Day 6 – Q 3. What are the emerging geopolitical challenges for India during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? How its India handling it? Examine.

  • IASbaba
  • June 16, 2020
  • 0
GS 2, International Relations, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. What are the emerging geopolitical challenges for India during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? How its India handling it? Examine.

COVID-19 महामारी के दौरान भारत के लिए उभरती हुई भूराजनीतिक चुनौतियाँ क्या हैं? भारत इसे कैसे संभाल रहा है? जांच करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to write about the emerging geopolitical challenges for India during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic along with the way of dealing these challenges and solutions to it in near term. 


COVID-19 pandemic was a strategic surprise for rich and poor nations alike. The world still remains in the ‘fog of war’ phase; that the crisis will play out over a long time. It will accelerate the combination of forces that were already transforming international order and forces India to deal with challenges of emerging geopolitical environment.


Emerging geopolitical challenges during pandemic of COVID-19:

Chinese assertion: 

  • China’s strategy focussed on disinformation campaign designed to obfuscate its role in spreading the pandemic, control the public narrative and stoke domestic nationalism.  Thus, China peddles the tale that the source of the corona virus could be the US or Italy and the  exemplary actions of the CCP leadership have been instrumental in rapidly bringing the pandemic under control, while democratic Western nations are still floundering, thereby highlighting the superiority of its own political system.
  • China’s current belligerence on the LAC and increased physical tussles between Indian and Chinese soldiers rightly explained as reflection of endeavour to boost domestic nationalism.
  • China’s increasing use of wolf-warrior diplomacy as response to growing Chinese criticism is evidenced not only in combative words but aggressive actions. For example, in early April, a Chinese coastguard ship allegedly sank a Vietnamese fishing trawler near the Paracel Islands. When Vietnam protested, the Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying Vietnam’s claims to the area are illegal. 

US retreat and Dynamics of Indo-Pacific:

  • US has indicated retreat from world affairs with “leading from behind” of Obama times to  President Trump’s  “America first” and during the current crisis, the U.S.’s efforts at cornering supplies of scarce medical equipment and medicines and acquiring biotech companies engaged in research and development in allied states, show that this may mean “America alone”.
  • Moreover, even as countries were losing trust in the U.S.’s leadership, its bungled response at home to the pandemic indicates that countries are also losing trust in the U.S.’s competence. The U.S. still remains the largest economy and the largest military power but has lost the will and ability to lead. This mood is unlikely to change, whatever the outcome of the election later this year.
  • US retreat has become geopolitical challenge for India at multiple locations like Indo-pacific, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • US continue to provide only verbal service to the increased Chinese expansion in South China Sea. ASIAN response remains fractured to Chinese pressure due to interlinked economies with China.
  • Initiative of QUAD is yet to realise its full potential. China’s increasing footprint in the Indian Ocean remains concern for India.  

Instability in India’s west and Afghanistan:

  • Pakistan continues to indulge in cross border terrorism despite of global health crisis. Recent mischief in Sopore and Kupwara underlines it.  
  • In Afghanistan, the peace process was already facing the difficult transition to intra-Afghan negotiations and a US drawdown.  Travel restrictions and political opportunism will make the process of negotiation difficult, adding to the difficulties of finding a sustainable peace.
  • Pakistan will gain upper hand in the post American Afghanistan as Pakistan has always supported Taliban overtly and covertly threatens India’s interest in the region.
  • Iran is unlikely to wilt under sustained US pressure; in fact it may be tempted to increase its activities as the US elections draw near.  The successful launch of Iran’s first military satellite on April 22, 2020 is indicative of this.
  • Tumbling oil prices and increased US-Iran tensions: India relies both for energy and remittances from its eight million strong diaspora in west Asia, which in turn could face displacement from their jobs in the region.
  • Rapidly changing geopolitical situation in Islamic world continues to be challenge for India at both humanitarian and economic level. 

Even though, this is also a time of opportunity for India to push reforms in international order and to gain place of responsible power.

  • Prime Minister underlined that COVID-19 had shown us the limitations of the existing international system at G-20 virtual summit. A purely economic agenda had defined globalization so far, and we had cooperated more to balance competing individual interests, rather than advance the collective interests of all human kind. He called for a new template of globalization, based on fairness, equality and humanity in the post-COVID world.
  • India’s handling of emerging geopolitical challenges indicates India’s belief in idea of global problems demand global responses. India’s export of hydroxychloroquine drug to the various countries, rescue operation of stranded population of neighbouring countries from china, belief in strengthening independent WHO to deal with contagion.   
  • India has responded both at military and diplomatic level to Chinese adventure in the eastern ladakh and Sikkim and continues to build robust border infrastructure. 
  • Zero tolerance to terrorism remains India’s stated policy to cross border terrorism and India repeatedly called out bluff of nuclear overhang of Pakistan.  India remains committed to deal with every stakeholder in the Afghanistan to secure its interests. 
  • India’s new alliance with France in Indian Ocean patrols and exercises and increasing strategic closeness with Australia indicates India’s proactive geopolitical stance in indo-pacific. 
  • India has shown world that it is committed to fight pandemic in more responsible manner even at the cost of economic loss. 

However, India’s External Affairs Minister had observed that the real obstacle to the rise of India is not any more the barriers of the world, but the dogmas of Delhi. Traditional Indian strategic mindset of an inward looking third world nation concerned more with securing its borders than with shaping the regional and global environment in its favour remains concern. A multi-polar order inevitably calls for strategic coordination, or balancing, to prevent one pole overwhelming the others, one by one.


A vaccine for the novel corona virus, possibly by end-2020, will help deal with the global health crisis but these unfolding trends have now been aggravated by the more pernicious panic virus. Rising nationalism and protectionist responses will prolong the economic recession into a depression, sharpening inequalities and polarisations. Greater unpredictability and more turbulent times lie ahead.


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