Asia's Week: India and Others Can Overcome Animosities

May 16 2014, 6:27pm CDT | by

Bulls on India were snorting after Narendra Modi’s big win for prime minister this week, even as Chinese Asia was fretting over incipient conflict and other troubling signs in that still-bustling trade zone. Were these simply polar opposite realities?

Maybe not, soon enough.

For now, the ousting of the largely sclerotic Congress Party coalition gives Indians hope that at least some business development will prosper. Modi’s record in Gujarat state, while hotly contested, does point to more infrastructure progress, and that would help the wheels of commerce turn faster.  Favored promoters will stand to gain, too.

The leader-in-waiting’s background is unusual to say the least, so much of India and the subcontinent will be watching anxiously. The economic question will center not just on the pace of change, but the nature. Is the largely-untraveled Modi going to bring India more into the swing of its neighbors and the world, opening doors to investment and competition for the sake of modernism and opportunity? His BJP Party has a general India First bent, and even under the more liberal government of Manmohan Singh, Indian trade negotiators were notorious for gumming up the global works.  Will the nationalist and presumed foreign-policy hard-liner Modi prove to be–if only for GDP purposes–a Davos Man?

That will be a significant test, contrariwise, for whether the intellectual brooding of Oxford’s Ian Goldin is on the mark.  In a part of his latest book, The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It, the World Bank veteran grows worried that lagging prospects of the world’s poor (of which India has a few hundred million) is erecting barriers to openness that rightly achieved could help them. They won’t countenance what they don’t perceive to be in their interests. In responding to his mandate from India’s unhappy electorate, Modi can choose to defy that outcome, so self-defeating of opportunity, or succumb to a Hindu-centric autarky that is familiar enough.

How, then, to connect this to the frightening events in Vietnam this week, as mobs attacked an industrial park ostensibly in reaction to China’s incursions on drilling territory in the Paracels, claimed by both nations? The street marauders, acting on guidance or instinct, trashed factories and threatened mayhem on their managers. The targets, however, were not just mainland Chinese but Taiwanese, South Koreans and Japanese as well. Was this just a confusion, as they are all bidding for cheaper Vietnamese labor? Or was the naval standoff just a pretext for a “Seattle riot”?

Yen Chen-shen, research fellow at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, had this to say to the Wall Street Journal: “The influx of foreign companies in Vietnam in recent years has widened the wealth gap there.  For the locals, prices have gone up, but wages haven’t caught up.  [Vietnam also has gone through a credit hangover.] Although the protest is about China’s oil rig, the core anger and fear is against foreign exploitation of the country.”

Well, hello, Dr. Goldin!

If  the proletariat of Vietnam, a nation with all the world before it if only it could shake off remnant Communism, is ready to toss aside foreign investment, what hope will there be for the really difficult cases of Asia and beyond?  What of  China, for that matter, which is nervous over a slowdown that could get suddenly worse if a housing bubble pops? An actual outbreak of hostilities, perhaps as a balm for either population, would be horrendous for all in the short term. Prolonging the troubled peace would get us over that hump but then where is the basis for medium-term prosperity if suspicion toward the outsider is now on call?

The thoughtful voices–including China’s rulers–will make a case for multilateral order.  Some will trot out the Trans-Pacific Partnership ideal for another round of blather.  But what Asia-Pacific and the world could use, surely ahead of the gunboats blazing, is a bold unilateral move to break down some commercial barriers, even those with old foes.  Calling Mr. Modi…

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Islamic State biggest threat to our profession: Scribe panel
Cairo, Aug 21 (IANS/EFE) Following the beheading of US reporter James Foley, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has warned that the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist organisation operating in Syria and Iraq is one of the biggest threats to journalists.
 
 
Early porn obsession damaging teenagers' brains: Study
London, Aug 21 (IANS) An early exposure to porn and explicit material online can damage teenagers' cognitive abilities, clarity about relationships and studies later in life.
 
 
Indian wines to participate in Vino Ljubljana International Wine Fair
Ljubljana, Aug 21 (IANS) In a bid to introduce and promote Indian produced wines Europe, the country will participate in upcoming Vino Ljubljana International Wine Fair from Sep 4-6 here.
 
 
City spiders getting bigger, multiplying faster
Sydney, Aug 21 (IANS) If you think that the spiders you see in your garden are getting bigger, you are probably right.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Pierce Brosnan turned down Batman role
Pierce Brosnan turned down the role of Batman because he ''couldn't really take it seriously''. Brosnan, 61, admitted he was offered the part in Tim Burton's 1989 movie, but decided to pass up on the opportunity. Asked...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Luc Besson downplays speculation of Lucy sequel
'Lucy' director Luc Besson doesn't intend to make a sequel to the action film. Besson - who has also directed 'Leon: The Professional' and 'The Fifth Element' - has been busy promoting the film, which sees Scarlett...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Carson Daly is a dad again
Carson Daly has become a father for the third time. The 'Voice USA' host's fiancée Siri Pinter gave birth to a baby girl yesterday (08.20.14) and the couple have named their new daughter - a sister for Jackson, five,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Robin Williams loved ones still in shock
Robin Williams' friends and family are still ''in complete shock'' over his death. The 'Hook' actor was found hanged at his home on August 11 and his loved ones are still struggling to comprehend the fact he took his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Julianne Hough confirmed as DWTS judge
Julianne Hough has been confirmed as the fourth judge on 'Dancing with the Stars'. The 26-year-old professional - who has won the show twice - will join Carrie Anne Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli when the show...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Justin Bieber rents party house
Justin Bieber is renting a house just for parties. The 'Believe' hitmaker plans to continue living in his Beverly Hills condominium - which has been visited by police numerous times following complaints off local...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dead
Dublin, Aug 21 (IANS) Former Irish prime minister Albert Reynolds, who played an important part in the Northern Ireland peace process, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 81 and leaves behind his wife Kathleen...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Islamic State biggest threat to our profession: Scribe panel
Cairo, Aug 21 (IANS/EFE) Following the beheading of US reporter James Foley, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has warned that the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist organisation operating in Syria and Iraq is...
Read more on Ad Balla
 
Pakistan SC adjourns PTI's case hearing till Friday
Islamabad, Aug 21 (IANS) Pakistan's Supreme Court Thursday ordered the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to file a concise statement by Friday in relation to the petition filed against the party over its ongoing protests...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Army, militants fighting for control over Syrian airport
Cairo, Aug 21 (IANS/EFE) Fierce clashes broke out Thursday between the Syrian army and militants of the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist group on the outskirts of al-Tabaqa military air base, the only bastion still...
Read more on Politics Balla