Posted in Finance Articles, Total Reads: 723
, Published on 05 March 2015
India’s place in the future of a world with diffused power
Humanity’s greatest strength is having a sense of its own weakness. Reading Bhagwat Gita left me wondering at why Lord Krsna would enunciate Ahimsa Parmo Dharma before exhorting Arjuna to fight the biggest battle of the times. Today I understand that in essence it wasn’t about greedy kings, fighting brothers, insulted queens or disowned princes; it was about world order. The old would not stand the test of time thus obliterated and a new one had to be installed. Before the entropy of time destroys everything, humanity needed to be recreated, its architecture reestablished, a framework had to be constructed.
Historians agree that the last decades were the longest period of relative peace witnessed by this world; in the punctuations lies the forebodings of the future.
In the absence of war we have lost the power of creative destruction, and instead set in a lethargic world refusing to come to terms with change.
U.S. created a New World Order post the Cold war with a phalanx of pro west regimes. Accepted that the age of a U.S. led global hegemony is at its sunset, but who would take its place is the question? Everyone is betting on the Chinese dragon with unease, or making projection so far in the future that it doesn’t matter. Let us begin with a basic question, will one single nation rise to be the monarch who dictates his satraps around the world. Will there be regimes of democracy and socialism or a diffused world where political and physical boundaries are razed by the information entropy?
Prior to this every century a challenger rose up to the might of the extant power and the crowing of the new king obliterated the old world order, creating a clean slate where the new monarch set in a new international order, shouldered the burden of global leadership and develop from scratch a new global architecture better suited to the need of the times. Post the Second World War, for the first time the world was truly global and connected. Follow up decades were an era of unprecedented human growth with two super-nuclear laden-power attempting to outgrow each other.
Post the Soviet fall, U.S. alone chiseled the new world. It had power much beyond it bargained for. It redrew boundaries, championed democracy while installing monarchs and despots. It designed world economy with its institutions, philosophy and practices that dictated the way countries should do business. But similar to the global economy defined as measured chaos, the geopolitics of the coming world order requires oxymoron for description: the Entropic world order.
The world today is amorphous and what was essentially chess model of power games, between the established and its allies versus the challenger is now a multivariate game: the states, the non-state players and People. This diffusion of power had added dimensions. Digital revolution has given a strange power with an overpowering madness to the people. Individuals too are experiencing this personal entropy. Ancients must have assumed that with information at our disposal we would finally arrive at a truly utopian world with free flow of knowledge and equitable distribution of wealth and power. But alas! Twitter, Facebook, Google, e-Mails have given this strange power where people deter decisions, topple governments but cannot enact agendas. This leads to general sense of banality, where wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. Modern society suffers from a collective attention deficit disorder, which has to do with our obsession with the present moment.
Where are we?
A debt ridden, war exhausted, U.S., is reluctant to act as the world’s policeman, now concerned with issues of National Importance. China has brought back the locus of power back to east with Russian sabre rattling. EU remains in the shadow of U.S. and mirroring its economic problems under the collective umbrella of NATO, unwavering to the silence of the brewing storm, even as on the centenary of World War I its borders are being redrawn. In the Middle East, democracy has been planted and supplanted, the Arab spring followed by the autumn of sectarianism and radicalization. Asia often throws a regional champion to counter the west, Japan, Korea and now China, adamant to leave its mark, even as a scar. India in the hopes of its own greatness awaits the world to recognize its true potential, is second among equals.
The remnants of this world order will not be drastically overhauled but will fall like little titbits of tobacco ash from an old cigar.
India’s power locus in the Entropy
Nehru pointed out that India was home to all that is truly disgusting as well as truly noble in the human condition. Contemporary India is home to pluralists and democrats, fanatics and secretariats, capitalists and socialists, selfless workers and greedy politicians, honest and corrupt officials, glamorous wealth and repugnant poverty. India is a nation where everything and its opposite is true.
India has been nibbling its place in the world, mostly fence sitting, letting silence improve on our speech, too afraid to make a wrong move that it refused to play. While countries recognize our power and importance, our nuclear weapons, triad of military might, a thriving space programme and bustling economy, they are uncertain at best of our role in the world order.
So were we. India can be the nation which grips the distance between the inadequacy of the people and the power of the nations. Intending not to create history but write reality. This might seem farfetched, unreal even but what the world needs today is not the cynicism of the naysayers who believe that history will crash hopes of future, it needs a vision, a hope so illustrious that the pains of present become the struggles for its achievement. Reality is but a question of perspective, from past it seems concrete and plausible but from present it appears inevitable and incredible. India has that gift of inexhaustible assiduity coupled with audacity to pull the world to that illustrious summit.
