China’s economic rise and strategic outreach has had a great impact on the liberal democracies of the world. It has triggered an isolationist mindset, seen in rampant mode during Donald Trump’s presidency in the US. With the occurrence of events like the Covid pandemic and the military withdrawal from Afghanistan that became more of a defeat, this has reached almost paranoid levels. So it is that those who ‘led’ the world ever since the First World War have not just been shedding responsibility, but also increasingly adopting a siege mentality. This can even be seen in decisions like not allowing direct entry to Covishield vaccinated Indians, or unilaterally cancelling deals with lesser allies such as France, or even opting out of cricket series.
The consequence of this on a globally networked economy will be adverse on all nations, but much more on the poor and developing nations. Having failed to craft sensible refugee policies over the years – mostly due to the conflict between left wing sentimentalism and the more skeptical right – they are facing floods of desperate people crowding their borders. Throwing vast amounts of money at failed nations has not worked, mostly because much of it was funneled away by the middle-men.
India is caught in the midst of this at a time when it has reached a stage from where development could take the significant leap towards a prosperous future. Unfortunately, many of the givens upon which this progress had been charted are threatening to disappear. A situation might come where even the basics will have to be renegotiated. The coming meet of the UNGA will present a more accurate picture of the way things are going. It must be noted, however, that not much can be expected from the shaky leadership of US President Joe Biden – others will have to play a more active role.
Recovery cannot be expected in the short term, so every country will need to chart its own course. India, with its strong fundamentals and credible advances against Covid-19, is in a better position than most, but it is situated in a highly volatile region. Its leadership must recognise the coming challenge and adopt a united approach on these particular issues, particularly as it presents an opportunity to increase its global clout and positioning.