Globalization: The Promises and The Perils, U.S. and Asian Responses
Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund
Dr. Ashok Khosla, Founder, Development Alternatives
Muzaffar Chishti, Director, Immigration Project, UNITE
Nang Lao Liang Won, Co-founder, Migrant Assistance Programme, Thailand
Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Welcome by Ambassador Nicholas Platt, President, Asia Society
Good evening everybody. I'm Nick Platt, President of the Asia Society and I'm delighted on behalf of the Asia Society to welcome you all here tonight for the launching of the Asian Social Issues Program.
American public perceptions of Asia over the past two decades have largely been shaped by two phenomena effecting the region: Economic expansion and economic crisis. These developments have obscured a number of social challenges of increasingly important global significance such as those concerning ethnic and other types of communal conflict, the environment, migration and human rights. The Asia Society recognizes that these social issues and the strategies used to deal with them will play a large role in the international relations of the 21st Century. Tonight's program - "Globalization, The Promises and the Perils" - marks the formal launch of the Asia Society's Asian Social Issues Program. With the help of a major grant from the Ford Foundation, the Asia Society is undertaking a major US public education initiative known as ASIP - Asian Social Issues Program.
Through a variety of multi-disciplinary programs, ASIP will bring American public attention to important social issues in Asia and the innovative strategies that have been generated within the region in response to those issues. In doing so, ASIP will strive to articulate why Asian social issues matter to Americans.
Tonight's program will begin with a keynote address by Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. After a brief question and answer period, Dr. Linda Lim, Asia Society Trustee, ASIP Advisor and Director of the Southeast Asia Business Program at the University of Michigan, will moderate the panel discussion responding to Dr. Sadik's remarks and to the issue of Globalization - Promises and Perils.
Now it's my privilege to introduce Dr. Sadik. Dr. Sadik is Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and holds the rank of Under Secretary General. On her appointment in 1987, she became the first woman to head one of the United Nations major voluntarily funded programs. She has consistently called attention to the importance of addressing the needs of women and of involving women directly in making and carrying out development policy. This is particularly important for population policies and programs. In June 1990, the Secretary General of the United Nations appointed her Secretary General of the International Conference on Population and Development. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Nafis Sadik.
Ambassador Platt, panelists, distinguished guests, it's a great pleasure for me to be here. I think I've been set with a rather formidable task to launch this wonderful initiative, the Asian Social Issues Program. I had prepared quite a different presentation based really on population and gender and reproductive health and rights until I had a visit from some members from the Asia Society and they talked about globalization and perils and opportunities or some such thing. So I really had to do some thinking between Tuesday and Thursday and try to reconstruct what I thought you, as the audience, would be interested in. Nevertheless, you will find a lot of references to population, to gender issues, to women's empowerment and to reproductive health and rights. But I have tried, as we do in the UN, to participate in a lot of discussions on globalization, on poverty and participation - all of those issues also fit in the Asian context.
I want to start by looking at some of the experiences in the Asian region. For almost three decades, until 1997, East Asia offered a model for rapid economic growth. They were called the Asian tigers and everyone was waiting for them to join the group of developed countries. This was enabled by massive and early investment in human development in health and education and to some extent also from watching gender equality and participation of women. These investments certainly in these countries improved maternal and child health, encouraged smaller families, encouraged women's participation in all development sectors, including the economy. Investment in these sectors became progressively more productive. A higher proportion of GNP was available then for economic investment. And a healthy and educated workforce sustained even higher standards of economic activity. The result was to draw in international investments overseas - investment fueling. In fact, even more economic growth. We compared this with other parts of South Asia with high population growth rates, lack of investment in the social sectors, continuing low level of women's participation; their low status in society has really slowed economic growth and economic development. They've kept all the social indicators, low health and education standards and have discouraged, in fact, external investment and resource growth. But, development is not a smooth process. The financial and economic crisis that began in East Asia in mid-1997 showed how quickly unsustainable development can go into reverse. The hot money, as I discovered and which is discussed all the time from overseas, vanished as quickly as it had arrived. We studied, as a number of organizations did, some of the social effects of the economic crisis in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippians and Thailand and found that, in common with I'm sure many others, women were disproportionately effected by unemployment and under employment; that malnutrition increased in babies and young children; that people became poor almost overnight; unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, Aids, all increased. The indicators were all very clear.