India can no longer afford non alignment, it can no longer allow its internal politics dictate international and it cannot allow morals distance us from pragmatism. It remains a unique state, culturally, religion wise and in all other respects.
That being said, it is the tomorrow that we need to carve out. We need not shy away from strategic partnerships for fear of China. ISRO, one of the most efficient space programme in the world can be a cause of bonding and across nations. Development of a superior cyber network using the vast pool of engineers must be priority. As information becomes more digital we become more vulnerable. Third largest energy consumer of energy India needs to pioneer the energy area on a warlike scale. Its diverse topography and climates offer and call for developments in diverse areas of energy generation. The next generation will belong to nations who are energy sufficient. Only when a nation is prepared for war can it dream of peace.
On the national front India has the next level of nation building. The ‘idea of India’ as a nation has to be a force to be reckoned with. Welfare schemes must have a purpose of upliftment and not be the fodder of democracy, people must be proud of the nations and traditions and we must create a knowledge economy that drives the world and not be a growth engine of consumption. More importantly we must go back to our roots and the process of invention and discovery must go hand in hand. Going forward it’s our Indianess that will define us, as it has with the Indian diaspora.
And it is after this process, this manthan that we will discover that within this land lies the future light of the world and that in our unread scriptures lies the answers that have baffled humanity for years. In the verses of our Mahopanishad lies the text which is the utopia of the foreign affairs for the world namely Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam. A simple translation just says that the world is a single family but its connotations are much deeper. India has a long tradition of pluralistic cultures and values in our society. The predominant religion of the region Hinduism is a mosaic of so many beliefs and faiths, different cultures and myriad traditions. Equivalent to the population of the region are the Gods we worship, different names, different days. For the uninitiated travelling across the country they would find it difficult to reconcile to the idea of a single faith. Then take into account the religion of Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism along with numerous others. To achieve what is seemingly impossible in this state of entropy you do not need hope to walk through fire but faith to jump over it.
The concept of paradox is ingrained in India and so is the ephemeral nature of the world we live in. It is this idea of paradox in everyday life that we grow up with and becomes the constitution of our thought later on. India can easily resign to extremes. This is what makes us accepting of others and not just tolerant. A civilization that worships the Destroyer-Shiva but not the Creator-Brahma surely relishes the paradoxes of the world.
The next age of the world has to be tempered to the same scenario. Religion fanaticism of who was first and who is right needs to be replaced by the appreciation of different forms of realizing our own destiny. As the power diffuses across states and to people what they do with the power will determine the future of the world. It is the onus upon this land of Bharata to constitute the next world order, not as a leader but as a guide, as a friend, not as a warrior but as a charioteer, as Krsna.
This seems like an uphill task, but it is the onus of this nation to remake the world in the realms of our imagination. It will be a battle, let it be, for battlefield is where glory lies. India has to do the right things, the things no nation is doing. Endeavours that scare us, undertakings that make us wonder how longer we can hold. It is these ventures that define us, the struggles that differentiate a life of mediocrity and that of extraordinary success.
For a man is fashioned from his faith
And what he believes in.
We must believe it as our destiny and work towards the cause.
“When you are inspired… dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be greater person, by far than you ever dreamt of.”
It is in the womb of this chaos that the seed of future order must be sown. In the next world order devoid of a hegemonic power, in the seeming chaos of the world will lie the answers and the fundamentals to develop the next one. In a world where every person is given equal opportunity to shape his life and education, where his faith, beliefs, his way of life, his culture, songs, language, colour, festivals are recognized and celebrated will be a world of true entropy. The current chaos will lead to entropy where power is in perpetual motion. It must be a conscious decision to build this framework. The future might not give history a chance to repeat itself.
We must set upon the task of building the next world order and sustain it. Till of course it is time for its destruction.
This article has been authored by Shubhang Srivastava from IIM Shillong
1. Bhagvad Gita: As It is, (Second Edition), A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
2. Age of Entropy, Radall L. Schweller, Foreign Affairs
3. India’s Connect Asia Policy, The Diplomat
4. How Washington lost its way worrying about failed states, Foreign Affairs
5. Hijiya, James A. "The Gita of Robert Oppenheimer" Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 144,
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