India must shape a new world order
should try and shape a multipolar order with the support of other major powers, which is likely to be more stable and more conducive to maintaining peace and security and, importantly, mobilising collaborative responses to tackle contemporary and emerging challenges such as global warming, pandemics, cyber crime, drug trafficking and international terrorism. These, by their very nature are cross-cutting and not amenable to national or even regional solutions.A hegemonic order can constrain other states; it will rarely be able to promote collaborative action, which can be effective only if based on consultation and consent.
The US as a hegemonic power, presided over a world order which had been in the making over several centuries under pro- longed Western dominance. The US was a legatee of Western dominance not its progenitor, though it did expand and extend that dominance. For any aspiring hegemon, there is no such legacy to build upon, though China may claim a history of pre-eminence in Asia, which is more imagined than real.
Thus China cannot just step into the space hitherto occupied by the US.It is only a cluster of major powers, China included, which could together occupy that space and impart a degree of stability and coherence to the evolving international situation. India has the opportunity to play a key role in building an effective, enduring and rule-based order by mobilising other major existing and emerging powers all of whom would prefer a multipolar order in preference to a hegemonic or G-2 system which consigns them to secondary status. Such a multipolar order would also be preferable to powers in relative decline since it would still enable them to retain residual influence rather than be compelled to submit to a latter day hegemon.
We are living in an intensely globalised and inter-connected world where inter-dependency is the dominant trend. This demands a cosmopolitan temper, an instinctive embrace of plurality and a relatively democratic governance structure, enabling collaborative responses. India possesses all the necessary attributes to lead the way in shaping such a new order. Indian diplomacy should rise to this challenge and grasp a historic opportunity. Let us shape events rather than be shaped by them.
The United Nations Headquarters building, New York