1. India likely to receive normal monsoon: IMD
Separate forecast being developed for Monsoon Core Zone
India is likely to receive “normal” monsoon rainfall this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said as part of its official April forecast. Except for parts of eastern and northeastern India, many parts of the country are expected to get “above normal” rainfall, the IMD’s models show.
“Normal” rainfall refers to a range — 96%-104% of the Long Period Average (LPA) of 88 cm.
Earlier this week, private weather forecasting company, Skymet Weather, too, said it expected India to get normal rainfall, but said this was likely to be 103% of the LPA, whereas the IMD, on Friday, has estimated it to be 98% of the LPA.
The April forecast, which is based on an analysis of select meteorological factors in March, is updated in May, along with estimates of how the monsoon will perform in different geographical regions. In 2019, the IMD forecast 96% LPA in April, but India ended up with record excessive rainfall of 110%. In 2020, it said 100% LPA, but India wound up with 109%. IMD officials, however, said it was unlikely there would be such excessive rain this year.
In 2019, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) — defined as a swing in temperatures in the western and eastern sections of the Indian Ocean, where a positive phase usually corresponds to good rains over India — contributed to the excess rains. Last year it was La Nina — the converse of an El Nino and associated with a cooling of the equatorial central Pacific — again a feature correlated with heavy India rains.
“This year, the models show a weak IOD and neutral conditions in the central Pacific. It’s unlikely there will be over 105% LPA this year,” D.S. Pai, a meteorologist with the IMD’s National Climate Centre, Pune, told The Hindu.
Though the IMD now issues short-term and extended range forecasts — that is, an estimate of rainfall in time frames of three days to 15 days — for the first time this year, it will begin giving monthly forecasts for all months.
It has so far refrained from giving a forecast for June and September, months that are known to be erratic as those are the months when the monsoon enters and exits the country, respectively, posing a challenge to meteorologists. Dr. Pai, however, said the IMD’s work for several years in honing the skills of a class of models, called dynamical models, has improved their forecasting abilities over three weeks. “So we can now extend it to monthly forecasts. The overall aim of these models is to be able to accommodate changes in the global weather that will influence the monsoon. This is more useful for planning,” he said.
The IMD also said it was developing a separate forecast for the Monsoon Core Zone (MCZ), which represents most of the rain-fed agriculture region in the country. “A separate forecast for the MCZ will be more useful for agricultural planning and crop yield estimation, etc. In the second stage forecast in May, IMD will issue a separate probabilistic forecast for the MCZ, based on MME [Multi Model Ensemble] system and a new statistical model,” said a statement.
Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, tweeted that the reduction in rainfall in eastern India has been consistently decreasing. For an adequate monsoon, it is important for a temperature gradient to be present between the ocean and the land.
In recent years, however, the India Ocean has been warming faster than the land surface, reducing this temperature differential and affecting the monsoonal flow.
Generally, across the world, the monsoons are experienced in the tropical area roughly between 20° N and 20° S.
The climate of India is described as the ‘monsoon’ type. In Asia, this type of climate is found mainly in the south and the southeast.
Out of a total of 4 seasonal divisions of India, monsoon occupy 2 divisions, namely.
- The southwest monsoon season – Rainfall received from the southwest monsoons is seasonal in character, which occurs between June and September.
- The retreating monsoon season – The months of October and November are known for retreating monsoons.
Factors Influencing South-West Monsoon Formation
- The differential heating and cooling of land and water creates a low pressure on the landmass of India while the seas around experience comparatively high pressure.
- The shift of the position of Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in summer, over the Ganga plain (this is the equatorial trough normally positioned about 5°N of the equator. It is also known as the monsoon-trough during the monsoon season).
- The presence of the high-pressure area, east of Madagascar, approximately at 20°S over the Indian Ocean. The intensity and position of this high-pressure area affect the Indian Monsoon.
- The Tibetan plateau gets intensely heated during summer, which results in strong vertical air currents and the formation of low pressure over the plateau at about 9 km above sea level.
- The movement of the westerly jet stream to the north of the Himalayas and the presence of the tropical easterly jet stream over the Indian peninsula during summer.
- Tropical Easterly Jet (African Easterly Jet).
- Southern Oscillation (SO): Normally when the tropical eastern south Pacific Ocean experiences high pressure, the tropical eastern Indian Ocean experiences low pressure. But in certain years, there is a reversal in the pressure conditions and the eastern Pacific has lower pressure in comparison to the eastern Indian Ocean. This periodic change in pressure conditions is known as the SO.
