part of it,” he added.

Drawing a comparison between India’s response after the 26/11 terror attacks and those in Uri and Pulwama, Jaishankar said the country showed that those behind these activities won’t be safe even if they have crossed the border.

Addressing the event, Jaishankar said, “Look at our response to 26/11 in Mumbai and look at our response to Uri and Balakot. I think nothing can tell you more clearly, more sharply, because, you know, at the end of the day, the armed forces are the same, the bureaucracy is the same, the intelligence is the same. So if you look at what are the structural inputs and responses of the system, it would be the same.”

He added that India’s response after the Uri and Pulwama attacks sent a “clear, direct message” and the people to whom it was directed “hopefully got it”.

“Something as big as 26/11 happened without a strong response from our side and that in many ways led to a feeling that this country can be punched and pushed…Uri and Balakot were meant to demonstrate that no, life will not go on and that there will be a price and don’t think because you’ve done something and run away to that side, that you are safe there,” the EAM said.

“You will not be safe there. It will not be safe across the Line of Control or international borders. So there was a clear, direct message out there and I think the people to whom that message was intended to be sent, hopefully got it,” he added.