Class 12 Political Science Chapter 4 Alternative Centres of Power NCERT Notes

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Chapter 4 Alternative Centres of Power Class 12 Political Science NCERT Notes are provided in a systematic way which will be useful in making your concepts more strong. The main objective of these notes are to make sure that students will be able to understand the details of every chapter in clear and precise manner.

By studying Class 12 Political Science Chapter 4 Alternative Centres of Power Notes, students will be able to improve their understanding and score better grades in class.

Chapter 4 Alternative Centres of Power Contemporary World Politics Class 12 Political Science CBSE NCERT Notes


After the end of the bipolar world politics in the early 1990s, it became clear that alternative centres of political and economic power could limit America’s dominance.

This has led to the rise of the European Union (EU) in Europe and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Asia.

Both the EU and ASEAN have taken steps to address historical enmities and weaknesses, resulting in the development of alternative institutions and conventions that promote peaceful and cooperative regional orders.

European Union

After the end of the Second World War, European leaders were faced with the “Question of Europe” – whether to allow Europe to revert to old rivalries or reconstruct it on principles and institutions that would contribute to positive international relations.

European integration after 1945 was aided by Cold War. US extended financial help for reviving Europe’s economy under Marshall Plan.

US helped Europe revive its economy through Marshall Plan & created a new collective security structure under NATO. Under Marshall Plan, the OEEC was established in 1948 to channel aid to western European states. It became a forum where the Western European states began to cooperate on trade and economic issues.

The process of economic integration of European capitalist countries proceeded step by step leading to formation of European Economic Community in 1957. The process acquired a political dimension with the creation of the European Parliament.

The collapse of Soviet Bloc put Europe on a fast track and resulted in the establishment of EU in 1992. The foundation was thus laid for a common foreign and security policy, cooperation on justice and home affairs, and the creation of a single currency.

The European Union has evolved from an economic union to a political one, with its own flag, anthem, founding date, and currency.

The EU has tried to expand areas of cooperation and acquire new members, but this has not been easy, as people in many countries are not enthusiastic about giving the EU powers that were previously exercised by their government.

The EU is a significant player in the global economy, with a GDP of more than $17 trillion in 2016, next to that of the United States of America. Its currency, the euro, can pose a threat to the dominance of the US dollar.

It also functions as an important bloc in international economic organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EU has political and diplomatic influence, with one member, France holding a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and several non-permanent members.

The EU’s combined armed forces are the second largest in the world. Its total spending on defence is second after the US. One EU member state, France, also has nuclear arsenals of approximately 335 nuclear warheads. It is also the world’s second most important source of space and communications technology.

In many areas, EU’s member states have their own foreign relations and defence policies that are often at odds with each other. Thus, Britain’s Prime minister Tony Blair was America’s partner in Iraq Invasions and many of EU’s newer members made up US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ whereas Germany and France opposed American Policy.

There is also a ‘Euro-Skepticism’ in some parts of Europe about the EU’s integrationist agenda. Thus, for example, Britain’s former PM Margaret Thatcher, kept the UK out of European market. Denmark and Sweden have resisted Maastricht Treaty and adoption of Euro.

Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Before and during the Second World War, South East Asia suffered the economic, political consequences of repeated Colonialism, both European and Korean.

At the end of War, it confronted problems of nation-building, ravages of Poverty and Economic backwardness and pressure to align with either superpower during Cold War.

Efforts at Asian and third World unity, such as Bandung Conference and NAM were ineffective in establishing the conventions for informal cooperation and interaction.

ASEAN was established in 1967 by five countries of this region – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – by signing the Bangkok Declaration. Over the years, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia joined ASEAN taking its strength to ten.

The objectives of ASEAN were primarily to accelerate economic growth and through that ‘social progress and cultural development’. A secondary objective was to promote regional peace and stability based on the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.

In 2003, ASEAN moved along the path of the EU by agreeing to establish an ASEAN Community comprising three pillars, namely, the ASEAN Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The ASEAN security community is based on the belief that territorial disputes should not escalate into armed confrontation. Member states have agreed to uphold peace, cooperation, and respect for national differences and sovereign rights.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) coordinates security and foreign policy. While ASEAN is primarily an economic association, its economy is growing rapidly and it is becoming an important regional organization.

The ASEAN Economic Community aims to create a common market and production base within ASEAN states and to aid social and economic development in the region.

ASEAN has focused on creating a Free Trade Area (FTA) for investment, labor, and services, and the US and China have already negotiated FTAs with ASEAN.

ASEAN Vision 2020 has defined an outward looking role for ASEAN in the international Community. This builds on the existing ASEAN policy to encourage negotiations over conflicts in the region. Thus, ASEAN has mediated the end of Cambodian conflict, East Timor Crisis and meets annually to discuss East Asian cooperation.

