International Relations: December 2020 Current Affairs Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly

Current Affairs : International Relations: December 2020 Current Affairs Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


	
10	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.	INTERNATIONAL	RELATIONS	
2.1.	GEOPOLITICS	OF	TECHNOLOGY	
Why in news?  
Global transition to future technologies like Artificial Intelligence, 5G and Big Data among others have started 
affecting the global geopolitics which can be evidently seen in the global 5G adoption.  
What is the relationship between geopolitics and technology?  
In the modern parlance, Geopolitics can be roughly understood as interactions and relationship among nation 
states. The technology development and adoption not only affect the nature of geopolitics but also gets affected 
by it. For example, Russia’s military technological development was largely driven by its susceptibility on its 
western borders.  
Following can be cited as key geopolitical factors affecting technological access, adoption and development:  
• Geographical position: Global geographical positioning plays an important role in determining the 
technological priorities. For example, due to its harsh geography and scarce water resources, Israel has spent 
considerable time and resources to develop technologies that conserve, reuse and desalinate water.  
• Relative access to resources: Relative access to resources gives the country a position in the global economy. 
For example, large scale availability of labour puts China at a comparative advantage in labour intensive 
sectors. Whereas large scale availability of capital in US puts it at a comparative advantage for Research and 
Development. This relative access also influences the technological development and adoption.  
• Relationship with other countries: In the globalized world, technological development happens collectively 
and not in silos. As a result, relationship among countries enables sharing of technology, thus enabling 
collective development. For example, a major facet of India-Israel relations is sharing of agricultural technology 
between them.  
• National Priorities and domestic constraints: Nature of policy like regulatory environments, nature of 
education systems, extent of social acceptance for technology among others also drive the global distribution 
of technological advancement. For example, tech-driven private sector moves towards nations with conducive 
environment such as a country having a strong start-up culture.  
How can these technological changes potentially alter the geopolitical landscape?  
When combined, these changes are already beginning to affect every aspect of the globalized world. The emerging 
sectors in which this will be felt directly by consumers include social media for information, financial technologies, 
e-commerce, e-services affecting mobility and social services, and changes to the sourcing and management of 
energy. Broadly these technological changes will affect three areas-  
• Security: New technologies creates new challenges in the realm of Cybersecurity, in emergence of threats like 
Hybrid Warfare and exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure like telecommunications. The relative 
deprivation of these technologies within countries alters the security balance among countries.  
o For instance, US alongside countries like UK and France have been apprehensive of penetration of Huawei 
technologies in their telecommunication systems citing security and privacy concerns.  
• International Standing: The extent of technological development influences political standing both directly 
and indirectly. For instance, Israel despite being a small country, in a volatile neighborhood has considerable 
global influence. This is in part due to due to the technological development in the country.  
• Economic Growth: Technological development or adoption is one of the key factors in ensuring long-term 
economic growth for any country. It enables higher worker productivity, improved efficiencies, enhanced 
quality of products and services. Access to technology thus becomes a key variable in relative economic growth 
and prosperity among countries.  
o For example, control of data driven technologies is being seen as key technological variable which will 
drive the future economic competition among countries.  
 
 
Page 2


	
10	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.	INTERNATIONAL	RELATIONS	
2.1.	GEOPOLITICS	OF	TECHNOLOGY	
Why in news?  
Global transition to future technologies like Artificial Intelligence, 5G and Big Data among others have started 
affecting the global geopolitics which can be evidently seen in the global 5G adoption.  
What is the relationship between geopolitics and technology?  
In the modern parlance, Geopolitics can be roughly understood as interactions and relationship among nation 
states. The technology development and adoption not only affect the nature of geopolitics but also gets affected 
by it. For example, Russia’s military technological development was largely driven by its susceptibility on its 
western borders.  
Following can be cited as key geopolitical factors affecting technological access, adoption and development:  
• Geographical position: Global geographical positioning plays an important role in determining the 
technological priorities. For example, due to its harsh geography and scarce water resources, Israel has spent 
considerable time and resources to develop technologies that conserve, reuse and desalinate water.  
• Relative access to resources: Relative access to resources gives the country a position in the global economy. 
For example, large scale availability of labour puts China at a comparative advantage in labour intensive 
sectors. Whereas large scale availability of capital in US puts it at a comparative advantage for Research and 
Development. This relative access also influences the technological development and adoption.  
• Relationship with other countries: In the globalized world, technological development happens collectively 
and not in silos. As a result, relationship among countries enables sharing of technology, thus enabling 
collective development. For example, a major facet of India-Israel relations is sharing of agricultural technology 
between them.  
• National Priorities and domestic constraints: Nature of policy like regulatory environments, nature of 
education systems, extent of social acceptance for technology among others also drive the global distribution 
of technological advancement. For example, tech-driven private sector moves towards nations with conducive 
environment such as a country having a strong start-up culture.  
How can these technological changes potentially alter the geopolitical landscape?  
When combined, these changes are already beginning to affect every aspect of the globalized world. The emerging 
sectors in which this will be felt directly by consumers include social media for information, financial technologies, 
e-commerce, e-services affecting mobility and social services, and changes to the sourcing and management of 
energy. Broadly these technological changes will affect three areas-  
• Security: New technologies creates new challenges in the realm of Cybersecurity, in emergence of threats like 
Hybrid Warfare and exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure like telecommunications. The relative 
deprivation of these technologies within countries alters the security balance among countries.  
o For instance, US alongside countries like UK and France have been apprehensive of penetration of Huawei 
technologies in their telecommunication systems citing security and privacy concerns.  
• International Standing: The extent of technological development influences political standing both directly 
and indirectly. For instance, Israel despite being a small country, in a volatile neighborhood has considerable 
global influence. This is in part due to due to the technological development in the country.  
• Economic Growth: Technological development or adoption is one of the key factors in ensuring long-term 
economic growth for any country. It enables higher worker productivity, improved efficiencies, enhanced 
quality of products and services. Access to technology thus becomes a key variable in relative economic growth 
and prosperity among countries.  
o For example, control of data driven technologies is being seen as key technological variable which will 
drive the future economic competition among countries.  
 
