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Adani calls global cooperation 'facade', pitches for self-reliant India

Collaborations not condescension is key to the new world order, he said, adding self-defence and self-reliance preoccupy war-wary leaders in Davos

Gautam Adani

Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Back from the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland, richest Indian Gautam Adani on Thursday said international alliances are built on slippery foundations of self-interest and India needs to step up and strengthen self-reliance across sectors -- from vaccination to defence and semiconductors.
Climate change, followed by the pandemic, global supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine and rising inflation have together resulted in worldwide panic and uncertainty, the Adani Group chairman wrote in a post shared on LinkedIn.
In 'The Paradoxes at Davos 2022', he expounded on the current global situation, saying "the state of global affairs has forced us to confront the resulting realpolitik directly rather than hide behind a facade of global cooperation."

Collaborations not condescension is key to the new world order, he said, adding self-defence and self-reliance preoccupy war-wary leaders in Davos.
He said India needs to step up and strengthen self-reliance across all sectors -- be it vaccinations, defence or semiconductors. "It is clear, in this uncertain time, that there is little alternative to effective, confident self-reliance and that we are now onto this era of self-reliance."

"As we go through this process there will be pushbacks -- and we will run into controversies in other parts of the world. So be it. Many will try to stop us building semiconductor plants. Many will dissuade us from investing a larger portion of our GDP in defence. Our principles will come under criticism.
"What we must keep in mind is that many of those who set targets for emissions reductions for India are also those that shy away from acknowledging the disproportionate responsibility borne by a small number of developed countries for the climate crisis. In other words, it is far easier to talk than to walk the talk," Adani said.
He hoped that perhaps better sense will now prevail about what pragmatic energy transitions might look like as opposed to green transitions based on little more than magical thinking.
On one side, the world is too connected now, bound together by trade and the brute logic of the supply chain, but on the other, a combination of the pandemic, followed by the war in Ukraine and the effort to limit climate change, has exposed the limits of global cooperation.
"International alliances and pacts are mutable, built on slippery foundations of self-interest," he said. "Indeed, many of the most economically developed nations on the planet are scrambling to find alternatives to a world they have largely brought about, recognizing belatedly that in the quest for hyper efficiencies they have become too reliant on some nations to meet manufacturing needs and too reliant on others to meet energy needs."

A flat world, he said, was largely a fantasy. "We must learn to navigate the bumps and the curves rather than assume a flattening of our world is possible or perhaps even desirable."

Adani said sustainability is as much about the health of society as it is about the health of the environment. "We must see that equality and dignity are crucial aspects of any effort to combat climate change."

"The time has come for global collaboration rather than cooperation. 'You must cooperate with me' cannot imply coercion. Cooperation cannot only mean cooperate with the existing world order," he said.
India, he said, is right to focus on self-reliance, while also seeking to provide an alternative to a world in need of alternatives.
"If there is a rejigging of the world order, it needs to be one that is based on respectful multipolarity. The world need not be flat. Not when flatness really just means that the world has been forcefully flattened.
"Instead, let's seek a more stable world order built around countries that are self-confident, self-reliant and willing to speak to each other in terms of mutual respect rather than coercion and condescension. This is the paradox we must solve!," he added.
He said attendance from China, Japan and Korea at the World Economic Forum (WEF) was sparse this year and nothing was heard from Russia or much from Ukraine attendees. "In fact, it was a rather one-sided WEF gathering."

"And, frankly, this one-sidedness is a cause for concern. It reflects, perhaps, a growing close-mindedness that became a characteristic of the global response to the pandemic, as countries withdrew behind their borders," he said.
The response to the pandemic around the world has been a strange mix of ingenuity and global cooperation on one hand and blatant selfishness on the other.
He cited the example of speed at which vaccines were developed by scientists collaborating across borders (including in India) and contrasted it with the "deep mistrust, suspicion, prejudice, and greed inherent" in the vaccine rollout, their availability and their pricing, leading to several layers of fracturing within nations and across nations.
"The same pattern of response is evident in the turmoil over energy," he said. "Developed nations that were setting targets and giving stern lectures about climate change to the rest of the world now appear to be less censorious as their own energy security is threatened and prices spiral."

At Davos, delegates ended up discussing defence.
"Clearly, the world has been shaken by the war in Ukraine, as well as the pulling out of troops from Central Asia and the Middle East. When you overlay these concerns with resentment over the uneven distribution of Covid vaccines and the uncertainty around energy supply, it is understandable that nations (even those that are in NATO) are beginning to see sense in augmenting their border security.
"Almost every leader I spoke to acknowledged, and some even explicitly stated, that a new and more sophisticated arms race may now be coming on. Alliances will form and re-form around defence agreements and many countries may prioritize defence manufacture and procurement as a non-negotiable aspect of self-reliance," he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: May 26 2022 | 8:26 PM IST

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