ASEAN mediates conflicts in the region and encourages negotiation over conflicts. India has signed trade agreements with ASEAN members and the ASEAN-India FTA came into effect in 2010.

ASEAN provides a political forum where Asian countries and major powers can discuss political and security concerns.

The Rise of the Chinese Economy

After the inception of PRC in 1949 in China, following communist resolution under Mao’s leadership, its economy was based on the Soviet Model.

The economically backward communist China chose to sever its links with the capitalist world. It had to fall back on its own resources and for a brief period, on Soviet aid and advice.

The model was to create a state owned heavy industries sector from the capital accumulated from agriculture. As it was short of foreign exchange that it needed to buy technology and goods from the world market, China decided to substitute imports by domestic goods.

This model allowed China to use its resources to establish the foundations of an industrial economy. Employment, social welfare, education and healthcare was ensured to all citizens. The economy also grew up at the rate of 5-6%. But an annual growth of 2-3% in population meant economic growth was insufficient to meet the needs of growing population.

Agricultural production insufficient to generate a surplus for industries. China faced a crisis -industrial production was growing slow, international trade was minimal and per capita income was very low.

Chinese leadership took a major policy decisions in 1970s, China ended its political & economic isolation with the establishment of relations with US in 1972.

Premier Zhou Enlai proposed 4 modernisation – Agriculture, Industry, Science & technology and military in 1973.

By 1978, the then leader Deng Xiaoping announced the open door policy and economic reforms in China. The policy was to generate higher productivity by investments of capital and tech from abroad.

Chinese opened their economy step by step and didn’t go for shock therapy. The privatization of agriculture in 1982 was followed by privatization of industry in 1998. Trade barriers were eliminated only in SEZs. In China, state played and continues to play a central role in setting up a market economy.

New economic policies helped the chinese economy break from stagnation. Privatisation of agriculture led to remarkable rise in agricultural production & rural incomes. High personal savings in the rural industry.

The new trading laws and creation of SEZS led to rise in foreign trade. China became the most important destination for FDI. It got large foreign exchange reserves that allowed it to make big investment in other countries.

China’s accession to WTO in 2001 further opened it to the outside world.

However, unemployment has risen in China with nearly 100 million people jobless. Female employment and condition of work are as bad as in Europe of 18th and 19th centuries.

Environmental degradation and corruption have increased. The economic inequality between rural and urban, residents and coastal and inland provinces has increased.

China has become a significant economic power regionally and globally.

The inter-dependencies created by the integration of China’s economy have given it considerable influence with its trade partners.

Economic considerations have tempered outstanding issues between China and Japan, the US, ASEAN, and Russia.

China hopes to resolve its differences with Taiwan by integrating it closely into its economy.

China’s contributions to the stability of ASEAN economies after the 1997 financial crisis have mitigated fears of its rise.

China’s investment and aid policies in Latin America and Africa project it as a global player on the side of developing economies.

India-China Relations

India and China were great powers in Asia before Western imperialism. China had influence and control on the periphery of its borders based on its tributary system. Various kingdoms and empires in India also extended their influence beyond their borders.

After India regained its independence from Britain, and China expelled the foreign powers, there was hope that both would come together to shape the future of the developing world and of Asia particularly. For a brief while, the slogan of ‘Hindi-Chini bhai- bhai’ was popular.

Soon after independence, both states were involved in differences arising from the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1950 and the final settlement of the Sino-Indian border.

China and India were involved in a border conflict in 1962 over competing territorial claims principally in Arunachal Pradesh and in the Aksai Chin region of Ladakh.

The conflict of 1962, in which India suffered military reverses. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were downgraded until 1976.

After the change in China’s political leadership from the mid to late 1970s, China’s policy became more pragmatic and less ideological. A series of talks to resolve the border issue were also initiated in 1981.

Since the end of the Cold War, there have been significant changes in India–China relations.

Both countries view themselves as rising powers in global politics and want to play a major role in the Asian economy and politics.

Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in December 1988 provided the impetus for an improvement in India-China relations.

Both governments have taken measures to contain conflict and maintain “peace and tranquility” on the border. They have signed agreements on cultural exchanges, cooperation in science and technology, and opened four border posts for trade.

Bilateral trade between India and China has increased from $338 million in 1992 to more than $84 billion in 2017.

India’s nuclear tests in 1998, sometimes justified on the grounds of a threat from China, did not stop greater interaction. Talks to resolve the boundary question have continued without interruption and military-to-military cooperation is increasing.

The increasing transportation and communication links, common economic interests, and global concerns should help establish a more positive and sound relationship between the two most populous countries of the world.

However, recently the relationship between the two countries has taken a downturn due to factors such as border disputes, the China-Pakistan economic corridor, and China’s support to Pakistan in the UN against India’s move to counter terrorism.

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