 
	
11	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
How the current geopolitics of technology is playing out globally?  
The emergence of new technologies is eliciting different reaction from different countries. Broadly these reactions 
can be divided into two categories:  
• Technologically authoritarian reaction: Countries that have closed their data markets and restricted the flow 
of technology- such as China- would come under this category.  
• Technologically democratic reaction: Countries that are guided by judicial standards, the rule of law, and 
support the freer — but not always free — movement of data and technology can be classified under this 
category.  
The interplay between these two types has created political, ideological and economic tensions in the global realm 
and have generated following geopolitical debates:  
• What effect will technology have on future of US-China relationship? The current technological competition 
within the countries and US’s apprehension over threat from rising China has created a tendency of decoupling 
with regard to technology, talent and investment in these countries. The way this issue moves forward will 
have large impact on future of technology and associated geopolitics.  
• Will internet break into ‘splinternet’? As internet governance thickens, the worldwide web could segment 
into a collection of independent digital ecosystems or “splinternets.” This emerging model could be attractive 
to states and businesses that seek to exert greater market control in cyberspace and exclude foreign 
competition.  
• Is creation of a global regulatory regime possible? Although the current trends point towards a deglobalized 
and segmented world, but the growth of technology has been fastest when it was accompanied with global 
coordination. Keeping this idea in mind, it is possible that gradually national and regional regulatory regimes 
may come together in the near future.  
What is India’s standing in the current geopolitical scenario and what should it do? 
India may not currently have a clear regulatory framework for emerging technologies, but it has a standing in this 
geopolitical debate by virtue of being the largest open data market in the world. Close to 600 million Indians 
currently use 4G data. India also has the highest per capita consumption of data (above 10 GB per month) 
anywhere in the world.  
To sustain its standing and exert it’s influence in geopolitical debate on technology, India will have to generate 
sustained technological development. To ensure this, following steps could be taken for better technological 
regulation:  
• Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL): Accelerate the enactment of the PDPL as it will provide clarity on cross-
border movement of data and regulate use of personal data among others.  
• Regulatory clarity on new technologies: India’s response on new technologies like Blockchain, Drone 
technology etc. has been ambivalent, which has hindered their development. Clear approach will pave the 
way for faster adoption both by Public and Private sector.  
• Evolve a clear stand for global stage: Having a clear stance on how technologies like 5G, Blockchain need to 
be governed lends more credibility to India’s position. Also, this stance needs to be consistent with the 
domestic approach.  
• Tech diplomacy: The ministry of external affairs created the new, emerging, and strategic technologies (NEST) 
division in 2020. This idea can be taken further by appointing dedicated technology ambassadors or 
technology coordinators.  
• Making technological access a key part of diplomatic relations: Access to technology should be a key feature 
of bilateral relations in the future especially for a developing country like India which has a large absorptive 
capacity.   
The geopolitical maneuvers can improve global regulation in India’s favor and increase access to technology. But 
this can only be capitalized if it is accompanied with domestic technological development. Efforts could be made 
on lines of creating entrepreneurial culture, increasing investment in R&D, providing the ecosystem to encourage 
private sector research and most importantly implementation of education reforms as envisaged by the New 
Education Policy 2020.  
Page 3


	
10	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.	INTERNATIONAL	RELATIONS	
2.1.	GEOPOLITICS	OF	TECHNOLOGY	
Why in news?  
Global transition to future technologies like Artificial Intelligence, 5G and Big Data among others have started 
affecting the global geopolitics which can be evidently seen in the global 5G adoption.  
What is the relationship between geopolitics and technology?  
In the modern parlance, Geopolitics can be roughly understood as interactions and relationship among nation 
states. The technology development and adoption not only affect the nature of geopolitics but also gets affected 
by it. For example, Russia’s military technological development was largely driven by its susceptibility on its 
western borders.  
Following can be cited as key geopolitical factors affecting technological access, adoption and development:  
• Geographical position: Global geographical positioning plays an important role in determining the 
technological priorities. For example, due to its harsh geography and scarce water resources, Israel has spent 
considerable time and resources to develop technologies that conserve, reuse and desalinate water.  
• Relative access to resources: Relative access to resources gives the country a position in the global economy. 
For example, large scale availability of labour puts China at a comparative advantage in labour intensive 
sectors. Whereas large scale availability of capital in US puts it at a comparative advantage for Research and 
Development. This relative access also influences the technological development and adoption.  
• Relationship with other countries: In the globalized world, technological development happens collectively 
and not in silos. As a result, relationship among countries enables sharing of technology, thus enabling 
collective development. For example, a major facet of India-Israel relations is sharing of agricultural technology 
between them.  
• National Priorities and domestic constraints: Nature of policy like regulatory environments, nature of 
education systems, extent of social acceptance for technology among others also drive the global distribution 
of technological advancement. For example, tech-driven private sector moves towards nations with conducive 
environment such as a country having a strong start-up culture.  
How can these technological changes potentially alter the geopolitical landscape?  
When combined, these changes are already beginning to affect every aspect of the globalized world. The emerging 
sectors in which this will be felt directly by consumers include social media for information, financial technologies, 
e-commerce, e-services affecting mobility and social services, and changes to the sourcing and management of 
energy. Broadly these technological changes will affect three areas-  
• Security: New technologies creates new challenges in the realm of Cybersecurity, in emergence of threats like 
Hybrid Warfare and exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure like telecommunications. The relative 
deprivation of these technologies within countries alters the security balance among countries.  
o For instance, US alongside countries like UK and France have been apprehensive of penetration of Huawei 
technologies in their telecommunication systems citing security and privacy concerns.  
• International Standing: The extent of technological development influences political standing both directly 
and indirectly. For instance, Israel despite being a small country, in a volatile neighborhood has considerable 
global influence. This is in part due to due to the technological development in the country.  
• Economic Growth: Technological development or adoption is one of the key factors in ensuring long-term 
economic growth for any country. It enables higher worker productivity, improved efficiencies, enhanced 
quality of products and services. Access to technology thus becomes a key variable in relative economic growth 
and prosperity among countries.  
o For example, control of data driven technologies is being seen as key technological variable which will 
drive the future economic competition among countries.  
 
