China, better prepared for the post-COVID
world (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: UN General Assembly
Mains level: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing
countries on India's interests
Several weeks before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s
Minister for External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, had observed that “what
defines power and determines national standing is also no longer the same...
Technology, connectivity and trade are at the heart of the new
The Minister could never have imagined that within a few weeks, his
prediction would be overtaken by a tectonic shift in the global situation
thanks to a virus and a pandemic.
The Minister did mention a point about “known unknowns”, but what he
could hardly have anticipated is how radical the changes would be, thanks to
the phenomenon of “unknown unknowns”. Within the span of a few weeks,
following the Minister’s dissertation, pronounced unpredictability created
an unprecedented situation.
Seldom have so many lives been lost across continents in a single tragic
Deep economic impact:
By now, India has surpassed China with regard to the number of confirmed
COVID-19 cases, and has moved past the figure of 100,000 cases. What
distinguishes the present pandemic from earlier ones is its economic impact,
Well before this, India had been witnessing a persistent economic
downward slide. The pandemic could, thus, not have come at a more
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of a ₹20-lakh crore stimulus
package was, hence, timely even though economists now believe that in real
terms it amounts to around 2% of GDP rather than 10% as the government makes
Finding resources for even this stimulus package will, however, not be
easy. The Centre’s finances are not in the best of health. It has already
had to resort to a second tranche of $1 billion loan from the World Bank to
support COVID-19 relief measures.
The finances of States are, to say the least, in a perilous state.
Questions are, thus, bound to be raised as to whether adequate funds would
be forthcoming for relief purposes.
Package is more a mosaic:
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, Finance Minister Nirmala
Sitharaman has provided several details of the stimulus package. Most
critics affirm that it has been a financial stimulus at best, and much less
likely to provide the much-needed stimulus to the economy.
Among the more important items are:
To providing a stimulus to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
through a ₹3-lakh crore loan scheme; helping other stressed business sectors
such as non-banking financial companies, or NBFCs, power distribution
companies and the real estate industry; provisioning of free food grains to
migrant workers for the next two months; provisioning of a ₹1-lakh crore
subsidy to agricultural ............................................
In the extant circumstances, comparisons with China have, hence, become
inevitable. China may not have anticipated the latest COVID-19 pandemic, but
since its early recovery, China has followed a calibrated approach — one
that stems from a policy of deliberate strategic progression conceived over
the years. It may be worthwhile to understand the facts so as to underscore
the gap that currently exists between China and India.
Almost five years ago, China’s President, Xi Jinping, had floated the
idea of “a Community of Common Destiny of Mankind”, in the course of an
address to the UN General Assembly (2015). In this, he outlined China’s
viewpoint on aspects such as economic globalisation and the information
The Belt and Road Initiative — which encompasses policy, infrastructure,
trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity, and, implicitly also,
security ties — was an adjunct to it. The 19th National Congress of the
Communist Party of China (2017), thereafter, gave its imprimatur,
considering it essential to enable China to achieve pre-eminence status
within the global order.
Ever since, China has embarked on not only attaining economic and
technological progress but also in defining how power would be determined in
the new globalised era through devising new international norms in many
emerging domains such as cyber, space, artificial intelligence, etc.
Setting the standards:
China also set about rewriting international rules, premised not so much
on governing where global goods are made, but on setting standards that
define production, exchange and consumption. China Standards 2035 plans to
set new standards with regard to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
and define next generation information technology and biotechnology
China is hoping, thereby, .........................................
Mounting an effective challenge to China at this time would require a
well-conceived and carefully calibrated plan of action by India. As of now,
this is not evident.
India and China will certainly emerge from the pandemic more diminished
than previously, but to varying extents. Each country will, no doubt, suffer
an economic setback, but while both nations would be among the very few that
would still have a positive growth rate in the near future given the size of
China’s economy, it does not translate into a massive shift in India’s
Admittedly, there is a great deal of talk of companies demitting China
at this time, partly due to the pandemic and partly due to other reasons.
India would more than welcome some of the entities exiting China, but
there are no “green shoots” to suggest that such a shift has, or is, about
to take place. Many alternatives are available to these companies and it
would be excessively optimistic on our part to hold on to the belief that
India is the only alternative choice for most of them.
Q1. With reference to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA),
consider the following statements: 1. Union Home Minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the NDMA.
2. NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted in 2005.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2