Class 12 Political Science Chapter 2 The End of Bipolarity NCERT Notes

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The purpose of Chapter 2 The End of Bipolarity Class 12 Political Science NCERT Notes is to provide you with concise, step-by-step important points that will help clarify complex concepts. The notes will cover all the important aspects of the topic, including the definition and key concepts.

The End of Bipolarity Class 12 Contemporary World Politics Textbook Political Science NCERT notes will be helpful for students who want to revise the chapters before their exams. It will help the students to recall information with more precision and faster.

Chapter 2 The End of Bipolarity Contemporary World Politics Class 12 Political Science CBSE NCERT Notes


This chapter throws light on the causes and consequences of disintegration of Soviet Union in 1989, by toppling the Berlin wall which was the greatest symbol of Cold war. This dramatic event and other historical events led to the collapse of the Second World means Eastern bloc and subsequently ending the Cold war.

The chapter also discusses what happened to the countries of the Second World after the collapse of communist regimes and how India relates to these countries now.

What was the Soviet System?

The USSR came into being after the socialist revolution in Russia in 1917. The revolution was inspired by the ideals of socialism, as opposed to capitalism and the need for an egalitarian (equal and welfare) society.

The Soviet economy was more developed than the rest of the world except US. It had a complex communications network, vast energy resources including oil, iron and steel, machinery production and a transport sector that connected its remotest areas with efficiency.

It had industry that produced everything from pins to cars, though their quality did not match that of the Western capitalist countries.

It ensured a minimum standard of living for all citizens and the government subsidized basic necessities including health, education, childcare and other welfare schemes. There was no unemployment.

State ownership was the dominant form of ownership. Land and productive assets were owned and controlled by the Soviet state.

The Soviet system, however, became very bureaucratic and authoritarian, making life very difficult for its citizens.

Democracy and freedom of speech were denied to the people. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union controlled all institutions and it was not accountable to the people.

The Soviet Union did not allow its fifteen republics to manage their own affairs including their cultural affairs. It failed in fulfilling the economic and political aspirations of its citizens.

Although Russia was one of the 15 republics in the Soviet Union, she dominated over most matters, and people from other regions felt neglected and suppressed.

The Soviet Union tried to match the military might of the US, but it lagged in technology and infrastructure.

The invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was a great error made by the Union, and it further weakened the system.

Although the wages of workers continue to grow, its productivity and technology fell far behind Western capitalist nations leading to the shortage of consumer goods. Imports of food increased and the Soviet economy began faltering after the 1970s.

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. Reforms were necessary to keep the USSR abreast of the information and technological revolutions taking place in the West. However, Gorbachev’s decision to normalise relations with the West and democratise and reform the Soviet Union had some other effects that neither he nor anyone else intended or anticipated.

A coup took place in 1991 that was encouraged by Communist Party hardliners. Boris Yeltsin
emerged as a national hero in opposing this coup. 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.

Russia was now accepted as the successor state of the Soviet Union. It inherited the Soviet seat in the UN Security Council. Russia accepted all the international treaties and commitments of the Soviet Union.

Why did the Soviet Union Disintegrate?

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

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

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.

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