January 12, 2000
HEADLINE: India must play leading role on world-stage- Sachs
NEW DELHI, JAN 11. Strongly endorsing India's position at Seattle of
opposing the attempt by rich countries to introduce labour and environment standards, the noted economist, Mr. Jeffrey Sachs urged the country to don a new role on the world-stage. India must become pro-active on the world arena by evolving itself into a formulator of visions and leader of institutions, he said while delivering the millennium lecture at the CII's 'Partnership Summit' here today.
"India must play a much larger and important role in global governance. For a long time, it shut itself from the world and was a recipient of aid. It is now past that era and needs to take the leadership role on behalf of other developing economies," observed Mr. Sachs, who has advised over half a dozen countries which made the transition from closed to market- led economies. "We need India's leadership to get the next WTO round started. It was right to oppose the United States but now India should find an appropriate way of discussing the critical trade- related issues," he said. "We can't get the world trade round going unless India, the U.S. and some other countries work out the modalities," he noted.
India could also play a leadership role at multilateral institutions beginning with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was about to elect a new Managing Director. "India must put its foot down and insist that it should be consulted instead of European countries unilaterally announcing the new head of IMF as has
been the case in the past. The World Bank too required structural changes and the situation was ripe for India to play a leading role," he said.
Listing the four challenges facing India, Mr. Sachs regretted that none of the problems had been addressed with equal diligence. First, India had to work creatively and very hard to make a dent in leading edge technologies being developed all over the world. A radically different area where it should make a mark was in bringing about universal literacy.
The third area where India could make its presence felt on the world stage was science. India needs a very elaborate national science policy which should address the area of health by developing vaccines for diseases afflicting tropical countries. Mr. Sachs believed that global pharmaceutical companies were unlikely
to put in commensurate efforts to develop vaccines for TB and malaria because the purchasing power was low in countries where these diseases occurred.
The science policy should also address issues related to assessment of global climate changes because though the rich temperate zone countries had caused most
of the climatic degradation, the brunt was beginning to be faced by the poorer tropical countries.
The fourth areas was to play a catalytic role in institutions of global nature. "I believe that globalisation is not a simple fantasy," he said and pointed out that there has been a dramatic acceleration of trends in globalisation in the last 20 years. Even in the midst of tumult specially in Central Europe and Latin America, virtually the entire world remained on course to increase social, economic and intellectual integration. "No crisis ever came close to derailing the process of globalisation," he declared while attributing the Asian crisis to "a bit of a bubble mentality" which "added a lot of
financial froth" leading to unexpected short-term capital inflows and outflows.