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PSIR 2A-6.3 Balance of Power – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Bipolar structure of the world is more stable than the multipolar one. Comment. [2022/10m/150w/1d]

The question of whether a bipolar or multipolar structure is more stable in the world is a subject of debate among scholars of international relations as the power is swiftly shifting in world politics.

In a bipolar world, power is concentrated between two major powers or blocs, which can lead to a more stable balance. The distribution of power is relatively clear, and there is a reduced likelihood of miscalculations or misunderstandings.

The presence of two major powers with significant military capabilities can create a state of deterrence, as each power seeks to maintain a balance of power to prevent aggression from the other. This deterrence can contribute to stability by reducing the likelihood of direct conflicts.

Whereas, in a multipolar world, power is distributed among multiple major powers, leading to potential power competitions and rivalries. These competitions can increase the chances of conflicts and destabilizing dynamics. Moreover, in a multipolar system, states often form alliances and counter alliances to balance power. However, the shifting nature of alliances and the complex web of relationships can create uncertainties and increase the likelihood of conflicts as interests diverge.

Yet, it is important to note that stability in the international system depends on various factors beyond the structure itself, including the nature of the major powers, the presence of shared norms and institutions, and effective conflict resolution mechanisms. [225 words]

2] Explain the concept of balance of power. What are the various techniques of maintaining balance of power? [2020/20m/250w/2a]

The concept of the balance of power assumes that through shifting alliances and countervailing pressures no power or combination of powers will be allowed to grow so strong as to threaten the security of the rest. It refers to a state of international order where power is balanced in such a way that nations avoid aggression out of fear of forceful retaliation.

According to this model, imbalances and concentrations in military and material capabilities among the great powers are checked, and the equilibrium is restored in order to ensure the survival of the major powers in the international system.

Various techniques are used by global powers to maintain the balance of power;

•       Alliances and counter-alliances: Whenever one nation threatens the balance of power system, other states form a coalition against it and curb the power of the overly ambitious nations.

•       Compensations: This technique usually consists of annexation or division of territory. This method is frequently used by strong powers at the expense of weaker ones and almost invariably by victor nations at the end of a war.

•       Armaments and disarmaments: All major powers place great emphasis on military preparedness and other means of national defence. This policy may lead to an armaments race. But a more stable balance of power could be created by ending armaments races and by proportionate reduction of armaments by rival powers.

•       Intervention and non-intervention: These devices have been employed by countries in the position of balancer, most often Great Britain. Intervention may range from slight deviations from neutrality to full-scale military participation in a major war. Non-intervention suggests the kind of policy usually followed by small states and also by great powers which are satisfied with political order.

•       Buffer states: Buffer states are of great importance because of their cushioning effect between great powers. They may be neutral or neutralised states, satellite states, or dependent territories.

•       Divide and rule: Dividing a collective of people or nation would decrease the threat of a powerful group threatening the balance of power.

Balance of power is an important concept and has been a basic feature of the nation-state system. [351 words]

3] Identify the benefits of a multi-polar world. [2019/15m/200w/3b]

Multipolarity refers to an international system in which there are three or more centres of power.

As power is not concentrated, a multipolar world opens up foreign policy and security choices for all countries. It throws open the windows of opportunity for weaker states to exercise their strategic autonomy and multi-align themselves with multiple powerful states, to fulfil their developmental and security interests.

Multipolarity also increases their choices in case of possible competition among powerful states for the expansion of their influence. it enlarges the scope for bargaining in global discourse/effort for resetting international norms and re-configuring international institutions.

According to classical realists like Hans Morgenthau, the multipolar system is the most stable of all the systems, as great powers can gain power through alliances and petty wars that do not directly challenge other powers. liberals believe that multipolarity would give rise to multilateralism which will lead to a peaceful world. On the other hand, neo-realists say that multipolarity tends to be chaotic and unstable.

Ultimately, whether the states can make good use of multipolarity would depend on their relative power potential, geo-strategic location, demography and people power, resource base and, above all, the quality of leadership available with them to forge these elements into their foreign policy to sustain their relative autonomy. [213 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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