Onset of the South-West Monsoon
- The location of ITCZ shifts north and south of the equator with the apparent movement of the Sun.
- During the month of June, the sun shines vertically over the Tropic of Cancer and the ITCZ shifts northwards.
- The southeast trade winds of the southern hemisphere cross the equator and start blowing in southwest to northeast direction under the influence of Coriolis force.
- These winds collect moisture as they travel over the warm Indian Ocean.
- In the month of July, the ITCZ shifts to 20°-25° N latitude and is located in the Indo-Gangetic Plain and the south-west monsoons blow from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The ITCZ in this position is often called the Monsoon Trough.
- The shift in the position of the ITCZ is also related to the phenomenon of the withdrawal of the westerly jet stream from its position over the north Indian plain, south of the Himalayas.
- The easterly Jet Stream (Somali Jet) sets in along 15°N latitude only after the western jet stream has withdrawn itself from the region. This easterly jet stream is held responsible for the burst of the monsoon in India.
- As these winds approach the land, their southwesterly direction is modified by the relief and thermal low pressure over northwest India. The monsoon approaches the Indian landmass in two branches:
- The Arabian Sea branch – The monsoon winds originating over the Arabian Sea.
- The Bay of Bengal branch – The Arakan Hills along the coast of Myanmar deflect a big portion of this branch towards the Indian subcontinent. The monsoon, therefore, enters West Bengal and Bangladesh from south and southeast instead of from the south-westerly direction.
- Another phenomenon associated with the monsoon is its tendency to have ‘breaks’ in rainfall. The monsoon rains take place only for a few days at a time. They are interspersed with rainless intervals. These breaks in monsoon are related to the movement of the monsoon trough.
Despite an overall unity in the general pattern, there are perceptible regional variations in climatic conditions within the country.
Retreating Monsoon Season
- The retreating southwest monsoon season is marked by clear skies and rise in temperature.
- The land is still moist. Owing to the conditions of high temperature and humidity, the weather becomes rather oppressive. This is commonly known as the ‘October heat’.
- In the second half of October, the mercury begins to fall rapidly, particularly in northern India.
- The weather in the retreating monsoon is dry in north India but it is associated with rain in the eastern part of the Peninsula. Here, October and November are the rainiest months of the year.
- The widespread rain in this season is associated with the passage of cyclonic depressions which originate over the Andaman Sea and manage to cross the eastern coast of the southern Peninsula. These tropical cyclones are very destructive.
- A bulk of the rainfall of the Coromandel Coast is derived from these depressions and cyclones.
- Unlike the rest of the country, which receives rain in the southwest monsoon season between June and September, the northeast monsoon is crucial for farming and water security in the south.
Impact of Monsoons on Life in India
- About 64% of people in India depend on agriculture for their livelihood and agriculture itself is based on monsoon.
- Agricultural prosperity of India depends very much on timely and adequately distributed rainfall. If it fails, agriculture is adversely affected particularly in those regions where means of irrigation are not developed.
- Regional variations in monsoon climate help in growing various types of crops.
- Regional monsoon variation in India is reflected in the vast variety of food, clothes and house types.
- Monsoon rain helps recharge dams and reservoirs, which is further used for the generation of hydro-electric power.
- Winter rainfall by temperate cyclones in north India is highly beneficial for Rabi crops.
- Variability of rainfall brings droughts or floods every year in some parts of the country.
- Sudden monsoon burst creates a problem of soil erosion over large areas in India.
- In hilly areas sudden rainfall brings landslide which damages natural and physical infrastructure subsequently disrupting human life economically as well as socially.
Monsoon Prediction in India
- More than a century ago, when there were no computers, IMD’s forecasts depended only on snow cover. Lesser cover meant a better monsoon.
- British physicist Gilbert Walker, who headed the IMD, designed a statistical weather model – an empirical way of predicting the weather – based on the relationship between two weather phenomena.
- In 2014, the IMD started to use numerical models to supplement statistical models for long-range forecasting as well.
- Now, although the numerical models used by the IMD are state-of-the-art – developed by the US National Centres for Environmental Prediction – their forecast capacity is still weak because a longer period of forecast creates more uncertainty in prediction.
- At the moment, the IMD provides district-wise weather data but it’s not sufficient; because when IMD says there will be scattered rainfall over a particular district, it means that 26-50% that district (by area) will receive rainfall.
