India playing catch-up as era of economic reform was not necessarily era of technology: Jaishankar

09:32 AM Dec 05, 2023 | PTI |

India has a 60-year engagement with Russia and it is not correct to interpret as if there is some handicap that New Delhi has by having the relationship, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.


His comments at a technology conclave came against the backdrop of increasing disquiet among the Western powers over the strong India-Russia ties notwithstanding the war in Ukraine.

”We have a relationship with Russia and it is not a relationship that happened in one instant, one day, one month or one year. It is an accumulated relationship of close to 60 years,” he said.

”Often I see a problem defined in a way as though somewhere there’s some handicap that India has by having this relationship,” he said, adding that ”this relationship has saved us many times.” ”If we are over-dependent or not, actually at the end of the day it depends on us,” he said. Jaishankar also referred to historical aspects of the engagement between the two sides. ”If you look at the Eurasian landmass, it makes sense that India and Russia would have strong relations because it is in accordance with the first principle of politics of your neighbour’s neighbour,” he said.

Talking about India’s economic progression, he said the country is playing catch up in many ways as the era of reform was not necessarily the era of technology.


”We are in many areas playing catch up. We are playing catch up because while our era of reform started three decades ago, the era of reform was not necessarily the era of technology,” he argued.

”We conceptualised reform in much narrower terms. We were perhaps not as ambitious and expansive as we should have been. So a lot of it ended up in narrowly defined economics, much of which centred around trade and to some degree investment,” he said. ”The kind of efforts some other powers, some competitive, put in terms of developing comprehensive national power, that same drive and determination were not there honestly where India was concerned,” he said, apparently referring to the economic reforms over three decades back.

The external affairs minister also briefly spoke about the Modi government’s assertive approach to taking forward the country on the overall growth path.

”Efforts in building and delivering on digital public infrastructure is what the prime minister calls democratising technology. Today, the average person not only uses it but also relates to it,” he said at the Global Technology Summit.

The external affairs minister also highlighted the ”massive” volume of UPI transactions to argue how people are easily using the technology on offer.


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