End of Bipolarity Chapter Notes Class 12 Political Science

CBSE Class 12 Political Science NCERT Chapter 1 “End of Bipolarity” Notes are given here. The notes are comprehensive as well as suitable for exam time revisions. Enjoy the study notes. Click here for Q/Ans. of this chapter “End of Bipolarity”.

Overview: The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the End of the Cold War

  • Berlin Wall: Built during the Cold War as a symbol of division between East and West Germany.
  • Toppled in 1989: People took down the Berlin Wall, marking the start of significant changes.
  • Historic Events Followed:
    • Collapse of the ‘second world.’
    • End of the Cold War.
  • German Unification: Germany, split after World War II, came together as one country again.
  • Eastern Europe Changes:
    • Eight East European countries in the Soviet bloc got new governments.
    • This happened because people protested against their communist leaders.
  • Soviet Union’s Role:
    • Instead of using military force, the Soviet Union watched as mass protests changed things.
  • Soviet Union’s Disintegration: Eventually, the Soviet Union itself fell apart.
  • Chapter Focus:
    • Understanding why the ‘second world’ broke up.
    • Discussing the reasons and results of this change.
    • Exploring what happened in these countries after communism fell.
    • Looking at India’s relationship with these countries now.

1. What was the Soviet System?

  • Formation: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) emerged after the socialist revolution in Russia in 1917.
  • Ideal: Inspired by socialism’s ideals, aiming for an egalitarian society without private property.
  • Key Features:
    • Primacy given to the state and the communist party.
    • Single-party system; no other political parties allowed.
    • Economy planned and controlled by the state.
  • Expansion: After World War II, Eastern European countries liberated by the Soviet army adopted similar political and economic systems, forming the ‘Second World’ or ‘socialist bloc.’
  • Leadership: The USSR led this bloc, with the Warsaw Pact binding these countries militarily.
  • Strengths of the Soviet Union:
    • Became a major power after World War II, with a developed economy.
    • Had significant resources like oil, iron, steel, and machinery production.
    • Ensured a minimum standard of living for citizens with subsidized healthcare, education, and other welfare schemes.
    • No unemployment due to state control.
    • State ownership dominant, including land and productive assets.
  • Challenges and Issues:
    • Became bureaucratic and authoritarian, limiting citizen’s freedoms.
    • Lack of democracy and freedom of speech stifled dissent.
    • One-party system led by the Communist Party was unaccountable to the people.
    • People’s urge for autonomy in the Soviet republics was often ignored.
    • Dominance of Russia within the USSR caused feelings of neglect and suppression among other regions.
    • Lagged behind the West in technology, infrastructure, and meeting citizens’ aspirations.
  • Decline and Weaknesses:
    • Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 weakened the system further.
    • Despite wage growth, productivity and technology fell behind the West, leading to shortages in consumer goods.
    • Economy faltered and became stagnant in the late 1970s.

2. Gorbachev and the Disintegration

  • Mikhail Gorbachev:
    • Became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985.
    • Wanted to reform the system to keep up with Western advancements in technology and information.
  • Unintended Effects of Reform:
    • Gorbachev’s reforms aimed to normalize relations with the West and democratize the Soviet Union.
    • This led to unintended consequences, such as protests in Eastern European countries against their governments and Soviet control.
    • Unlike before, the Soviet Union, under Gorbachev, didn’t intervene in these protests, leading to the collapse of communist regimes.
  • Crisis within the USSR: Gorbachev’s reforms triggered a crisis within the USSR, speeding up its disintegration.
  • Opposition to Reforms: Leaders within the Communist Party opposed Gorbachev’s economic and political reforms and democratization.
  • 1991 Coup:
    • A coup in 1991, encouraged by hardliners within the Communist Party, aimed to reverse Gorbachev’s reforms.
    • People, having tasted freedom, opposed the coup.
    • Boris Yeltsin emerged as a hero for opposing the coup.
  • Shift of Power:
    • Power began to shift from the Soviet center to the republics, especially in more Europeanized parts of the USSR.
    • Russian Republic, under Yeltsin’s leadership, started shaking off centralized control.
  • Declaration of Disintegration:
    • In December 1991, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus declared the disbandment of the Soviet Union.
    • Communist Party of the Soviet Union was banned.
    • Capitalism and democracy were adopted as the bases for the post-Soviet republics.
  • Formation of CIS:
    • Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was formed, with Russia as the successor state of the Soviet Union.
    • Central Asian republics, initially excluded, were later made founding members of the CIS.
  • Consequences:
    • Russia inherited the Soviet seat in the UN Security Council.
    • Accepted all international treaties and commitments of the Soviet Union.
    • Became the only nuclear state in the post-Soviet space, conducting nuclear disarmament measures with the US.
  • End of the Soviet Union: The old Soviet Union was officially dissolved, marking the end of an era.