 
	
11	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
How the current geopolitics of technology is playing out globally?  
The emergence of new technologies is eliciting different reaction from different countries. Broadly these reactions 
can be divided into two categories:  
• Technologically authoritarian reaction: Countries that have closed their data markets and restricted the flow 
of technology- such as China- would come under this category.  
• Technologically democratic reaction: Countries that are guided by judicial standards, the rule of law, and 
support the freer — but not always free — movement of data and technology can be classified under this 
category.  
The interplay between these two types has created political, ideological and economic tensions in the global realm 
and have generated following geopolitical debates:  
• What effect will technology have on future of US-China relationship? The current technological competition 
within the countries and US’s apprehension over threat from rising China has created a tendency of decoupling 
with regard to technology, talent and investment in these countries. The way this issue moves forward will 
have large impact on future of technology and associated geopolitics.  
• Will internet break into ‘splinternet’? As internet governance thickens, the worldwide web could segment 
into a collection of independent digital ecosystems or “splinternets.” This emerging model could be attractive 
to states and businesses that seek to exert greater market control in cyberspace and exclude foreign 
competition.  
• Is creation of a global regulatory regime possible? Although the current trends point towards a deglobalized 
and segmented world, but the growth of technology has been fastest when it was accompanied with global 
coordination. Keeping this idea in mind, it is possible that gradually national and regional regulatory regimes 
may come together in the near future.  
What is India’s standing in the current geopolitical scenario and what should it do? 
India may not currently have a clear regulatory framework for emerging technologies, but it has a standing in this 
geopolitical debate by virtue of being the largest open data market in the world. Close to 600 million Indians 
currently use 4G data. India also has the highest per capita consumption of data (above 10 GB per month) 
anywhere in the world.  
To sustain its standing and exert it’s influence in geopolitical debate on technology, India will have to generate 
sustained technological development. To ensure this, following steps could be taken for better technological 
regulation:  
• Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL): Accelerate the enactment of the PDPL as it will provide clarity on cross-
border movement of data and regulate use of personal data among others.  
• Regulatory clarity on new technologies: India’s response on new technologies like Blockchain, Drone 
technology etc. has been ambivalent, which has hindered their development. Clear approach will pave the 
way for faster adoption both by Public and Private sector.  
• Evolve a clear stand for global stage: Having a clear stance on how technologies like 5G, Blockchain need to 
be governed lends more credibility to India’s position. Also, this stance needs to be consistent with the 
domestic approach.  
• Tech diplomacy: The ministry of external affairs created the new, emerging, and strategic technologies (NEST) 
division in 2020. This idea can be taken further by appointing dedicated technology ambassadors or 
technology coordinators.  
• Making technological access a key part of diplomatic relations: Access to technology should be a key feature 
of bilateral relations in the future especially for a developing country like India which has a large absorptive 
capacity.   
The geopolitical maneuvers can improve global regulation in India’s favor and increase access to technology. But 
this can only be capitalized if it is accompanied with domestic technological development. Efforts could be made 
on lines of creating entrepreneurial culture, increasing investment in R&D, providing the ecosystem to encourage 
private sector research and most importantly implementation of education reforms as envisaged by the New 
Education Policy 2020.  
	
12	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.2.	RELIGION	AS	A	TOOL	OF	SOFT	POWER	DIPLOMACY	
Why in news? 
A virtual exhibition on the shared Buddhist heritage of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries was 
launched by India’s Vice-President during the virtual meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government.   
More about news 
• This online international exhibition is 
curated by the National Museum, Delhi.  
• This exhibition provides an opportunity 
for visitors to access, appreciate and 
compare Buddhist art antiquities from 
SCO countries on a single platform and 
from the comfort of their home.  
Soft power  
• Soft power is the ability to affect others 
to obtain the outcomes one wants 
through attraction rather than coercion 
or payment. A country's soft power rests 
on its resources of culture, values, and 
policies.  
• Soft power as a tool for foreign policy was conceptualized by Joseph Nye in the 1990s.  
• Religion, cuisine, music, art, Bollywood etc. are India’s various tools for soft power diplomacy.  
Importance of religion in India’s soft power diplomacy 
• India's religious diversity is its biggest strength: India is fortunate to have all the major religions of the world. 
Four are homegrown: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Four came from outside: Zoroastrianism, 
Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  
o Also, unlike any other religion-based 
countries, people of various sects and 
religions live peacefully.  
o This adds to the incentives for the 
religiously minded people living across 
the globe to have a positive attitude 
towards India. 
• Role in its policy: India’s Look East Policy is 
being built up by emphasizing India’s 
historical links with Buddhism.  
o India has sought membership to the 
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 
on the grounds that it has the 2
nd
 largest 
Muslim population in the world.  
o Reputation for being a safe haven for Jews 
at a time of their prosecution in their 
native lands provides the foundation to 
strong India Israel relationship.  
• Religious diplomacy has been integral to 
India’s tradition: The principle of 
“VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM ('the whole 
world is but one family) was enshrined in Maha Upanishad. Ashoka sent Buddhist Missionaries to far off places 
such as Ceylon, Egypt, Macedonia, Tibet, etc. The address of Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893 by Swami 
Vivekanad brought the much-needed recognition and respect for India particularly its culture and traditions. 
Buddhism & India 
India claims legitimacy in its promotion of Buddhist diplomacy in 
spite the fact that it is host to a relatively small population of 
Buddhists due to following reasons- 
• Buddhist faith originated in India, therefore granting it singular 
historical legitimacy. 
• India has numerous sites of importance to the Buddhist faith, 
such as Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Nalanda.  
• India has nurtured an image of being a protector of the 
persecuted through the presence of the Dalai Lama and the 
Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Dharamshala. 
• Historical links to Theravada Buddhism mean that India is in a 
good position to further relations with other Buddhist countries 
and create conversation between multiple streams of this faith. 
Successfully leveraging these associations with other Buddhist 
countries could have an impact beyond the realm of cultural 
diplomacy, and aid in other areas of foreign policy as well. 
Page 4


