From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : League of Nations
Mains level : Paper 2- Changing global order and opportunities for India
Despite China’s rise, the world will remain committed to multi-polar order. The article highlights the emerging trends in the global order against the backdrop of a pandemic and explains how there could be an opportunity for India.
Changing geopolitical landscape and choices India face
- As the world is slowly recovering from the disruption caused by the pandemic, there are worrying intimations of other crises looming round the corner.
- Geopolitics has been transformed and power equations are being altered.
- There are a new set of winners and losers in the economic changes.
- Technological advancement will magnify these changes.
- India will need to make difficult judgements about the world that is taking shape and find its place in a more complex and shifting geopolitical landscape.
- As the pandemic recedes, the world could draw the right lessons and proceed on a more hopeful trajectory.
Unlearnt lessons: lack of international cooperation
- Most challenges the world faces are global, like the pandemic.
- However, international cooperation in either developing an effective vaccine or responding to its health impacts has been minimal.
- The pre-existing trend towards nationalist urgings, the weakening of international institutions and multilateral processes continues.
- Even in the distribution of vaccines, we are witnessing a cornering of supplies by a handful of rich nations.
Need for a collaborative solution
- Global challenges such as climate change, cybersecurity, space security, terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and ocean and terrestrial pollution demand collaborative, not competitive solutions.
- The challenges require some display of statesman-like leadership to mobilise action on a global scale.
- The nation-state will endure but its conduct will need to be tempered by a spirit of internationalism and a sense of common humanity.
Role of China and Asia
- The pre-pandemic shift in the centre of gravity of the global economy and political power and influence, from the trans-Atlantic to the trans-Pacific, has been reinforced under the impact of the crisis.
- East Asian and South-East Asian countries are the first to register the green shoots of recovery.
- China has been the first large economy to witness a significant rebound in its growth rate.
- The regional supply chains centred on China have been reinforced rather than disrupted.
- China will emerge in pole position in the geopolitical sweepstakes commencing in 2021.
- The power gap with its main rival, the US, will shrink further.
Why should India prefer multi-polar world order
- As the power gap between India and China is expanding, the threat from China will intensify and demand asymmetrical coping strategies.
- Despite China emerging a relative gainer from the pandemic the trend towards multi-polarity is here to stay.
- Neither the US nor China can singly or as a duopoly manage a much more diffused distribution of economic and military capabilities across the globe.
- This is only possible through multilateral approaches and adherence to the principle of equitable burden-sharing.
- But a multipolar order can only be stable and keep the peace with a consensus set of norms, managed through empowered institutions of international governance and multilateral processes.
- India’s instinctive preference has been for a multipolar order as the best assurance of its security and as most conducive to its own social and economic development.
- India now has the opportunity to make multipolar order as its foreign policy priority as this aligns with the interests of a large majority of middle and emerging powers.
- This will be an important component of a strategy to meet the China challenge.
The favourable geopolitical moment for India
- Due to China’s aggressive posture across the board and its unilateral assertions of power, there is a significant push-back even from smaller countries, for example, in South-East Asia and Africa.
- China’s blatant “weaponisation of economic interdependence” such as action against Australia, has made its economic partners increasingly wary.
- In this context, India is seen as a potential and credible countervailing power to resist Chinese ambitions.
- The world wants India to succeed because it is regarded as a benign power wedded to a rule-based order.
- India can leverage this propitious moment to encourage a significant flow of capital, technology and knowledge to accelerate its own modernisation.
Consider the question “Though it may sound counterintuitive, India which is dealing with pessimism about its economic prospect in the wake of the pandemic, may be located at favourable geopolitical moment” Comment.
India should seize the opportunity and make multi-polar world order a pillar of its foreign policy to counter China threat while trying to leverage the moment to attract the flow of capital, technology and knowledge to accelerate its own modernisation.