Editor’s Note

The changing nature of warfare, rising conflicts and the never-ending great-power competition has given rise to complex geometries in global geopolitical positioning. The world's future is filled with eternal uncertainty. The advances in technology such as quantum computing. artificial intelligence and digital surveillance have transformed the military worldwide. As a driving force, technology has embedded itself in the power showbiz and has initiated an unprecedented competition between global powers including the emerging middle power. Acquiring innovative power, capacity to invent and adapting fast to new technologies is now a key determinant for all involved in the ongoing power game in the emerging new world order.

Raksha Anirveda’s latest web feature attempts to evaluate and understand the impact of technology in reshaping India's power aspiration through its Indian Armed Forces’ modernisation programme. The featured articles have been diligently curated. These articles analyse Indian Armed Forces’ adoption of innovation and technology. procurement of critical technology to become Aatmanirbhar, adaptability to disruptive and emerging technologies, and its digitisation efforts to emerge as a strong future-ready force. Raksha Anirveda invites esteemed readers - the driving force behind its evolving benchmark to indulge, explore and evaluate the feature presentation. Happy Reading!

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In Search of a New Enlightenment

In a world wracked by global climate crisis, war, supply chain breakdown and economic uncertainty, there is a strong need for a new enlightenment

By Pranay K Shome

Ukrainian soldier inspects the impact of bombing

The world is currently passing through multiple crises, which were not seen in recent decades. On one hand, we have the global climate crisis, scientists have predicted that the world is well on course to exceed the temperature targets set by the Paris Accord of 2015, entailing, in the process, catastrophic consequences for the global climate as early as the next decade. To compound matters, the world economy which was slowly recuperating from the devastating blow dealt by the COVID-19 pandemic is struggling to grow at pre-pandemic levels of 2-2.5 per cent thanks to the continuing Russo-Ukraine war. The war which commenced in February 2022 sparked a global supply chain crisis of food and hydrocarbon products, the effects of which are being felt by developing countries even today. The cascading effect of the war saw a food crisis in several African countries, particularly in the sub-Saharan region, dependent on Ukrainian grains.

This enlightenment should be based on the principle of nature-oriented development or what is known in modern parlance as sustainability

On the other hand, there is a humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Pakistan, Mali, Myanmar, Iran etc owing to various reasons. This shows how deeply polarised the world is on various issues, without the ability to come to a consensus on how to resolve them. This highlights the need for a new 21st-century ‘enlightenment’ for global humanity.

‘New Enlightenment’ contours

The Enlightenment originally commenced in Western Europe in the 18th century, it was the outcome of the path laid by the Protestant Reformation and directly involved in its economic wing the Industrial Revolution which catapulted the region to the centre of global civilisation for many centuries. The original Enlightenment advocated a humanistic revolution that accorded primacy to human affairs and not religious affairs. It advocated a human-first approach and was followed by revolutionary changes in the realms of arts, philosophy, religion, science, statecraft etc.

A direct outcome of the Enlightenment was the establishment of the Westphalian system of ‘nation-states’. Having stated that the focus of the 21st century should be a new, inclusive and alternate imagination of the enlightenment.

Such enlightenment should, firstly, be based on the principle of nature-oriented development or what is known in modern parlance as sustainability. While sustainability is the buzzword of today, it is still exclusively seen to be the preserve of the West. The non-western societies and institutions must be an integral part of the ecological dimension of the new enlightenment.

Politically, the new enlightenment should be committed not to liberal democracy, but to what may be called ‘sustainable democracy’

Socially, the new enlightenment must be based on what Markus Brunnermeier called in his book The Resilient Society a “new social contract”. This “new social contract” should be tweaked to be called “new global social contract” committed to cultural relativism, human rights and an eco-centric world that promotes the cause of not for anthropomorphic beings but other organisms, which are key to maintaining global sustainability.

Politically, it should be committed not to liberal democracy, but to what may be called ‘sustainable democracy’. Such an idea of democracy will not only be not Euro-centric in nature but will prioritise that democracy is more than a social experiment, it is a way of life. It, therefore, must be tuned to the unique societal & institutional context of each country. Having said that, it should challenge the autocratic tendencies of various regimes, which base their authority on either ideological or theocratic terms, like the case of China & Iran. However, it should not preach democracy promotion by fostering external intervention but should strive for developing grassroots movements in different societies to engender democratic values.

Asia to lead

Asia is the undoubted candidate to lead this ‘new enlightenment’ revolution, preferably a coalition of nations including India

Asia is the undoubted candidate to lead this ‘new enlightenment’ revolution. However, there can be controversy as to who should try and lead this new movement, India, South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam are fit to lead the new movement. Having said that, there cannot be a single leader who can show the path, a coalition of like-minded Asian countries like the ones mentioned must lead the world to a better, inclusive and sustainable future. India emerges as the best candidate, but in keeping with the Asian and Indic spirit of ‘accommodation’, a coalition is best suited to lead it.

The path ahead is uncertain, challenges will come, and it will not be an easy task, autocracies like China, Myanmar etc will try and resist changes but they must be won over by the Gandhian virtue of moral persuasion.


  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/nations-miss-paris-targets-climate-driven-weather-events-cost-billions
  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/nations-miss-paris-targets-climate-driven-weather-events-cost-billions

–The writer is currently working as a Research Associate at Defence Research and Studies (dras.in) and is a columnist. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda