Multilateralism in the new cold war
Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.
India can set the world response, also using the opportunity to recover its global thought leadership. In the new cold war, defined by technology and trade not territory, non-alignment is an uncertain option; India should craft a global triumvirate.
- China has come out with alternative governance mechanisms to the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization with its all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.
- The agenda-setting role of the G7 over UN institutions and global rules has been on the wane.
- China’s rise has been based on technology, innovation and trade thus balancing U.S. military superiority.
- This comes at a time of declining global trust in free-market liberalism, central to western civilisation.
- The U.S. has been seeking a security partnership in Asia to contain China.
- It has been keen on deepening its relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade bloc.
- The U.S. has implicitly rejected the G20 and the UN Security Council, for an expanded G7 to counter China’s rise.
Opportunity for India:
- As chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Assembly-it is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization- India can set the global response in terms of multilateralism, not just medical issues.
- How can India set a global response in terms of multilateralism? Consider the following- a rare alignment of stars for agenda-setting.
- In September, the United Nations General Assembly will discuss the theme, “The Future We Want”.
- In 2021, India joins the UN Security Council (non-permanent seat).
- And chairs the BRICS Summit in 2021.
- Also hosts the G-20 in 2022.
Changed global context:
- It is in context that India should look upon its own reemergence.
- China has been losing influence and the dynamics in its relations with the United States.
- And Asia again is emerging as the centre of global prosperity.
- The global governance, economy, scientific research and society are all in need of being re-invented.
- We should use this opportunity to recover our global thought leadership.
The US-China powerplay:
- The clash between China and the U.S. at the just concluded World Health Assembly in May marks the end of the multilateralism of the past 70 years.
- The donor-recipient relationship between developed and developing countries has ended with China’s pledge of $2-billion.
- The agenda-setting role of the G7 over UN institutionsand global rules has also been effectively challenged by WHO ignoring the reform diktat of the U.S. leading to its withdrawal, and characterisation of the G7 as “outdated”.
- The U.S. has also implicitly rejected the G20and UN Security Council, for an expanded G7 “to discuss the future of China”.
- Important shift in the UN: After World War II, the newly independent states were not consulted when the U.S. imposed global institutions fostering trade, capital and technology dependence.
- This was done ignoring the socio-economic development of these countries.
- But social and economic rightshave emerged to be as important as political and procedural rights.
- Against this backdrop, China’s President Xi Jinping deftly endorsedthe UN Resolution on equitable access to any new vaccine.
Emergence of Asia and China:
- The U.S. faces an uphill task in seeking to lead a new multidimensional institution in the face of China’s re-emergence.
- The re-emergence of China is based on technology, innovation and trade balancing U.S. military superiority.
- At the same time, there is a clear trend of declining global trust in free-market liberalism, central to western civilisation.
- With the West experiencing a shock comparable to the one experienced by Asia 200 years ago, the superiority of western civilisation is also under question.
- The novel coronavirus pandemic hasaccelerated the shift of global wealth to Asia suggesting an inclusive global order based on principles drawn from ancient Asian civilisations.
- Colonised Asia played no role in shaping the Industrial Revolution.
- the Digital Revolution will be shaped by different values.
- It is really this clash that multilateralism has now to resolve.
U.S. and China’s exceptionalism
- China has come out with alternative governance mechanisms to the U.S.-dominatedInternational Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization with its all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.
- The U.S., European Union and Japan arere-evaluating globalisation as it pertains to China and the U.S. is unabashedly “America First”.
- The world is questioning both S. and China’s exceptionalism.
- For India, the strategic issue is neither adjustment to China’s powernor deference to U.S. leadership.
Opportune moment for India to propose new multilateralism
- The global vacuum, shift in relative powerand its own potential, provides India the capacity to articulate a benign multilateralism.
- It should include in its foldNAM-Plus that resonates with large parts of the world and brings both BRICS and the G7 into the tent.
- This new multilateralism should rely on outcomes, not rules, ‘security’ downplayed for ‘comparable levels of wellbeing’and a new P-5 that is not based on the G7.
Three principles the new system should be based on-
- Peaceful coexistence
- First, the Asian Century should be defined in terms of peaceful co-existence, freezing post-colonial sovereignty.
- Non-interference in the internal affairsof others is a key lesson from the decline of the U.S. and the rise of China.
- National security now relies on technological superiorityin artificial intelligence (AI), cyber and space, and not expensive capital equipment, as India’s military has acknowledged.
- Instead of massive arms imports, we should use the savings to enhance endogenous capacity.
- And mould the global digital economy between state-centric (China), firm-centric (the U.S.)and public-centric (India)
- New principles of trade
- A global community at comparable levels of well-being requires new principles for trade, for example, rejecting the 25-year-old trade rule creating intellectual property monopolies.
- Global public goodsshould include public health, crop research, renewable energy and batteries, even AI as its value comes from shared data.
- We have the scientific capacity to support these platforms as part of foreign policy.
- Civilisational values
- Ancient civilisational values provide the conceptual underpinning,restructuring both the economic order and societal behaviour for equitable sustainable development.
