by Eric Protzer, Grade 11 student
To explain complicated foreign economics and politics to an audience of high school students is impressive. To do so five times in a single day on an eleven and a half hour jet lag while speaking in a second language is an achievement. Such is the case of Dr. Madhukar Rana, hailing from Nepal, who recently spoke to the SMUS community on the topic of Asia’s future as an economic superpower.
When pondering the well-known Eastern powers, states such as China, Japan and India spring to mind. Though this is for good reason — these nations are making massive industrial, societal and technological leaps with the manpower to back it — they are not the only regions of the continent, or indeed the world, to be focused upon. As explained by Dr. Rana, southern Asia will become the economic battlefield of the 21st Century owing to its ballooning population. These conflicts will not be fought (as we are accustomed to) by Western powers, but by the aforementioned future superpowers which border them. Indeed, many Western powers will lose global dominance, not because of absolute, but relative power. An American in 2030 will live as well as presently, but his government will no longer hold ‘world veto’ potency because other authorities shall become its equal.
Other traditionally Western countries are predicted to jump on the pecuniary bandwagon and focus largely on the Asian market. Australia, having already begun this movement, is an expected example; Russia less so for it’s affiliation with Europe. In spite of this, Dr. Rana pointed out that as the fire of the Asian economy grows, it will require more fuel than lies within its borders. Just on the other side of the fence sits the vast, untapped Eastern portion of Russia; and what else to do when one sees greener grass than to purchase it? Even the CIA World Factbook is in accord with the reality that Russia will develop hugely as an exporter of energy, ultimately sending as much as 30% of its energy output to Asia.
Though these advances in globalization are nearly certain to occur, Dr. Rana made it clear that cultures will never blend entirely due to their implicit and defining historical differences. While a regime or corporation may work towards international trade and the melding of lifestyles, an individual retains the inherited values and practices of his society and may even rebel against foreign influence. This is especially true of Eastern cultures, which revere family, traditions and good personal relationships far above the Western dreams of success through devoted competition. Even the business deals conducted in either society differ in procedure, though increasingly occurring in collaboration. Similar to the rest of the culture, Asian business seems incredibly personal from a Western viewpoint; who you are is of greater significance than what you do, and a file’s contents are of secondary importance to its author.
Our own country, Canada, is a prime example of perpetuated cultural cleavages coexisting and transacting healthily; we actually rely on immigration to keep our population from falling drastically. It should come as no surprise, then, that we are well-prepared for a globalizing future, and are predicted to be with in the top ten economic powers of the 21st century.