Techno-diplomacy involves skillful negotiations between nations with conflicting technological interests and the capacity to cooperate on science and technology even amidst challenging political relations. A nation’s technological prowess is intertwined with its national identity, often leading to protectionist tendencies and debates about self-reliance. The complexities arising from the expansion of digital spaces and the emergence of strategic technologies present numerous challenges for India’s techno-diplomacy efforts.

Priority Areas for India’s Techno-Diplomacy:

Managing Dependence on China:

  • Chinese investors are influential in India’s technology landscape, raising concerns about cyber-espionage and technology transfer.
  • India should strategically attract investments, limit markets that threaten national security, employ legal tools to access technology, and establish oversight mechanisms.
  • Example: Implementing investment screening mechanisms to safeguard sensitive sectors while maintaining technological cooperation.

Navigating Technological Protectionism:

  • While participating in global coalitions like the Quadrilateral Initiative, India should be cautious of restrictions that might harm its interests.
  • Balancing involvement in alliances with the preservation of national interests and security.
  • Example: Collaborating with international partners while safeguarding indigenous innovation in emerging technologies.

Global Data Governance:

  • Addressing challenges related to cross-border data flows and regulations.
  • Defining and aligning concepts of ‘data’ domestically and internationally, ensuring harmonious policy tools.
  • Example: Developing a comprehensive data protection framework that accommodates both domestic concerns and international obligations.

Setting Standards:

  • Clarifying India’s stance on international law in cyberspace and emerging technology contexts.
  • Establishing a coherent approach to engagement with international institutions to shape standards and norms.
  • Example: Active participation in international organizations to influence the creation of standards for AI, IoT, and 5G technologies.

Private Sector Engagement:

  • Defining the role of India’s private sector in shaping global norms for emerging technologies.
  • Strengthening collaboration between the government and industry for effective coordination.
  • Example: Collaborative efforts between the government and tech industry in formulating ethical guidelines for AI development.

Presence at Norm-Making Forums:

  • Enhancing India’s participation in key norm-setting processes related to emerging technologies.
  • Active involvement in international forums like the Budapest Convention and UN discussions on autonomous weapons and cyberspace behavior.
  • Example: Joining initiatives like the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace to demonstrate commitment to responsible behavior.

The establishment of the New, Emerging, and Strategic Technologies (NEST) division within the Ministry of External Affairs signifies India’s recognition of the vital role that emerging technologies play in shaping its foreign policy. By strategically addressing its dependence on certain nations, navigating protectionist tendencies, actively engaging in global data governance, shaping international standards, fostering private sector collaboration, and participating in norm-making processes, India can effectively advance its techno-diplomacy efforts amidst the complex landscape of digital expansion and emerging technologies.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish May 1, 2024