Post World War Political Developments Class 9 Political Science Notes Maharashtra State Board
In the Civics textbooks till now, we have studied local self-government institutions, India’s Constitution, and our political system or governmental structure. In this class, we are going to study India’s relations with the world. You must have understood world geography through the study of geography. You must have become familiar with global historical events through the study of history. Now through the study of political science, we are going to study India’s relations with the world and some major global issues.
We are dependent on different persons, institutions, and organizations in society for different reasons and different facilities. Our social life is interdependent and cooperation has a very important place in it. Just as it is true about individuals and society, it applies to different nations as well. There are many independent nations in the world like India. Some exchange and interaction goes on between them constantly. These independent States also enter into treaties with each other. A system of all these independent, sovereign States comes up. We call it an international system. Let us get to know some features of this international system.
All the countries of the world are dependent on each other for one reason or the other. However big, prosperous, or developed a nation may be, it can never be self-sufficient in all its needs. Even big nations have to depend upon other big and small nations. Thus, interdependence is an important feature of the international system, i.e. today’s global system.
International Relations through Foreign Policy:
Every nation has policies about its internal dealings, as well as about its relations with other nations. Such a policy is called foreign policy.
The world in which we live today has been shaped through many events and developments. Hence we need to go back to history to understand today’s world. We know that two world wars were fought in the last century. These were the most important events in the world in that century. The world completely changed because of them. New currents of thought emerged. Let us understand what else happened due to these world wars.
First World War:
The First World War was fought between 1914 and 1918. Major countries of Europe took part in it. Europe had a very central place in the international or global system at that time. The war caused a tremendous loss of life and property. The countries which joined the war suffered tremendous economic losses. Even the countries which did not join the war were impacted by the war. The economies of the victorious as well as the losing countries collapsed.
Countries involved in the First World War
|Allied Powers||Central Powers|
|Britain, France, Russia, Italy, America||Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria|
At the end of the First World War, all the nations felt that such a war should not happen again and some measures need to be taken to achieve that end. An international organization called the League of Nations was established out of this thinking. It became an important platform for solving international disputes and carrying out negotiations. The main responsibility of the League of Nations was understood to be to avoid war. After the First World War, major changes came about in Europe and outside Europe. For example, earlier empires in Europe collapsed and new nations came into being.
Many European countries had their colonies on the continents of Africa and Asia. Independence movements started in these colonies. These movements challenged the hegemony of the European nations. League of Nations was established after the First World War to establish peace. However, it did not succeed in preventing war. Autocratic regimes came up in Germany, Italy, Spain, and other countries. All these developments culminated in the Second World War.
Second World War:
The Second World War was fought between 1939 and 1945. It proved to be far more destructive than the First World War. Not only was it more widespread compared to the First World War, but also more advanced technology was employed in this war. Countries that took part in the Second World War once again faced a situation of economic crisis.
Countries involved in the Second World War
|Allied Powers||Axis Powers|
|Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Soviet Union, China, America||Germany, Japan, Italy|
America played a major role in the Second World War. It had manufactured nuclear weapons. To end the war, it dropped two nuclear weapons on two cities of Japan – Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and 9th of August 1945 respectively. The Second World War ended with the defeat of Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia. Among the many events that took place in the world after the Second World War was the beginning of the Cold War. 1945 to 1991 was the long period of the Cold War. Let us take stock of a few changes in this period.
America and the Soviet Union, who were allies in the Second World War became competitors as soon as the war got over. The cooperation between them gave way to rivalry. This rivalry occupied 40-45 years of international politics. There was no open war between these two countries; but there was such tension in their relations, that it seemed that a war would erupt any time. The concept of Cold War is used to describe the condition where there is no actual war, but there are such tensions in the circumstances, that they may be responsible for causing war. In this period, America was already a superpower, but the Soviet Union also tried to become a superpower by making nuclear weapons and by increasing its military might. The struggle for power, arms race, differences in ideologies, and attitude of checkmating each other by strategies and counter-strategies gave rise to the Cold War.
Effects of the Cold War
Creation of Military Organisations:
During the Cold War, both superpowers created military organizations. The respective superpowers took up the responsibility of the security of the countries joining the military organizations led by them. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) was a military organization under the dominance of America, while the Warsaw Pact was a military organization under the command of the Soviet Union.
Bipolarisation of the World:
During the Cold War, most countries of the world joined either of the two superpower blocs. Such a division of the nations of the world in two groups is polarisation. The scope of the Cold War increased due to this. The sphere of tension spread.