- Which is what aclimate change impacted world, especially Africa, is seeking.
Threat to multilateralism:
- The clash between China and the U.S. at the just concluded World Health Assembly marks the end of the multilateralism of the past 70 years.
- Given the U.S.’s “America First” policy, the U.S. has been withdrawing from key global and regional institutions.
- The European Union and Japan are also re-evaluating their position on globalisation.
- The clash between the U.S. and China marks a seismic shift within the UN system.
- After World War II, the newly independent states were not consulted when the U.S. imposed global institutions fostering trade, capital and technology dependence, ignoring socio-economic development.
- Social and economic rights have emerged to be as important as political and procedural rights in the current scenario.
- There has been the slow yet steady shift of global wealth to Asia, which has only accelerated during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- Colonised Asia played no role in shaping the Industrial Revolution. However, the Digital Revolution of the future will be shaped by different values wherein equality would be a major aspect.
Impending opportunity for India:
- In the light of the upcoming events, there is an impending opportunity for agenda-setting.
- As chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Assembly, India can set the global response in terms of multilateralism.
- India can set the world response to COVID-19, also using the opportunity to recover its global thought leadership.
- In September 2020, the United Nations General Assembly will discuss the theme, “The Future We Want”.
- In 2021, India joins the UN Security Council (non-permanent seat) and chairs the BRICS Summit, and in 2022, India would be hosting the G-20.
- India should look upon the changed circumstances as an opportunity for its own re-emergence.
- India should use this opportunity to recover its global thought leadership, like the days of Nalanda, astronomical computation, the zero, Ayurveda, Buddhism, Yoga and Ahimsa.
Way forward for multilateralism:
The Asian Century should be defined in terms of peaceful co-existence. Non-interference in the internal affairs of countries should be ensured. The global community requires new principles for trade. This could involve rejecting the 25-year-old trade rule creating intellectual property monopolies. Global public goods should include public health, crop research, renewable energy and batteries and even AI as its value comes from shared data. There is a need for restructuring both the economic order and societal behaviour for equitable sustainable development, which a climate change-impacted world is seeking.
The challenge of law enforcement post-COVID-19
Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. There is hardly any aspect of our life that has been left untouched by the pandemic. In a society struck by a deadly virus, strict maintenance of public order is most essential. Only then can those affected by the disease be looked after and given the best medical care.
- Law enforcement is as important as healthcare during the current crisis.
- The police have been endowed with the task of ensuring strict observance of guidelines, including physical distancing during the lockdown phase.
- COVID-19 will affect future law enforcement, which will require the management of new patterns of crime.
Overall drop in crime:
- There has been a sharp reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities caused by such accidents. With anti-social elements confined to their homes, trespass and burglary also became more difficult crimes to commit.
- A survey across nations has indicated a measurable drop in overall crime. Major cities that generally report a high number of crimes found a drop in crime levels during the lockdown period.
- The pandemic and the lockdown have ensured that many crimes have gone down. However, many other crimes have gone up or will assume new forms in the near future.
- There has been the worrying surge in domestic violence cases.
- There was an increase in sexual and gender-based violence in West Africa during the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak.
- There are two major factors for the rise in domestic violence.
- Most men are at home, either without work on in fear of losing their jobs. Data show that domestic violence increases when there is greater unemployment. The fear and insecurity of these men cause tension at home and unfortunately, women become the victims of this tension.
- The non-availability of liquor during the lockdown period, which caused frustration among those men who are habituated to drinking daily, has also been a causative factor.
- Epidemics leave women and girls more vulnerable to violence. As the administration is busy combating the pandemic, there is little help for domestic violence victims during times such as these.
- The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, a network of prominent law-enforcement, governance and development practitioners based in Geneva, believes that the pandemic is both a threat to, and an opportunity for, organised crime, especially illicit drug trade.
- Travel restrictions across borders, especially in Africa, have made international trade in drugs extremely difficult.
- The Global Initiative believes that organised gangs will infiltrate health services and make profits through the sale of prescription drugs that are not otherwise easily available to the public.
- There is large-scale manufacture of ineffective masks and hand sanitizers.
Rise in Cybercrime:
- A notable trend has been the rise in cybercrime.
- New portals have been launched to get people to donate money for the cause of combating COVID-19. These fraudulent sites have been able to cheat a large number of people.
- A major challenge would be keeping prisons free of the virus.
- Many prisons have taken steps to insulate prisoners who reported positive for the virus from the rest of the inmates.
- A number of human rights activists have said that we need to consider the premature and temporary release of prisoners with some human rights activists even asking for complete evacuation of prisons, irrespective of whether a prisoner tests positive or not. But such a drastic move will make a mockery of the criminal justice system and expose society to many unrepentant violent offenders.
- Recently, the Supreme Court directed the States and Union Territories to constitute high-powered committees to consider releasing convicts who have been jailed up to seven years on parole, in order to decongest prisons.
- The COVID experience provides an important lesson for the law enforcement agencies. An active police-public relation can be a critical building block for future.