In my foregoing episode I had touched upon the aspect of globalisation, but merely so. This word globalisation is multifaceted. Various people have described or defined it in various ways. Some see this as the only way forward in these days of uncertainty. These may have political, economic, racial (social) and cultural ramifications. If the world today has to face up to any or all of these and if the word 'world' means “the world” then we should all congregate under a single umbrella irrespective of caste, creed, nationality or colour. If my memory serves me right, I had said in my last piece that at the end of all debates our youth should be prepared for the challenges that this “twenty first century concept” demands. Having said that I thought, that perhaps this enormous demand of the time, in order to be effective, should not be left alone as an abstraction and should be concretised so that even as an abstract concept it does not remain understood or misunderstood by the generation that stands to gain most from this phenomenon. Therefore, I thought I must write a sequel to my last proposition.
I was recently watching an interview programme in one of the Malaysian channels of the famous Singaporean specialist in governance and policy matters, Kishore Mahbubani, presently the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew school of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Mahbubani has authored a book titled “Can Asians think?” One may not necessarily agree with all views expressed in this book but there can be no denying the fact that it is perhaps a very lucid interpretation of the Asian mind from today's globalised perspective. In his TV interview, amongst other things, he dealt with business leadership in Asia from the point of view of globalisation. He said something to the effect that the concept of leadership had changed with the passage of time. Now, leadership in business could best be addressed from without than within in any given economy. With the world becoming smaller what we should be looking for is global leadership and not local leadership.
Now, in this leadership game, he went on to say that, the Asians of today were much better placed than their predecessors. Today every young Asian could think of leading a more affluent life than their parents. By comparison, in the western world matters were not so encouraging. Therefore, to respond to the world-wide need for leadership, west would have to be more up and about than us for their own benefit. Under the circumstances, it is for us to prepare ourselves to take up the responsibility of addressing the world leadership need gap. This needs a mindset and an ability that can best be achieved through talent, sincerity, hard work and an open mind. This is the time for the Bangladeshi youth to prepare themselves to meet this challenge. They have to aim for beyond borders and compete against their likes from all over the world.
My column today could have ended here with the foregoing 'rounded off' piece of advice. But while talking on such a subject as globalisation and its manifestation in 'action terms' there are also other factors that make me think and, I must confess, create some sort of discomfort within me. I'd like to briefly share that with my readers today. When we talk about the factors of globalisation we must not preclude the fact that what it really stands for is the almost clichéd expression of “unity in diversity”. Just because we are given to think globally we may not stop thinking locally. Just because it is healthier for us to take it with due deference, may be' it is equally important for us to give and it is imperative for all our global family members to pause and think about what we have to offer. Today's global leaders often forget this and try to impose what they think is best for us. One very important phenomenon in this is the fact that for the sake of convenience they have regionalised the world as best as, they thought, the societies could be grouped together. This was done for the convenience of focusing and administering. And in doing so, they perhaps, conveniently forgot the most important component of the local sensitivities.
In the process of this regional focus they think that the mind set of “any town” in Bangladesh will be comparable with “any town” in Brazil. Because, “hey; they looked similar in economic and political texture”. Who would impress upon them the fact that “any town” in Bangladesh was not even comparable with our own sub continental “any town” in Pakistan, India or even our next door neighbour, “any town” in West Bengal in terms of thoughts and emotions or expressions thereof? Maybe what the process of globalisation needs toady is the convention of truly “multi-national” minds to listen to and be guided by the myriad mindsets that inhabit the world. If this is ignored then mutual mistrust, distrust and strife would go on unabated.
How about beginning a dialogue on this soon for our mutual health?
(R) thedailystar.net 2008