Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

New global order in post-Covid-19 world

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Changes in the post-Covid-19 world in geopolitics and the geoeconomics.

The article discusses the changes that the world will experience in the global order in the aftermath of Covid-19. The major changes will be on the economic and geopolitical front. Various changes are discussed in the article. We have read some article on the same topic and the basic theme is the same. Role of China and the US, failure of the international institutions are some of the common themes.

Failure of international institutions

  • The existing international institutions such as the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council and the World Health Organization (WHO) are seen to have failed to measure up to the grave challenge posed by the pandemic.
  • The UN Security Council is under attack for being slow in dealing with a situation that appears, at least on the surface, far graver than any military threat in recent decades.
  • The WHO has been tarred with the charge of bias and of grossly underestimating the nature of the epidemic.
  • That prestigious global institution should have been singled out for attack at this time speaks volumes about the mood prevailing across the world.

Economic shock

  • There are many other aspects of the COVID-19 crisis that will drastically impact the globe.
  • Negative growth: On the economic front, the World Bank has already predicted negative growth for most nations. India’s growth forecast for the current fiscal year has been put at 5% to 2.8%.
  • Contraction of the economy and the loss of millions of jobs across all segments will further complicate this situation.

One of the most important factors that we realised in the corona crisis in the role of the state. Take note of this factor. A question can be asked on the role of the state, for ex. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the important role of the state in our lives. comment.”

The important role of the state in focus

  • What is likely to change even more dramatically are certain other aspects relating to political management and security. Both terms are set to gain new meanings.
  • The role of the state as an enforcer of public goodwill almost certainly become greatly enhanced.
  • The dominant imperative would be to not put limits on the role of the state even where the situation may not be as grave as the present one.
  • Many pieces of legislation of yesteryears that had been relegated to the archives — they were perceived to be anachronistic in a modern democratic set-up — may get a new lease of life.
  • Some pieces of legislation such as the Disaster Management Act already reflect this reality today.
  • Other pieces of legislation could follow in its wake.
  • This trend is already becoming evident to some extent across the world. Europe has shown a willingness to sacrifice personal liberties in favour of greater state control.
  • Post COVID-19, the world may have to pay a heavy price in terms of loss of liberty. An omnipotent state could well become a reality.

Following are the changes in geo-economics and geo-politics that post-covid world would see.

Role of China under scrutiny

  • Far-reaching changes can also be anticipated in the realm of geo-economics and geopolitics. The world needs to prepare for a sea change.
  • One nation, viz. China, is presently seeking to take advantage of and benefit from the problems faced by the rest of the world in the wake of the epidemic.
  • Negligence on the part of China: China remains totally unfazed by the stigma that the current world pandemic owes a great deal to its negligence.
  • More importantly, it is seeking to convert its ‘failure’ into a significant opportunity.
  • This is Sino-centrism at its best, or possibly its worst.
  • China now seeks to benefit from the fact of its ‘early recovery’.
  • It wants to take advantage of the travails of the rest of the world, by using its manufacturing capability to its geo-economic advantage.
  • Seeking geopolitical advantage: Simultaneously, it seeks to shift from being a Black Swan (responsible for the pandemic), to masquerade as a White one, by offering medical aid and other palliatives to several Asian and African countries to meet their current pandemic threat.
  • In turn, it seeks to gain a geopolitical advantage by this action.

Hostile takeover bids by China

  • There are enough reports of China’s intentions to acquire financial assets and stakes in banks and companies across the world amid crisis.
  • Shares in HDFC: India seems to have woken up only recently to this threat after the Peoples’ Bank of China acquired a 1% stake in India’s HDFC.
  • Across the world, meanwhile, the clamour against China’s hostile takeover bids is becoming stronger.
  • Several countries apart from India, such as Australia and Germany, have begun to restrict Chinese foreign direct investment in companies and financial institutions in their countries.
  • These countries recognised the inherent danger of a possible Chinese hostile takeover of their critical assets.

China taking advantage of RCEP and Belt and Road initiative

  • Restricting hostile takeovers may not be adequate to checkmate China.
  • It is poised to dominate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • Which will enable China to exploit market access across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, East Asian nations, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Together with its Belt and Road Initiative, China is ostensibly preparing the way for a China-centric multilateral globalisation framework.

The diminishing role of the US’s and Europe

  • The geopolitical fallout of this pandemic could be still more serious.
  • One distinct possibility is that COVID-19 would effectively put paid to the existing global order that has existed since the late 1940s.
  • The United States which is already being touted in some circles as a ‘failing’ state, will be compelled to cede ground.
  • Weakened economically and politically after COVID-19 has ravaged the nation, the U.S.’s capacity to play a critical role in world affairs is certain to diminish.
  • The main beneficiary of this geopolitical turnaround is likely to be China, a country that does not quite believe in playing by the rules of international conduct.
  • Weakened Europe: Europe, in the short and medium-term, will prove incapable of defining and defending its common interests, let alone having any influence in world affairs.
  • Role of Germany: Germany, which may still retain some of its present strength, is already turning insular.
  • Both France and the post-Brexit United Kingdom will be out of the reckoning as of now.

Problems in West Asia and the possible role of Israel

  • In West Asia, both Saudi Arabia and Iran are set to face difficult times.
  • The oil price meltdown will aggravate an already difficult situation across the region.
  • There may be no victors, but Israel may be one country that is in a position to exploit this situation to its advantage.

India: Economic and geopolitical challenges

  • In the meantime, the economic downturn greatly reduces India’s room for manoeuvre.
  • In South Asia, India faces the prospect of being isolated, with the Chinese juggernaut winning Beijing new friends and contacts across a region deeply impacted by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Likewise, India’s leverage in West Asia — already greatly diminished — will suffer further.
  • With oil prices going down and the Indian expatriate community (who are among the hardest hit by this downturn) out on a limb.
  • Reduction in remittances: Many of the latter may seek repatriation back to the host country, substantially reducing the inflow of foreign funds to India from the region.

A question based on the changes in the global order in the post-pandemic world could be asked by the UPSC, for ex- “In the post-Covid-19 world, we are experiencing several changes. What are the changes in the geo-politics that are likely to affect India’s interests?”

Conclusion

In the post-Covid-19 world, we are about to see many changes on the economic and geopolitical front. India should prepare itself for the emerging challenges on various fronts.

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