India’s image today is that of country ready to go to any extent to protect its national security: Jaishankar

Pune, 23 Feb: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said the image of India today is that of a country that is willing to go to any extent to protect its national security. He also cited a top International Monetary Fund official about 15 per cent of growth this year coming from India, and said India is “15 per cent of the solution” the G20 group of countries is looking for in terms of economic growth.
Addressing the ‘Festival of Thinkers’ organised by the Symbiosis International University here, he also said that data security and data privacy are the biggest challenges of the digital world, and issues connected to them are expected to be addressed during the G20 meeting. “In the last few years, we have been tested for a long time on our western border. I think things are a little different now and everyone will agree. Few things had happened in 2016 and 2019, and we have been tested and we are being tested on our northern borders,” he said.
How India comes through this test will show our ability to stand up, Jaishankar said. “We have today the image of the country which is willing to do what it takes to defend its national security. It (India) is a very forbearing country, a patient country, it is not a country that goes around picking fights with other people, but it is a country that will not be pushed out. This is a country that will not allow its basic bottom lines to be crossed,” he said.
Referring to the Ukraine conflict, he said the pressures which came with that conflict were also the moment when our sense of independence and sense of confidence were tested. India is also becoming “the voice of the global south” and wants to go into G20 saying that “there is a large part of the world which is not sitting on that table but they have a legitimate interest and somebody needs to speak up for them,” the minister said.
Jaishankar cited managing director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva’s statement that in “otherwise a fairly gloomy global economic scenario” India’s GDP base is growing at seven percent and is likely to increase in the coming decade.
“Kristalina Georgieva tells that 15 percent of the world’s growth this year is going to come from India, that means we are 15 percent of the solution that the G20 is looking for in terms of economic growth and development, but it isn’t just growth, the G20 is actually looking at how we handled the COVID challenges,” he said.
The G20 countries have noted India’s success in effectively vaccinating its vast population against coronavirus, he said. When COVID-19 became a global concern in January 2020, there was a “sense of the briefing to the G20” that India would not be able to cope up with a pandemic, but we proved them completely wrong, the minister said.
Data security and data privacy are the biggest challenges of the digital world, he said. “The biggest challenge today when it comes to anything digital is data security and data privacy. What it boils down to is who sees your data, who harvests your data, who monetizes your data, who utilizes your data and what power do they have over you as a result of all this,” Jaishankar explained. Having more resilient, reliable and multiple supply chains was a major concern and need in the manufacturing world, while in the world of data, there is need for more trusted practices to ensure privacy is respected and conveniences of life do not become a vulnerability for each one of us as well as for the the nation, he said. Technology is a hugely complicated factor, and “these (technology, its implications and complications) are really the issues which G20, in some form, is expected to address,” he added. (PTI)