The latest news from Russia is that Vladimir Putin has ordered “partial mobilization, ” meaning that any Russian adult can be called upon to enlist in the army to serve the nation in its wartime efforts. While this falls short of conscription, this latest move goes far beyond what Putin has been doing. The announcement that the occupied regions in Ukraine would be “absorbed” into Russia marks a definite escalation of the conflict in the latter. Not to be outdone, China has upped the ante in Taiwan and is now threatening a full invasion raising the stakes further. This is at a time when Biden “vowed” to defend the latter in the event of a war, which means there are strong indications that we are headed into a “winter of discontent” that can quickly become a “nuclear winter”.
These disturbing announcements come at a time when the global economy is in a “slow motion” collapse, what with even the most optimistic predictions from “every economist and their dog” about an imminent recession and the dire warnings of a “long and ugly” downturn amplifying the chances that the coming crisis would be a “bottomless” spiral. Already the United States economy is in the throes of a “contraction”, and no matter what you call it, it is a recession. With the possibility of a “winter from hell” being unleashed on Europe by Russia, where Putin seems to be “going for broke” by weaponizing “gas and grains”, it sure looks like a “crisis by Christmas” is all but guaranteed. Added to this is that even mercurial mavericks like Elon Musk start feeling “super bad” about the economy, and the “cup of woes” brimmeth.
While one can “blame” Putin for starting all this mayhem and chaos, the seeds of the present crisis go back decades as The Great Unraveling of five or more decades of monetary excesses and neoliberal fantasies have brought us to this state. The wilful destruction of societies, ecosystems, climate, and now the very survival of humanity was compounded by a “once in a century” pandemic, the effects of which are being felt now, much like the emerging “long Covid” afflictions reported by many, which are debilitating and can be fatal as well. Before that, there was populism, where the “rule of the mob” became the norm, leading to an epidemic of lawlessness and anarchy that are now threatening even the so-called “civilized” West. So, there you are, where the “tipping point” seems to have arrived with the “3Ps” of Populism, Pandemic, and Putin being the “triggers” for systemic collapse.
Suppose the West and the Rest are squaring off in Ukraine and Taiwan. In that case, India seems to be in a predominantly “sweet spot” geopolitically, as it has dialled down the rhetoric with Pakistan, made peace with China, and is now in a good place. In contrast, its neighbourhood is in a “sea of troubles”, what with Srilanka being “four meals away from anarchy” and its arch-rival “begging” for a bailout, and even Bangladesh and Nepal, lurching towards a “debt crisis”. So, perhaps Modi has “played his cards well”, and India@75 must now translate this geopolitical advantage into “geoeconomic” gains where Xi’s loss must be Modi’s gain. Indeed, India@75 has come a long way since 1991, when a similar “global turmoil” singed us to the point where we too were on our knees with a now discarded “begging bowl”. Of course, if we can resolve the “existential” questions around what or who is Indian, we can quickly become a powerhouse, claiming its rightful seat on the world stage.
Last, the present “disorder” is somewhat of a “self-goal” by the West, which having imploded the erstwhile Soviet Union, went “too far” with their Utopian New World Project, which has by now descended into anarchy and where the future seems to be more “zaniness” than the Western elites can “manage”. If this were not enough, the US too seems to be tearing up from within with its “culture wars” and battles over the “American dream” being played out to the point where Biden can easily become “another Gorbachev”. As we head into winter, there are enough indications that sooner or later, there will be that “one spark” which lights the fire, and there is any number of “loose cannons” vying for this honour. As the Chinese curse goes, May You Live In Interesting Times, and this is perhaps the most dangerous moment since the Second World War. Amen!
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