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Quad cooperation on science & tech ‘should be committed to human-centred values’, say experts

At Global Technology Summit 2021, organised by MEA & Carnegie India, panelists from India, Australia, US & Japan discuss the subject ‘Beyond Borders: Science & Technology Cooperation’.

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New Delhi: Scientific and technological cooperation among Quad countries needs commitment to “human-centred values”, an expert panel said Tuesday at the sixth edition of the Global Tech Summit, jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and think tank Carnegie India.

“It is becoming increasingly important [for Quad partners] to protect and promote human-centred values, inclusiveness and accountability so that technology can contribute to the sound development of free democratic society,” said Scientific and Technology Adviser to Japan’s foreign ministry, Yoichiro Matsumoto.

While innovations in technology can contribute great strides to human progress, they can also be maligned, which raises questions about “economic security”, Matsumoto added.

He was joined in the discussion by India’s Principal Scientific Adviser K. VijayRaghavan, Australia Chief Scientist Cathy Foley, and Acting Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State, Allison Schwier.

The panel addressed the first-day session, Beyond Borders: Science & Technology Cooperation, at the flagship event on geotechnology held annually since 2016. ThePrint is a digital partner at this year’s virtual event.

“Japan also recognises that commercial technology, including emerging technology such as 5G… brings economic benefit while at the same time can affect civil liberties, human lives and national security. Maybe we should seriously think about economic security,” Matsumoto added.

Schwier called on “like-minded” countries like the US, India, Japan and Australia to become “beacons” of science and technological innovation.

“The best way we can uphold our shared values… is to make sure that the US and like-minded countries such as India, Japan and Australia are beacons of technological innovation,” she said. This can be achieved if the four nations invest in domestic capabilities while also maintaining strong networks of companies, civil societies and universities.

Also Read: Quad partnership a ‘real, contemporary arrangement’ to look at present issues, says Jaishankar

‘Science, tech can help Quad build resilient supply chains’

Asked how Quad countries can build resilient supply chains, VijayRaghavan said the current disruptions in global supply chains are due to “lack of foresight”.

“The reason we are in this position is because of a lack of foresight about our need to pay now for costs rather than postpone them to the future. Because we postponed environmental, biodiversity and industrial costs for our need of goods right now, we ended up pushing manufacturing to the cheapest, highest-quality location and became consumers or assemblers,” he said.

However, science and technology provides an opportunity to make manufacturing more efficient and local, especially in areas like semiconductors, biotechnology, additive and solar and hydrogen energy industries, he added.

Schwier also mentioned biotechnology as one of the focal points for the Quad that has the potential to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also Read: India-Russia ties are ‘back on track’ — that’s the message from Putin visit and 2+2 talks


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