NCERT Textbook - Alternative Centres of Power Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

NCERT Textbooks (Class 6 to Class 12)

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Alternative Centres of Power Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


OVERVIEW
After the end of the bipolar
structure of world politics in the
early 1990s,  it became clear that
alternative centres of political and
economic power could limit
America’s dominance. Thus, in
Europe, the European Union (EU)
and, in Asia, the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN),
have emerged as forces to reckon
with. While evolving regional
solutions to their historical
enmities and weaknesses, both the
EU and the ASEAN have developed
alternative institutions and
conventions that build a more
peaceful and cooperative regional
order and have transformed the
countries in the region into
prosperous economies. The
economic rise of China has made
a dramatic impact on world
politics. In this chapter, we take a
look at some of these emerging
alternative centres of power and
assess their possible role in the
future.
Chapter 4
Alternative Centres
of Power
The two images here represent two phases of the history of
China. The red poster – “The Socialist Road is the Broadest of
All” – represents the ideology that guided China during its
early phase after the Revolution. The photograph below is
that of the city of Shanghai, the symbol of China’s new
economic power.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


OVERVIEW
After the end of the bipolar
structure of world politics in the
early 1990s,  it became clear that
alternative centres of political and
economic power could limit
America’s dominance. Thus, in
Europe, the European Union (EU)
and, in Asia, the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN),
have emerged as forces to reckon
with. While evolving regional
solutions to their historical
enmities and weaknesses, both the
EU and the ASEAN have developed
alternative institutions and
conventions that build a more
peaceful and cooperative regional
order and have transformed the
countries in the region into
prosperous economies. The
economic rise of China has made
a dramatic impact on world
politics. In this chapter, we take a
look at some of these emerging
alternative centres of power and
assess their possible role in the
future.
Chapter 4
Alternative Centres
of Power
The two images here represent two phases of the history of
China. The red poster – “The Socialist Road is the Broadest of
All” – represents the ideology that guided China during its
early phase after the Revolution. The photograph below is
that of the city of Shanghai, the symbol of China’s new
economic power.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
52
EUROPEAN UNION
As the Second World War came to
an end, many of Europe’s leaders
grappled with the ‘Question of
Europe’. Should Europe be
allowed to revert to its old rivalries
or be reconstructed on principles
and institutions that would
contribute to a positive conception
of international relations? The
Second World War shattered many
of the assumptions and structures
on which the European states had
based their relations. In 1945, the
European states confronted the
ruin of their economies and the
destruction of the assumptions
and structures on which Europe
had been founded.
European integration after
1945 was aided by the Cold War.
America extended massive
financial help for reviving
Europe’s economy under what
was called the ‘Marshall Plan’.
The US also created a new
collective security structure
under NATO. Under the Marshall
Plan, the Organisation for
European Economic Cooperation
(OEEC) was established in 1948
to channel aid to the west
European states. It became a
forum where the western
European states began to
cooperate on trade and
economic issues. The Council of
Europe, established in 1949,
was another step forward in
political cooperation. The
process of economic integration
of European capitalist countries
proceeded step by step (see
Timeline of European Integration)
leading to the formation of the
European Economic Community
in 1957. This process acquired
a political dimension with the
creation of the European
Parliament. The collapse of the
Soviet bloc put Europe on a fast
track and resulted in the
establishment of the European
Union in 1992.  The foundation
was thus laid for a common
foreign and security policy,
cooperation on justice and
home affairs, and the creation
of a single currency.
The European Union has
evolved over time from an
economic union to an
increasingly political one. The EU
has started to act more as a
nation state. While the attempts
to have a Constitution for the EU
have failed, it has its own flag,
anthem, founding date, and
currency. It also has some form
of a common foreign and security
policy in its dealings with other
nations.  The European Union
has tried to expand areas of
cooperation while acquiring new
The European Union Flag
The circle of gold stars stands for solidarity and harmony between
the peoples of Europe. It has twelve stars, as the number twelve is
traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity.
Source: http://europa.eu/abc/symbols/emblem/index_en.htm
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


OVERVIEW
After the end of the bipolar
structure of world politics in the
early 1990s,  it became clear that
alternative centres of political and
economic power could limit
America’s dominance. Thus, in
Europe, the European Union (EU)
and, in Asia, the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN),
have emerged as forces to reckon
with. While evolving regional
solutions to their historical
enmities and weaknesses, both the
EU and the ASEAN have developed
alternative institutions and
conventions that build a more
peaceful and cooperative regional
order and have transformed the
countries in the region into
prosperous economies. The
economic rise of China has made
a dramatic impact on world
politics. In this chapter, we take a
look at some of these emerging
alternative centres of power and
assess their possible role in the
future.
