Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Penguin Annual Lecture - have YOUR say

‘A New Century—and the Dark Side of Globalization’

by Chancellor of the University of Oxford and University of Newcastle
and former Governor of Hong Kong

On Monday, 13th October 2008, Lord Chris Patten, former Governor of Hong Kong, delivered the second Penguin Annual Lecture entitled 'A New Century - and the Dark Side of Globalisation.

Below is a review of the Penguin Annual Lecture by Shivangi Singh & Nabila for

Patten’s wit peppers Penguin Lecture

The ambience at the British Council – the venue of the second Penguin annual lecture, exuded learning and knowledge. The stage was set against the background of huge placard in orange and black with the ‘Penguin’ logo, which announced that ‘The Penguin Annual Lecture 2008’ titled ‘A New Century – and the Dark Side of Globalization’ would be delivered by Lord Chris Patten, renowned author, the last Governor of Hong Kong and Chancellor of Oxford and Newcastle universities.

The lecture was based on Patten’s recently released work, “What Next? Surviving the Twenty-first Century” and was being broadcast live to the audiences at the British Council in Mumbai and Chennai.

Rajya Sabha MP and former member of the Planning Commission, N K Singh, was called upon the stage to deliver the introductory remarks. “It’s a pleasure to introduce Lord Chris Patten. I have, of course, with great interest read ‘What Next’ a few days ago, and just like his other two books, it deals with burning global issues like, climate change, pollution, institutions like UN…”

When the ‘serial chancellor’ Chris Patten was asked to take-over the stage, he set the mood of the evening with his witty one-liner, “Besides a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.”

Patten looked suave in a black suit with red polka-dotted tie. His voice commanded authority. He kept the listeners’ interest alive, speaking fluently on international issues of contemporary importance, peppering them with wit and humour.

He talked of the contemporary global situations, riveting the audience with his succinctly informative and wise words. He made all realize the reality saying, “Sometimes the change creeps up to us like children at grandma’s footsteps.”

Speaking about the plight of the contemporary world, he made the following tongue-in-cheek observation, “My grandfather’s generation spend their lives thinking on how much Germany spent on armaments. My father’s generation spend their lives thinking on how much Germany spent on armaments. We think – why is Germany not spending much on armaments.”

Chris Patten emphatically stated that the two countries that are crucial to the new regional and global power hierarchy and will remain so are China and India. “China and India are highly powerful economies with regional and global importance. India would embrace as explicitly as possible an international stage in the future and I also agree that India could be a superpower and a super democracy in a few years` time; but it is not there yet."

Patten said that the dark side of globalisation came into forefront after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He said the world`s population had increased fourfold and the number of industries 40 times. The number of people in cities had gone up 13 fold, the use of water by nine percent and the use of energy 13 times. Despite the leap in numbers, the principal players (read US, Europe) still remain the same. Of course, the nationalist citizen did not fail to add that though US is the superpower, Europe is the civilian power.

The tongue-in-cheek liners targeted at the US continued to tickle the listeners at intervals. The media present was personally amused when he said, “The media in US is deeply nationalist about every issue except ownership of media!”

"The US, with its military might and its superiority in space, water, land and air, still remains a superpower, though its soft power is not what it used to be. It has taken a beating with the humiliating discussion on whether torture was acceptable, the financial humbling of the Wall Street and the mountain of debt. The US is still the superpower; multilateralism does not work unless US is involved," he said.

Europe stands second in Patten`s globalised world order. "Europe is the second world and a significant civilian power. It is not going to become like a military might like the US because it is a union of sovereign nation-states. But Europe has its own demographic problems. The population is falling steeply and ageing rapidly - it is supposed to fall by 20 percent by the middle of the century," he added.

India and China, predicted Patten, were going to be the third players. "India, which had initially escaped growth, was now growing almost at the same rate as China. According to Goldman Sachs projections, India would grow longer at a substantial rate than anyone else," Patten expressed.

Patten, however gave a warning to the nationals of the two countries, “The state will become too weak in India, too strong in China. But the two countries would be major global players in the coming century. My only worry is that after sometime, the developed economies will stop believing in globalisation, and start feeling that China and India are better off and eventually lurch into protectionism - the bane of free trade."

Talking about the dark side of globalization, Chris Patten fluently said, “Frontiers are poorer now, terrorists use aircrafts. The 9/11 enterprise was paid through credit card - modern slave trade – migration – international crime - drugs trade - new problems of epidemic disease - 40 new diseases have come up after 2000 – TB, cholera are back”, all this and many other issues that comprise the dark side of globalization has been extensively dealt with in his book ‘What Next’.

The book deals with two other important global topics: Climate change and Sovereignty. Talking of climate change, Patten said, “We seem to have gone from denial to frustrated horror, to despair to have not done anything to hope that we may be able to manage something.”

Patten talked about sovereignty at length, “Sovereignty is what we have as individual citizen. It is wrong to think that only states have sovereignty, we can make a difference to all the problems by the way we act, by the way we do things and the way you and I behave. We can actually work to save the planet.”

On this hopeful note, the second in Penguin annual lecture series, launched last year as part of Penguin India’s twentieth anniversary celebrations, ended.

Chris Patten writes in his ‘What Next’, “Looking at one problem after another, the answers are usually pretty clear. The puzzle is not ‘what is to be done?’ but rather ‘Who is to do it and how?’ The issues are mostly matters of will. We know why action on this or that is needed. We know, usually, how to act, what to do. The capacity to act is the problem, not the comprehension of what we should be doing.”

Well, seer Chris Patten has already sent the warning signals and we know what is to be done, the need of the hour is to act and save the world from the ‘dark sides of globalization’.

The original article can be read here.

What did you think to the Lecture? Did you share Lord Patten's views of the current advantages and disadvantages of globalization? Which countries do you see rising to prominence in the future years, and do you think states will retain the sovereignty of their inhabitants?

We want to know how you feel on these issues. Write your opinion on teh Penguin Annual Lecture by clicking on 'comments' below.

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1 comment:

subhadip majumdar said...

Thanks for this fascinating speech on globalization and the probable offers of solutions which left us thoughful..thanks Chris and Penguin for organising such an annual has been a memorable experience and more than anything it also questions our duty to this earth and our individualness..

If you can please also share ur comments on my blog :