A world in chaos and a moment of truth

America’s divide and beyond:

  • It would be wrong to believe that existence of acutely sharp divisions between liberals and conservatives, and competition between ideologues and hardcore practitioners alone are endangering democracy.
  • The deception currently taking place in the U.S. (world’s oldest democracy), and efforts by the U.S. President, Donald Trump, to negate the verdict of the recent presidential elections, evoke a new set of tactics, previously seen only in dictatorships.
  • The extent to which Mr. Trump has been willing to go in his attempt to negate the election and the fact that a very sizeable segment of the U.S. population seems to be backing him in this attempt is worrisome.
  • The use of ‘deep fakes’ made possible through Artificial Intelligence, further enhances the threat to current notions of democracy. This represents a new pole in the utilisation of fake news.

Europe’s problems:

  • Europe, grappling with a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, will need to reckon with the reality that, notwithstanding any change in leadership in the U.S, it is destined to recede further in terms of importance in global politics.
  • An uncertain Brexit will further damage the prospects of both the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • Russia’s future, under Vladimir Putin, appears increasingly uncertain, despite its military strength and strategic congruence with China.
  • In France, all-embracing secularism with overweening emphasis on social cohesion seems to be disappearing in the face of new social and political challenges.
  • The recent wave of terrorist attacks has been a major trigger, raising questions about long-held secular beliefs.

Terror is returning:

  • Terrorism is resurfacing, and with renewed vigour.
  • The al-Qaeda is again becoming prominent.
  • The IS, which many thought had been vanquished following the victories achieved in Syria and Iraq towards the end of 2018, has returned in full force.
    • It has carried out attacks in France (Paris and Nice) and in Austria (Vienna).
    • It is a reminder of the transnational character of the threat it poses to democratic countries.
  • The newer IS recruits combine symbolism with spectacular violence with the intention to shock the public at large, and produce a reaction across the entire Muslim world, reigniting a religio-cultural conflict.

The issues in India:

  • India’s democracy has its own problems.
  • In some regions, especially where mid-term elections are scheduled, the atmosphere is highly polarized.
  • While COVID-19 has reduced the intensity of protests, the ghosts of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens are still present.
  • While Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is witnessing a kind of surface calm, beneath this there are evident tensions.
  • There are Pakistan’s efforts to push in terrorists in ever larger numbers, leading to large scale casualties.
  • Pakistan is also pursuing a policy of provocation with respect to India, confident that the latter is in no position to impose its will (Eg: the holding of assembly elections in Gilgit-Baltistan).
  • India’s external environment remains uncertain. There is not much clarity with respect to the de-escalation along LAC.
  • India is again being steadily marginalised in Afghanistan, where the control of the Taliban is increasing.
  • India has decided to stay out of the RCEP (covering almost a third of the world’s economy) which is perceived as the springboard for future economic recovery across the region.

China’s goal

  • The situation in China is a contrast to the prevailing near disruption among the democracies of the world. No disruptive leadership changes are likely to happen in China in the near future.
  • If anything, the Chinese President is expected to emerge stronger giving a further impetus to the transformation of China into a superpower by 2035.
  • While new foreign policy initiatives may be few, major reform initiatives will be confined to the economy, the energy sector and new innovation systems.

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