Political Science Class 12 Notes Chapter 2 The End of Bipolarity
- The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) came into being after the Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917. The revolution was inspired by the ideals of socialism and the need for an egalitarian society as opposed to capitalism.
- After the Second World War, the East European countries that the Soviet army had liberated from the fascist forces came under the control of the USSR.
- There was change in the economic and political system of the USSR. Then the Soviet economy became more developed than the rest of the world except the US.
- However, the Soviet system became very bureaucratic and authoritarian. It made life very difficult for its citizens.
- In the arms race, the Soviet Union managed to match the US from time to time, but at great cost.
Gorbachev and the Disintegration of the USSR
- Mikhail Gorbachev, who had become General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, sought to reform the system. He introduced economic and political reform policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness). But later his policies were criticised.
- A coup took place in 1991 that was encouraged by Communist Party hardliners. The people did not want the old-style rule of the Communist Party and wanted freedom.
- Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the three major republics of the USSR, declared in December 1991 that the Soviet Union was disintegrated.;
- Capitalism and democracy were adopted as the basis for the post Soviet republics.
Reasons for the Soviet Union Disintegration
There are several reasons which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. These were
- Internal weaknesses of Soviet political and economic institutions failed to meet the aspirations of the people.
- The economy of the Soviet Union became stagnant. The Soviet economy used much of its resources in maintaining a nuclear and military arsenal.
The Soviet Union too became stagnant due to rampant corruption, the unwillingness to allow more openness in government, and the centralisation of authority in a vast land.
- A section of the society was not happy with the reforms of Gorbachev. It was believed that the reforms introduced by Gorbachev were at a very slow pace.
- Another reason for the collapse of USSR was the rise of nationalism and the desire for sovereignty within various republics including Russia and the Baltic republics.
Consequences of Disintegration
There are many consequences of the disintegration of USSR. They are as follows:
- It led to the end of Cold War confrontations. There was no dispute of Socialist ideology and Capitalist ideology.
- Power relations in world politics changed and thus it led to change in the relative influence of ideas and institutions.
- The US became the sole superpower which also backed the capitalist economy making it the dominant economic system internationally.
- The end of the Soviet bloc paved way for the emergence of many new countries. All these countries had their own independent aspirations and choices.
- The international system saw many new players’ emerge, each with its own identity, interests and economic and political difficulties.
Shock Therapy in Post-Communist Regimes
- The model of transition in Russia, Central Asia and East Europe from an authoritarian socialist system to a democratic capitalist system which was influenced by the World Bank and the IMF came to be known as ‘Shock Therapy’.
- This process of transition was due to the Collapse of Communism.
- There was a need to make a total shift to a capitalist economy which meant rooting out completely any structures evolved during the Soviet period.
- Shock therapy also involved a drastic change in the external orientation of these economics.
- It also involved a break up of the existing .
trade alliances among the countries of the Soviet bloc.
Consequences of Shock Therapy
- The shock therapy brought ruin to the economies and disaster upon the people of the entire region.
- The value of the Russian currency ‘Ruble’ declined dramatically. People lost all their savings due to high rate of inflation.
- The government withdrew subsidies which pushed large sections of the people into poverty. The middle classes were pushed to the periphery of society.
- The construction of democratic institutions was not given the same attention and priority as the demands of economic transformation.
- Most of these economies, especially Russia, started reviving in 2000, 10 years after their independence. The reason for the revival was the export of natural resources like oil, natural gas and minerals.
Tensions and Conflicts in Former Soviet Republics
- There were tensions and conflicts in most of the former Soviet republics and many have had civil wars and insurgencies.
- In Russia, two republics, Chechnya and Dagestan have had violent secessionist movements.
- Tajikistan witnessed a civil war for almost 10 years till 2001. The region had many sectarian conflicts.
- Central Asia too become a zone of competition between outside powers and oil companies.
- Czechoslovakia was divided into two, the Czechs and the Slovaks thus forming independent countries.
- Yugoslavia broke apart with several provinces like Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina declaring independence.
India and Post-Communist Countries
- India maintained a cordial relationship with all the post-communist countries. The strongest relation of India is still with Russia.
- Indo-Russian relation is an important aspect of India’s foreign policy. Both the countries share a vision of a multipolar world order.
- India got benefits from Russia over issues like Kashmir, energy supplies, access to Central Asia, balancing its relations with China.
- Russia stands to benefit from this relationship because India is the second largest arms market for Russia. Both the countries have collaborated over many scientific projects.
FACTS THAT MATTER
1. The Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917 gave birth to USSR with inspiration of socialism, ensure a minimum standard of living for all its citizens and also the government subsidised basic necessities and productive assets were owned and controlled by the state.
2. Russia was the only republic among fifteen republics who dominates everything and people in the region.
3. Soviet Union lagged behind the west in technology, infrastructure and could not fulfil political aspirations of people. Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 also weakened the system furthermore.
4. Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of Communist Party of Soviet Union in 1985 initiated the policies of economic and political reforms to democratise the system which were opposed by leaders within communist party and contradictory view of people.