Chapter 4
Alternative Centres
of Power
The two images here represent two phases of the history of
China. The red poster – “The Socialist Road is the Broadest of
All” – represents the ideology that guided China during its
early phase after the Revolution. The photograph below is
that of the city of Shanghai, the symbol of China’s new
economic power.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
52
EUROPEAN UNION
As the Second World War came to
an end, many of Europe’s leaders
grappled with the ‘Question of
Europe’. Should Europe be
allowed to revert to its old rivalries
or be reconstructed on principles
and institutions that would
contribute to a positive conception
of international relations? The
Second World War shattered many
of the assumptions and structures
on which the European states had
based their relations. In 1945, the
European states confronted the
ruin of their economies and the
destruction of the assumptions
and structures on which Europe
had been founded.
European integration after
1945 was aided by the Cold War.
America extended massive
financial help for reviving
Europe’s economy under what
was called the ‘Marshall Plan’.
The US also created a new
collective security structure
under NATO. Under the Marshall
Plan, the Organisation for
European Economic Cooperation
(OEEC) was established in 1948
to channel aid to the west
European states. It became a
forum where the western
European states began to
cooperate on trade and
economic issues. The Council of
Europe, established in 1949,
was another step forward in
political cooperation. The
process of economic integration
of European capitalist countries
proceeded step by step (see
Timeline of European Integration)
leading to the formation of the
European Economic Community
in 1957. This process acquired
a political dimension with the
creation of the European
Parliament. The collapse of the
Soviet bloc put Europe on a fast
track and resulted in the
establishment of the European
Union in 1992.  The foundation
was thus laid for a common
foreign and security policy,
cooperation on justice and
home affairs, and the creation
of a single currency.
The European Union has
evolved over time from an
economic union to an
increasingly political one. The EU
has started to act more as a
nation state. While the attempts
to have a Constitution for the EU
have failed, it has its own flag,
anthem, founding date, and
currency. It also has some form
of a common foreign and security
policy in its dealings with other
nations.  The European Union
has tried to expand areas of
cooperation while acquiring new
The European Union Flag
The circle of gold stars stands for solidarity and harmony between
the peoples of Europe. It has twelve stars, as the number twelve is
traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity.
Source: http://europa.eu/abc/symbols/emblem/index_en.htm
© NCERT
not to be republished
53
Alternative Centres of Power
members, especially from the
erstwhile Soviet bloc. The process
has not proved easy, for people
in many countries are not very
enthusiastic in giving the EU
powers that were exercised by the
government of their country.
There are also reservations about
including some new countries
within the EU.
The EU has economic, political
and diplomatic, and military
influence. The EU is the world’s
biggest economy with a GDP of
more than $12 trillion in 2005,
slightly larger than that of the
United States. Its currency, the
euro, can pose a threat to the
dominance of the US dollar. Its
share of world trade is three times
larger than that of the United
States allowing it to be more
assertive in trade disputes with
the US and China. Its economic
power gives it influence over its
closest neighbours as well as in
Asia and Africa. It also functions as
an important bloc in international
Oh, now I know what a
Schengen visa means!
Under the Schengen
agreement, you have to
get a visa from just one
of the EU countries and
that allows you entry in
most of the other
European Union
countries.
EUROPEAN UNION MAP
Ireland
United
Kingdom
Portugal
Spain
France
Luxembourg
Belgium
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Denmark
Sweden
Finland
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Poland
Czech
Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Slovenia
Austria
Cyprus
Malta Greece
Older Members
New Members
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


OVERVIEW
After the end of the bipolar
structure of world politics in the
early 1990s,  it became clear that
alternative centres of political and
economic power could limit
America’s dominance. Thus, in
Europe, the European Union (EU)
and, in Asia, the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN),
have emerged as forces to reckon
with. While evolving regional
solutions to their historical
enmities and weaknesses, both the
EU and the ASEAN have developed
alternative institutions and
conventions that build a more
peaceful and cooperative regional
order and have transformed the
countries in the region into
prosperous economies. The
economic rise of China has made
a dramatic impact on world
politics. In this chapter, we take a
look at some of these emerging
alternative centres of power and
assess their possible role in the
future.
