Currently a question is making rounds in the global political system: which block India would join? Whether it would be a Chinese world order or with the new order which the US president Joe Biden is trying to evolve?
Paradoxically, while China is seen moving closer to the capitalist and autocratic forces, Biden appears to be embracing the leftist ideas. This role reversal has in fact been creating lot of confusion. This tactical shift in the stance of Biden has in fact even unnerved the traditional US allies.
Some of them are even not ready to believe that Biden has really initiated any such move. What has been political and economic compulsions that persuaded him to make a strategic shift.
This situation has been created more out of China’s keenness to lead a new world order in the post-COVID scenario. It is positioning itself as the main challenger to an international order, led by the United States, that is generally guided by principles of democracy, respect for human rights and adherence to rule of law. Biden wants to forge an “alliance of democracies.”
Significantly, though Narendra Modi did not directly indicate his choice, his virtual address at a session on ‘open societies and open economies’ at the G7 summit emphasised on India’s civilisational commitment to democracy, freedom of thought and liberty. He also said India is a natural ally for the G7 countries in defending the shared values from a host of threats stemming from authoritarianism, terrorism and violent extremism, disinformation and economic coercion.
Modi had got encouraged as the Trump administration, exasperated by the antiquated G7 forum of major European and North American democracies, had proposed the group’s expansion to include Australia, South Korea, and India. During his time, while US embodied the aspiration of the rightist forces and autocrat rulers, under Biden it finds itself voicing the aspiration of the democracies. Modi was the fellow traveller of the rightist and autocratic order.
It is an open secret that the RSS has been a strong votary of autocracy and it is at its initiative that Modi has been subverting the democratic forces and democratic functioning in the country. RSS found virtues in Donald Trump. Though Biden is not supposed to fulfil the aspirations of RSS, it is under constraint to follow his political line for the time being.
The threat of a U.S.-led coalition challenging China’s policies has only bolstered Beijing’s ambition to be leader of nations that oppose Washington and its allies. Quite interestingly, Biden has compared Xi to Vladimir Putin, “who thinks that autocracy is the wave of the future and democracy can’t function” in “an ever-complex world.”
It is worth mentioning that Xi has set the tone shortly after Biden’s inauguration, telling the World Economic Forum in Davos that multilateralism should be based on consensus among many countries, not a view advanced by “one or the few.”
Though in recent times the world’s major democracies have performed poorly, the fact remains that their record throughout most of the 20th century is impressive. Some Chinese commentators construe it as the decline of their economic strength but the fact is it is an incorrect presumption. Scholars like James Scott and Amartya Sen have argued that liberal societies are less likely to make truly catastrophic blunders such as Stalinist-era collectivization.
The worst responses to the Coronavirus pandemic have come from leaders nursing authoritarian tendencies, like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Biden making a shift towards the left is due to a change of perception among the Americans. Biden, who was seen as a moderate, has established himself as a radical transformer. He is currently teaching a lesson to left and centre-left parties around the world. True, it’s one they should have learned long ago, but still they should be paying the closest attention. Because Biden is delivering and the American working class and the underprivileged are getting benefits from his decisions.
The Biden presidency has secured the right to be described as radical. He has made a clear statement, “I want to change the paradigm”. A rightist status quoist cannot make this nature of claim. The rightist rulers across the globe have endangered the centrist and liberal order.
Joe Biden’s shift to the left could be noticed from the people working for him. They do not intend to create a regimented nation. The US president’s radical domestic plans have been shaped by a new generation of staffers moving through the West Wing. They strive to push an ambitious and progressive domestic policy agenda. The new troop of staff have fundamentally different views and experiences compared to those who worked under Trump’ s presidency. For them, the life of a common people matters. This is manifest in their high intensity war on COVID. They did not allow it to drag like Trump administration.
These people have different tactics: their ideological commitments are different too. The people who have taken charge are spurred by activists and protesters across the country and are more progressive on racial justice and immigration issues than they would have been four or eight years ago. Most of these new faces do not desire that US should unnecessarily engage in international conflicts. They know that US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were failures. This change of mind was also evident in the case of recent clashes between Israel-Palestine. The radical and leftwing elements are working to produce a robust, positive vision of American foreign policy.
Biden has succeeded in sending a message across that a true radical is the one who wins power and uses it for good. He may not be a good orator or deliverer of revolutionary speeches. The shift in the political stance of Biden also sends a strong message that rightist ideology has its own limitation. The new world order has no place for this skewed and obsolete ideology.
The emerging new world order is going to be litmus test for the RSS and Modi, whether they would continue to practice the fascist rightist policies or transform themselves. It would be utopian to believe that India will survive on its own in the emerging new world order. It also cannot ride on two boats at the same time. It has to choose and decide its priorities.
Views are personal