EDITORIAL 72:“Resuscitating multilateralism with India’s help

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.– Confucius

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.


Amitabh Mattoo & Amrita Narlikar

Amitabh Mattoo is Professor of International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Honorary Professor at the University of Melbourne. Amrita Narlikar is President of the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)



Resuscitating(revive) multilateralism with India’s help


It could lead a coalition to bridge the global deficit of trust with China through a regime of rules

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Economy : Trade : Protectionism


Its right time to overcome China’s Unilateral revisionism . Lay down some decisive policy making to encounter the same .  -(GS 3)


You will understand what is Multilateralism and the methods in which Chinese revisionism is exploiting different countries.

  • How Chinese diplomacy is affecting mutilateral approach.
  • What India can do to cope up from such crisis .


  • Even as the coronavirus pandemic unleashes its devastation across the globe, the great and the good have been quick to remind us of the value of multilateralism and the necessity to preserve it.
To reduce the further spread of the virus, to develop effective medical treatments, and to curtail the worst effects of the inevitable recession that is already in the offing, cooperation among nations will be necessary.
  • But there is a problem: multilateralism is possibly at its weakest today, when the need for it is more dire than ever before.
  • Unless the fundamental problem is addressed, no meaningful fix will be possible.
  • We believe that India may be uniquely positioned to help resuscitate multilateralism.
  • We could assume leadership in strengthening constructive transnational cooperation.


  • to temper what is increasingly seen as Beijing’s unilateralist revisionism;
  • revive the promise of the gradual socialisation of China into the international system;
  • and its acceptance of the norms and rules that regulate the principal multilateral institutions.



  • THE PARALYSIS : of all three functions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) — negotiation, dispute settlement, and transparency — was one sign of that deep-rooted malaise; the severely dented credibility of the World Health Organization (WHO) is just another more recent indicator.
  • The pandemic has heightened the crisis of multilateralism, not created it.


  • MISUSING RULES : The misuse of existing rules (or loopholes within the existing rules) by several countries, especially by China (e.g. via forced technology requirements, intellectual property rights violations, and subsidies), to gain an unfair advantage in trade relations was already attracting critique in the last years.
  • PROTECTIONISM : As death tolls rose (in some cases, to catastrophic proportions) many countries responded with export restrictions on critical medical supplies.
  • This was far from ideal, but almost inevitable given the absence of adequate stocks within countries, and little in the rules to curb export restraints.
  • CREATING MARKETS :Recognizing the shortages that countries were facing — masks, personal protective equipment, ventilators and more — to deal with COVID-19, China offered to sell these products to countries in need. 
  • AGGRESSIVE MARKETING : When India complained that test kits imported from China were faulty, China slammed it for “irresponsible” behaviour.
When Australia indicated that it would conduct an independent investigation of China’s early handling of the epidemic, China threatened it with economic consequences.


  • USA’s STAND : A “retreating” United States must remains committed to strengthening global supply chains which are based on the promise of ensuring global stability and the attendant promise of peace and prosperity.
  • MEANINGFUL CO OPERATIONS : Second, irrespective of the above, there is an urgent need for some strategic decoupling, handled smartly in cooperation with other like-minded countries.
  • THE NEED OF DECOUPLING : Third, flowing from the above, a multilateralism that recognises the need for decoupling will necessitate closer cooperation with some and distancing from others.

Membership of such renewed multilateral institutions would not be universal; rather, one would limit deep integration to countries with which one shares first-order values — such as pluralism, democracy, liberalism, animal welfare rights, and more.

      IASbhai Windup: 


The current crisis in multilateralism could be a remarkable opportunity for India, a country whose pluralism, democracy, and liberalism have often been underestimated by the West.
  • CO-OPERATION IS THE KEY : To make use of the opportunities, for itself and for the provision of certain global public goods, India’s cooperation with like-minded actors will be key.
  • ALLIANCE OF MULTI-LATERALISM :India could work closely with the Alliance for Multilateralism (an initiative launched by Germany and France) to shape both the alliance itself and the reform agenda at large.
  • AMPLIFY VOICE :Working together with a group of countries from the developed and developing countries could further amplify India’s voice.
  • SOFT POWER DIPLOMACY : Neither aid diplomacy nor the unleashing of Chinese soft power can easily recover the trust deficit that exists today between China and much of the rest of the world.
  • EYE ON REVISIONISM : While prudence may demand gradual decoupling, it is critical to not be seen as immediately isolating China; with fewer stakes in world order, Beijing’s turn towards revisionism could be faster than anticipated.
  • GUIDED SANCTIONS : Instead, India could lead a coalition to bridge this deficit of trust through a regime of incentives and sanctions that seek to embed Beijing into a much more guided and directed socialisation into the rules of the international system.
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