A Critical Dive into Changing Role of State In A Globalised World

Author: Adit Pancholi

Student, Institute of Law Nirma University

Co-Author: Ishita Jain

Student, Institute of Law Nirma University


With the advent of transportation, communication and technology, the world became interactive. The opening up of avenues and global interactions resulted in the gradual growth of international trade, which was further cemented in the Post-Cold War world. ‘Globalization’ as a term started to have a dominant effect on our policies and imagination in a short period of time. While the exact and true nature of globalization is contested, it is commonly explained as eliminating or weakening economic, social, and cultural barriers between nation-states. To avail the benefits of globalization and cater to International needs, the nation-states have evolved their role drastically. This write-up attempts to identify the nuanced role adopted by the nation states in a globalized world and conundrums as well as opportunities flowing from the said shift in the role.

A Comment on Conventional Role of State

At the inception of every society, a person or authority has always assumed the commanding power, and majorly this commanding power has been given by the people who are the contours of that society. The concept of State was identified very later when society became more civilized, and society’s geographical expansion was achieved. The term “State” is complicated in itself; however, the common phenomenon that has been accepted throughout the globe introduces governing power of a particular identified territory as a State. When the body called State was conceptualized, it was propounded that this State’s approach should be laissez-faire[1] and the State’s role should be restricted to maintain law and order in the society. This is not true if we analyze the modern role of the State. States are now operating as welfare states. If we talk about India, the said statement can be confirmed by the endeavours of the Indian Constitution and encasements of welfare legislations like the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.[2] It is easier to decipher the role of a nation-state in the domestic realm, but what about the international role of the State in a globalized world?

Shift in Role of State: Deciphering the Globalization

The “Peace of Westphalia” in 1648 has always been a stepping stone towards the modern concept of the State and its sovereignty in international relations. The philosophy of the State laid down under the said document put forth the idea of having a long-term trend toward the sovereignty of the nation-state.[3] Based on the Westphalian system, Janice Thompson, an international relations specialist, characterizes sovereignty as states’ obligation and responsibility to act to their most significant advantage.[4] Thus, the original documented role of the State describes the State as a selfish king of internal management who should only manage international relations for their own personal gain and motives. These theories and views flow from a document created in the year 1648, and since then, the international environment has evolved so much that it can barely hold its value. For example, the US army provided military aid to Afghanistan for 20 years.[5] The situations like this keep the Westphalia Sovereignty nullified as the weaker states can engage with the powerful State to achieve a specified objective, be it the security of the nation-state or be it the welfare of the people. Thus, the State’s role, which was early only restricted to internal governance, now without a choice, is extended to international governance and involvement after globalization. In all spheres of life, ranging from politics to commerce, the interdependence of one State over the other is unavoidable.

Conundrums of Globalization: A glance at burning Issues and Concerns

One of the crying factors of globalization is that it is viewed as a predator whose goals include, among other things, the annihilation of nation-state sovereignty, particularly in terms of socio-economic and political freedom. In reality, the nation-state is viewed as a spineless participant in the process, lacking the authority or mandate to govern or have a democratic voice about the concepts and policies resulting from a platform called globalization.[6] The said conundrum can be witnessed in the strategies of China, which have been implemented in Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the form of development projects.[7] This model of China is nothing but a debt trap for these weaker nation-states. As a result, the sovereignty of such nation-states has been compromised over time in order to bite the juicy fruit of Economical gain.

The invention of global trade and, importantly, the revolution of trading through cryptocurrency and blockchain has also caused an adverse sensation in the economic sovereignty of the nation-state. This unregulated market is a severe threat to the security of nation-states as it provides anonymity, security and a steady stream of financing.[8] However, the growth of economic globalization through cryptocurrency and blockchain creates a difficult assignment for a nation-state to completely ban such financial technology. Taking adverse action against such technology will inevitably hamper the economic growth of the nation-state, and as a result, the so-called “economic sovereignty” is continuously fading away.

The other important facet of globalization is political globalization, wherein the so-called “globalized standards” have hollowed the free will of the government. For instance, the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted the “Convention against Torture”[9], and India was a signatory to the said convention. However, is it justified to completely ban custodial torture where the crime rates are skyrocketing in India? This decision has to be taken by the government after considering societal needs. The sovereignty of making political decisions like aforesaid is largely taken away as India has to meet international standards for the sake of international reputation and other considerations.