Poverty increased the pressure on women to enter the commercial sex industry. They are exposed to overexploitation, violence and infection. The crisis certainly cut expenditure in the social sectors. On education, there was increased dropout in Indonesia for example. A large number of children were kept out of school. Girls and the poor were obviously the hardest hit. Reports on the experience of Asian women back up our study. Women are often the first to be laid off when companies shut down. You see this also in the China experience, as economic activity has increased the status of women and their access to economic bars seems to have been less visible than it was before the free market. Women tend to be assigned to dispensable work and more women are temporarily part time workers. Although women own or manage at least half the small and medium scale enterprises in many of the Asian and Pacific countries, they still find it more difficult to obtain credit or loans than their counterparts. And lack of credit had made adjustments for women even harder and more difficult in this environment.
What were some of the lessons then that we learned? Asia's love affair with the global market tends to downplay the negative side of globalization, including its effect on the poor and on the environment. It also pushed aside Asia's first love - social investment - as the foundation for sustainable prosperity. I think this is a lesson that we've learned. Now that the passions have cooled a little, perhaps we can look at some of the positive, as well as the negative effects of globalization and find some pointers to the future, not only for East Asia, but also for all Asian countries.
East Asia's prosperity, as I said - and I think this is born out by many studies including the world bank study recently - was built on social investment. Recent experience has shown how easily the effect of these investments can be undermined. But it has also demonstrated their underlying value. East Asian countries are now bouncing back. I think with more emphasis on poverty, eradication and gender equality in the years to come, they will be better able to protect themselves from future shocks. As they say in America, remember who brought you to the dance.
Renewed emphasis on social investment will also allow East Asian countries to invest in their older people of whom there are now an increasing number and for whom there is still little provision. The extended family is still continuing but we are already testing the limits of what can be expected from it.
One of the costs of breakdown of expansion has been the environmental damage. I think we all know what has happened in Indonesia and the consequences of those actions. I hope that East Asian countries are alive to these efforts. They could perhaps learn from the experience of Europe and Japan, where investment and conservation is paying economic dividends. I think these are some lessons from the globalization and from the interchange that we need to examine and apply.
There is no reason why Asian countries should repeat some of the mistakes that have been made by some of the industrialized countries.
One of the other outcomes of the globalization process has been the greater mobility of labor and as you know, this is one of the great political divides between the north and the south in the UN; while we advocate very strongly on the free market system in a globalized environment, we are less open about the other side of the coin, which is the labor markets which go along with the free market system.
Migration has been of course a mixed blessing for both the sending and the receiving countries, especially because there is no comprehensive international agreement covering labor movements and the right of migrants. These economies drew workers from across the regions, some of who now are in a difficult position. And of course, still there's migration and movement problems between countries in the Asian region as much as they are between the countries of the South and the North.
Within the East Asian countries, we see some difficulties on migration movements of labor between the Philippians, Indonesia and Malaysia. We see it between India and Bangladesh; between Bangladesh and Pakistan; between Sri Lanka and Pakistan; Nepal and Bhutan. These are all examples today - practical examples - of some of the difficulties of labor movements and their consequences after long term movement and living of people in certain countries not of their origin, but after twenty-five, thirty, forty years - in some cases fifty years - their offspring's really regard as their own countries, yet they are regarded as foreigners. This is a politic issue that is there in many regions - in all regions - and it is a global issue as well between North and South.
The new economy is drawing also investments into Asia and creating wealth in many countries beyond the original tiger economies. They should be guided by the tiger's experiences so as to avoid the same pitfalls. The first lesson I think for all our countries is to spread the wealth more evenly and you hear that in all of our societies, despite all of the progress of the last thirty years, there's still nine hundred million poor people in the Asia and Pacific region.
