In­dia must shape a new world or­der

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - Shyam Saran is a for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary The views ex­pressed are per­sonal

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

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