	
10	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.	INTERNATIONAL	RELATIONS	
2.1.	GEOPOLITICS	OF	TECHNOLOGY	
Why in news?  
Global transition to future technologies like Artificial Intelligence, 5G and Big Data among others have started 
affecting the global geopolitics which can be evidently seen in the global 5G adoption.  
What is the relationship between geopolitics and technology?  
In the modern parlance, Geopolitics can be roughly understood as interactions and relationship among nation 
states. The technology development and adoption not only affect the nature of geopolitics but also gets affected 
by it. For example, Russia’s military technological development was largely driven by its susceptibility on its 
western borders.  
Following can be cited as key geopolitical factors affecting technological access, adoption and development:  
• Geographical position: Global geographical positioning plays an important role in determining the 
technological priorities. For example, due to its harsh geography and scarce water resources, Israel has spent 
considerable time and resources to develop technologies that conserve, reuse and desalinate water.  
• Relative access to resources: Relative access to resources gives the country a position in the global economy. 
For example, large scale availability of labour puts China at a comparative advantage in labour intensive 
sectors. Whereas large scale availability of capital in US puts it at a comparative advantage for Research and 
Development. This relative access also influences the technological development and adoption.  
• Relationship with other countries: In the globalized world, technological development happens collectively 
and not in silos. As a result, relationship among countries enables sharing of technology, thus enabling 
collective development. For example, a major facet of India-Israel relations is sharing of agricultural technology 
between them.  
• National Priorities and domestic constraints: Nature of policy like regulatory environments, nature of 
education systems, extent of social acceptance for technology among others also drive the global distribution 
of technological advancement. For example, tech-driven private sector moves towards nations with conducive 
environment such as a country having a strong start-up culture.  
How can these technological changes potentially alter the geopolitical landscape?  
When combined, these changes are already beginning to affect every aspect of the globalized world. The emerging 
sectors in which this will be felt directly by consumers include social media for information, financial technologies, 
e-commerce, e-services affecting mobility and social services, and changes to the sourcing and management of 
energy. Broadly these technological changes will affect three areas-  
• Security: New technologies creates new challenges in the realm of Cybersecurity, in emergence of threats like 
Hybrid Warfare and exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure like telecommunications. The relative 
deprivation of these technologies within countries alters the security balance among countries.  
o For instance, US alongside countries like UK and France have been apprehensive of penetration of Huawei 
technologies in their telecommunication systems citing security and privacy concerns.  
• International Standing: The extent of technological development influences political standing both directly 
and indirectly. For instance, Israel despite being a small country, in a volatile neighborhood has considerable 
global influence. This is in part due to due to the technological development in the country.  
• Economic Growth: Technological development or adoption is one of the key factors in ensuring long-term 
economic growth for any country. It enables higher worker productivity, improved efficiencies, enhanced 
quality of products and services. Access to technology thus becomes a key variable in relative economic growth 
and prosperity among countries.  
o For example, control of data driven technologies is being seen as key technological variable which will 
drive the future economic competition among countries.  
 
 
	
11	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
How the current geopolitics of technology is playing out globally?  
The emergence of new technologies is eliciting different reaction from different countries. Broadly these reactions 
can be divided into two categories:  
• Technologically authoritarian reaction: Countries that have closed their data markets and restricted the flow 
of technology- such as China- would come under this category.  
• Technologically democratic reaction: Countries that are guided by judicial standards, the rule of law, and 
support the freer — but not always free — movement of data and technology can be classified under this 
category.  
The interplay between these two types has created political, ideological and economic tensions in the global realm 
and have generated following geopolitical debates:  
• What effect will technology have on future of US-China relationship? The current technological competition 
within the countries and US’s apprehension over threat from rising China has created a tendency of decoupling 
with regard to technology, talent and investment in these countries. The way this issue moves forward will 
have large impact on future of technology and associated geopolitics.  
• Will internet break into ‘splinternet’? As internet governance thickens, the worldwide web could segment 
into a collection of independent digital ecosystems or “splinternets.” This emerging model could be attractive 
to states and businesses that seek to exert greater market control in cyberspace and exclude foreign 
competition.  
• Is creation of a global regulatory regime possible? Although the current trends point towards a deglobalized 
and segmented world, but the growth of technology has been fastest when it was accompanied with global 
coordination. Keeping this idea in mind, it is possible that gradually national and regional regulatory regimes 
may come together in the near future.  
What is India’s standing in the current geopolitical scenario and what should it do? 
India may not currently have a clear regulatory framework for emerging technologies, but it has a standing in this 
geopolitical debate by virtue of being the largest open data market in the world. Close to 600 million Indians 
currently use 4G data. India also has the highest per capita consumption of data (above 10 GB per month) 
anywhere in the world.  
To sustain its standing and exert it’s influence in geopolitical debate on technology, India will have to generate 
sustained technological development. To ensure this, following steps could be taken for better technological 
regulation:  
• Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL): Accelerate the enactment of the PDPL as it will provide clarity on cross-
border movement of data and regulate use of personal data among others.  
• Regulatory clarity on new technologies: India’s response on new technologies like Blockchain, Drone 
technology etc. has been ambivalent, which has hindered their development. Clear approach will pave the 
way for faster adoption both by Public and Private sector.  
• Evolve a clear stand for global stage: Having a clear stance on how technologies like 5G, Blockchain need to 
be governed lends more credibility to India’s position. Also, this stance needs to be consistent with the 
domestic approach.  
• Tech diplomacy: The ministry of external affairs created the new, emerging, and strategic technologies (NEST) 
division in 2020. This idea can be taken further by appointing dedicated technology ambassadors or 
technology coordinators.  
• Making technological access a key part of diplomatic relations: Access to technology should be a key feature 
of bilateral relations in the future especially for a developing country like India which has a large absorptive 
capacity.   
The geopolitical maneuvers can improve global regulation in India’s favor and increase access to technology. But 
this can only be capitalized if it is accompanied with domestic technological development. Efforts could be made 
on lines of creating entrepreneurial culture, increasing investment in R&D, providing the ecosystem to encourage 
private sector research and most importantly implementation of education reforms as envisaged by the New 
Education Policy 2020.  
	
