Is the World Order Changing? Of course, it is!

by | Feb 1, 2023

Impermanence is the mark of existence, declared Buddha. Nothing remains forever. People born in different times live in a world that is different from what their ancestors were living in. The signs of this change can be felt during one human lifetime itself. The world where I am living in my sixties is not what it was in my childhood. There is so much money around, the pace of life has accelerated, people are connected 24×7 and most things are ordered online, including medicines, vegetables, hot food, and of late, even Irani chai in Hyderabad where I live. 

I consider the Buddhist concept of the Law of Dependent Origination – the ever-moving wheel of cause and effect – as the most profound knowledge that I have acquired in my lifetime. This one idea contains in its ambit all the philosophies and sciences of the world. All that exists in this world, including in the unseen world of the mind, cyberspace, and microbes, is filled with innumerable intermediate stages – people are growing and ageing, seeds are becoming plants, crops are providing food, oil is burning in an internal combustion engine driving machinery, water and wind streams are rotating turbines, and so on. 

The Law of Dependent Origination is explained differently by Plato, the philosopher of ancient Greece, who observed that there is nothing new under the Sun. It essentially means that things in this world keep changing their forms – becoming, flourishing, decaying, dying, and assuming different forms – but this does not go beyond the surface of the earth, or let us include the 60 km layer of air around it, which we call the atmosphere. The universe, which is vast beyond human comprehension (and Planet Earth is as insignificant as a grain of sand in the desert) remains unaffected by what goes on the Earth – wars, revolutions, technology advancements, and so on – there is nothing new under the Sun!

The mood of India is upbeat these days. We are celebrating the 75th year of being an independent nation and the next 25 years are declared as the Amrit Kaal – our final sprint to become a developed nation. Things are changing for sure. What is this change? When change is universal, what is this fuss about India changing? It is important to understand change as breaking out of the status quo. What has been must go and new forces replace the old drivers. Look at the leaders who are now sitting in the legislatures, the new academicians, businesspeople, and people buying a banana and making the payment by scanning the QR code with the vendor from their mobile phones, three-year-old kids playing video games and listening to digital music of their choice – and you can feel this change. When I watch some leaders invoking primordial identities and jaded ideological issues, a sense of pity rises in my heart looking at these drowning stars in the morning sky. 

Some thoughtful people in the Western world have captured the ancient ideas well and have seen things from a boarder perspective. American billionaire Ray Dalio (b. 1949) who founded the investment management fund Bridgewater in 1975, describes a Big Cycle comprising of three entwined cycles: 1) the long-term debt-money-economic cycle, 2) the internal order-disorder cycle, and 3) the external order-disorder cycle. Together, they determine how the world works.

Nothing happens randomly, by this or that leader, systems evolve and create leaders. There is a pattern of how financial stability, internal stability and international stability take form by actions of people and businesses. Millions of conflicts are always happening – in families, communities, company boardrooms, over wealth, power, and values. These are apparently inconsequential like the Brownian motion of gas particles in a container and yet this eventually creates a force vector. Difficult are the times when financial problems occur at the same time as large internal and external conflicts over wealth, power, and values. Storms are built up from these millions of fluttering wings. Something that is happening in our immediate neighbourhood in the South and the West. 

Globally, the Ukraine War has already defined the pattern of the new world order. The supremacy of the Western world – which means Western Europe and the United States – has been successfully challenged by Russia, with China as its ally. There will be more such events – even bigger in magnitude and scale. The politics of the oil-rich Middle East region is undergoing a tectonic shift. African people are out of their centuries-old slumber and have realized their value of being the food basket for a growing number of people across the globe. 

The economic sanctions imposed by the Western world over Russia have not only effectually failed but also prepared a blueprint of global trade without dollars as the intermediate currency. Once this happens full-scale, a new world order would be in place. It may take a year, or two, or five… but it will happen. The day the BRICS system – an economic grouping of Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa – becomes BRICSS – with Saudi Arabia joining it, a new era will commence in the history of mankind. It may be delayed, but it is inevitable. 

