Written by Ujjwal K. Chowdhury Wednesday, 18 April 2012 00:00
The recent trends and issues in global economy are marked by a few highlights: decline or stagnancy in the growth-rates of most developed economies, rise of BRICKS nations, Euro Zone crisis, failure of several banks and financial institutions, Occupy Movement in several Western Cities against 'corporate greed', decline in ecological standards globally, natural catastrophes hitting all too frequently, rise of global terrorism taking a huge economic toll, militarization in Western economies to artificially pump in demand into their sagging growth-rates, high unemployment rates world-over even in the developed nations, demand for clean energy and fuel, and a clear movement towards a alternative green life-style.
It is in this FAILURE of the unbridled capitalist model, and SUCCESS of Welfare Economies, coupled with the GREEN agenda for the economy, wherein lies the seed for a Paradigm Shift in Global Economy.
Globalization is irrefutable. But that cannot be at the cost of local entrepreneurship, exploitation of resources, isolation of local populace from decision-making, and dumping of obsolete technologies or high cost products and worse still, of arms and ammunitions, from one end of the globe to the other.
Globalization has to be tempered with an integration of local talent and produce into the global economy. Globalization has to multiple ways. Intellectual and physical labour, knowledge based and agriculture based produce have both to be given their due in the new globalized economy. Globalization has to be win-win.
Alongside, within each national economy, liberalization is welcome, but not at the cost of welfare measures, protecting the national and natural resources, and ensuring distributive justice of public health-education-employment to all. Hence, not just GDP growth, but the parity of income and opportunities, ensuring sustainable development will be the need within each nation.
At the micro-level of the corporate and the individual, rise of the Green Agenda, CSR and ISR will mark the new economy. Conscientious and participating citizenry can only ensure good governance and welfare economics, not the barrel of the gun and the power of the armed minority.
The INDIA mandate comes in this specific context. It can show how 60% or more domestic contribution to the GDP of the nation ensures a more stable economy, how democracy (in spite of its limitations) ensures greater people participation in the system, how the spirit of entrepreneurship can effectively tackle status-quoist bureaucracy, how fortune lies at the bottom of the pyramid, how public health and education can change the contours of the economy, how women and younger people contribute to the economy immensely, how savings are a bulwark against recession, how absence of conspicuous consumption in the bulk of the population is a boon for a sustainable economy, how low-cost housing and natural food-habits and alternative therapies create better and sustainable life-style, and how technology growth contributes to the economy.
Yes, there are causes of concern too. India is the largest importer of arms and ammunitions, not necessarily having the best prepared armed forces though with the second highest population of the world. India is reportedly having a large parallel economy, and the largest concentration of black money overseas. Corruption, though a universal phenomenon, is in its one of the worst varieties in India. The disparity of income and wealth is ever increasing, and today there is a minority 1% of the population who are comparable to the wealthiest in the world as against 15% or more who live a sub-Saharan life or even worse. The Red Corridor in India touches more than a hundred districts with total command in many of them and is considered as the biggest internal security threat by the Indian PM.
The good news is that democratic India, the civil society and the Indian media are strong and active in calling for holistic reforms, from economy to politics, elections to legal systems, education to healthcare.
The other soft power of India globally is the Indian Diaspora in more than a hundred nations of the world. Billed at more than 30 million today outside India, NRIs and PIOs are a big force in global economy and many of them being role-models in business, professional, technological, academic, charity and cultural arenas. The income of the 30 million Indian diaspora is around 10% of the GDP of 1.21 billion Indians. The diaspora has a major role and responsibility in creating a caring pluralist liberal global yet welfare and justice oriented economy world-over, based not on greed, but on the green mandate and sustainable development.
And, in this entire vision for the Indian mandate in the global economy paradigm shift, the role of Indian culture, heritage, philosophy, division of labour through Varnashrama, practice of four phases of life, and approach to peace and brotherhood, of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', of peaceful co-existence of a plurality of philosophies (Dvaitvaad, Advaitvaad, Vaishnavism, Charbak Vastuvaad, Shaivite philosophy, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Sufism) make India the bedrock of the paradigm shift. More than a century ago, Swami Vivekananda took the message of Indian philosophy and culture to the world. Today, we need to take the message of welfare economy, sustainable development, growth with justice, greener life, and better technology for social welfare to the world through the government, beyond government and through the Diaspora.