- The IMD collects weather data like temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation through 679 automatic weather stations, 550 surface observatories, 43 radiosonde or weather balloons, 24 radars and three satellites.
- Currently, highly advanced dynamical models need supercomputers. Prediction models will not run until proper data about current weather conditions is available.
Factors Responsible for Inaccurate Monsoon Forecast
- The lack of data due to insufficient monitoring stations.
- Automatic weather stations are of substandard quality. They need to be calibrated and cleaned regularly, which does not happen often. That affects data.
- Then, there are major data gaps, like those involving dust, aerosols, soil moisture and maritime conditions are not monitored.
- The models that we have brought from the west have been developed by western scientists to forecast in their region, little progress has been made is the fine-tuning of weather models to suit Indian conditions.
- Lack of competent software professionals and scientists working with the IMD.
Recent Indian Initiatives
It is crucial for farmers (sowing, harvesting, etc.) and policymakers (payment of compensation, minimum support price, etc.) to know when and for how long the monsoon will remain active over India. For that, better predictions and timely advisories are needed.
To achieve this following initiatives have been taken:
Monsoon Mission of India
This initiative of Ministry of Earth Sciences, launched in 2012, has utilized new approaches (high resolution, super parameterizations, data assimilation etc.) so that forecast skill gets quantitatively improved further for forecasting services of India Meteorological Department (IMD).
For the first time, India Meteorological Department used the Monsoon Mission dynamical model to prepare operational seasonal forecast of 2017 monsoon rainfall over India.
- To improve Seasonal and Intra-seasonal Monsoon Forecast
- To improve Medium Range Forecast.
- IMD in collaboration with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) provides district-level agro-meteorological advisories to farmers through 130 agro-met field units in vernacular languages.
These advisories are used for critical farm operations such as:
- Management of sowing (delayed onset of rains);
- Changing crop variety (delay in rainfall);
- Spraying Pesticides for disease control (occurrence of rainfall);
- Managing Irrigation (Heavy rainfall Forecast).
- India Meteorological Department (IMD) provides meteorological support to the Central Water Commission (CWC) for issuing flood warnings.
- Indo-US expedition
In 2018, The Indian Ocean Research Vessel, ‘Sagar Nidhi’, set out from Chennai, as part of an Indo-US expedition seeking to find answers to the vagaries of the Bay of Bengal-fed southwest monsoon by collecting various data to improve prediction models.
- National Supercomputing Mission will fill the necessary gaps in the computing superpower required to predict timely and accurate monsoon forecasts.
Global Warming and Monsoon
- A drastic change in the monsoon rainfall intensity, duration, frequency and spatial distribution can be attributed to the climate change. However, it is too soon to arrive at a conclusion.
- If all this is in response to global warming then it can be permanent and might accelerate. If not then the monsoon system will revert to a more normal state.
- More data and reanalysis is needed to get a clear picture on the complete separation of the global warming impact from natural climate variability (such as El Niño).
2. ‘Must ensure democracy prevails in Afghanistan’
U.S. pull-out a big step, says Jaishankar
The U.S. decision to pull out all forces from Afghanistan is a “big step” that will have deep consequences, said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who called for a “responsible drawdown” of American and NATO forces. Along with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Afghanistan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, Mr. Jaishankar said it was necessary that Afghanistan’s constitution, democratic processes and the rights accorded to women and minorities were ensured under any circumstances, and that the “endgame” in Afghanistan be “united, democratic and sovereign”.
“What all of us see in [U.S.] President Biden’s announcement is a big step that is going to take Afghanistan in a certain direction and it is important that we all work together to ensure that the direction is right and the outcomes are good for Afghanistan,” Mr. Jaishankar said while speaking on a panel with Mr. Zarif and Mr. Mohib during a virtual session at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue summit, jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation
Mr. Jaishankar’s comment indicated India’s concerns about a hasty withdrawal of the U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan, which could bring the Taliban into a powerful role in Kabul.
On Thursday, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, had said India’s concern was that “the vacuum that was going to be created should not create space for disruptors to step in, and, therefore, the violence continues in Afghanistan”.
Mr. Mohib, who said he had called National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Friday and spoke to him about the transition plan as well as the upcoming intra-Afghan and regional talks in Turkey, added that much would depend on the troops withdrawal plan and what kind of assistance they would continue to provide the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces (ANSDF).