Where does India stand in the new world order? Where it already is! The new India must neither be capitalist nor communist. We are the land of the Golden Mean and the most humane people that ever lived on the earth. The Maha Upanishad declares (VI. 71):

अयं बन्धुरयं नेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् ।

उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्

A narrow-minded view sees people differently as their friends or not. For people of noble character, this world is their family. 

It is time to emerge out of this spiritual darkness in our minds and regain all that has been lost in the world outside. All we must do is keep our democracy, our institutions, and social harmony intact. What could be a more powerful force than a billion people – talented, hardworking, products of an ancient civilization, religious by nature, compassionate, and with a value-driven mindset? 

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam used to say, “Strength respects strength.” People who live grounded in their civilizational values receive cosmic support and flourish as flowers blossom under the sunlight. Our biggest strength is this righteous way of living. The slavery of 1000 years, the societal degradation, and even the bad governance that people of this country have been suffering have the ignorance of this value system as the root cause. 

The hostilities in the neighbourhood will die their own death. Our enemies will implode by their own conflicts. The irrefutable law of karma does not spare anyone. People – families, communities, nations – pay for what they do, and what they have allowed themselves to become. In this time of rapidly changing flux, it is important not to lose patience and do some foolhardy things. By vacillating, we will be not only delaying the new world order but also diminishing our role in it.

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19 Comments

  1. A well-crafted piece containing wise and wonderful thoughts.
    Thank you Sir, for reminding and convincing us to remain rooted in our culture and civilizational values, amid all the chaos.

  2. Excellent food for thought Prof Tiwari. Congratulations.

    The coming years will see a different world itself, not just the world order but our social system. Look what Chat-GPT is already doing to us thanks to immense powers of AI and ML. The rate at which things around us are changing, it will be hard to visualize where we will be heading.

    Excellent, timely and thought provoking Blog!!!

  3. Brilliant piece of writing on the changing world order, Prof Tiwariji !

    Your unique way of synergizing the various philosophies and sciences for understanding these changes is outstanding!!

  4. Wonderful read Sir!

  5. Sir, In the tenth verse of the ninth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Lord Shri Krishna explains to Arjuna about the changing nature of the world and that it is a designed feature of the creation.

    मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृति: सूयते सचराचरम् ।
    हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते ॥

    Nature creates the entire pasture world under my orders (सचर-अचरम् सूयते). O Arjuna (called son of Kunti)! For this reason, the world changes in various ways (जगत् विपरिवर्तते).

    There is not a second in which change is not taking place. Nature – human, living, non-living -all pass through these three stages from sat to rajas and rajas to tamas and tamas returns to sat. Change is indeed the law of creation.

  6. Is the world order changing, of course it is – In all spheres of life. Last fifty years of our conscious and understanding mind has noticed an unbelievable and unfathomed change. The next twenty five years or so we can predict, beyond is a black box and we may not bother.

    Blessed are we, to be in the present era, let’s put it this way if we want to be happy and live life to our fullest.

    What was the life and style of our fore-fathers centuries back is passé. That we exist today is a proof that they lived, must have enjoyed their mortal presence on this planet in their own way, is what we assume and presume. They would have had their own moments of joy, happiness, sorrow and troubles.

    How it will be a century ahead is difficult to ascertain. But surely as long as the planet exists life will, much changed and much different.

    So the gist remains, stay happy stay contended. Live the present to its fullest. Enjoy and make merry.

  7. First by the COVID pandemic and then the Russian invasion of Ukraine, disrupted the dynamics of geopolitics.

    Though nothing was proved, China was seen as the originator of the virus which claimed millions of lives and caused immense hardships. The UN, the WHO, and even World Bank-IMF, proved ineffective organizations and underlined the acute need of a new world order.

