From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : I2U2
Mains level : Paper 2- Changes in global order
Adrift at the end of the 20th century, the world of the 21st century is proving to be highly chaotic.
Lack of strong European leadership
- Europe has been undergoing several major changes in recent months
- Germany, which has steered European politics for almost two wdecades under Angela Merkel, now has a Chancellor (Olaf Scholz) who has hardly any foreign policy experience.
- Without Germany’s steadying hand, Europe would be virtually adrift in troubled waters.
- Emmanuel Macron may have been re-elected the President of France, but his wings have been clipped with the Opposition now gaining a majority in the French National Assembly.
- The United Kingdom is in deep trouble, if not disarray.
- Consequently, at a time when actual and moral issues require both deft and firm handling, Europe appears rudderless.
- Economic impact: Compounding this situation is the negative economic impact of the war in Ukraine.
- What is evident already is that apart from the spiralling cost of energy, food and fertilizers, quite a few countries confront the spectre of food scarcity given that Ukraine and Russia were generally viewed as the granaries of the world.
- Apart from this, nations do face several other problems as well, including, in some cases, a foreign exchange crisis.
- The instruments employed by the West against Russia, such as sanctions, have not had the desired impact as far as the latter is concerned.
Growing Russia-China closeness and its implications for Indo-Pacific
- The situation in Europe is still to be decided, but what is also becoming obvious is that outside Europe, the conflict is beginning to take on a different dimension, leading to the emergence of new patchworks of relationships.
- China’s growing influence in the Pacific region, including in the Indo-Pacific, and further strengthened by the entente with Russia, may hardly be a by-product of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, but it has induced fresh energy into a possible conflict between two rival power blocs.
- Asia unwilling to take sides: Understanding the changing nature of relationships in Asia, and considering that most Asian nations appear unwilling to take sides in the event of a conflict, is important.
- No unity of purpose: Unlike the unity and the strength displayed by European nations — there is no evidence of any such unity of purpose in the event that China was to launch a conflict with Taiwan.
Challenges for India
- India cannot ignore the situation created by the stronger bonds between Russia and China.
- Uncertainty about Russia: India will need to determine whether Russia can be expected to play a role as a ‘trusted friend’ of India’s.
- Again, it would be too much to hope that in dealing with China, India can expect the same kind of support it may need from the Quad.
- China sidelining India: China, however, seems intent on establishing its dominance and also sidelining India in Asia, which New Delhi would have discerned in the course of the virtual BRICS Summit hosted by China in June.
- Afghanistan challenge: Apart from China, India also urgently needs to come to terms with a Taliban Afghanistan.
- Sri Lanka Challenge: At this time, the democratic upsurge in Sri Lanka presents India with a fresh set of problems.
- In a situation where ‘rage’ and ‘anger’ are the dominant sentiments, there is every reason for concern that even governments that have maintained a ‘hands-off’ relationship could become targets of the new forces emerging in Sri Lanka.
Major developments in West Asia
- The Abraham Accords in 2020, which brought about the entente between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, has been the harbinger of certain new trends in the tangled web of relationships among countries of West Asia.
- But even as the U.S.’s relations with Arab nations in West Asia appear to weaken, Russia and China are beginning to play key roles, with Iran as the fulcrum for establishing new relationships.
- China continues to steadily build on its connections with the region, and with Iran in particular.
- How India is dealing with the situation: India has been making steady progress in enlarging its contacts and influence in West Asia.
- While the India-Israel relationship dates back to the 1990s, the India-UAE relationship has blossomed in the past couple of years.
- India-Iran relations, however, seem to have reached a stalemate of late.
- Issues with I2U2: India has joined a U.S.-based group, the I2U2, comprising India, Israel the UAE and the U.S.
- Details of the new arrangements are unclear, but it is evident that the target is Iran, as China is for the Quad, injecting yet another element of uncertainty into an already troubled region.
Implications for nuclear deterrence
- The argument being adduced is that a wide gap exists today in regard to China and India’s nuclear deterrent capabilities, and implicitly blames India for its voluntary ban on testing and its ‘no-first-use’ doctrine from making progress in this arena.
- What is also implied is that India could overcome the lacuna by seeking the assistance of western nations which have such capabilities and knowledge.
- Way forward for India: It is important for India to guard against such pernicious attempts at this time to undo its carefully negotiated and structured nuclear policy and doctrine, and be inveigled into any anti-China western move on this front.
Geopolitical experts in the West confine their findings at present solely to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, believing that this alone would determine not only war and peace but also other critical aspects as well. Significant developments are also taking place in many other regions of the globe, which will have equal if not more relevance to the future of the international governance system.