3. Why did the Soviet Union Disintegrate?

  • Internal Weaknesses:
    • Political and economic institutions failed to meet people’s aspirations, leading to the collapse.
    • Economic stagnation caused severe consumer shortages, prompting widespread doubt and questioning of the system.
  • Resource Allocation:
    • Soviet economy devoted significant resources to maintaining a nuclear arsenal, military, and supporting satellite states, creating an unsustainable economic burden.
    • Citizens became aware of the economic disparities between the Soviet system and the West, causing disillusionment.
  • Political Stagnation:
    • Communist Party, ruling for over 70 years, lacked accountability to the people.
    • Slow administration, corruption, and centralization of authority alienated ordinary citizens.
  • Gorbachev’s Reforms:
    • Gorbachev aimed to reform the economy, catch up with the West, and loosen administrative controls.
    • However, the pace of reforms and their implementation led to divisions and disillusionment among the populace.
  • Rise of Nationalism:
    • Nationalist sentiments grew within various republics, including Russia, Baltic Republics, Ukraine, and Georgia.
    • Nationalist desires for sovereignty became a major cause of the Soviet Union’s disintegration.
  • Controversial Views:
    • Some argue that nationalist feelings existed throughout Soviet history and would have caused internal struggles regardless of reforms.
    • Others believe that Gorbachev’s reforms accelerated and exacerbated nationalist dissatisfaction, leading to uncontrollable unrest.
  • Surprising Developments:
    • Nationalist unrest was strongest in “European” and prosperous parts like Russia, Baltic states, Ukraine, and Georgia, rather than Central Asian republics.
    • People in these areas felt alienated from each other and concluded they were paying too high an economic price to support less developed regions within the Soviet Union.

4. Consequences of Disintegration

  • End of Cold War Confrontations:
    • Ideological dispute between socialist and capitalist systems ended.
    • Demanded an end to arms race and potential for new peace.
  • Change in Power Relations:
    • Remaining superpower (US) became dominant, leading to a unipolar system.
    • Capitalist economy, backed by the US, became internationally dominant.
    • Institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund gained power as advisors in transitioning countries.
    • Liberal democracy emerged as the favored political system.
  • Emergence of New Countries:
    • Disintegration led to the emergence of many new independent countries.
    • Each country had its own aspirations and choices.
    • Baltic and East European states sought to join the European Union and NATO.
    • Central Asian countries aimed to maintain ties with Russia while establishing connections with the West, US, China, and others.
  • Multiplicity of Players: International system saw the emergence of numerous new players, each with distinct identities, interests, and challenges.
  • Implications for Future Issues:
    • The disintegration led to a shifting global landscape with new economic, political, and social dynamics.
    • Each country faced its unique set of difficulties and opportunities, shaping the direction of future international relations.

5. Shock Therapy in Post-Communist Regimes

  • Transition from Socialist to Capitalist System: Collapse of communism led to a difficult transition to a democratic capitalist system in many countries.
  • Model of Transition: Influenced by the World Bank and IMF, transition in Russia, Central Asia, and East Europe became known as “shock therapy.”
  • Key Features:
    • Total shift to a capitalist economy, eliminating structures evolved during the Soviet period.
    • Emphasis on private ownership as the dominant pattern, leading to immediate privatization of state assets and corporate ownership.
    • Replacement of collective farms with private farming and capitalism in agriculture.
  • Elimination of Alternatives: Transition ruled out any alternative besides state-controlled socialism or capitalism.
  • Change in External Orientation:
    • Shift towards more trade for development, necessitating a sudden and complete switch to free trade.
    • Free trade regime and foreign direct investment (FDI) became primary drivers of change.
    • Openness to foreign investment, financial deregulation, and currency convertibility were key aspects.
  • Breakup of Trade Alliances:
    • Existing trade alliances among countries of the Soviet bloc dissolved.
    • Each state linked directly to the West instead of regional ties.
    • Gradual absorption into the Western economic system.
  • Leadership and Guidance: Western capitalist states assumed leadership roles, guiding and controlling the development of the region through various agencies and organizations.