    China’s aggression on Hong Kong and Taiwan and its border clashes with India pushed for an India-US alliance. But Russian invasion of Ukraine and oil sales to India stalled it.

    The deepening partnership between India, the US, Japan, and Australia can create a robust power dynamic to keep a check on China. But the growing Russian-China influence over Saudi Arabia makes sense for India to stay away from the US.

    Thanks for making us think.

  8. There was a book published in 2014 with a rather farcical title – The End of American World Order written by Amitav Acharya. The book argued that it is not necessary for America to be in terminal decline for the close of the era of American hegemony but there was a natural shift away from a singularly dominant US position. It indeed happens with the Ukraine War providing the climax. You have indeed summarized well that it is not this or that but a long-term cycle that makes nations rise and fall.

    The world is emerging out of US hegemony. As the US-led order – The United Nations, World Bank, IMF, WTO, and other global institutions winds down, Western influence over the global system will wane. The new digital era is being underwritten by the rise of China and a vast Asian trading system, which made American sanctions against Russia fail. I can see not only a change but upheaval in global trade and if oil trade becomes independent of the dollar, we will be living in a totally different world.

  9. Dear Sir, Very good representation of future state of world. There is no doubt that we have progressed multiple folds in last 10 years, the Image of India has grown positive as a powerful nation. We have managed to bring our people from the middle of the Ukraine-Russia war, that’s a diplomatic win for us. We just need another 10 years of honest government who can present the idea of India. This century is Indian century, Warm Regards,

  10. Another great article sir.
    Change is the only thing that’s constant. We, humans evolve based on the challenges thrown at us. The hope is to evolve, staying true to our values and being down to earth.

  11. Putting up such important topics in such a predominantly artistic way is so enterprising. Your blogs are super engaging. One day, I dream to by heart certain beautiful shlokas you keep including in your blogs.

  12. Well put, Prof! Indeed, the world order is changing.

    The ongoing War in Ukraine has demonstrated the global interconnectedness of supply chains – food and energy being the main ones. Because of the law of nature – change is the constant in life – the current dynamic will lead to a multipolar global system. We are more likely to see an emergent stronger BRICS than before the war.

  13. Marvellous. A grand beautiful tapestry.

  14. Dear Sir, it is an interesting post. Thank you for enlighting us on various important topics.

  15. For sure, the world is changing rapidly, so much more today as in the past. The Ukraine-Russia war has brought the geopolitical importance of oil & grain production front and center. Sadly, I view the US in a the state of internal disorder. India’s demographics are much more favorable compared to China and therefore is well positioned to become the economic leader in Asia in the coming decades ahead. What interests me of late is who will win the future space race!

  16. I am really enchanted by the beautifully written blog and aptly selected picture on the changing world order. You have so elegantly delved into history’s most turbulent economic and political period triggered by COVID, the Ukraine War, and Rise of China.

    I have read Ray Dalio’s book, and his study of major empires and compares the successes and failures of all the world’s major countries but your take on timeless and universal forces behind these shifts and uses them to predict our future is just brilliant. Your reference to the often quoted phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam reflects the depth of your scholarship.

    I can’t agree more on the irrefutable law of karma. There are just no exceptions. I hope your call for Indian people to stay rooted in their civilizational values would be heard. Thank you for encouraging us to be reflective as well as observant in deciphering patterns of change well in time and meet them with preparedness rather than succumbing to the pressures of emergencies.

  17. Well said. This is an uncommon (and prohibited) view of the world in the Western societies. But the changes in the world order are already happening, although they come at a high price. Eventually people of Ukraine will be free to determine the fate of their own country. Countries like India that put taking care of their own people as the top priority would be, and already are, true winners.

  18. Dear Sir, interesting read and data points. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Great Arun ji, Thank you for sharing. My take away is keep DISH (Democracy, Institutions and Social harmony) intact.

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