Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first global leader to publicly call for a fresh look at the contours and narrative of globalisation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first global leader to publicly call for a fresh look at the contours and narrative of globalisation. As the pandemic rages, as international structures and narratives alter and reshape, let us remind ourselves of that observation of his. At the extraordinary G20 Virtual Summit, convened to discuss the global fight against Covid-19, PM Modi had called upon “the Leaders to help usher in a new globalisation, for the collective well-being of humankind and have multilateral fora focus on promoting the shared interests of humanity.” It was a fundamental call, which needed fundamental thought.
The global geo-strategic, geo-cultural and geo-economic spheres are intensely discussing the contours of a post-Corona world and world order. Philosophers, public intellectuals, economists and strategic thinkers have naturally jumped in the arena with their positions and predictions. An American academic has argued that “like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the twin towers collapsing on 9/11, there is an unmistakable collective sense that we are living through something epochal.”
The structure and framework of globalisation itself is being vocally and feverishly discussed. There is an even more intense focus on multi-polarity, multilateralism, the condition and health of global institutions, their failures, performance and reform, isolationism, nationalism, cooperation, data and knowledge sharing, accountability, technological dependence and dependability and so on. There is certainly a continuous effort to examine and dwell upon all the dimensions of globalisation.
This is natural, since these uncertain and challenging times must necessarily give rise to thoughts on the one thing that many had thought they had defined, driven and were even directing and controlling—globalisation. Some argue that it will be henceforth a globalisation led by one single power; others argue that a multi-polar world is now even more a reality. Some have spoken about the rise and relevance of “Asian values” and that the post-Corona centre of the world will be collectively Asian and not dominated by China. Some have also asked whether a global coalition or a collaborative programme for addressing such pandemic challenges of the future can be crystallised minus such successful countries such as Taiwan and their models. However, there is a consensus that the world will see some definite restructuring post Corona and that the “geopolitics of globalisation” will see a clear shift.
Against the backdrop of this continuing global discourse, PM Modi has articulated his vision of India’s position in this emerging new order. His anchor-sheet is “universalism”—a worldview that has been at the core of civilisational India’s evolution and spread, and is again the key in this phase of its renewed expansion. In each of his formulations, Modi has emphasised India’s essence of universalism, and has spoken of how India is ready and active in her global outreach in times of crisis.
The country is being increasingly seen as a reliable and responsible partner. In his interaction with young professionals, PM Modi spoke of his vision of how India can assume a leadership role in this era of global tectonic shifts. He had said that, “the next big ideas from India should find global relevance and application. They should have the ability to drive a positive change not merely for India but for the entire humankind. India, with the right blend of the physical and the virtual, can emerge as the global nerve centre of complex modern multinational supply chains in the post-Covid-19 world. Let us rise to that occasion and seize this opportunity.”
The vision of India has a global player, not a balancer but a dominant power that has always driven her civilisational discourse. This vision has to be sustained and realised; periods of collective crisis and challenges augur major shifts with new directions and discourse opening up. Such challenging times are also times of civilisational opportunities. PM Modi’s call for an “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat”—self-dependent India—aspires to position the country in seizing that historic opportunity. His vision of “Swadeshi” is contemporary, it pushes to unleash our collective material genius and renews our world ties upheld and sustained by our civilisational philosophy of unity and harmony. India under Modi aspires to emerge as a major shaper of events, structure and institutions and does not seek to be an exploitative power.
The post-Covid world order will see the emergence of the Asian century and in the shaping of that century, India shall play a dominant and defining role and in order to fulfil that role, she has to unleash and rekindle her collective genius and speak in her own voice. As the philosopher of India’s cultural soul, Ananda Coomaraswamy had once said, “The voice of free India will not be an echo of any other, however confident, but her own.”Modi’s India refuses to be an echo any longer.
(The writer is the Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation)