The complex geopolitics of our times offers us a big opportunity

Source: Livemint

Relevance: Understanding the present phase of Globalization is important to understand the future of Global countries.


India could play a leadership role by helping set common standards for the democratic world in this new era of globalization

About the new era of globalization

The Globalisation puzzle that is unfolding is multidimensional. There are two superpowers (the US and China), traditional powers (G7 countries), emerging players and important states recalcitrant to the traditional powers and moving towards the emerging superpower. Understanding this new form of globalization requires us to make sense of the complex tapestry of geopolitics today.

The level of globalisation at present
  1. The superpowers do not agree on the underlying values on which agreements are built. Further, these are areas of the fundamental difference between the US and China. These areas include principles of governance, the purpose of the state, the concept of privacy and its extent, an understanding of ‘public good’, the rule of law, etc.
  2. Today, the primary conflict is around technology and its growing primacy in life—business, health, education, financial services and payments, etc. These are all areas where digital technology is becoming vital. Similar trends are clear in espionage and cyber warfare.
    • This makes global cooperation in respect to data (all forms of it, be it for storage, use or sharing), technology (quantum computing, biotech and cyber), communications (5 G and beyond) and the surrounding standards.
    • The divergence in them has resulted in an inability to agree on global standards for technology that are likely to emerge.
  3. Competition in the traditional areas of globalization—tariffs, taxation, immigration and capital flows—will get more intense.
    • The existing multilateral arrangements on trade may get replaced by regional or bilateral arrangements.
    • The G7 move for minimum global taxation signals cooperation.
    • Immigration has got politically polarized as an issue in some parts of the world.
    • Essentially, competition will get accentuated, and global interests might be superseded by various national interests
  4. Globalisation in areas like climate change, health, space and possibly even nuclear weapons.
    • Climate Change: The need to address global warming is on every country’s agenda. Moves to contain the growth of fossil fuel usage by the introduction of carbon taxes, incentives for renewable energy and investments in storage are gathering pace. The 26th Conference of Parties (better known as COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provides a forum for deliberations.
    • Space: The private sector has got into this sector in a big way, there is cooperation on sharing international stations, and conflict does not seem likely.
    • Health: With the advent of the Pandemic, the world largely understands global risk.
    • Nuclear arsenal: the build-up of nuclear arsenals has slowed. All countries armed with such weapons recognize that their current stockpiles are enough to destroy the world and superpowers mostly use their influence to try and rein in countries that violate international protocols
New Globalisation and India
  • India needs to recognize the emerging world order and begin to actively navigate it, especially around technology.
    • The time is ripe for a Quad-plus formulation(Including Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam apart from Quad members) in creating data protocols, laying out ‘monopoly’ definitions for large tech firms, and forging standards for taxation, cyber coalitions and privacy.
  • Further, India will need to shed some of its traditional inhibitions and align itself. The country should work judiciously and take the lead in creating common technology standards for its bloc (hopefully with the US).
  • India should work to create institutions and fair protocols that allow for some give-and-take thereafter.
  • The country must also avoid getting caught in the kind of standoff it is currently having with Big Tech (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter). Both the US and India are concerned with many aspects of Big Tech, and creating joint standards for the democratic world will be an important move for India.
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