Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Lecture Details

A Tripolar World: USA, China and India

May 18, 2005

From L to R: Mr. R. M. S. Liberhan, Director, India Habitat Centre, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Dr. Arvind Virmani, Director & Chief Executive, ICRIER, at the lecture. 

Second Photo: Audience at the Public Lecture 

Public Lecture by Dr. Arvind Virmani, Director & Chief Executive, ICRIER May 18, 2005 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi 

The fast growth of Japan till the seventies led scholars to predict a ‘Pacific Century.’ This talk gradually faded with the bursting of the ‘Japanese Bubble,’ but was revived with the rise of the Asian Tigers. Some called it the Asia-Pacific century while others predicted an ‘Asian century.’ Such talk reached its peak before the Asian crises of 1997-98. In parallel, the world became recognizably unipolar with the collapse of the USSR. Since then talk of multi-polarity has been in the air, joined more recently by sounds of China’s challenge to US uni-polarity. 

This lecture presents a more radical thesis, that the World will be transformed into a Tripolar one by the middle of this century. It asserts that there is little possibility of the World becoming multi-polar. This view is based on the author’s ICRIER Working Papers: “A Tripolar Century: USA, China and India”, No 160, March 2005; “Economic Performance, Power Potential and Global Governance: Towards a New International Order,” No 150, December 2004, and “ China’s Socialist Market Economy: Lessons of Success”, ICRIER Occasional Policy Paper, April 2005. 

One must recognize that long term forecasts have a very high degree of uncertainty. These risks do not however disappear if we assume that the future will be like the present (as most people tacitly do). Forecasts are essential for effective planning of National and International security policies. If the author’s projections of the global economy approximate reality, they will have profound implications for the USA, India, European Union and Japan and the emergence of a New International order.

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