Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Crisis facing the global order


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paris agreement

Mains level : Paper 2- Challenges the global order face

The corona crisis has laid bare the fissures in the global order. This article examines the four issues that are principal global challenges. Pandemic has accentuated these challenges.

Principal global challenges

  • 1) Geopolitical tensions 2) Climate crisis. 3) Global mistrust. 4) The dark side of the digital world —  are four issues which U.N. Secretary-General Guterres listed as primary threats.
  • The four challenges have, for now, been overshadowed by the corona pandemic crisis.

1.Climate change challenge

  • The drop in emissions in 2020 is projected to be about 8 per cent down on last year.
  • This drop will just put us on track to where we should be if we are to reach the Paris agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 C.
  • The threat of climate change, although raising its head again, has been constrained.

2.Digital space and its dark side

  • Cyberspace has been a digital saviour during the corona crisis.
  • Virtual communications enhanced through various services, new apps, expanded coverage has been key to enhanced virtual lives for millions by increase of the avenues for working from home, video chat connectivity and online delivery of goods.
  • Companies that have deftly used cyberspace have prospered the most: Amazons net capital gain has been over $400 billion in 2020.
  • However, a surge in cybercrime and cyber fraud is anticipated, if not there already.
  • The logic being that cyberspace use has expanded without commensurate growth in security features.
  • Thee are dire projections of an impending “cyber Pearl Harbour”.

3.Geopolitical tensions

  • Accentuation of geopolitical tensions during the corona crisis is well-documented.
  • The US-China relationship was already deteriorating, the blame game over the virus has exacerbated it.
  • The brazen behaviour of China in matters relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, South China Sea and the India-China border has added to the inflammable state of geopolitics.
  • Rarely has the world seen such paucity of international cooperation since World War II.
  • The unravelling of the international institutions and partnerships that have been built since World War II is stark.

4.Trust deficit among states

  • Trust amongst states has plummeted to its worst since World War II.
  • When faced with corona crisis shortages, almost all EU states responded at the national level.
  • Globally, at one time, more than 70 per cent of the world’s ports of entry — air, sea and land — restricted travel.
  • According to a Global Trade Alert study, nearly 90 governments blocked the export of medical supplies while 29 restricted food exports.

Efficiency to self-sufficiency

  • Lack of trust is also impacting diversified supply chains.
  • The corona crisis is driving a shift from efficiency to self-sufficiency.
  • Japan is paying companies to relocate factories from China.
  • President Emmanuel Macron has pledged “full independence” for France in crucial medical supplies by year-end.
  • Prime Minister Modi has called for self-reliance and being vocal for local in India.
  • In the US, support for “Buy American” benchmarks for government health spending has growing bipartisan support.

India’s role

  •  Challenges that transcend borders are of cardinal importance to India’s well being.
  • It is, therefore, time to conceptualise, in concrete terms, pathways to address them.
  • This will need to include our envisaging the new order and India’s own role in it as well as who our partners in this venture are to be.
  • Others are already working on their game plans.

Consider the question “The cracks in the global order were apparent but the pandemic has accentuated the challenges to the global order. In light of this, examine the challenges to global order is facing the role that India should play.”


If India wants to be “rule shapers” rather than being “rule takers”, then we need to start working in partnership at blueprints for change. It is never too early to plan for the future

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Yogeshwar Misal
Yogeshwar Misal
1 year ago