Diplomacy: 25 Years from now

Rohit Vadhwana Wednesday 12th April 2023 08:04 EDT
Everything is changing. And they are changing so quickly that we are not getting time to absorb what has already happened before a new change comes. The transformation from the Machines Age to the Internet Age and now the forthcoming Artificial Intelligence Age shows that the pace of change has multiplied. We don't know what is in store in the near future that will affect every aspect of our lives. As a diplomat, if I cast my sight on the horizon 25 years from now, I can see both - change and continuity. Because something never changes. Diplomacy has been part of our life, society, and international relations since the origin of our society. We all are diplomats in our daily lives. Diplomatic skills are used in family and business. Yet, when it comes to international relations, this field requires very specialized knowledge, skill, and attitude. Used properly, diplomacy can save millions of lives, and vice versa. This importance of diplomacy will continue to increase in the future. Speaking in terms of international relations, diplomatic relations are already undergoing changes. The way of communication has become faster and more direct. Earlier there used to be diplomatic bags through which Ambassadors would send reports and assessments to the headquarters. Today, most of them are sent through electronic mediums, even though diplomatic bags still exist for a very specific purpose. Many meetings are conducted online, in virtual modes. This is a drastic change we have seen because of covid-19, that most of the meetings and conferences are in hybrid mode. People have the choice to travel to the venue or join from their place. It has influenced diplomacy also. Imagine a meeting being conducted from Delhi, in the midday would be joined by India's diplomats sitting across the world, many in the mid of the night. It is no more a business of Embassy hours. This change will become more and more permanent. Diplomacy will be conducted through distance. No wonder if the presence of Ministers in big conferences are seen through their hologram 25 years from now. Another essential part of diplomacy is meeting people, networking, and making connections. It used to be much less frequent during diplomatic parties, national days, or visits of high-level dignitaries. Sometimes it would be on special invitations. There were many events where diplomats were not required to be present, but today, they are working more like corporate executives than government representatives. Their task is not only limited to political insights and assessments but also keeping an eye on the commercial and technological developments in the country of their posting. Trade and commerce have taken up a large part of diplomatic work today. And in the next 25 years to come, it will further dominate the space. Economic might will certainly define the power of a state. Therefore, economic diplomacy will play a more important role 25 years from now. Defense and military ties are always part of diplomatic work since ancient times. In fact, it is said that diplomacy is a means to avoid war. When diplomacy fails, the war begins. British politician Tony Benn said, 'All war represents a failure of diplomacy.' At a time it was felt that two nations with nuclear power would never go to war but it has proven fragile argument, although nuclear deterrent has worked to a certain extent. In the future, we cannot rule out the dominance of military powers, but it will have to make space for economic might. Raw strength in the defense sector might prove futile. therefore, with time, the power will be exercised more in terms of technological and economic might. For countries like India, which has a strong diaspora abroad, the time frame of 25 years in the future, it is expected that the role of the diaspora will be more important. Today, the Indian diaspora is occupying important positions globally, in politics, international institutions, and the corporate world. The future holds a much stronger connection between diplomacy and diaspora. No wonder India has divisions in the Ministry of External Affairs that focus on connecting with the diaspora abroad. Our diplomacy has already seen changes in diaspora connection, starting from long-term visas to PIO cards, and then OCI cards. They have increased the access and assimilation of the diaspora in Indian society and the economy. In 25 years, there will be even closer integration on this front. It is not easy to predict changes in the next two and half decades, but I am making this assumption as conservative as well as hopeful. 

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