Covid-19 and Changing Nature of International Relations

Covid-19 and Changing Nature of International Relations

  • The novel Coronavirus pandemic popularly referred to as COVID-19 took the world by storm in January 2020 and things fell apart, bringing the entire world to a standstill, as countries affected, both developed and developing, resorted to national lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. Governments were pushed into crisis management mode as they strove to maintain a delicate balance between saving lives and livelihoods, as well as the urgent need to prepare for post-COVID-19 economic and social recovery.
  • Every global crisis impacts the international system, its structures, norms and institutions. In this article we will see tendencies related changing drift in International Relations. These tendencies are as folllows-

Plummeting of Oil Economies

Corona Virus global pandemic badly affected the economies of that countries that are based on oil producing. The collapse of the global oil market reflects a broader drop in demand across all areas of the economy, as business activity during the pandemic remains near a standstill.  After plummeting in April,2020 oil prices have partially rebounded in response to a steep drop in production, particularly among OPEC and its partners. While consumption has risen from its lows in second quarter of 2020, it remains well below its pre-pandemic level. The pandemic is expected to have a lasting impact on oil consumption, with demand only likely to fully recover by 2023. Oil prices are forecast to rise to $44/barrel in 2021 from a projected $41/barrel in 2020, as the gradual rise in demand coincides with an easing of supply restraint among OPEC+. The main risk to the oil price forecast is the duration of the pandemic, including the risk of an intensifying second wave in the Northern Hemisphere, and the speed at which a vaccine is developed and distributed. It is important to mention here the coronavirus crisis is affecting a wide range of energy markets – including coal, gas and renewables – but its impact on oil markets is particularly severe because it is stopping people and goods from moving around, dealing a heavy blow to demand for transport fuels. Due to the fall in travel, global industrial activity has been affected. Oil prices fell further in March as the transportation section, which accounts for 60 per cent of the oil demand, was hit due to several countries imposing lockdowns., due to Covid-19-related containment measures, the demand for natural gas fell, as a result of which many Chinese LNG buyers halted their imports as storage tanks filled.

Israel Relations with Arab World: A new Development

In international politics, there is no permanent friend or foe but national interest is paramount. Israel and Arab countries, once arch enemies, are now coming closer to each other. Recently Morocco has signed a treaty with Israel to normalise the relationship between both nations. Earlier in September, 2020 UAE and Bahrin have signed the same treaty with Israel. It indicates that Arab world are going through a transition phase with Israel. Citing the agreements — collectively known as the Abraham Accords — between Israel on the one hand and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on the other, we can say that the new relations suspended Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. These developments are interesting given that the Jewish nation is not even recognised as one by most of the countries in the Arab League. In recent years, however, Israel has been working on its outreach towards the Arab world. The US brokered tie-up with the UAE was the first diplomatic recognition for Israel from the Arab world in 26 years. It has diplomatic ties with Egypt and Jordan, and has established a working rapport with the Saudi Arabia.  Though a declared Jewish country, Israel is also at pains these days to showcase its multicultural and diverse religious demography that comprises Jews, Muslims, Bedouins, Christians and Druze. Israelis work as hard in telling the world that not all of the country is made up of the orthodox Jews, there are as many citizens who aren’t religious. The most fundamental thing is that Arab world is looking towards Israel as a big oil consuming nation that is why these treaties are taking shape. 

China as an Emerging new Super power

Trends that were discernible pre-Covid-19 have intensified and accelerated. As a fast rising power, China is growing more assertive and jostling with countries from Canada to Australia. The U.S., the one superpower that has remained at the top table since Potsdam, is increasingly self-absorbed as the virus rips through its population and economy.

            In Potsdam, the key dynamic was the ideological struggle between the Communist and Capitalist systems as espoused by Moscow and Washington. The Soviet Union under Josef Stalin had emerged from the war as a superpower, while American President Harry Truman demonstrated U.S. technological and military superiority by issuing the order from the conference to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today’s standoff between the U.S. under Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s China was compared to the “foothills” of a new Cold War by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in November, 2020.

            China, which elicited broad sympathy and medical support at the start of the year when it became the first country to suffer the impact of coronavirus, has since frittered away that goodwill. The pandemic hasn’t so much changed the world as “thrown a brutal spotlight on the flaws, deficiencies and the disrepair both for the international order and national order.

Factors that will help China come out stronger from the pandemic

  • Reports indicate that China has now managed the outbreak of COVID-19, and its industrial production is recovering even as that of every other country is taking a hit.
  • The oil price slump will make its recovery even faster.
  • When the greatest military power found itself in denial mode and the members of the EU were looking after their own interests, China appeared to use its manufacturing power to its geopolitical advantage.
  • Beijing has offered medical aid and expertise to those in need; it has increased cooperation with its arch-rival Japan.
  • This will aid Beijing’s claims to global leadership, push Huawei 5G trials as a side bargain, and showcase how the Belt and Road Initiative is the future of global connectivity.
  • COVID-19 will further push the international system into a world with Chinese characteristics.
  • India as Emerging Global Power
  • The crisis unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic will almost definitely create a new global order, and India could emerge stronger. But for that, Indians will have to shed the complacency that comes from believing that the nation’s long history makes its rise inevitable.
  • If India wants to be seen as a serious global actor, and not just an important one because of its large population, Indian government needs to do what major powers do. This includes, among other things, investing in a modern military, bolstering the economy, boosting partnerships with allied democracies, and strengthening India’s democratic institutions. India requires strong leadership and decisive action, not just platitudes and appeals to populism and nationalism.

India’s global potential– For the rest of the world, India’s promise is huge: its historical civilisation, geo-strategic location, huge labour force of 500 million people, the fourth largest military in the world, and a formidable consumer market. But Indian politicians have hesitated in matching their rhetoric about the country being a leading power with building hard power. Systematic development of accoutrements of global power, in terms of economic strength, military power, ability to affect global decisions and recognition by peers, has thus far not proved to be India’s strong suit. If India grows economically at 8-10 per cent, it is seen as a large consumer market for global companies. It would also have more resources to invest in military modernisation, and make India a desirable partner for countries such as Australia, Japan, the United States, and nations of the European Union.

Indian Wellness Diplomacy – India had extended help to over 150 countries in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic has severely tested the resilience of all nations. India’s recent efforts to export Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to affected countries around the world is based on India’s history of medical diplomacy. India has provided 3million HCQ, to 40countries, and 3million paracetamol tablets to another 42 countries as part of its grant assistance to countries fighting COVID-19. Additionally, consignments of HCQ and paracetamol are being exported to 87 countries. Consequently, during the second wave of Covid- 19 India got a lot of medical assistance from many countries.

  • Adhering to the ‘neighborhood first’ policy, India has sent the HCQ tablets to Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Furthermore, Indian military doctors have been deployed in Nepal and Maldives to support that local management in their response to COVID-19.
  • India is simultaneously strengthening ties with the Middle East by supplying HCQ tablets to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Syria and Jordan among others. UAE and Saudi Arabia are two of India’s key trading partners.
  • As a part of India’s efforts to support Caribbean and Latin American countries, India had pledged five million HCQ tablets for 28 countries as grants. Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, have temporarily scrapped import duties on specific respiratory equipment from India whereas Colombia, Paraguay and Ecuador, have done so on medical equipment such as gas masks and oxygen therapy devices.
  • In addition to extending support to the global South, India has also reached medical supplies to developed Northern countries such as USA, Spain, Bahrain, Germany and the United Kingdom under commercial agreements signed with Indian pharmaceutical companies. This is notable, given the infamously stringent pharmaceutical standards set by these countries.

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