Smart diplomacy: Needs tech-driven approach
A calling need for tech-savviness in state diplomacy with a tech-managed system has assumed diplomatic importance to promote techno-economic cooperation and trade promotion. Technical knowledge about economic and trade connections with both the developed and emerging countries would substantially help to conduct diplomatic dealings with ease and confidence
All-permeating tech development has been splashing at irresistible speed with incredible achievements since the past few decades. Its grip over society is becoming tighter in every shade and nuance. Life is being pushed aside far from nature.
Benefits bestowed by it, though, are all welcome despite its challenge to the pristine natural surroundings.
It has even miraculously made intrusive inroads into distant space, considered the last resort of human activity. In fact, human ingenuity has deeply played an incredible role in making spectacular strides in technology.
Of course, the biggest beneficiaries are, no doubt, humans. They have enjoyed its all enabling and life-saving facilities. Hence, we find an enormous number of technophiles, despite some murmuring of technophobia. Human wisdom and consciousness have prevailed over voices for unwanted use of technology.
Being tech-savvy is now rated as a discrete element to handle any state or nonstate action, sparing nothing else on earth, with its remarkable omnipotence and ubiquity.Doubtlessly, biotechnology today is a wonder. Artificial Intelligence with a human touch can add on more wonders.
Technological narratives are all at large.
All-embracing tech-development has such wide-ranging impact that diplomatic dealings too have become more attuned to the technical sphere. Science diplomacy, as part of advancing technical cooperation, has been contributing to ramping up its cooperative activity. For example, the Boston Innovation ecosystem of the United States has already become a notable hub for scientific and technical exchange and cooperation between states. Dozens of foreign countries have deputed Science Attaches and relevant diplomatic officials to Boston accredited from their respective embassies in Washington DC.
In my career as a diplomat even three decades ago, I had seen neighbouring India and Pakistan deputing engineers in their diplomatic missions in Germany. Their work activities were seen as a diplomatic job to promote technical cooperation between Germany and their respective countries. Ever increasing technical interaction and relevant cooperation under the diplomatic process have more recently emerged as an irreversible trend in international dealings.
The outbreak of COVID-19 and the rapid development of digitisation have accentuated the impact.
For example, the Serum Institute of India recently drew global attention, particularly in neighbouring countries Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Maldives, for its willingness to supply vaccines to combat the virus. It has one of the largest facilities for mass production of vaccines.
Recently, Shenzhen, a fishing village in China only some decades ago, has attracted attention from around the world as it is now developing as the Silicon Valley of China. The city became a notable place to start the Renminbi in the form of official digital currency on an experimental basis since last October.
China is said to begin work on a digital bank and digital wallet for normal transactions.
Foreign diplomats, both from the developing and developed countries, with relevant technical knowledge of Delhi-based and Beijing-based embassies have observed tech developments in India and China.
Value-added and strategic importance of technical activity relevant to diplomatic functions is, thus, gaining increasing traction.
A calling need for tech-savviness in state diplomacy with a tech-managed system has assumed diplomatic importance to promote techno-economic cooperation and trade promotion. Technical knowledge about economic and trade connections with both the developed and emerging countries would substantially help to conduct diplomatic dealings with ease and confidence.
When we throw a cursory glance at Nepal’s diplomatic list, we don’t find any diplomats with a technical background. This void needs to be filled as soon as possible to make Nepal’s diplomacy intoned with technical savviness to reduce the dependence of the Foreign Ministry on the tech-related departments even for a bit of technical advice. That will, in turn, enhance the coordination ability of the Foreign Ministry perceptibly.
It would be pertinent to quote a research-based idea from an eminent expert: “Think tanks are twentieth century organisational inventions to ‘bridge research and policy’.
The raison d’etre of these organisations is to have impact” (Stone 2013).
However, Nepal lacks a genuinely functioning think tank to productively connect between research and policy for better coordination and cooperation to assist any official organisations with necessary inputs and feedback for their flawless work performance.
True, a think tank should be autonomous in its activity with necessary academic and financial resources at its disposal.
Meanwhile, persons engaged in the think tank need to be creative and contributing as well as fearless and open-minded.
Their thrust of mind and thought should be invariably inclined to productive knowledge production, searching for appropriate recommendations, problem tackling, and new pathway tracking to effectively meet new challenges emerging from events happening around the world.
In fact, the above expert’s intent is that any think tank should have impact.
Currently, the challenge thrown by fast-paced tech development has called for a need fora think tank that can essentially bolster tech-savvy diplomatic navigation with tech-managed diplomatic conduct as a helping institution to make Nepal’s diplomacy capable enough to “bridge research and policy” to meet every sort of tech-related challenge.
Inherently passive and parsimonious diplomacy cannot be performing in the newer context, while tech-animated smart diplomacy would be of good value in the tech-dominated years.