Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

COVID-19 and the crumbling world order


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- What factors led to the failure of global world order in dealing with Covid-19, what would be the impact of Covid19 on the globalisation?

Theme of this article is the failure of the world order in mounting a collective fight against the epidemic that has become the global problem. Role of WHO has also come under the scanner. Functioning and reluctance of UNSC to discuss the pandemic have raised questions over its relevance. The issue of China’s growing influence and implications for the rest of the world are being discussed. In the past week, some newspaper articles have covered the same issue for instance-“The deep void in global leadership” in the Hindu.

Failure of the world order and global institutions

  • The contemporary global order and institutions were a hegemonic exercise meant to deal with isolated political and military crises and not serve humanity at large.
  • COVID-19 has exposed this as well as the worst nativist tendencies of the global leadership in the face of a major crisis.
  • That the United Nations Security Council took so long to meet (that too inconclusively) to discuss the pandemic is a ringing testimony to the UN’s insignificance.

The above para. indicates that global order we are living in was made for entirely different purpose i.e. to maintain the peace and they are not capable to deal with the Covid-19  like challenges. So, from UPSC mains point of view you must take note of this.

Failure of regional groupings

  • Regional institutions haven’t fared any better.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s SAARC initiative, curiously resurrecting a practically dead institution, was short-lived.
  • The EU, the most progressive post-national regional arrangement, stood clueless when the virus spread like wildfire in Europe.
  • Its member states turned inward for solutions: self-help, not regional coordination, was their first instinct. Brussels is the loser.

What these failures indicate?

  • These failures are indicative of a deeper malaise: the global institutional framework is unrepresentative, a pawn in the hands of the great powers, cash-strapped, and its agenda is focused on high-table security issues.
  • The global institutional architecture of the 1940s cannot help humanity face the challenges of the 2020s.
  • What can be the solutions? Nothing less than a new social contract between states and the international system can save our future.

Here we come across  the reasons for the failure of the world order and institutions. UPSC has asked questions related to UNESCO in 2019, who knows next could be the WHO.

Factors that will help China come out stronger from the pandemic

  • Reports indicate that China has now managed the outbreak of COVID-19, and its industrial production is recovering even as that of every other country is taking a hit.
  • The oil price slump will make its recovery even faster.
  • When the greatest military power found itself in denial mode and the members of the EU were looking after their own interests, China appeared to use its manufacturing power to its geopolitical advantage.
  • Beijing has offered medical aid and expertise to those in need; it has increased cooperation with its arch-rival Japan.
  • This will aid Beijing’s claims to global leadership, push Huawei 5G trials as a side bargain, and showcase how the Belt and Road Initiative is the future of global connectivity.
  • COVID-19 will further push the international system into a world with Chinese characteristics.

As China comes to dominate the emerging world order, we must pay attention to things related to China. Here, we can note down the factors that could help China emerge out stronger from the corona crisis.

Implications for globalisation: the rise of protectionism and hypernationalism

  • Neoliberal economic globalisation will have taken a major beating in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Economists are warning of a global recession.
  • How the world reacted? The first instinct of every major economy was to close borders, look inwards and
  • The pre-existing structural weakness of the global order and the COVID-19 shock will further feed states’ protectionist tendencies fueled by hypernationalism.
  • A more inclusive global political and economic order is unlikely any time soon, if ever.
  • Instead, as former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon warns, “we are headed for a poorer, meaner, and smaller world.”
  • How this epidemic impact big corporations? The ability of big corporations to dictate the production, stocks, supply chains and backup plans will be limited by increased state intervention to avoid unpredictable supply sources, avoid geopolitically sensitive zones, and national demands for emergency reserves.
  • The profits of big corporations will reduce, and the demand for stability will increase.
  • Will the world after Covid-19 be more balance? State intervention in economic matters and protectionism are the easy way out, and that’s precisely what states will do once the crisis is over.
  • It would be a return of the ‘Licence Raj’ through the backdoor, not a push for inclusive and responsible globalisation with its associated political benefits.

It is clear now that post-Covid-19 world would be different from the world we know today. Globalisation would take a significant beating. And globalisation is important topic from mains point of view. So, pay close attention to the points mentioned here.

Will post-Covid-19 world lead to some positive controls?

  • Rise of state-led models: With the severe beating that globalisation has taken, state-led models of globalisation and economic development would be preferred over (big) corporates-led globalisation.
  • Will this enable some positive controls over the inherent deficiencies of globalisation? We will have to wait and see.
  • The relation between capitalists and the states: But the more important question is whether the state has any incentive to take on big capital.
  • Given the symbiotic relationship between the state and big capital, states have become used to protecting the interests of their corporations, often at the cost of the general public.
  • States preferred capital over health: Consider, for instance, that the first response of many Western states was to protect their capital markets than be concerned about public health.

Rise of racism in post-Covid-19 world

  • Yet another undesirable outcome of the pandemic would be a spike in various forms of discrimination.
  • Globally, societies could become more self-seeking and inward-looking leading to further pushback against liberal policies regarding migration and refugees.
  • Implications for world trade: New questions are likely to be asked about the source of goods. More stringent imposition of phytosanitary measures by advanced states on products emanating from the less developed countries might become the new normal.
  • Lockdowns and travel restrictions could potentially legitimise the rhetoric around border walls in more conservative countries.
  • Tragically, therefore, while one answer to global pandemics is political globalisation, COVID-19 might further limit it.


The world order needs to wake up to new reality take measures to avoid the above listed undesired fallouts that could emerge in the post-Covid-19 world, and before that there is an urgent need for the global coalition to deal with the pandemic.


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