U.S. needs to ‘go beyond’ alliances, says S. Jaishankar

It has to learn to work with a more multipolar world, says Minister.

Updated - November 28, 2021 12:41 pm IST

Published - July 22, 2020 11:07 pm IST

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. Photo: Twitter/@USIBC

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. Photo: Twitter/@USIBC

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has said that the U.S. needs to learn to work with a more multipolar world and “go beyond” alliances. His comments, made at the U.S. India Business Council’s India Ideas Summit, echoed remarks he made earlier this week that India would never be part of an alliance .

“I think the U.S. really has to learn to work ... with a more multipolar world, with more plurilateral arrangements, go beyond alliances with which really it has grown up over the last two generations,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

“I am now specifically referring to India, given our history of independence and the fact that we really are coming [from] different places. There will be issues on which our convergence would be more, somewhere it would be less. I think the quest in the last 20 years, and I see that continuing into the future, is really to find more common ground.”

Both India and the U.S. are currently grappling with a more assertive China and tensions in their bilateral relationships with China.

“We have the ability today, by working together to shape the world…We are working on maritime security, counter-terrorism, connectivity, how to respond in the case of corona to pandemics…even issues like climate change, the knowledge economy. So, I think a large part of it is how do we actually, while strengthening our bilateral agenda, shape a larger agenda,” he said.

Innovation-tech partnership

Mr. Jaishankar was optimistic that the trade differences between India and the U.S. could be resolved and the relationship be shifted to a “higher gear”.


“This ability to work together in the world of innovation and technology, I think that is really what will set our relationship apart. There, it is vital that we have a …very strong convergence on the big picture.”

Mr. Jaishankar said India was changing and the conversations India and the U.S. were currently having as, “rebalancing of the world economy conversations” where “up and coming players” have some different concerns from “ established players”.

“Established players obviously want, in many cases, the advantages which work for them currently to continue in the long run. I think it will be fair to accommodate the legitimate concerns of emerging economies, emerging companies, emerging technologies. And that harmonisation, how will we do that? I think that’s a very important part of our relationship building,” he said.

Warner’s call

Mark Warner, Democratic Senator from Virginia and Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, a discussant in the panel with Mr. Jaishankar, called for a technological “alliance of the willing” to counter China’s domination in the field.

“I think this idea of countering the Communist Party of China’s rise and desire to dominate new technologies may be a chance for a new set of cooperation [sic] between India, the United States, based on these technology alliances,” Mr. Warner said.

Mr. Warner also said he and Republican Senator John Cornyn were trying to get an amendment into the National Defence Authorization Act (FY2021) that would give India the highest possible non-NATO status with regard to defence trade with the U.S. Such a law would place India on a par with countries like Israel, New Zealand and Australia, in terms of its access to sensitive U.S. defence technology. Previous attempts at similar legislation, such as in 2016 and 2019, did not pass although India was granted Major Defence Partner status in 2016.

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