5. The people of republic had been fed up with old style rule of Soviet bloc and in Dec 1991, under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin (an elected leader), Russia, Ukraine and Baltics declared themselves independent.
6. The formation of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) came as a surprise and the exclusion of these states was resolved by making them founder members of the CIS.
7. Russia was accepted as successor state of Soviet Union by inheriting a Soviet seat in UN Security Council, who accepted all international treaties and commitments of Soviet Union and carried out some nuclear disarmament measures with the US.
8. Now Soviet Union had been disintegrated on the grounds to maintain nuclear and military arsenals, awareness of people of their backwardness than western capitalism as well as alienation of ordinary people who were exempted from any kind of privileges.
9. The rise of nationalism and the desire for sovereignty within republics like Russia, the Baltic Republics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), Ukraine, Georgia and others proved to be the most immediate cause for disintegration of USSR.
10. Disintegration of USSR resulted into the end of Cold War confrontations, created dominant capitalist system, emerged many new states and the advantage was taken by Central Asian countries of their geographical locations by maintaining relations with Russia, the West, the US, China and others.
11. The process of transition from an authoritarian socialist system to a democratic capitalist system in Russia, Central Asia and East Europe was influenced by World Bank and IMF came to be known as Shock Therapy.
12. Shock Therapy involved privatisation of property, private firms emergence, complete switch over to free trade and Foreign Direct Investment, Financial opening up, Currency convertibility as well as break up of existing trade alliances among the countries of Soviet Bloc to maintain relations directly with the West.
13. Shock Therapy resulted in the largest garage sale in history, declined value of Russian Currency ‘Ruble’, due to inflation, food was imported, destroyed Old Social Welfare System, Migration of educated and intellectual manpower and disparities due to privatisation between rich and poor regions of Russia.
14. The constitution of newly democratic institutions was drafted in a hurry where strong executives appointed themselves as presidents due to weak Parliament and lack of independent judiciary as in Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
15. Russia revived in 2000 due to export of natural resources like oil, natural gas and minerals which were available in abundance in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And from where these pipelines crossed, were paid on rent.
16. Most of the former Soviet Republics had civil wars and insurgencies as in Russia, two republics Chechnya and Dagestan had violent secessionist movements, in Central Asia. Civil War took place in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Czechoslovakia was also split into two. Even countries and provinces like Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia are fighting over river water leading to instability and making life difficult for ordinary people.
17. The Central Asian Republics were rich in hydrocarbon resources for economic benefit as Oil Companies and outside powers had a competition to exploit these natural resources. Also, the US approached them to hire bases and territories during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
18. Russia and India share a vision of multipolar world order, collective security, greater regionalism, negotiated settlements of international conflicts, on independent foreign policy and decision making through UN.
19. India is benefitted from Russia on issues of Kashmir, energy supplies, sharing information on international terrorism, access to Central Asia and balancing its relations with China. In return, Russia has also been benefitted from India on the ground of second largest arms market for Russia.
WORDS THAT MATTER
- Soviet System: Soviet system was introduced after Russian Revolution in 1917 based on the principles of egalitarian society and planned economy controlled by the state.
- Socialist Bloc: The east European countries were known as Socialist Bloc because these countries were liberated from the fascist forces and their political and economic systems were based on this bloc only.
- Capitalist Economy: In this economy, land and productive assets are owned and controlled by the Capitalists.
- Unipolar System: Affairs at international level are dominated by only one superpower.
- Multipolar System: Affairs at international level can not be dominated by one superpower only, instead group of countries play an important role.
- Egalitarian Society: It believes that all people are equally important and should have the same rights and opportunities in life.
- Largest Garage Sale: It was resulted due to Shock Therapy to undervalue the valuable industries of USSR to sell them at throwaway prices.
- Shock Therapy: The model of transition from authoritarian socialist system to a democratic capitalist system in Russia, Central Asia and East Europe under the influence of the World Bank and IMF.
- March 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev electced as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; appoints Boris Yeltsin as the head of the Communist Party in Moscow; initiates a series of reforms in the Soviet Union.
- 1988 Independence movement begins in Lithuania; later spreads to Estonia and Latvia.
- October 1989 Soviet Union declares that the Warsaw Pact members are free to decide their own future; Berlin Wall falls in November.
- February 1990 Gorbachev strips the Soviet Communist Party of its 72-year long monopoly on power by calling on the Soviet Parliament (Duma) to permit multiparty politics.
- March 1990 Lithuania becomes the first of the 15 Soviet republics to declare its independence.
- June 1990 Russian parliament declares its dependence from the Soviet Union.
- June 1991 Yeltsin, no longer in the Communist Party, becomes the President of Russia.
- August 1991 The Communist Party hardliners stage an abortive coup against Gorbachev.
- September 1991 Three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania becomes UN members (Later join NATO in March 2004).
- December 991 Russia, Belarus and Ukraine decided to annul the 1992 Treaty on the creation of the USSR and establish the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan joined the CIS (Georgia joined later in 1993); Russia took ones the USSR seat in the United Nations.
- 25 December 1991 Gorbachev resigns as the President of the Soviet Union; the end of the Soviet Union.
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