“We are in uncharted territory, and the devil is in the details of what we negotiate with NATO forces,” he said, referring to the continuing threat of violence from foreign fighters as well as the Taliban.
In particular, referring to Islamic State (IS) fighters present in Afghanistan, Mr. Zarif said it was necessary to see that Afghanistan and all its neighbours faced “common threats, common challenges”.
Enumerating India’s development assistance to Afghanistan since 2001, Mr. Jaishankar said it was an “absolute fantasy” that India’s actions in Afghanistan were aimed at Pakistan, and a cause of bilateral differences and regional instability.
He said India’s role, including in the construction of the Afghan parliament, the Salma Dam and road networks, was a “positive” one unlike other neighbours, in a pointed reference to Pakistan’s support to the Taliban and terror groups operating there.
3. Opponents of Myanmar coup form shadow government
It includes members of Suu Kyi’s ousted Cabinet and ethnic minority leaders
Opponents of Myanmar’s ruling junta went on the political offensive on Friday, declaring they have formed an interim national unity government with members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted Cabinet and major ethnic minority groups.
The move comes on the eve of a diplomatic initiative to solve Myanmar’s crisis by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is expected to hold a summit next week.
A violent crackdown by the junta has failed to stem opposition to the coup, and as the Army has spread the fight to ethnic minorities in border areas, some ASEAN members believe the crisis threatens regional stability.
Opponents of the coup have been seeking an alliance with ethnic minority groups as a way of strengthening their resistance.
While it was not clear if the minority political organisations had formally joined an alliance, the appointment of prominent personalities from their ranks showed a commitment to a joint struggle against the military, which is certain to boost morale to the anti-coup cause.
Security forces have killed at least 726 protesters and bystanders since the February 1 military takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests.
The National Unity Government is nominally an upgrade from what had been called the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, which was formed shortly after the coup by elected lawmakers who were barred by the Army from taking their seats. The junta declared the CRPH an illegal organisation, and issued arrest warrants for its leading members.
A video posted on Friday on social media showed veteran activist Min Ko Naing announcing the formation of the new body. He was a leader of the failed 1988 uprising against a previous military dictatorship and is one of the country’s most respected political figures aside from Ms. Suu Kyi. He went quickly underground after the coup.
“Please support the National Unity Government for the future of our citizens and our younger generation,” he said.
4. ‘Biden, Suga may announce next in-person Quad summit’
U.S. President is hosting Japanese leader in White House
U.S. President Joe Biden will host Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House on Friday — the first foreign leader visit for a presidency that began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two leaders are likely to announce the next in-person Quad (India, the U.S., Japan and Australia) meeting, according to a senior administration official.
At their first summit level meeting, held virtually on March 12, Quad leaders had committed to meeting in person before the end of this year.
Mr. Suga and Mr. Biden are also expected to discuss regional security, including North Korea, China and China-Taiwan issues. Japan is also expected to announce a $2 billion 5G network technology initiative.
Mr. Suga is scheduled to meet Vice-President Kamala Harris in the morning and will hold a joint press conference with Mr. Biden following their meetings in the afternoon, where an announcement on the Quad is “likely”. The leaders are expected to review a Quad initiative to supply up to a billion doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine to South East Asia and the Pacific.
The plan will harness India’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities, American and Japanese finance and Australia’s distribution capacity. However, these plans could run into trouble as U.S. drug authorities paused the use of the J&J vaccine this week after a handful of the close to 7 million recipients developed blood clots.
“…I think the two leaders are going to review the progress to date on this [the Quad vaccine distribution plan] and underscore future plans of what we want to do — the future plans of what we want to do in the Quad going forward,” a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call on Thursday.
“So we view the Quad, even though it’s an unofficial gathering, as a huge part of the architecture of the Indo-Pacific going forward,” the official said.
Some amount of time will be spent discussing the Japan-South Korea relationship, which has historically been strained since Japan’s occupation of Korea in 1910.
The two leaders will also discuss China’s recent assertiveness with regard to Taiwan, with a view to sending a message to China that flying its fighters into Taiwan’s airspace is destabilising, as per the official who briefed reporters on Thursday. The U.S. and Japan would like to “calm tensions” and “discourage provocations”, the official said.
- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is the informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
- The idea of Quad was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure.
- In December 2012, Shinzo Abe again floated the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the US to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
- In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).