Chapter 4
Alternative Centres
of Power
The two images here represent two phases of the history of
China. The red poster – “The Socialist Road is the Broadest of
All” – represents the ideology that guided China during its
early phase after the Revolution. The photograph below is
that of the city of Shanghai, the symbol of China’s new
economic power.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
52
EUROPEAN UNION
As the Second World War came to
an end, many of Europe’s leaders
grappled with the ‘Question of
Europe’. Should Europe be
allowed to revert to its old rivalries
or be reconstructed on principles
and institutions that would
contribute to a positive conception
of international relations? The
Second World War shattered many
of the assumptions and structures
on which the European states had
based their relations. In 1945, the
European states confronted the
ruin of their economies and the
destruction of the assumptions
and structures on which Europe
had been founded.
European integration after
1945 was aided by the Cold War.
America extended massive
financial help for reviving
Europe’s economy under what
was called the ‘Marshall Plan’.
The US also created a new
collective security structure
under NATO. Under the Marshall
Plan, the Organisation for
European Economic Cooperation
(OEEC) was established in 1948
to channel aid to the west
European states. It became a
forum where the western
European states began to
cooperate on trade and
economic issues. The Council of
Europe, established in 1949,
was another step forward in
political cooperation. The
process of economic integration
of European capitalist countries
proceeded step by step (see
Timeline of European Integration)
leading to the formation of the
European Economic Community
in 1957. This process acquired
a political dimension with the
creation of the European
Parliament. The collapse of the
Soviet bloc put Europe on a fast
track and resulted in the
establishment of the European
Union in 1992.  The foundation
was thus laid for a common
foreign and security policy,
cooperation on justice and
home affairs, and the creation
of a single currency.
The European Union has
evolved over time from an
economic union to an
increasingly political one. The EU
has started to act more as a
nation state. While the attempts
to have a Constitution for the EU
have failed, it has its own flag,
anthem, founding date, and
currency. It also has some form
of a common foreign and security
policy in its dealings with other
nations.  The European Union
has tried to expand areas of
cooperation while acquiring new
The European Union Flag
The circle of gold stars stands for solidarity and harmony between
the peoples of Europe. It has twelve stars, as the number twelve is
traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity.
Source: http://europa.eu/abc/symbols/emblem/index_en.htm
© NCERT
not to be republished
53
Alternative Centres of Power
members, especially from the
erstwhile Soviet bloc. The process
has not proved easy, for people
in many countries are not very
enthusiastic in giving the EU
powers that were exercised by the
government of their country.
There are also reservations about
including some new countries
within the EU.
The EU has economic, political
and diplomatic, and military
influence. The EU is the world’s
biggest economy with a GDP of
more than $12 trillion in 2005,
slightly larger than that of the
United States. Its currency, the
euro, can pose a threat to the
dominance of the US dollar. Its
share of world trade is three times
larger than that of the United
States allowing it to be more
assertive in trade disputes with
the US and China. Its economic
power gives it influence over its
closest neighbours as well as in
Asia and Africa. It also functions as
an important bloc in international
Oh, now I know what a
Schengen visa means!
Under the Schengen
agreement, you have to
get a visa from just one
of the EU countries and
that allows you entry in
most of the other
European Union
countries.
EUROPEAN UNION MAP
Ireland
United
Kingdom
Portugal
Spain
France
Luxembourg
Belgium
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Denmark
Sweden
Finland
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Poland
Czech
Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Slovenia
Austria
Cyprus
Malta Greece
Older Members
New Members
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
54
France, hold permanent seats on
the UN Security Council. The EU
includes several non-permanent
members of the UNSC. This has
enabled the EU to influence some
US policies such as the current US
position on Iran’s nuclear
programme. Its use of diplomacy,
economic investments, and
negotiations rather than coercion
and military force has been
effective as in the case of its
dialogue with China on human
rights and environmental
degradation.
Militarily, the EU’s combined
armed forces are the second
largest in the world. Its total
spending on defence is second
after the US. Two EU member
states, Britain and France, also
have nuclear arsenals of
approximately 550 nuclear
warheads. It is also the world’s
second most important source of
space and communications
technology.
As a supranational organi-
sation, the EU is able to intervene
in economic, political and social
areas. But in many areas its
member states have their own
foreign relations and defence
policies that are often at odds
with each other. Thus, Britain’s
Prime Minister Tony Blair was
America’s partner in the Iraq
invasion, and many of the EU’s
newer members made up the US-
led ‘coalition of the willing’
whereas Germany and France
opposed American policy. There
is also a deep-seated ‘Euro-
skepticism’ in some parts
TIMELINE OF EUROPEAN
INTEGRATION
1951 April: Six west European countries, France, West
Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg
sign the Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and
Steel Community (ECSC).