The communist revolution took place in 1917 in Russia and the Soviet Union came into being. In a short while, the Soviet Union came up as a superpower in international politics. But there were extreme differences between America and the Soviet Union. For example, The U.S.A. was a democratic State, advocating capitalism, while the Soviet Union advocated socialism and a one-party authoritarian system. Both the superpowers wanted to expand their dominance in the world. America wanted to spread capitalism, while the Soviet Union wanted to spread socialism. Both countries started making efforts to pull smaller countries into their respective blocs to increase their hegemony. As a result, Europe was ideologically divided. Western European countries joined the bloc led by America, while Eastern European countries joined the bloc led by the Soviet Union. These superpowers espoused the policy of extending military and economic help to the countries in their respective blocs.
The superpowers started producing arms on a large scale to outsmart each other. There started a rivalry to make more and more destructive weapons and to acquire the technology required for the same. But soon, both the superpowers realized that the arms race may endanger international peace. Hence efforts towards arms control and disarmament also happened during this period.
Creation of Regional Organisations:
Developing nations created regional organizations at the regional level to ensure cooperation in the context of the superpower rivalry. They felt that economic development was more important. European countries came together and formed the European Economic Community, while the Southeast Asian countries (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.) established the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In the period of the Cold War, while the world was becoming bipolar, some countries did not want to join the superpower rivalry. Such nations decided to stay out of the Cold War rivalry. Their policy is known as Non-alignment. Non-alignment was an important movement during the Cold War.
The Asian and African countries, which became independent after the Second World War supported the idea of non-alignment. This movement started in 1961 under the leadership of India’s Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, President of Yugoslavia Marshall Tito, President of Egypt Gamal Abdal Nasser, President of Indonesia Dr. Sukarno, and Prime Minister of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Evaluation of the Non-aligned Movement:
The Non-aligned Movement has opposed colonialism, imperialism, and racism. It has encouraged the resolution of international disputes by peaceful means. India led this movement under the guidance of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. India continued to actively support the movement afterward as well. Even after the end of the Cold War, the importance of the movement has not reduced. The non-aligned movement is based on the eternal principles of humanism, global peace, and equality. It has inspired the less developed countries to come together. It has encouraged the resolution of international disputes by peaceful means. While taking a firm stand on disarmament, and fostering human rights, the non-aligned movement put forth the problems of poor, undeveloped countries firmly. This movement made a demand of a New International Economic Order (NIEO). Summarising briefly, the significance of the non-aligned movement has not reduced even if the Cold War is over. It inspired the less developed countries to come together. It brought several new streams of economic and social changes into international politics. It gave these countries the confidence to assert themselves with self-respect in international politics.
End of the Cold War:
The Cold War that had dominated international politics since 1945 came to an end. It was an important event that happened towards the end of the last century. There were many reasons for the end of the Cold War, as given below:
- The Soviet Union adopted the policy of opening up the economy. The State loosened up its control of the economy.
- The then President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev implemented the policies of Perestroika (Restructuring) and Glasnost (Openness).
- Due to these policies, the control over the media was reduced. Important changes took place in the political and economic spheres. i.e. these spheres were restructured. This gave impetus to democracy.
- As the East European countries under the influence of the Soviet Union adopted the capitalist and democratic paths, the regimes there changed.
- The Soviet Union disintegrated and several new nations were created out of it. Russia was the biggest country in the Soviet Union.
Post-Cold War World
The Cold War came to an end with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which till then had been a superpower. As a result, major changes took place in world politics. For example,
- America remained the only superpower in world politics.
- A conducive atmosphere prevailed for the growth in trade and economic relations between and among nations. Capital, labour, market, and information circulated throughout the world. Ideas spread freely as well.
- As all nations of the world decided to give priority to trade relations, the idea of giving ‘aid’ to other nations fell behind. Instead, efforts began to be made to establish economic relations. The description of a country that was opposed to another has now changed from ‘enemy nation’ to ‘rival nation.’
- The responsibility of the United Nations has increased. The United Nations now had to take more concrete steps to maintain global peace and security.
- Environmental protection, fostering of human rights, gender equality, and management of natural calamities now acquired a global dimension.
What is Globalisation?
After the end of the Cold War, trade and economic relations between countries became more open. As mentioned before, capital, labour, markets, and information began circulating globally. The give-and-take of ideas among people all over the world grew. Due to the revolution in information technology, different events and developments began to be known everywhere. The boundaries between nations did not remain as sacrosanct as they were before. All these processes are together called globalization. Just as globalization has brought us benefits, it has also caused losses.
For example, as the economies of different countries got linked with each other, trade increased, economic unification grew, and plenty of products became available in the markets, but (at the same time) the gap between the poor and rich nations did not reduce. In this chapter, we studied the global developments from 1945 onwards. We understood the world in the Cold War period, the arms race, and the efforts at disarmament. We also learned about the meaning of Globalisation.
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