Getting multipolarity wrong

Source– The post is based on the article “Getting multipolarity wrong” published in the “The Indian Express” on 1st June 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- International relations

Relevance- Shape and structure of world order

News– In his article C. Raja Mohan ‘India’s multipolar myths’ C. Raja Mohan has dismissed the long held view that the emerging structure of power among nation-states as “multipolar”. It is a myth.

What is criticism against the Raja Mohan viewpoints about multipolarity?

Raja Mohan is wrong to imply that the concept of multipolarity suggests an “even distribution of power between major powers”. The literature on multipolarity does not talk about even distribution of power.

Multipolarity suggests that no single nation-state or two nation-states have the capacity to exert their power globally. Hence, they must work along with other powers.

Raja Mohan is also wrong to presume that nations that advocate multipolarity have political resentment against US power or collective West.  This has certainly not been the case with Indian articulation, even during the Cold War era.

India’s refusal to join any military alliance was not based on anti-westernism or anti-communism. It was based on an Indian view that was against such a division of the world.

Even American scholars have not always viewed the concept of multipolarity as “anti-American”. Samuel Huntington has characterised the post-Cold War distribution of power in the 1990s as “uni-multipolar”, rather than “unipolar”.

Huntington proposed that global politics has now moved from a unipolar moment at the end of the Cold War into more uni-multipolar decades. It will culminate into a multipolar twenty-first century.

As per Raja Mohan, the world is once again “bipolar” — US and EU vs China and Russia. It underplays the space available for the articulation of national interests of “middle powers”. Many nations in Europe, Latin America and Asia assert their own national interests.

How has India taken an independent stance in foreign policy choices?

Attempts to push India into a lonely corner, forcing it to make choices and enter into alliances have failed in the past. Then, it was a weaker and less developed nation.

A stronger and more self-confident India cannot be expected to fall in line. India’s relations with the US, China, Russia or any other nation, would be defined by her interests and values.

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