India’s role in a disordered world


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: GATT

Mains level: Paper 2- Challenges to global order


Western nations want to throw Russia out of the G-20. China has opposed them. India will be chair of the G-20 from December 1, 2022. The world is greatly disordered. What should India stand for?

Challenges to the global order

  • The war in Ukraine in February 2022 has put the final nail in the coffin of the boundary-less global economy that seemed to be emerging with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
  • Vaccines were hoarded by rich countries in the COVID-19 pandemic: poor countries starved.
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) was already in a bad state before the novel coronavirus pandemic, with rich and poor countries unable to agree on equitable rules, when COVID-19 froze global supply chains.
  • Institutions of global governance have failed to unite the world.

Global order and governance challenge

  • In the aftermath of the Second World war, new institutions for global governance were established — the United Nations and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide finance to build the economies of all countries to eliminate poverty.
  • However, the victors retained their veto power within the United Nations Security Council to determine when force can be used to keep the world in order, and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear power.
  • The UN General Assembly meets every year — now 193 nations strong.
  • It passes many resolutions to address global problems — hunger, poverty, women’s rights, terrorism, climate change, etc.
  • However, “might is right”: members of the Security Council retain their right to deny the democratic will of the Assembly when it does not suit them.
  • Global governance is not democratic.

G-7 and G-20

  • The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan, West Germany and Canada formed the G7 in 1976. ‘so that the noncommunist powers could come together to discuss economic concerns, which at the time included inflation and recession following the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil embargo’.
  • The European Union was invited to attend in 1977.
  • Russia joined in 1998 — and ‘its inclusion was meant as a signal of cooperation between East and West after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991’.
  • However, Russia was removed from G-8 in 2014 when it invaded the Crimea. China was never a member.
  • After the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was formed in 1999 with the aim of discussing policies in order to achieve international financial stability.
  • Russia and China are members.
  • Now western nations want to throw Russia out of the G-20. China has opposed them.
  • India will be chair of the G-20 from December 2022.
  • Meanwhile, India is being hectored by officials from the U.S. and the U.K. to support their sanctions on Russia.
  • India has so far refused to be cowed down.

Backlash against globalisation

  • The belief that unfettered flows of finance and trade across national borders will lift people in all poor countries out of poverty and make the world flatter in terms of inequality has failed.
  •  Strong leaders who put the interests of their own countries first are gaining power through elections — in Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and even India.
  • Free market capitalism is not ideologically compatible with a genuine democracy.
  • Capitalist institutions are governed by the fundamental principle of ‘property rights’.
  • Whereas, genuine democracies are founded on the principle of equal human rights.
  • The rules of governance of capitalist and democratic institutions have always been in tension within societies.
  • Capitalist institutions want to be unfettered by democratic regulations to make it easier to do business.
  • Democratic institutions want to rein in the competitive animal spirits of capitalism to create a more compassionate capitalism.


To prevent violence, it is essential that global governance becomes genuinely democratic. Countries must not attack each other. But they must be given the freedom to evolve their own democracies and economies and not be dictated to by others.

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