Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Seminar Details

10 Dec 2005

Emerging Global Scenario Economic Perspective
 
 
December 10, 2005
 
ICRIER organized a seminar on ‘Emerging Global Scenario: Economic Perspective’ by Dr. Arvind Virmani on December 10, 2005. 

The fast growth of Japan till the mid-1980s gave birth to several books on the Pacific Century (Gibert (1988), McCord (1991), Gibney (1993)) and the Asia-Pacific Century (Sutter (1992), Cronin(1992)). This talk gradually disappeared after the bursting of the Japanese bubble. The talk revived with the phenomenal growth of the Tigers (Manning and Stern(1994), Lingle (1995), Mahbubani(1997)) but was soon overcome by the Asian Crises (Emerson (1998)). Virmani (1999a,b) showed that India (the elephant) was among the ten fastest growing economies of the World since 1980 and projected that in the next decade its growth rate would accelerate above that of the Tigers and reach the top three. It also asserted that though China’s past growth had been overestimated by about 2% it (the dragon) would remain the fastest growing economy in the world during the first decade of the 21st century. 

Krauthammer (1990/91) had heralded the arrival of ‘The Unipolar Moment’ and set off debate on its many ramifications. The reality of the unipolar world returned to center-stage after the Asian crisis even though some questioned whether the unipolar moment had passed (Nye(1999), Huntington(1999) ). Since 9/11 the USA has asserted its primacy and the unipolar nature of the world has been re-asserted. There is, however, a variety of views on how long the unipolar world will last. Bergsten (2004) and Virmani (2004) have written about the possibility of the unipolar world order of the past half century converting into a bipolar or tripolar one. 

State power is the “extent that (one) effects others more than they affect [one]”[Waltz (1979)]. It is therefore a “combination of its capacity to resist the unwelcome influence of others and conversely to influence others to behave as it wants them to.” With increasing globalisation, democratisation and inter-dependence, the form in which such power is expressed is likely to change over this century. However, history is unlikely to end (Fukoyama) and old ways of using power may not fade away that quickly. The powerful will also find new ways to express their power. 

In the presentation Dr. Virmani argues that the global economy is evolving in a direction that will result in a tripolar world by the middle of the 21st century. Thus the 21st century will be a ‘Tripolar Century’ with two of the poles in Asia and one on the other side of the Pacific. So ironically it could end up as partly a Pacific, partly an Asia-Pacific and partly an Asian century. This is based largely on an economic view of power a la Kennedy (1988). He defines an index of Power Potential to measure economic power and shows how this index captures the current unipolar world. He then outlines the evolution of global power, first into bipolar and then into a tripolar world based on his economic projections. The reasons why the European Union may not become a fourth pole was taken up in the discussion. 

Mr. K. Subramanyam, Chairman, Task Force chaired the seminar.

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