12	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.2.	RELIGION	AS	A	TOOL	OF	SOFT	POWER	DIPLOMACY	
Why in news? 
A virtual exhibition on the shared Buddhist heritage of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries was 
launched by India’s Vice-President during the virtual meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government.   
More about news 
• This online international exhibition is 
curated by the National Museum, Delhi.  
• This exhibition provides an opportunity 
for visitors to access, appreciate and 
compare Buddhist art antiquities from 
SCO countries on a single platform and 
from the comfort of their home.  
Soft power  
• Soft power is the ability to affect others 
to obtain the outcomes one wants 
through attraction rather than coercion 
or payment. A country's soft power rests 
on its resources of culture, values, and 
policies.  
• Soft power as a tool for foreign policy was conceptualized by Joseph Nye in the 1990s.  
• Religion, cuisine, music, art, Bollywood etc. are India’s various tools for soft power diplomacy.  
Importance of religion in India’s soft power diplomacy 
• India's religious diversity is its biggest strength: India is fortunate to have all the major religions of the world. 
Four are homegrown: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Four came from outside: Zoroastrianism, 
Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  
o Also, unlike any other religion-based 
countries, people of various sects and 
religions live peacefully.  
o This adds to the incentives for the 
religiously minded people living across 
the globe to have a positive attitude 
towards India. 
• Role in its policy: India’s Look East Policy is 
being built up by emphasizing India’s 
historical links with Buddhism.  
o India has sought membership to the 
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 
on the grounds that it has the 2
nd
 largest 
Muslim population in the world.  
o Reputation for being a safe haven for Jews 
at a time of their prosecution in their 
native lands provides the foundation to 
strong India Israel relationship.  
• Religious diplomacy has been integral to 
India’s tradition: The principle of 
“VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM ('the whole 
world is but one family) was enshrined in Maha Upanishad. Ashoka sent Buddhist Missionaries to far off places 
such as Ceylon, Egypt, Macedonia, Tibet, etc. The address of Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893 by Swami 
Vivekanad brought the much-needed recognition and respect for India particularly its culture and traditions. 
Buddhism & India 
India claims legitimacy in its promotion of Buddhist diplomacy in 
spite the fact that it is host to a relatively small population of 
Buddhists due to following reasons- 
• Buddhist faith originated in India, therefore granting it singular 
historical legitimacy. 
• India has numerous sites of importance to the Buddhist faith, 
such as Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Nalanda.  
• India has nurtured an image of being a protector of the 
persecuted through the presence of the Dalai Lama and the 
Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Dharamshala. 
• Historical links to Theravada Buddhism mean that India is in a 
good position to further relations with other Buddhist countries 
and create conversation between multiple streams of this faith. 
Successfully leveraging these associations with other Buddhist 
countries could have an impact beyond the realm of cultural 
diplomacy, and aid in other areas of foreign policy as well. 
	
13	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Religion is a cohesive bond for Indian subcontinent: Various religions of India help it to connect with all the 
neighboring countries. Thus, religions provide south Asia its unique identity. 
What are the challenges being faced by India in projecting itself as a leader in religious soft power diplomacy? 
• China is emerging as a competitor: In recognition of the potential that Buddhism holds in the area of 
diplomacy, China has made it a crucial part of its soft power strategy for the continent. The Chinese state 
promotes the religion on the grounds of its historical association, and the fact that it also possesses the largest 
Buddhist population of any country in the world.  
o It is also working through different projects (such as the US $ 3 Billion Lumbini project in Nepal) to woo 
countries having a significant amount of Buddhist population through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 
projects.  
• Structural loopholes in the 
efforts to propagate India’s 
culture: The performance of 
the Indian Council for 
Cultural Relations (ICCR), 
with centers in about 35 
countries and aimed at 
promoting Indian culture, 
has been lackadaisical. India 
has failed to build its brand 
value abroad.  These centres 
are still aimed at the 
diaspora (like Caribbean, 
South Africa), ignoring 
strategic and growing 
relationships with other 
countries and regions.   
• Strict visa rules: In South 
Asia, citizens of only Nepal, 
Bhutan, and Maldives are 
eligible for visa-free travel 
to India. This acts as a hurdle 
in leveraging India’s 
enormous cultural assets 
and religious heritage by reviving intra-regional tourism flows. 
What India should do to make its religious soft power diplomacy effective? 
• Needs to have a people centric approach for leveraging religious diversity:  Satyagraha based on non-violence 
propagated by Mahatma Gandhi reached across the globe without any support of British Indian government. 
Similarly Yoga, Meditation, Indian Classical Music and Indian spirituality was accepted by youth in western 
countries during 1960’s Hippie movement without any active role of the Indian government.  
• Soft Power dissemination should be neutral: There should not be any reference to our interests while 
propagating our civilization and cultural heritage.  This is because using Soft Power to achieve specific goals is 
a contradiction in terms and can be counter-productive. 
• Economic vibrancy must be maintained and enhanced as soft power assets per se do not translate into policy 
gains. For example, despite having strong religious linkages with countries in Indian Ocean region, (India’s 
relations with these countries are affected negatively due to the growing clout of China. A vibrant economy 
would help India counter China’s development projects under its BRI. 
• Celebrating values of other countries: One way of winning hearts and minds is to celebrate the values of 
others. ICCR’s objective is to not only promote Indian culture abroad but also make Indians aware of other 
cultures. Care has to be taken that this is done without even a hint of condescension or patronizing. 
 
