Context: WIth the international institutions such as WHO, UNSC, have come under stress amid COVID-19 scare, India’s strategy to cope with a  multilateral world is undergoing a rapid reorientation. 

Breakdown of the Institutions of Global Governance

  1. First, take the case of UNSC
    1. Given the fact that China blocked any discussion on the COVID-19 crisis, while it consistently pressed the UN to discuss the Kashmir Issue, it shows that China can simply prevent the UNSC from doing anything against China. 
  2. UN Secretary General and UN Bureaucracy
    1. The UN Secretary General intervened quickly into the Indo-Pak arguments over Kashmir, and also raised concerns over India’s CAA  and the NRC. 
    2. But when it comes to China’s role in the spread of the coronavirus, UNSG avoids getting into anything specific and only talks of the generational challenge posed by the virus.
  3. World Health Organisation (WHO)
    1. The Director General of WHO, warns against the dangers of  politicising the COVID-19 crisis. 
    2. But given the fact that when nearly 50,000 people died in just three European countries namely Italy, Spain and France and nearly 17,000 in the US, questions will surely be raised about the WHO’s performance during the crisis.

All in all, the global order is witnessing the breakdown of the multilateral system (amidst the deepening competition between the world’s foremost powers i.e.  the US and China ), that came into being post the Second World War.

India’s multilateral reorientation in the past -BRICS

  • BRICS started out as a triangular coalition of India with Russia and China in the mid-1990s.
    • In the early 1990s, Delhi was concerned over the Bill Clinton Administration’s plans to relieve India of its nuclear and missile programmes. 
    • The US administration’s formulation that Kashmir is the world’s most dangerous nuclear   flashpoint and a prescription for resolution of the Kashmir question by sitting down with Pakistan and the Hurriyat, came as a nail in the coffin.
  • So, India’s interest in the RIC was borne out of apprehension of the unipolar moment and Russia’s relentless efforts to draw it into a strategic triangle that would resist American unipolar hegemony.

Need for India to reorder its Multilateral priorities

Geopolitical Challenges from China

  1. The situation has changed since the 1990s when India engaged in a strategic triangle with Russia and China to enter into BRICS.
    1. The same two issues, Kashmir and the nuclear programme are still the flashpoint and it is China that wants the UNSC to discuss the Kashmir question.China has also resolutely blocked India’s effort to join the NSG.
    2. Contrary to then, France and the U.S. are preventing the discussion on Kashmir in the UNSC. On the nuclear front too, France and the US helped India break the nuclear blockade.
  2. Further, Russia and South Africa, the two partners of India in the BRICS, had facilitated the efforts of China to prevent a discussion of the COVID crisis in the UNSC. 
    1. If Delhi were sitting in the UNSC right now in the capacity of a non-permanent member, it would have pushed discussion on the COVID crisis that has severely damaged India’s economic and social prospects.
  3. Pakistan is shielded by China from international pressures vis-a-vis cross-border terrorism. 
    1. India’s partners in the West and the Muslim world are helping Delhi cope with terrorism.
    2. There is an urgent need for India to accord priority to these partnerships in India’s foreign policy.

To realise its National Interest

Neither the BRICS nor the Quad side with the conventional narrative on India’s multilateralism like that of NAM and the G-77.

  1. So, it is imperative for India to find new global partners to secure its interests.
  2. Also, the Indian realists are in recognition of the fact that India’s engagement with the UN is not about the pursuit of some higher ideological calling, but the geopolitical obligations.

India’s manifestation of New Multilateralism

  1. India’s new multilateralism as a pragmatic response to external change.
  2. India’s strategy involves going past some of the erstwhile associations and taking upon new partnerships. 
    1. For example, the two involvements which India has entered into since the end of the Cold War.
      1. First one was the BRICS forum with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa.
      2. Second one was the Quad , a coalition of democracies with Australia, Japan and the US. 
      3. Amid the COVID-19 crisi, as India is up for reordering  its multilateral priorities, the BRICS forum is losing some of its importance and the Quad is gaining traction.
    2. Meanwhile, India is seeking cooperation in managing the corona crisis with the Quad Plus grouping that includes South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand.
    3. It has also started to reconnect with the so-called global south and is rebuilding its political equities across the developing world.
    4. India has also discovered the new possibilities for engaging Europe in the multilateral arena. 
      1. India has repositioned itself with the previous equations of multilateralism,i.e. Afro-Asian solidarity based on the premise of opposition to colonial Europe.
      2. India has joined the Alliance for multilateralism initiated by Germany and supported by its European partners.

Road Ahead

The need of the hour for India is to showcase all the pragmatism to pursue its interests in a world where all the major global institutions ranging from the WHO to the WTO are in a state of turmoil and disarray, in turn heading towards an inevitable restructuring.


Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)


  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), is a 48 member grouping that was formed in the aftermath of India’s 1974 nuclear test with the aim of ensuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology. 
  • The NSG decision making body reaches upon a decision by consensus of member nations.
  • NSG Guidelines are put into implementation  by each member in accordance with their national laws and practices.


It seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons via the implementation of guidelines for nuclear -related exports.

Member States

  • The 48 members of the NSG include the five nuclear weapon states, US, UK, France, China and Russia. It is a voluntary, non-legally binding export control regime.
  • The other 43 are signatories to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India is not a signatory to the NPT.

What does the membership of the NSG mean ?

  • Access to the state of the art technology for a range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power plants. 
  • With access to the latest technology, India can commercialize the production of nuclear power equipment. 
  • It will boost innovation and high tech manufacturing in India and can be leveraged for economic and strategic benefits.
  • India aims to achieve 450 gigawatts of renewable power capacity in the “near future” and is ahead of schedule in implementing a more immediate goal of 175 gigawatts capacity from solar, wind and biomass. NSG membership is crucial to building investor confidence for clean energy.
  • Should India get access to advanced nuclear technologies, it can start building updated versions of its own fast breeder reactor and sell it to countries such as Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. Bangladesh is currently looking at buying Russian reactors for power generation.



The Group of 77 (G-77) was established on 15 June 1964 by seventy-seven developing countries signatories of the Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries.

  • Although the members of the G-77 have increased to 134 countries, the original name was retained due to its historic significance.


  • The Group of 77 is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations.
  • It provides the means for the countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective economic interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues within the United Nations system and promote South-South cooperation for development.


  • The activities of the Group of 77 are financed through contributions by Member States in accordance with the relevant decisions of the First South Summit.


Image Source : The Indian Express