Random Thoughts 2019-2020
S Gurumurthy, Chairman, VIF

The scale, intensity and impact of the massive changes the world is witnessing now because of the Covid-19 phenomenon is unprecedented in human history, unthinkable anytime before in the past and constitutes perhaps the greatest challenge to the future of humanity. Greater and bigger disasters in scale, natural and man-made, have hit the world in the distant and recent past. But their immediate and long-term impact was far less than what one sees now, because the world then was far less integrated for the scale of devastation to be as widespread as it is in the world today that sees itself as a global village. The contemporary world was, in some sense, ambitiously integrated and tangled by powerful political actors in the 1990s, based on multilateral political and economic guarantees. The collective multilateral guarantees had conceptually and systemically rendered all past ideas, structures, scales and people’s lifestyle outdated and irrelevant, and built a futuristic world order that seemed largely disconnected from the past for most of humanity. It is precisely those fundamental guarantees intended to sustain the contemporary world that now appear to be at risk because of the huge distrust in relations among the high and mighty of the world today. India, which has one-sixth of the world’s population, and which has, in the recent past acquired global stature, virtually had no role in the shaping of the contemporary world order. India had for long, till it undertook the risky mission of exploding the atomic device in 1998, been a passive acceptor of rules framed by an oligarchy of powerful nations. It is those rules of the game the world powers set for themselves and for the world, which now seem to be falling apart, calling for a reset out of which would emerge a new world order. That what now appears to be a paradigm shift holds for the immediate and distant future is deeply hidden in the womb of the present, which is incomplete and the future, which is yet to unfold. It calls for honest introspection as to where the world erred in the past and so does India have to contemplate on the changes and corrections likely and inevitable, desirable or not, in the contemporary world order, to strategise its role in the framing and shaping of a new world order. It equally calls for a deep introspection by India on the opportunities it has missed in the past and the opportunities it has now and should not miss.

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