Thursday, January 2, 2003
Mr. Bhanu Kale

Mr. Bhanu Kale

With pleasure we present this special issue of Disha on Globalization in conjunction with the conference Embracing Opportunity — Creating Synergy. This issue may additionally be treated as a substitute for the souvenir that was proposed. This may also explain the first ever appearance of advertisements in Disha.

For this issue Mohan Bhagwandas, who works as Regional Manager with a software company in Melbourne, has written a special piece which puts the issue of Globalization in historical perspective. V. C. Viswanathan, a management consultant from Bangalore, who has a life-time experience in the field of corporate management, has written an article that seeks to clarify some frequently raised concerns. The shortened version of a speech delivered at Caux, Switzerland, by Rajmohan Gandhi emphasizes the need for globalization of hearts — a unique contribution by a moral and spiritual fellowship. Suresh Vazirani, as an organizer, has outlined his expectations from this conference. We would like to express our thanks to all these contributors. Our special thanks to all the advertisers who have contributed rupees two lakhs which has enabled this issue to have more pages and colour.

Long before the word globalization came in vogue Dr. Frank Buchman appealed to his colleagues “to think for the continents, to live for the continents”. Those privileged to be associated with the running of Asia Plateau share this larger vision as name of the venue indicates. It is therefore a great joy to have this international conference take place at Asia Plateau.

Globalization is not a new phenomenon. The advance of technology today has shrunk physical distances making the world somehow seem closer. Yet the increasing levels of disparities widen the distance that separates man from man. How to bridge it is a major challenge.

Speaking at a conference in Caux in July 2000 William Peters, former UK Ambassador and the co-founder of the Jubilee 2000 campaign on Third World Debt, said: “The G8 governments had earlier agreed to write off 100 per cent of bilateral debt owed by 41 of the world’s highly indebted poor countries. We hoped that G8 would instruct the World Bank and the IMF to speed up their programme of cancellation of debt. Instead G8 offered funds to help combat AIDS, Malaria and other problems, including $ 2 million from the USA for anti-AIDS medicines.” Mr. Peters described these as ‘palliatives’, especially as the US package seemed to be tied to the US pharmaceutical companies at their prices. Argentina and Brazil had offered medicines at a quarter of the price, but according to press reports, had been threatened by the US, in a letter, with severe penalties if these sales went ahead. This letter has never been denied. “The poor asked for bread and were given a stone.”

The record within the nations, including India, on the issue of social justice is no more encouraging. Hardness of heart of the educated Indian was something that hurt Gandhiji the most.

While globalization is seen as a boon by those frequenting multinational hotel chains and flaunting their imported cars, a vast majority sees it as a threat to their jobs and livelihood. In so called free competition the stakes are always tilted against the weaker and the less fortunate. If only the fittest is to survive, what happens to the ordinary — in some ways mediocre — millions? God loves them too.

How can the passion to meet the needs of everyone rather than self-interest of a few be the force driving globalization? How can ethic of compassion become ethos of our civilization? One hopes that the conference will seek to provide some clues.

Bhanu Kale