Khaleej Times, Dubai
Jan 29, 2009
With current economic crunch and with realignment of the axis of power, the third world is coming to be on its own. IN the emerging scenario South-South cooperation is far more significant today that it has ever been. It is very distant from the Non Alignment Movement as envisioned by Nehru, Sukarno and General Nasser, says Vijay Eswaran, Executive Chairman of QI Group of Companies that is sponsoring the AAAA Summit in Dubai. IN this interview, Eswaran elaborates on the significance of the Dubai summit.
1.You are new to the Gulf region, what does QI do?
The QI Group of Companies is a multinational conglomerate comprising a dynamic group of companies. We have regional offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a wide range of subsidiary companies in nearly 30 countries. The Group has five main business line diversified into telecommunications, lifestyle & leisure, luxury & collectibles, training and conference management, and a global retail & direct sales business. The constantly evolving group has also expanded organically into various new segments through strategic investments around the world. We also have a highly specialised financial services arm that oversees our investments.
Founded in 1998, the QI Group in its essence, is an e-commerce based conglomerate which encompasses all aspects of business, using the internet as its modality. Boundaries — geographical, political or otherwise — are merely part and parcel of the terrain we work with. The global village is our working environment in practice.
We are not exactly new in the Gulf region. People may not know us as QI in this part of the world, but some of our subsidiaries have been doing business in the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman for the last few years.
2. QI operates globally, so why have you decided to sponsor the AAAA event in Dubai?
The Middle East and Africa are important regions for the QI Group. In fact, practically all the 4 As are relevant to us due to our diversified businesses. 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 the global power politics. South-South cooperation is far more significant today than it has ever been. It is very distant from the Non Alignment Movement as envisioned by Nehru, Sukarno and General Nasser. Today, a lot of what they saw in very vague parameter is coming into fruition and hence, the South-South cooperation is today far more relevant.
Ultimately the mid to term solution is to recognise that we need the South-Douth Cooperation to survive the future. In the 18th century, Germany , France and England shaped the world. America wasn’t even on the scene. France had colonies that stretched halfway across the world. UK was the global super power and Europeans were the major world players.
The shift of power changed in the mid 20th century and the US emerged as the new economic superpower, especially so after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today with current economic crunch and with realignment of the axis of power, the third world is coming to on its own. If one were to take a look at the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China and add Indonesia and Japan to the mix, the population of these 6 nations together would comprise half the world, if not more. There is a major shift of power that we are in the midst of and one needs to recognise that. And that is why we as a global company based out of Asia, support the AAAA Summit.
3.What do you think of the global economic slowdown and how is it affecting prospects in your economic area?
Historically, each period of crisis has precipitated a period of great economic growth. The crash of 1929 for instance, was in a sense, a balancing that was long overdue. Primarily because it was in the tail end of what was known as the Roaring Twenties. A decade where the world economies spun out of control resulting in a need for balance and the crash of ‘29 was about reversing the equilibrium; arguably thereby, initiating massive growth in its wake. The 1930s then saw the awakening of several economic powerhouses.
However, one cannot see too much of a parallel in this today because there were many other forces at play. Conceptually however, the ebb and flow of the economic tide is just a natural adjustment. This crisis is perhaps one that is long overdue. Economic pundits have been predicting it from the late 1990s onwards.
For the man on the street the basic issue of providing food, shelter and warmth for his family remains the same. The fundamental asset of economic growth is and always will be the human capital. It is people that continue to make success out of nothing at all and it is people that are going to emerge from the crisis either as lions or sheep. If you choose to step back and let the economic tide carry you, then it is going to unceremoniously dump you high and dry on some barren outcropping. On the other hand if you choose to be a lion, then this crisis is the best possible time.
It is the time to avail of all the skill sets, of the infrastructure, of all the technology, of the real estate that you could not or would not have dared to venture into 6 months ago because of cost or availability. This is the time to begin building upon for the next ten years. People are still your primary assets and they have never been more accessible than in this period.
For us, with e-commerce as our modality, this has in fact turned out to be a period of growth for us. While the world adjusts to its new economic climate, people still need the basic goods and services and what better way to get it across to them than via the internet, considering its borderless reach.
4. What are the main messages you want to get across during the Forum?
A fundamental transformation has taken place in the structure of the world economy. The dominant feature of this transformation is the emergence of the South. Indeed, the global expansion of the past five years has been more broad-based than even before. This has allowed many developing countries to become major players in trade and investment.
Regional cooperation provides most developing countries with a platform to seek regional solutions for the challenges of globalisation. Resulting from similarities and historical, cultural, social and even economic convergences, in some cases, this geo-political approach has allowed solutions to difficulties, often with similarities in various countries. Over the years South-South Cooperation has evolved from merely sharing technical know-how to cooperation for a comprehensive socio-economic transformation.
Globalisation is not a disease or a malaise that has pervaded the globe, nor is it something new. Only the terminology has been termed recently but globalisation is as old as mankind. Beginning with the Aryan invasion of India, the Moghul invasion of Europe and the Turkish invasion of North Africa and Middle East were in essence, globalisation taking place. The silk route was a throbbing arterial vein of globalisation over the 12th to 18th century. Only difference today is globalisation is here and now in the sense that we have 6 billion people on this planet. That is six times more than the year I was born in. Hence, it is on our doorstep. Evading it, ignoring it, trying to erase it from our consciousness is not going to change or stem its tide. We have to embrace it. What better way than the AAAA.
To read the interview in the print format, please download the PDF here.