1957 March 25: These six countries sign the Treaties of Rome
establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and
the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
1973 January: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom
join the European Community (EC).
1979 June: First direct elections to the European Parliament
1981 January: Greece joins the EC.
1985 June: The Schengen Agreement abolishes border
controls among the EC members.
1986 January: Spain and Portugal join the EC.
1990 October: Unification of Germany.
1992 February 7: The Treaty of Maastricht was signed
establishing the European Union (EU).
1993 January: The single market was created.
1995 January: Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU.
2002 January: Euro, the new currency, was introduced in
the 12 EU members.
2004 May: Ten new members, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia
and Slovenia join the EU.
2007 January: Bulgaria and Romania join the EU.
Slovenia adopts the Euro.
economic organisations such as
the World Trade Organisation
(WTO).
The EU also has political and
diplomatic influence. Two
members of the EU, Britain and
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


OVERVIEW
After the end of the bipolar
structure of world politics in the
early 1990s,  it became clear that
alternative centres of political and
economic power could limit
America’s dominance. Thus, in
Europe, the European Union (EU)
and, in Asia, the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN),
have emerged as forces to reckon
with. While evolving regional
solutions to their historical
enmities and weaknesses, both the
EU and the ASEAN have developed
alternative institutions and
conventions that build a more
peaceful and cooperative regional
order and have transformed the
countries in the region into
prosperous economies. The
economic rise of China has made
a dramatic impact on world
politics. In this chapter, we take a
look at some of these emerging
alternative centres of power and
assess their possible role in the
future.
Chapter 4
Alternative Centres
of Power
The two images here represent two phases of the history of
China. The red poster – “The Socialist Road is the Broadest of
All” – represents the ideology that guided China during its
early phase after the Revolution. The photograph below is
that of the city of Shanghai, the symbol of China’s new
economic power.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
52
EUROPEAN UNION
As the Second World War came to
an end, many of Europe’s leaders
grappled with the ‘Question of
Europe’. Should Europe be
allowed to revert to its old rivalries
or be reconstructed on principles
and institutions that would
contribute to a positive conception
of international relations? The
Second World War shattered many
of the assumptions and structures
on which the European states had
based their relations. In 1945, the
European states confronted the
ruin of their economies and the
destruction of the assumptions
and structures on which Europe
had been founded.
European integration after
1945 was aided by the Cold War.
America extended massive
financial help for reviving
Europe’s economy under what
was called the ‘Marshall Plan’.
The US also created a new
collective security structure
under NATO. Under the Marshall
Plan, the Organisation for
European Economic Cooperation
(OEEC) was established in 1948
to channel aid to the west
European states. It became a
forum where the western
European states began to
cooperate on trade and
economic issues. The Council of
Europe, established in 1949,
was another step forward in
political cooperation. The
process of economic integration
of European capitalist countries
proceeded step by step (see
Timeline of European Integration)
leading to the formation of the
European Economic Community
in 1957. This process acquired
a political dimension with the
creation of the European
Parliament. The collapse of the
Soviet bloc put Europe on a fast
track and resulted in the
establishment of the European
Union in 1992.  The foundation
was thus laid for a common
foreign and security policy,
cooperation on justice and
home affairs, and the creation
of a single currency.
The European Union has
evolved over time from an
economic union to an
increasingly political one. The EU
has started to act more as a
nation state. While the attempts
to have a Constitution for the EU
have failed, it has its own flag,
anthem, founding date, and
currency. It also has some form
of a common foreign and security
policy in its dealings with other
nations.  The European Union
has tried to expand areas of
cooperation while acquiring new
The European Union Flag
The circle of gold stars stands for solidarity and harmony between
the peoples of Europe. It has twelve stars, as the number twelve is
traditionally the symbol of perfection, completeness and unity.
Source: http://europa.eu/abc/symbols/emblem/index_en.htm
© NCERT
not to be republished
53
Alternative Centres of Power
members, especially from the
erstwhile Soviet bloc. The process
has not proved easy, for people
in many countries are not very
enthusiastic in giving the EU
powers that were exercised by the
government of their country.
There are also reservations about
including some new countries
within the EU.