Quad Nations and China
- USA: USA had followed a policy to contain China’s increasing influence in East Asia. Therefore, USA sees the coalition as an opportunity to regain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
- The US has described China, along with Russia, as a strategic rival in its National Security Strategy, National Defence Strategy and the Pentagon’s report on Indo-Pacific Strategy.
- Australia: Australia is concerned about China’s growing interest in its land, infrastructure and politics, and influence on its universities.
- Taking into account its overwhelming economic dependence on China for prosperity, Australia has continued its commitment to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China.
- Japan: In the last decade, Japan has expressed concerns related to China’s territorial transgression in the region.
- Trade volume with China remains the key lifeline to the Japanese economy, where net exports contributed exactly one-third of Japan’s economic growth since the beginning of 2017.
- Therefore, considering its importance, Japan is balancing its economic needs and territorial concerns with China
- Japan has also agreed to involve in the Belt and Road Initiative by participating in infrastructure programs in third country. In this way, Japan can mitigate Chinese influence in those countries while improving relations with China.
- Trade volume with China remains the key lifeline to the Japanese economy, where net exports contributed exactly one-third of Japan’s economic growth since the beginning of 2017.
- India: In recent years, China’s violation of international norms, particularly its construction of military facilities on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, and its growing military and economic power, pose a strategic challenge to India.
- Considering China’s strategic importance, India is carefully balancing China on one hand and the US on the other, by remaining committed to strategic autonomy to China, which has generally proved reassuring to China.
- India has also not permitted Australia to participate in Malabar Trilateral Maritime exercises between India, US and Japan, concerned about what message it would send to China, which is wary of the exercise.
- The recent Mamallapuram summit between President Xi Jinping and PM Modi is a positive development, valued by both sides as key to giving strategic guidance to stakeholders on both sides.
- China’s Territorial Claims: China claims that it has historical ownership over nearly the entire region of South China Sea, which gives it the right to manufacture islands. However, the International Court of Arbitration rejected the claim in 2016.
- China’s Closeness to ASEAN: The ASEAN countries also have a well-knit relationship with China. The Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a recent example of China’s increasing influence over ASEAN nations.
- Economic Power of China: Considering the economic might of China and the dependence of Quad nations like Japan and Australia on China, the Quad nations cannot afford to have strained relations with it.
- Convergence among Quad Nations: The nations in the Quad grouping have different aspirations, aims at balancing their own interest. Therefore, coherence in the vision of Quad nation as a grouping is absent.
5. Editorial-1: The roots of a decentred international order
In the post-pandemic period, developing economies should rise to meet the U.S.-led liberal hegemonic world order
The International Institute for Strategic Studies puts the overall estimate of China’s military budget at $230 billion. The intentions for global supremacy are apparent, chiefly to outrun the Pentagon. The primary geopolitical rivals, namely Russia and China may possibly provide the strategic and tactical counterbalance to the hegemony of America. Moreover, the international order is under threat of the rising economic power of the BRICSnations, with China dominating in its economic and military capacity.
Rising powers and an agenda
Though it is a far cry from surpassing the United States in its military prowess, particularly Russia which has no ambitions of a global outreach, it is apparent that the future of global politics requires a significant programmatic agenda in the hands of the rising powers that are aggressively building a parallel economic order envisaging new centres of hegemonic power. It forebodes the final decline of American ascendency that began after the end of British imperialism in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis (1956) when a wrap on the knuckles by America led to the withdrawal of Britain and France. Pax Britannica gave way to Pax Americana.
From the Renaissance period onwards, 14th-15th century Europe began its hegemonic ambitions through trade and commerce, taking almost 500 years to colonise and influence nations across the world. The tectonic shifts in the postcolonial era saw the interrogation of Eurocentrism and its biased accounts of the East, especially with the appearance of Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Edward Said’s Orientalism which began to propel freedom struggles against western-centric perspectives inherently inadequate and biased for the understanding of the emerging new world order. It was the Bandung Conference of 1955, a meeting of Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent, that set the schema for the rise of Asia, politically and economically. The confrontational stance was therefore the expected corollary in third world struggles to create a parallel order.
Dents to American supremacy
Nevertheless, in all likelihood, America will continue to play a prime role in international affairs though its image representing universal brotherhood has sharply declined under the Trump regime, particularly his foreign policy of threatening to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Furthermore, his bare-faced racist obsession and his handling of the marginalised immigrants has left the democratic world aghast. The rising tide of far-right ultra-nationalism and ethnic purity experienced in the Brexit phenomena, in Trumpism and in the promotion of the right-wing agenda in India, has set in motion the wearing down of liberal democracy. Other threats such as terrorism, ethnic conflicts and the warning of annihilation owing to climate change necessarily demand joint international action where American “exceptionalism” becomes an incongruity and an aberration. This indeed has chipped away at the American global supremacy.
