Virtual Diplomacy in Pandemic Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in the online Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group on May 4, 2020, is the latest example of the Indian government using technology to advance diplomacy at a time when face-to-face meetings are not possible. On April 23, 2020, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S. Jaishankar tweeted “the changing world of corona era diplomacy. Strong friendships thrive even virtually”, referring to his slew of virtual conversations with Indian Ambassadors abroad as well as with other Foreign Ministers across the globe.[i] The COVID-19 pandemic has directly affected millions of people worldwide, disrupted economies, and challenged global health. Inescapably, traditional face-to-face high-level diplomacy has also been impacted; there has not been a single foreign engagement for Prime Minister Narendra Modi since President Donald Trump visited India in late February this year. In fact, this is perhaps the first global instance since the outbreak of World War II when heads of states have been unable to travel abroad to meet their counterparts.

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