Related information 
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) 
• It is an autonomous organization of Govt of India founded in 1950 by Maulana 
Abdul Kalam Azad, first education minister of Independent India.  
• It aims to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding 
& to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people. 
• It actively participates in the formulation and implementation of policies and 
programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations;  
Scheme for Promoting International Cultural Relation 
• It is implemented by Ministry of Culture with objective of providing artists 
practicing Indian art forms an opportunity to perform abroad under the 
banner of ‘ Festival of India’. 
• It provides financial assistance to cultural societies actively promoting Indian 
culture abroad to organise cultural activities depicting Indian culture to help 
encourage interest in India among foreign nationals. 
Project Mausam 
• It is a Ministry of Culture project to be implemented by Indira Gandhi National 
Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi as the nodal coordinating agency with 
support of Archeological Survey of India and National Museum as associate 
bodies. 
• The endeavor of Project ‘Mausam’ is to position itself at two levels:  
o at the macro level it aims to re-connect and re-establish communications 
between countries of the Indian Ocean world, which would lead to an 
enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns;  
o at the micro level the focus is on understanding national cultures in their 
regional maritime milieu. 
Page 5


	
10	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.	INTERNATIONAL	RELATIONS	
2.1.	GEOPOLITICS	OF	TECHNOLOGY	
Why in news?  
Global transition to future technologies like Artificial Intelligence, 5G and Big Data among others have started 
affecting the global geopolitics which can be evidently seen in the global 5G adoption.  
What is the relationship between geopolitics and technology?  
In the modern parlance, Geopolitics can be roughly understood as interactions and relationship among nation 
states. The technology development and adoption not only affect the nature of geopolitics but also gets affected 
by it. For example, Russia’s military technological development was largely driven by its susceptibility on its 
western borders.  
Following can be cited as key geopolitical factors affecting technological access, adoption and development:  
• Geographical position: Global geographical positioning plays an important role in determining the 
technological priorities. For example, due to its harsh geography and scarce water resources, Israel has spent 
considerable time and resources to develop technologies that conserve, reuse and desalinate water.  
• Relative access to resources: Relative access to resources gives the country a position in the global economy. 
For example, large scale availability of labour puts China at a comparative advantage in labour intensive 
sectors. Whereas large scale availability of capital in US puts it at a comparative advantage for Research and 
Development. This relative access also influences the technological development and adoption.  
• Relationship with other countries: In the globalized world, technological development happens collectively 
and not in silos. As a result, relationship among countries enables sharing of technology, thus enabling 
collective development. For example, a major facet of India-Israel relations is sharing of agricultural technology 
between them.  
• National Priorities and domestic constraints: Nature of policy like regulatory environments, nature of 
education systems, extent of social acceptance for technology among others also drive the global distribution 
of technological advancement. For example, tech-driven private sector moves towards nations with conducive 
environment such as a country having a strong start-up culture.  
How can these technological changes potentially alter the geopolitical landscape?  
When combined, these changes are already beginning to affect every aspect of the globalized world. The emerging 
sectors in which this will be felt directly by consumers include social media for information, financial technologies, 
e-commerce, e-services affecting mobility and social services, and changes to the sourcing and management of 
energy. Broadly these technological changes will affect three areas-  
• Security: New technologies creates new challenges in the realm of Cybersecurity, in emergence of threats like 
Hybrid Warfare and exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure like telecommunications. The relative 
deprivation of these technologies within countries alters the security balance among countries.  
o For instance, US alongside countries like UK and France have been apprehensive of penetration of Huawei 
technologies in their telecommunication systems citing security and privacy concerns.  
• International Standing: The extent of technological development influences political standing both directly 
and indirectly. For instance, Israel despite being a small country, in a volatile neighborhood has considerable 
global influence. This is in part due to due to the technological development in the country.  
• Economic Growth: Technological development or adoption is one of the key factors in ensuring long-term 
economic growth for any country. It enables higher worker productivity, improved efficiencies, enhanced 
quality of products and services. Access to technology thus becomes a key variable in relative economic growth 
and prosperity among countries.  
o For example, control of data driven technologies is being seen as key technological variable which will 
drive the future economic competition among countries.  
 