The world is, as a result, witness to a more decentred and pluralistic global order, a rather compelling vision of the empowerment of liberal forces standing up for an international order incentivised by long-term structural shifts in the global economy, indicating the evolving nature of power and status in international politics, especially in the context of the rising impact of Asian Regionalism on international trade and commerce.
Direction by China
This is the evolutionary path the developing nations are already embarking on, though the current raging novel coronavirus pandemic has retarded economic development and sent many economies such as Brazil, India, Turkey and South Africa into a downward spiral. It is hoped that in the post-pandemic period, these economies would rise to meet the American-led liberal hegemonic world order. With China spearheading Asian regionalism, a serious challenge is possible but there is deep scepticism about China’s self-enhancing economic and military greed reflecting its personal economic rise. China must strengthen the opposition to the West through the promotion of regional multilateral institutions . Its self-centered promotion of building its own stature through the recent concentration on principle of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Silk Road project has, indeed provoked an understandable clash with India and Japan. More than having individual partners or allies, China must embrace and give a push to multilateral affiliations in order to not further exacerbate regional tensions.
Power rivalry in a multipolar world would remain a possibility with military conflict not ruled out. It would be overly optimistic to imagine that the threat of war is behind us, though it can be safely said that it is unlikely. Regional military activity can be seen in Russia’s assertion of power in Georgia and Ukraine, Turkey in the east of the Mediterranean, India’s disputes with Pakistan and China’s infiltration into India as well as its rivalry within its periphery. History is a witness to nations beginning to flex their muscles once economic rise is assured and recognised across the world. Indeed, the international state of affairs is rather fuzzy and frenzied.
However, the capabilities of the rising economies cannot be underestimated. China and India clearly have the age-old potential to lead as, historically, they have been pioneers of some of the oldest civilisations in the world. Whereas, China’s military capabilities must not make China lose its bearings, economically it must spearhead the challenge to the established western world that has ingrained its superiority in the consciousness of the developing world for centuries. China indeed is a valuable bedfellow for the launching of a union which could be a formidable challenge to the West at a stage when multifaceted transnational threats confront the world and need the collective universal attention. The fragmentation of global governance consequently can no longer be handled solely by America.
Thus, a more nuanced understanding of power in the circumstance of the declining authority of the West has to be arrived at especially when China is still far from approaching U.S. power in just about any area, particularly in its economic or military strengths, its multinationals that lead just about in every category. Its defence advantages that are unparalleled.
China, on the other hand, is indisputably a serious rival to the U.S. in the South China Sea, a world leader in renewable energy, and a formidable actor on the global stage of investment and trade, penetrating India, Israel, Ethiopia and Latin America. As Tongdong Bai writes in his book Against Political Equality, China has risen in its global power by “adopting the idea of absolute sovereignty and following the nation-state model, which is in conflict with the Western ideal that human rights override sovereignty…. But it cannot continue to rise by doing what it has been doing and it must eventually follow the liberal democratic models”. China must remember that its growing power has compelled Anthony Blinken, the current U.S. Secretary of State, to encourage NATO members to join the U.S. in viewing China as an economic and security threat.
Thus, a kind of dualism persists in the world order with no clear hegemony that can be bestowed on one single nation. Global power gradually extends across a wider range of countries, restoring contestation necessary for the smooth working of a balanced world order, thereby allowing multiple narratives to co-exist on the international level. This has implications for the functioning of a civilisation that is not controlled by the indomitable will of one.
On sharing and treaties
The emphasis, therefore, would be a move towards restructuring and advancement, as well as adopting an oppositional posture as a robust replacement of subservience to western hegemony. The challenges of the 21st century can be met head on through mutual sharing of knowledge and more ground-breaking inclusive treaties. It is feared that there could be a possibility of a multipolar world turning disordered and unstable, but it is up to the rising nations to attempt to overcome territorial aspirations and strike a forceful note of faith on cultural mediation, worldwide legitimacy, and the appeal of each society in terms of its democratic values. Interestingly, the sun is now setting on the empire and the rising nations are gradually waking up to a new experience of freedom and self-confidence.