The EU has economic, political
and diplomatic, and military
influence. The EU is the world’s
biggest economy with a GDP of
more than $12 trillion in 2005,
slightly larger than that of the
United States. Its currency, the
euro, can pose a threat to the
dominance of the US dollar. Its
share of world trade is three times
larger than that of the United
States allowing it to be more
assertive in trade disputes with
the US and China. Its economic
power gives it influence over its
closest neighbours as well as in
Asia and Africa. It also functions as
an important bloc in international
Oh, now I know what a
Schengen visa means!
Under the Schengen
agreement, you have to
get a visa from just one
of the EU countries and
that allows you entry in
most of the other
European Union
countries.
EUROPEAN UNION MAP
Ireland
United
Kingdom
Portugal
Spain
France
Luxembourg
Belgium
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Denmark
Sweden
Finland
Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Poland
Czech
Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Slovenia
Austria
Cyprus
Malta Greece
Older Members
New Members
© NCERT
not to be republished
Contemporary World Politics
54
France, hold permanent seats on
the UN Security Council. The EU
includes several non-permanent
members of the UNSC. This has
enabled the EU to influence some
US policies such as the current US
position on Iran’s nuclear
programme. Its use of diplomacy,
economic investments, and
negotiations rather than coercion
and military force has been
effective as in the case of its
dialogue with China on human
rights and environmental
degradation.
Militarily, the EU’s combined
armed forces are the second
largest in the world. Its total
spending on defence is second
after the US. Two EU member
states, Britain and France, also
have nuclear arsenals of
approximately 550 nuclear
warheads. It is also the world’s
second most important source of
space and communications
technology.
As a supranational organi-
sation, the EU is able to intervene
in economic, political and social
areas. But in many areas its
member states have their own
foreign relations and defence
policies that are often at odds
with each other. Thus, Britain’s
Prime Minister Tony Blair was
America’s partner in the Iraq
invasion, and many of the EU’s
newer members made up the US-
led ‘coalition of the willing’
whereas Germany and France
opposed American policy. There
is also a deep-seated ‘Euro-
skepticism’ in some parts
TIMELINE OF EUROPEAN
INTEGRATION
1951 April: Six west European countries, France, West
Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg
sign the Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and
Steel Community (ECSC).
1957 March 25: These six countries sign the Treaties of Rome
establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and
the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
1973 January: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom
join the European Community (EC).
1979 June: First direct elections to the European Parliament
1981 January: Greece joins the EC.
1985 June: The Schengen Agreement abolishes border
controls among the EC members.
1986 January: Spain and Portugal join the EC.
1990 October: Unification of Germany.
1992 February 7: The Treaty of Maastricht was signed
establishing the European Union (EU).
1993 January: The single market was created.
1995 January: Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU.
2002 January: Euro, the new currency, was introduced in
the 12 EU members.
2004 May: Ten new members, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia
and Slovenia join the EU.
2007 January: Bulgaria and Romania join the EU.
Slovenia adopts the Euro.
economic organisations such as
the World Trade Organisation
(WTO).
The EU also has political and
diplomatic influence. Two
members of the EU, Britain and
© NCERT
not to be republished
55
Alternative Centres of Power
of Europe about the EU’s
integrationist agenda. Thus, for
example, Britain’s former prime
minister, Margaret Thatcher,
kept the UK out of the European
Market. Denmark and Sweden
have resisted the Maastricht
Treaty and the adoption of the
euro, the common European
currency. This limits the ability
of the EU to act in matters of
foreign relations and defence.
ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH
EAST ASIAN NATIONS
(ASEAN)
Take a look at the political map of
the world. Which countries would
you say fall in the southeastern
Imagine what would
happen if they have
a European Union
football team!
region of Asia? Before and during
the Second World War, this region
of Asia suffered the economic and
political consequences of
repeated colonialisms, both
European and Japanese. At the
end of the war, it confronted
problems of nation-building, the
ravages of poverty and economic
backwardness and the pressure
to align with one great power or
another during the Cold W ar. This
was a recipe for conflict, which
the countries of Southeast Asia
could ill afford. Efforts at Asian
and Third World unity, such as
the Bandung Conference and the
Non-Aligned Movement, were
ineffective in establishing the
conventions for informal
cooperation and interaction.
Hence, the Southeast Asian
The cartoon appeared in 2003 when the European Union’s initiative to draft a
common Constitution failed. Why does the cartoonist use the image of the ship
Titanic to represent EU?
© Ares, Cagle Cartoons Inc.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Read More
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