 
	
11	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
How the current geopolitics of technology is playing out globally?  
The emergence of new technologies is eliciting different reaction from different countries. Broadly these reactions 
can be divided into two categories:  
• Technologically authoritarian reaction: Countries that have closed their data markets and restricted the flow 
of technology- such as China- would come under this category.  
• Technologically democratic reaction: Countries that are guided by judicial standards, the rule of law, and 
support the freer — but not always free — movement of data and technology can be classified under this 
category.  
The interplay between these two types has created political, ideological and economic tensions in the global realm 
and have generated following geopolitical debates:  
• What effect will technology have on future of US-China relationship? The current technological competition 
within the countries and US’s apprehension over threat from rising China has created a tendency of decoupling 
with regard to technology, talent and investment in these countries. The way this issue moves forward will 
have large impact on future of technology and associated geopolitics.  
• Will internet break into ‘splinternet’? As internet governance thickens, the worldwide web could segment 
into a collection of independent digital ecosystems or “splinternets.” This emerging model could be attractive 
to states and businesses that seek to exert greater market control in cyberspace and exclude foreign 
competition.  
• Is creation of a global regulatory regime possible? Although the current trends point towards a deglobalized 
and segmented world, but the growth of technology has been fastest when it was accompanied with global 
coordination. Keeping this idea in mind, it is possible that gradually national and regional regulatory regimes 
may come together in the near future.  
What is India’s standing in the current geopolitical scenario and what should it do? 
India may not currently have a clear regulatory framework for emerging technologies, but it has a standing in this 
geopolitical debate by virtue of being the largest open data market in the world. Close to 600 million Indians 
currently use 4G data. India also has the highest per capita consumption of data (above 10 GB per month) 
anywhere in the world.  
To sustain its standing and exert it’s influence in geopolitical debate on technology, India will have to generate 
sustained technological development. To ensure this, following steps could be taken for better technological 
regulation:  
• Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL): Accelerate the enactment of the PDPL as it will provide clarity on cross-
border movement of data and regulate use of personal data among others.  
• Regulatory clarity on new technologies: India’s response on new technologies like Blockchain, Drone 
technology etc. has been ambivalent, which has hindered their development. Clear approach will pave the 
way for faster adoption both by Public and Private sector.  
• Evolve a clear stand for global stage: Having a clear stance on how technologies like 5G, Blockchain need to 
be governed lends more credibility to India’s position. Also, this stance needs to be consistent with the 
domestic approach.  
• Tech diplomacy: The ministry of external affairs created the new, emerging, and strategic technologies (NEST) 
division in 2020. This idea can be taken further by appointing dedicated technology ambassadors or 
technology coordinators.  
• Making technological access a key part of diplomatic relations: Access to technology should be a key feature 
of bilateral relations in the future especially for a developing country like India which has a large absorptive 
capacity.   
The geopolitical maneuvers can improve global regulation in India’s favor and increase access to technology. But 
this can only be capitalized if it is accompanied with domestic technological development. Efforts could be made 
on lines of creating entrepreneurial culture, increasing investment in R&D, providing the ecosystem to encourage 
private sector research and most importantly implementation of education reforms as envisaged by the New 
Education Policy 2020.  
	
12	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
2.2.	RELIGION	AS	A	TOOL	OF	SOFT	POWER	DIPLOMACY	
Why in news? 
A virtual exhibition on the shared Buddhist heritage of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries was 
launched by India’s Vice-President during the virtual meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government.   
More about news 
• This online international exhibition is 
curated by the National Museum, Delhi.  
• This exhibition provides an opportunity 
for visitors to access, appreciate and 
compare Buddhist art antiquities from 
SCO countries on a single platform and 
from the comfort of their home.  
Soft power  
• Soft power is the ability to affect others 
to obtain the outcomes one wants 
through attraction rather than coercion 
or payment. A country's soft power rests 
on its resources of culture, values, and 
policies.  
• Soft power as a tool for foreign policy was conceptualized by Joseph Nye in the 1990s.  
• Religion, cuisine, music, art, Bollywood etc. are India’s various tools for soft power diplomacy.  
Importance of religion in India’s soft power diplomacy 
• India's religious diversity is its biggest strength: India is fortunate to have all the major religions of the world. 
Four are homegrown: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Four came from outside: Zoroastrianism, 
Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  
o Also, unlike any other religion-based 
countries, people of various sects and 
religions live peacefully.  
o This adds to the incentives for the 
religiously minded people living across 
the globe to have a positive attitude 
towards India. 
• Role in its policy: India’s Look East Policy is 
being built up by emphasizing India’s 
historical links with Buddhism.  
o India has sought membership to the 
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 
on the grounds that it has the 2
nd
 largest 
Muslim population in the world.  
o Reputation for being a safe haven for Jews 
at a time of their prosecution in their 
native lands provides the foundation to 
strong India Israel relationship.  
• Religious diplomacy has been integral to 
India’s tradition: The principle of 
“VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM ('the whole 
world is but one family) was enshrined in Maha Upanishad. Ashoka sent Buddhist Missionaries to far off places 
such as Ceylon, Egypt, Macedonia, Tibet, etc. The address of Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893 by Swami 
Vivekanad brought the much-needed recognition and respect for India particularly its culture and traditions. 
Buddhism & India 
India claims legitimacy in its promotion of Buddhist diplomacy in 
spite the fact that it is host to a relatively small population of 
Buddhists due to following reasons- 
• Buddhist faith originated in India, therefore granting it singular 
historical legitimacy. 
• India has numerous sites of importance to the Buddhist faith, 
such as Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Nalanda.  
• India has nurtured an image of being a protector of the 
persecuted through the presence of the Dalai Lama and the 
Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Dharamshala. 
• Historical links to Theravada Buddhism mean that India is in a 
good position to further relations with other Buddhist countries 
and create conversation between multiple streams of this faith. 
Successfully leveraging these associations with other Buddhist 
countries could have an impact beyond the realm of cultural 
diplomacy, and aid in other areas of foreign policy as well. 
	
