General Studies Paper 2 (International Relations)
Question:- 204. How would you explain the current global order? What are the foreign policy challenges faced by India w.r.t. the events of the past 2 years? Conclude your answer with a way forward. Answer in 250 words.
Mar 02, 2023


Looking at China’s rapid rise and Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, it appears that the global order is undergoing a transition i.e. the third transition , the first two being the bipolar world led by the U.S. and the Soviet Union after WW-II and the unipolarity established following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 with the U.S. being its centre.

The U.S. still remains the world’s most powerful military power. But the U.S.’s ability to shape geopolitical outcomes is clearly in decline. It was seen in its withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war or the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

During the Cold War, the world was divided into two ideologies and two systems. Today’s world is much more diverse ideologically and integrated economically.

There’s a lack of clarity on which direction the world is headed. It makes policy making harder for middle powers like India.




The foreign policy challenges faced by India in recent times are as follows:

  1. 1. India faces an entirely new set of challenges in the new global disorder. The arena of the looming U.S ­ China great power contest is Asia. It is unfolding right in India’s neighbourhood.
  2. 2. The power imbalance between India and China has widened in recent years. China has also developed a strategic partnership with Pakistan. It is raising its influence in other South Asian and Indian Ocean countries. Besides, the border situation is hostile after the Galwan incident.
  3. 3. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has complicated India’s options further. Russia is a traditional partner with which India has deep defence ties. The West’s move to isolate Russia in Europe would push the country further into the Chinese embrace. India has time and again abstained from voting in a United Nations General Assembly resolution that condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India is under huge pressure from its partners to take a more critical position on Russia’s actions.
  1. 4. In continental Asia, India sees a different set of challenges, especially after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power.




The way forward for Indian foreign policy establishment:

Any policy decisions should factor in the above mentioned delicate changes under way in global politics. Hence,

  1. 1. India should prepare itself for a prolonged strategic competition with China.
  2. 2. India’s primary focus should be on transforming itself economically and militarily. It should stay focussed on its rise and bridging the gap with China.
  3. 3. It should present itself as a natural stabilising power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.
  4. 4. India has to address its continental security challenges and manage its inroads into Central Asia. For this, India has to work with Eurasian powers such as Russia and Iran both of which are at odds with the U.S.




Abandoning its strategic autonomy and joining a U.S.­led bloc would limit India’s options in the new world. It will also provoke China. An open conflict with China doesn’t serve India’s strategic interests.There could be many power centres in the new world order. India should opt for multi­engagement not multi­alignment as some experts have suggested for a multipolar world. Also, India should aim to create new pillars of the new order by engagement and partnership with middle powers.