THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 30 March 2020 (The deep void in global leadership (The Hindu))

The deep void in global leadership (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2:International Relations 
Prelims level:  G20 
Mains level:Outcome from G20 meetings on economic slowdowns


  • The coronavirus’s flight across the world at lightning speed, has exposed the total void in collective leadership at the global level. 
  • Three months into the catastrophic war declared by an invisible, almost invincible virus, that is rapidly gobbling up human lives, regardless of citizenship and race, and contemptuously ravaging economies across continents, there is as yet no comprehensive, concerted plan of action, orchestrated by global leaders, to combat this terror.


Outcome from G20 meetings: 

  • The G20 has just had a virtual meeting, we understand, at the prodding of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
  • It is encouraging to learn that the G20 leaders have agreed to inject $5-trillion into the world economy to partially counter the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. 
  • This is indeed good news. But taking collective ownership to fight a global war against the virus will require a lot more than writing cheques.
  • Good war, bad enemy
  • World leaders are obviously overwhelmed with their own national challenges and do not appear inclined to view the pandemic as a common enemy against mankind, which it is. 
  • China delayed reporting the virus to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and perhaps, in the process, contributed to the exacerbation of the spread of the virus across the globe. 
  • It was reported that the Trump administration did not even inform the European Union before it shut off flights from Europe. 
  • It must be acknowledged that the initiative taken by Mr. Modi in the early days to convene a meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries stands out in contrast to the pusillanimous leadership around the world.


Seeds of indifference

  • Two developments in the global polity in the last few years have contributed to the indifference towards collective global action.

Right-wing nationalism:

  • One, the swing towards right-wing nationalism, as a guiding political ideology, in large swathes of the world, particularly in the U.S. 
  • This ideology posits ‘global good’ being in conflict with and inimical to national interests. The dramatic announcement by U.S. President Trump, in June 2017, that the U.S. will cease involvement from the Paris Accord on climate change, preparatory to full withdrawal after the mandatory period, on the ground that the accord will ‘undermine U.S. economic interest’ is a classic demonstration of narrow nationalism trumping global interests. 
  • There is no issue more global than climate change, and yet the U.S. Administration chose to look at it from the prism of national, short-term economic interest.

Atrophy of multilateral institutions:

  • The United Nations was the outcome of the shared vision of the world leaders after World War II, that collective action is the only way forward to prevent the occurrence of another war. 
  • That institution has notoriously failed to live up to its expectations to maintain peace among nations in the nearly 80 years since its formation. 
  • Its affiliate organisations have, in several ways, failed to deliver on their lofty missions. 
  • In particular, WHO, which has as its objective ‘to be the directing and coordinating authority among member countries in health emergencies’, has proven to be too lethargic in reacting to pandemics in the past. Its responses to COVID-19, has come under the scanner, not merely for incompetence, but also for lack of intellectual integrity.


G20 offers hope:

  • If the world leaders realise the relevance and critical importance of collective global action in the context of the present pandemic, it is not difficult to contrive an appropriate mechanism quickly to get into war. 
  • A nimble outfit, not burdened with bureaucracy, is required to manage a global crisis of the nature that we are confronted with, today. 
  • The G20, with co-option of other affected countries, itself might serve the purpose for the present. 

Addressing shortage of drugs and medical equipment:

  • The collective should ensure that shortages of drugs, medical equipment and protective gear do not come in the way of any nation’s capacity to contain or fight the pandemic. 
  • It is very likely that some nations that have succeeded in bringing the pandemic under control, such as China, Japan or South Korea, might have the capability to step up production at short notice to meet the increasing demand from other countries which are behind the curve. 
  • This would typically involve urgent development of an information exchange on global production capacity, present and potential, demand and supply. 
  • This is not to mean that there should be centralised management, which is not only infeasible, but counterproductive, as the attendant bureaucracy will impede quick action. 
  • A common information exchange could restrain the richer countries from predatory contracting of global capacities.


Seamless logistics for essential goods: 

  • The protocols might need to be put in place among participating countries to ensure seamless logistics for the supply chain for essential goods and services to function efficiently. 
  • This might be particularly necessary in the context of controls on international traffic and national shutdowns. 
  • There would need to be concomitant accord to eliminate all kinds of tariff and non tariff barriers.

Information exchange is vital

  • There needs to be instantaneous exchange of authenticated information on what clinical solutions have succeeded and what has not. 
  • An example is the issue relating to hydroxychloroquine, which is being used experimentally, bypassing the rigours of randomised clinical trials. 
  • While there is no substitute to classic clinical proof, the more field-level information is shared within the medical community, the better will be the success rates of such experimentation.

Cross-country collaboration on laboratory trials:

  • This is a time to have cross-country collaboration on laboratory trials and clinical validation for vaccines and anti-viral drugs. It must be acknowledged that WHO has already moved on this issue, although, perhaps, belatedly. 
  • The world can ill-afford delays, as the pandemic is predicted to stage a comeback once the shutdowns are gradually relaxed. The best way to ensure speedy research is to pool global resources. 
  • Any effort at reinventing the wheel will only delay the outcomes. This attempt to collaborate might also bring in its wake an acceptable commercial solution that adequately incentivises private research, while ensuring benefits being available to the entire world at affordable costs. 
  • Such a framework might be necessary for sustained collaborations for future challenges.


Movement of trained health professionals:

  • There is a need to facilitate easy movement of trained health professionals across the world to train others and augment resources wherever there are shortages. 
  • In other words, nations should come together to organise a global army to fight the pandemic, equipped with the best weapons and tools.

Food watch

  • We must anticipate food shortages occurring sooner or later, in some part of the world, consequent to the national shutdowns. 
  • Ironically, while we might have saved lives from the assault of the novel coronavirus, we might run the risk of losing lives to starvation and malnutrition, somewhere in the world if we do not take adequate precautions. 
  • This requires not only coordinated global action; it would also turn out to be the test of global concern for mankind in general.

Way forward:

  • There is no doubt that human talent will triumph over the microscopic virus. It may be some months before we declare our win. 
  • But the economic devastation, that would have been caused as a result will be no less than the aftermath of a world war. 
  • Economies of the world are inexorably intertwined. 
  • An orderly reconstruction of the global economy, which is equitable and inclusive, will eventually involve renegotiating terms of trade among key trading blocs, concerted action among central bankers to stabilise currencies, and a responsible way to regulate and manage global commodity markets.


Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Draft Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), 2020, consider the following statements:

1. The Draft proposes increasing the Indigenous Content (IC) stipulated in various categories of procurement by about 10% to support the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
2. New Category Buy (Global – Manufacture in India) has been introduced with minimum 50% indigenous content on cost basis of total contract value. 

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



Mains Questions:
Q.1) Does India have the power to awaken the conscience of the Superpowers and catalyse collective global action? Comment. 

NEW! UPSC Exam may be Postponed due to Corona Virus