6. Consequences of Privatization and Economic Restructuring

  • Market-Driven Restructuring:
    • Industries were privatized and sold to private individuals and companies.
    • Market forces, not government-directed policies, led to restructuring, causing the disappearance of entire industries.
    • Dubbed as ‘the largest garage sale in history,’ valuable industries were undervalued and sold at low prices.
  • Effects on Citizens:
    • Despite citizens receiving vouchers to participate in sales, many sold them on the black market due to financial needs.
    • Dramatic decline in the value of the Russian currency (ruble) led to high inflation, wiping out people’s savings.
    • Disintegration of collective farm system led to food insecurity, necessitating food imports.
  • Economic Impact:
    • Real GDP of Russia in 1999 was lower than in 1989.
    • Old trading structures collapsed without viable alternatives.
  • Social Welfare System:
    • Old social welfare system dismantled, pushing large sections of the population into poverty.
    • Middle class marginalized, leading to disintegration or migration of academic and intellectual manpower.
    • Emergence of mafia controlling economic activities.
  • Disparities and Inequality:
    • Privatization led to new disparities, especially in Russia, dividing regions into rich and poor.
    • Economic inequality among people increased significantly.
  • Democratic Institutions:
    • Democratic institution-building received less attention compared to economic transformation.
    • Constitutions hastily drafted, often with strong executive presidents and weak parliaments.
    • Central Asian presidents became authoritarian, extending their powers without dissent or opposition.
    • Judicial independence was yet to be established in many countries.
  • Economic Revival:
    • Most economies, especially Russia, started reviving around 2000.
    • Revival attributed to the export of natural resources like oil, natural gas, and minerals.
    • Countries like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan benefited as major oil and gas producers.
    • Some manufacturing also restarted, albeit to a lesser extent.

7. Tensions and Conflicts in Former Soviet Republics

  • Russia:
    • Chechnya and Dagestan experienced violent secessionist movements.
    • Moscow’s response, including indiscriminate military bombings, led to human rights violations but failed to deter aspirations for independence.
  • Central Asia:
    • Tajikistan witnessed a ten-year civil war until 2001, with sectarian conflicts prevalent in the region.
    • Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan involves local Armenians seeking to join Armenia.
    • Georgia faced demands for independence from two provinces, resulting in civil war.
    • Movements against existing regimes observed in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia.
    • Disputes over river waters exacerbate instability, making life difficult for citizens.
  • Economic Significance of Central Asia:
    • Rich hydrocarbon resources in Central Asia bring economic benefits.
    • Becoming a zone of competition for outside powers and oil companies.
    • Proximity to Russia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and West Asia increases geopolitical importance.
    • After 9/11, the US sought military bases in the region, paying governments for base usage during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    • Russia considers Central Asian states as its ‘Near Abroad’ and aims for influence.
    • China’s interests lie in oil resources, leading to settlement around borders and increased trade.
  • Eastern Europe:
    • Peaceful split of Czechoslovakia into Czech and Slovak independent countries.
    • Severe conflict in Yugoslavia, particularly in Balkan republics.
    • Provinces like Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence, opposed by ethnic Serbs.
    • NATO intervention and bombing of Yugoslavia followed inter-ethnic civil war.

8. India’s Relations with Post-Communist Countries

  • Overall Relations:
    • India maintains good relations with all post-communist countries.
    • Strongest ties exist between India and Russia, embedded in a history of trust and common interests.
  • Cultural Connection:
    • Indian cinema, represented by stars like Raj Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan, is popular in Russia and post-Soviet countries.
    • Hindi film songs are widespread in the region, contributing to a shared cultural memory.
  • Vision of Multipolar World Order:
    • Both Russia and India advocate for a multipolar world order.
    • This entails co-existence of several powers, collective security, regionalism, negotiated settlements of conflicts, and independent foreign policies.
    • Strengthening and democratization of international bodies like the UN are emphasized.
  • Strategic Partnership:
    • Indo-Russian Strategic Agreement of 2001 resulted in over 80 bilateral agreements.
    • Mutual benefits include cooperation on issues like Kashmir, energy supplies, counterterrorism, access to Central Asia, and balancing relations with China.
  • Defense Cooperation:
    • India is the second-largest arms market for Russia, with the Indian military acquiring most of its hardware from Russia.
  • Energy Cooperation:
    • Russia is vital for India’s energy needs, providing assistance during oil crises.
    • India seeks to increase energy imports from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, with cooperation in oilfield partnerships and investments.
  • Nuclear and Space Collaboration:
    • Russia plays a crucial role in India’s nuclear energy plans.
    • Assistance in space industry, including providing cryogenic rocket technology, demonstrates collaboration in scientific projects.

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