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India can Lead the World in Shaping the New World Order


In a robust analysis of internationalism, Shyam Saran, Chairman Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and former Foreign Secretary of India on Monday said that the world needs to ‘nurture a political discourse which refrains from rejecting or disparaging nationalism and patriotism, even while upholding internationalism’.

He was delivering the 7th YB Chavan lecture on ‘Decline of Internationalism’ at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). 

Insisting that India with its ‘accommodative and self-confident culture’ has the attributes of what the new order requires, Mr. Saran said that ‘India could, if it is so resolves, lead the way in shaping a new world order, which is aligned with the challenges we confront as humanity’.

Reflecting on the current global scenario, he pointed out that countries can no longer cocoon themselves and survive, nor can pursuit of perceived domestic interests prevail over external engagement. He said that external engagement may well be indispensable to achieving domestic ends, since the salience of issues cutting across national and regional borders and with an intrinsically global dimension has increased phenomenally. 

""The yearning for national control, the harking back to an imagined historical, social and cultural identity, such as we have seen in the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the more recent elections in the United States, will inevitably end in frustrated expectations,'' he noted. 

Observing that the concept of national sovereignty, which is integral to the concept of a nation-state, is constrained by the blurring of lines between domestic and external factors, Mr. Saran said ‘the world is more densely inter-connected, our destinies as countries and peoples are more intertwined and the challenges we confront cut across regional and national boundaries than at any other time in human history’.

Warning that ‘Nationalism without internationalism is the road to a dead-end’, the former Foreign Secretary said that issues like climate change and contemporary challenges such as international terrorism, drug trafficking or international crime can only be addressed through global and collaborative measures. National governance structures are no longer adequate to deal with their consequences, he added.

Speaking on the impact of accelerated technological change and the irreversible globalisation of economies, he observed  that the inter-connectedness of the globe through digital technology, the instantaneousness of communication and its increasingly visual character, and the expanding reach and influence of social media beyond the control of states, have vastly expanded the scale of unregulated domains.

Arguing that the ecological, economic and strategic challenges of the new millennium can only be tackled through governance at the international scale, he concluded that the drivers of cross-border challenges are technological and economic, and are now so deeply embedded in our lives as individuals and communities that they cannot be unravelled. "

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