Most political leaders have shied away from confronting the anti-globalisation movement. So it’s heartening to see the white paper issued by Clare Short, international development minister in Tony Blair’s government.
Eliminating world poverty: making globalisation work for the poor makes the fundamental point that “if the poorest people and countries can be included in the global economy on more beneficial terms, it could lead to a rapid reduction in global poverty”. On top of the welcome rhetoric, there are some concrete announcements, including an extra £35 million to eliminate polio and an extra £15 million to help African countries trade more effectively.
Sadly, the agenda of most of the anti-globalisation adherents means active engagement with the ideas and thought behind Short’s white paper is unlikely.
***India’s unfinished agenda
Meanwhile, in the world’s largest democracy, the prime minister may be forced to resign because of “statements widely interpreted as pandering to Hindu fundamentalists”. Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last week described building a Hindu temple on the ruins of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya as “an expression of national yearning” and part of “the unfinished agenda” of his government.
In an India still riven by religious divides, these were explosive statements. Vajpayee’s party, the Hindu rivalist BJP, had held together its 25-party ruling coalition (and American politicians think they have difficult interests to square) by not mentioning Ayodhya in its administration programme. That may all crumble now. The halting progress Vaypayee’s government has made in deepening economic and labour reform could all be at risk. Fostering improved economic growth in India should be the real unfinished agenda of the government.
Yet these dramatic developments in India get scant mention in the western media. Sunday’s New York Times had a good summary article of events to that point, but there’s only a one-paragraph follow up today. I couldn’t find anything in The Washington Post. Why does the world’s second most populous nation get so little attention outside Asia and former colonial master Britain?