13	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
• Religion is a cohesive bond for Indian subcontinent: Various religions of India help it to connect with all the 
neighboring countries. Thus, religions provide south Asia its unique identity. 
What are the challenges being faced by India in projecting itself as a leader in religious soft power diplomacy? 
• China is emerging as a competitor: In recognition of the potential that Buddhism holds in the area of 
diplomacy, China has made it a crucial part of its soft power strategy for the continent. The Chinese state 
promotes the religion on the grounds of its historical association, and the fact that it also possesses the largest 
Buddhist population of any country in the world.  
o It is also working through different projects (such as the US $ 3 Billion Lumbini project in Nepal) to woo 
countries having a significant amount of Buddhist population through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 
projects.  
• Structural loopholes in the 
efforts to propagate India’s 
culture: The performance of 
the Indian Council for 
Cultural Relations (ICCR), 
with centers in about 35 
countries and aimed at 
promoting Indian culture, 
has been lackadaisical. India 
has failed to build its brand 
value abroad.  These centres 
are still aimed at the 
diaspora (like Caribbean, 
South Africa), ignoring 
strategic and growing 
relationships with other 
countries and regions.   
• Strict visa rules: In South 
Asia, citizens of only Nepal, 
Bhutan, and Maldives are 
eligible for visa-free travel 
to India. This acts as a hurdle 
in leveraging India’s 
enormous cultural assets 
and religious heritage by reviving intra-regional tourism flows. 
What India should do to make its religious soft power diplomacy effective? 
• Needs to have a people centric approach for leveraging religious diversity:  Satyagraha based on non-violence 
propagated by Mahatma Gandhi reached across the globe without any support of British Indian government. 
Similarly Yoga, Meditation, Indian Classical Music and Indian spirituality was accepted by youth in western 
countries during 1960’s Hippie movement without any active role of the Indian government.  
• Soft Power dissemination should be neutral: There should not be any reference to our interests while 
propagating our civilization and cultural heritage.  This is because using Soft Power to achieve specific goals is 
a contradiction in terms and can be counter-productive. 
• Economic vibrancy must be maintained and enhanced as soft power assets per se do not translate into policy 
gains. For example, despite having strong religious linkages with countries in Indian Ocean region, (India’s 
relations with these countries are affected negatively due to the growing clout of China. A vibrant economy 
would help India counter China’s development projects under its BRI. 
• Celebrating values of other countries: One way of winning hearts and minds is to celebrate the values of 
others. ICCR’s objective is to not only promote Indian culture abroad but also make Indians aware of other 
cultures. Care has to be taken that this is done without even a hint of condescension or patronizing. 
 
Related information 
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) 
• It is an autonomous organization of Govt of India founded in 1950 by Maulana 
Abdul Kalam Azad, first education minister of Independent India.  
• It aims to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding 
& to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people. 
• It actively participates in the formulation and implementation of policies and 
programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations;  
Scheme for Promoting International Cultural Relation 
• It is implemented by Ministry of Culture with objective of providing artists 
practicing Indian art forms an opportunity to perform abroad under the 
banner of ‘ Festival of India’. 
• It provides financial assistance to cultural societies actively promoting Indian 
culture abroad to organise cultural activities depicting Indian culture to help 
encourage interest in India among foreign nationals. 
Project Mausam 
• It is a Ministry of Culture project to be implemented by Indira Gandhi National 
Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi as the nodal coordinating agency with 
support of Archeological Survey of India and National Museum as associate 
bodies. 
• The endeavor of Project ‘Mausam’ is to position itself at two levels:  
o at the macro level it aims to re-connect and re-establish communications 
between countries of the Indian Ocean world, which would lead to an 
enhanced understanding of cultural values and concerns;  
o at the micro level the focus is on understanding national cultures in their 
regional maritime milieu. 
	
14	 																																																																														www.visionias.in																																																																								©Vision	IAS		
Conclusion 
Religious tolerance and secular values provide India an edge in global diplomacy particularly over China. In the 
saga of Buddhist soft power diplomacy, China will be struggling because of its treatments of Tibetan Buddhist 
during Cultural Revolution and the occupation of the territory. Treatment to Uighur Muslims will make it difficult 
for China to win the hearts and minds of Islam followers.  
2.3.	INDIAN	OCEAN	REGION	(IOR)		
Why in news? 
Recently, India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CoDS) remarked “the world is witnessing a race for strategic bases in the 
Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and it is only going to gain momentum in the times to come”. 
About the IOR 
• The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions (after Pacific and Atlantic), covering 
19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. 
• IOR is home to 1/3
rd
 of the world’s population where the average age of a person is less than 30 years 
compared to 38 in the US and 46 in Japan.  
• This densely populated IOR is also highly vulnerable to natural disasters. 
• Economies of many IOR countries are expanding rapidly. Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Tanzania witnessed 
economic growth in excess of 5% in 2017 (well above the global average of 3.2%). 
• IOR has become a pivotal zone of strategic competition: There are over 120 warships of extra-regional forces 
are deployed in support of various missions. Global powers have shown a renewed interest in investing in 
infrastructure development in the IOR countries to maintain and increase geopolitical influence. 
 
Why global powers are scrambling for strategic bases in the IOR? 
Oversea bases are the first mechanism of mass networks. It helps in protection of commercial interests, aligning 
with friendly regimes, and expressing dominance in the region. Following factors have made the IOR a focus of 
rising global competition. 
• IOR falls at the crossroads of global trade: It connects the major engines of the international economy 
in the Northern Atlantic and Asia-Pacific. More than 80% percent of the world’s seaborne trade in oil transits 
through Indian Ocean choke points:  
o Strait of Hormuz connecting Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.  
o Strait of Malacca between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra island. 
o Bab el-Mandab Strait connecting Gulf of Aden & Red Sea. 
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