Why in News?
Recently, Ministry of External Affairs has announced the setting up of a new division on New and Emerging
Strategic Technologies (NEST).
• It will act as the nodal division within the ministry for
issues pertaining to new and emerging technologies.
o Assessing foreign policy and international legal
implications of emerging technology and
o Facilitating negotiations to safeguard Indian
interests at multilateral forum like the United
Nations or the G20.
o Creation of HR capacity within the ministry for technological diplomacy work.
o Collaboration with foreign partners in the field of 5G and artificial intelligence.
Facets of Emerging Technology in Foreign Relations
• Digital diplomacy: It refers to the broader use of technology, particularly the internet and other ICT-based
innovations, in the conduct of diplomacy. Digital measures have roles in negotiations, policy processes, and
crisis managements that are all attached to diplomatic activities.
o For example, despite experiencing an outbreak of Zika virus in 2015 and 2016, the government of Brazil
was able to convince the international society by using social media on their preparedness for the 2016
Olympics and World Cup.
• Technology and the Balance of Power: Emerging technologies primarily shape the balance of power
through military and economic means. Technologies can directly influence countries’ abilities to fight and
win wars. They can also indirectly affect the balance of power by impacting a country’s economic power.
• Security Threats: Use of emerging technologies by non-state actors like terrorist organizations for
recruitment purposes, financial mobilization, illegal surveillance etc is a cause for concern.
• Science diplomacy: Diplomacy for science means making use of diplomacy to gain benefits in science and
technology – bilaterally as well as multilaterally and globally.
o Increasingly, global challenges such as weapons of mass destruction, climate change, cyber security,
outer space, etc. all require scientific inputs in order to understand and deal with them. These challenges
are trans-border and require application of Science and Technology in order to resolve them in addition
to normal diplomatic efforts.
• Access to Technology: The gap between “haves” and “have-nots” can prove to be a cause of conflict in the
future. Poor access to these technologies may create new economic and military asymmetry.
• Soft Power: Sharing technologies for increasing the living choices of the people as well as enhancing social
and public good offers an enormous advantage in foreign policy.
• Foreign Interference in Internal matters: Opinion manipulations using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
pose a big threat to democracies across the world.
o Alleged role of Cambridge Analytica in the Indian election and alleged Russian infiltration in the 2016 US
are the evidence of it.
Challenges for India
• Lack of technical delegates: India lacks an effective recruitment and training mechanism for hiring experts or
training existing diplomats in the field of technological diplomacy.
• Low bargaining power: India’s share in high technology products in the global market is relatively low, and
its import of high technology products is increasing. This could affect its capability to develop soft power in
Lack of existing bilateral agreements related to technology transfer, IT sector etc. to strengthen global
position of India in the field of emerging technology.
• Policy uncertainty and structural challenges: India faces varied issues like multiple regulators, lack of
coordination among departments, absence of coherent and comprehensive domestic policy etc which can
adversely affect India’s negotiating power on International platforms.
• Aligning India’s domestic interests with foreign policy: While India is expected to benefit substantially with
emergence of new technologies in the fields of governance, defense, research etc, issues like job loss via
automation, technological monopoly of global companies etc need to be acknowledged.
• Political sanctions and Intellectual Property regimes restricting the sharing of technology: It would restrict
the flow of information needed for collaborating on International science and technology projects.
Technology is seen as a driver for both power and legitimacy in the areas of foreign affairs and diplomacy.
Therefore, it is important for developing countries to be adequately prepared to tackle these emerging
technologies and protect their interests.
• India should collaborate with foreign partners for research and development of the future technologies.
• A strong legal framework should be developed to minimize the uncertainties of emerging technologies
• It should state its concerns at global platform regarding the risk of these technologies.
• The policy of non-proliferation of harmful military technologies should be adhered.
• There is a need of creating a pool of skillful diplomats specializing in Digital Diplomacy.