The technological revolution and the inception of the internet have largely created cultural globalization. Cultural globalization is a learning process in itself. The problem arises when the internet and media portray western culture as an ideal form, and many people are influenced by said innuendo and lose their roots.[10] Cultural sovereignty can be neglected right now, but it will have far-fetching consequences for future generations.

Therefore, the crippling of weak nation-State economies, and global political and western cultural influences, among other things, raises many doubts about globalization’s justification as a socio-economic and political saviour for the global community.

There is Positive in Every Negative: Identifying Prospects of Globalisation

Globalisation has majorly been seen as enemy of nation State’s sovereignty. However, the infringement of sovereignty on multiple occasions results in benefit of particular nation states. As stated earlier, military existence of US in Afghanistan has facilitated the establishment of internal peace and security, albeit invading the sovereignty of nation states. This shows that the State who wants to extend their support can very well do so in the name of globalisation.

The said statements can be confirmed in respect of India also. India has supplied vaccines to the 15 plus countries and same was possible by international diplomacy.[11] In addition that the world leaders are actively engaging themselves to counter the terrorism and globalisation provides a well structured platform for the same.

If we restrict the globalisation in strict sense just to preserve sovereignty we will lose a platform through which the horrifying actions of a particular nation State can be condemned. For instance, since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, variety of adverse steps have been launched to limit Russia's capacity to pay for the war.[12] The said condemnation was possible because of globalisation only and without the concept of globalisation and international reputation, every nation State can have capacity to operate tyrannically.

In addition to this, education is at the heart of the current globalisation which have a considerable influence on nation-state educational programmes aimed at global citizenship. Thus, the globalisation shall be directed towards welfare of individual residing in particular nation State.


In conclusion, despite the fact that globalization has lowered certain State authorities, it is still within a State's sovereign power to choose not to participate in integrated global life. It is a decision made by a nation in the exercise of its sovereign rights. The primary task, though, is to guarantee that globalisation becomes a constructive force for all of humanity. While globalisation provides several opportunities, its advantages are now unequally distributed, as are its drawbacks.

[1] What Does Laissez-Faire Mean?, Investopedia (Sept. 29, 2022, 8:07 PM), https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/laissezfaire.asp [2] The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, Acts of Parliament, 2009, No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2009 (India). [3] Jason Farr, Point: The Westphalia Legacy and the Modern State, 80 INTL SOCIAL SCIENCE REV., 156 (2005). [4] Janice Thompson, State Sovereignty in International Relations: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Empirical Research, 39 INTL STUDIES QUARTERLY, 213 (1995). [5] Nan Tian, 20 years of US military aid to Afghanistan, SIPRI (27 Sept. 2022), https://www.sipri.org/commentary/topical-backgrounder/2021/20-years-us-military-aid-afghanistan. [6] Lalit Jotia, Gloabization and the Nation-State: Sovereignty and State Welfare in Jeopardy, DAVIS PUBLISHINGS, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED528356.pdf [7] Ashok Kumar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan Show China is Strangulating Even Its Friends With BRI & CPEC. Are Others Listening? , NEWS18 (27 Sept. 2022), https://www.news18.com/news/opinion/sri-lanka-pakistan-show-china-is-strangulating-even-its-friends-with-bri-cpec-are-others-listening-5868517.html. [8] Terrorist Use of Cryptocurrencies, RAND (27 Sept. 2022), https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR3000/RR3026/RAND_RR3026.pdf. [9] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Dec. 10, 1984 1465 U.N.T.S. 85, 113. [10] Rebecca Sawyer, The Impact of New Social Media on Intercultural Adaptation, DigitalCommons@URI, https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1230&context=srhonorsprog\ [11] COVID-19: India's vaccine diplomacy helping other countries overcome pandemic challenge, received global praise, MONEYCONTROL NEWS (27 Sept. 2022), https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/photos/india/covid-19-indias-vaccine-diplomacy-helping-other-countries-overcome-pandemic-challenge-received-global-praise-6532861.html. [12] What are sanctions on Russia and are they hurting its economy?, BBC NEWS (27 Sept. 2022), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60125659.