South-South co-operation makes timely come-back, hand-in-hand with people’s empowerment
South-South co-operation which was relegated to the backburner of the global development agenda, particularly after the developing countries’ heady immersion in economic globalization over the past 25 or more years, is now making a very welcome come-back to international development thinking, thanks to some perceptive analysts of the current global economic melt-down.
Said Vijay Eswaran, Executive Chairman, Q1 Group at the 2009 Africa-Americas-Arab-Asia Business Summit (AAAA Business Summit) held in February in Dubai: ‘It’s time to make South-South co-operation a priority when it comes to refixing our economies….Up to now the First World countries have had a disproportionate effect on the flow of human capital through the world. But this economic depression is a sign of a major shift in global power politics. South-South co-operation is far more significant today than it has ever been….’
Of equal importance were Eswaran’s views on human capital: ‘For the man on the street, the basic issue of providing food, shelter, and clothing for his family remains the same. The fundamental asset of economic growth is and always will be human capital…’
One could only hope that Third World political leaders will take off from where Eswaran left off. Their silence has been so deafening on these issues over the past two decades that one could not be faulted for thinking that South-South co-operation and connected issues have been veritably taboo subjects in global development discourse. So enamoured have they been of the globalization ‘Mantra’ perhaps that South-linked concerns have been relegated to the wilderness of non-issues. Former Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad was an exception. He proved to be brilliantly articulate on these issues and was perhaps the only Third World political leader who emerged as more than a match for the political establishments and think tanks of the West on the interests of the Third World.
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