India, China crucial to global order: Chris Patten

October 14th, 2008 - 12:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) India and China are crucial to the new regional and global power hierarchy and will remain so in the years to come, says British politician and author Chris Patten.”China and India are highly powerful economies with regional and global importance. India would embrace as explicitly as possible an international stage in the future and I also agree that India could be a superpower and a super democracy in a few years’ time; but it is not there yet,” Patten told a packed house at the British Council here Monday.

The century ahead would see an inevitable conflict between the US and China, in which India could play the role of a referee, Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said.

“But India would continue to globalise more and would be a shaping influence in the global economy,” he added.

Patten, a peer in the House of Lords, was delivering the second Penguin Annual Lecture on “A New Century: The Dark Side of Globalisation”.

His address coincided with the launch of his new book “What Next: Surviving the 21st Century”, which tackles questions about our collective future in the face of challenges like the food crisis, overuse of water, international crime, arms proliferation, climate change, drug trafficking, epidemics and large-scale migration.

Witty as usual, Patten peppered his hour-long speech with humorous references from the works of great authors.

Explaining the downside of globalisation, which according to him started after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he said the world’s population had increased fourfold and the number of industries 40 times. The number of people in cities had gone up 13 fold, the use of water by nine percent and the use of energy 13 times.

Despite the leap in numbers, the principal players in the global order still remained the same, according to Patten, who is also the chancellor of Oxford and Newcastle universities.

“The US with its military might and its superiority in space, water, land and air still remains a superpower though its soft power is not what it used to be. It has taken a beating with the humiliating discussion on whether torture was acceptable, the humbling of the Wall Street and the mountain of debt,” Patten said.

“The US is still the superpower; multilateralism does not work unless US is involved,” he added.

Europe figures second in Patten’s globalised world order.

“Europe is the second world and a significant civilian power. It is not going to become like a military might like the US because it is a union of sovereign nation-states. But Europe has its own demographic problems. The population is falling steeply and ageing rapidly - it is supposed to fall by 20 percent by the middle of the century,” he said.

It also led to a falling share in the world output, Patten said, advising that the continent needed substantial changes for some things to remain the same.

India and China, predicted Patten, were going to be the third players.

“India, which had initially escaped growth was now growing almost at the same rate as China. According to Goldman Sachs projections, India would grow longer at a substantial rate than anyone else,” he said.

Patten, however, sounded a note of warning. “My only worry is that after sometime, the developed economies will stop believing in globalisation, and start feeling that China and India are better off and eventually lurch into protectionism - the bane of free trade,” he said.

Patten prescribed vigorous international cooperation to deal with the dark sides of globalisation.

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