Growing wealth alone will not eradicate poverty as we learn from the lessons of the fifties and sixties. In fact, the disadvantages of poverty are likely to become bigger and not smaller as wealth increases unless specific actions are taken to counteract them. More private ability to pay for services tends to mean less emphasis on public provision. The opposite should be the case. Investments in public health and education must be increased in good times to narrow the gap and to equip the poor people to help themselves.
The second lesson is to pay special attention to the needs of women. The changes over the last thirty years have meant a new life for many women, especially in cities. But two-thirds of the region's poor in Asia are women. For them, life has not changed very much, especially in the villages. Compared with some of the women in the cities and in the upper income groups, rural women and the poor have less personal freedom; they are less likely to have an education and access to health services including reproductive health services and they are much more likely to get pregnant unintentionally; much more likely to die as a result of pregnancy.
Maternal mortality, for example, in Singapore is about four per hundred thousand, which is like the developed society. But in Bangladesh for example, it's eight hundred. It's the same in some other parts of South Asia. Even in a country like Indonesia, where in fact size of family has reduced tremendously - family planning is very, very effective - but maternal mortality still remains extremely high.
The number of Asian women living in poverty has increased disproportionately over the past decade, compared to the number of men. A lot of men have migrated to other countries or to the big cities in search of work and this has placed an additional burden on women, especially those with children or on old people that are left behind. The proportion of Asian households headed by women, ranges from twenty to forty percent. This is quite staggering because we assume in Asia that most families are headed by men, but in fact, the number of women headed households is really quite high in many communities. Women headed households seem to be more likely to be poor. There is also for poor women in Asia's economic growth an increasingly urban lifestyle. The greater inequality can mean more crime and women and children are the most vulnerable. The creation of new types of jobs and growing labor mobility can mean growing risk. Greater disposable wealth spawns new varieties of urban crime, such as the drug trade and trafficking in human beings.
With more ability to pay, there is less emphasis on free or low cost health and education services and therefore, again, inequalities have tended sometimes to increase. Urban life also carries special risk for the young who don't necessarily have the support of their families, especially for the poor. Young people account for half the new cases of HIV infections and there is a disturbing rise in sexually transmitted diseases among young people in all of the Asian countries. And here it is particularly serious because governments are not facing the problem. They don't accept that AIDS infection is an issue that needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed publicly. And time and again, you hear that in our societies, there is no sexual activity outside of marriage, which is something a little bit hard to believe. That's sort of a feeling. These are issues that are very sensitive - that are not to be addressed publicly-- and therefore, the AIDS epidemic can be suddenly upon us an we haven't really begun to deal with it.
One of the most effective ways to attack poverty -is to empower women to take charge of their own lives. The first essential of empowerment is better health and better education. It should be available to all girls and women. High quality reproductive health is a priority. It can be done, even in low income countries and communities if the priorities are right, as some of the Indian states have demonstrated, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are examples. Of course, the states don't have nice defense budgets. That's also a serious problem in parts of South Asia.
Economic opportunity for the poor is also vital. I think some of the most successful programs come from Asia, like the Grameen Bank, in which micro-credit opportunities, investing in the poor directly and giving them access to credit, has shown absolutely tremendous results and is being now emulated in many parts of the world.
But the underlying issue in South Asia - and perhaps even in all Asia - is the attitude of men towards women. Women - especially poor women - in much of Asia today, suffer under a form of gender, which is not less real because it is unofficial. The law protects them, there is equality in the law, but it still exists because really minds and mindsets have not changed. Technically, they have the same rights as men. Practically in marriage and the family and the workplace, in economic life, in politics and in their daily lives, women are second best - and we know that. The roots of this pervasive discrimination are deep, but they have to be dug out and we can't allow them to hide behind culture and tradition, as is often said in my culture. And my culture always seems to be directed to somehow controlling women in some form or the other.
If Asian countries sincerely wish for sustainable development, they will dig them out; they must. An Asia divided between men and women is literally impossible in the 21st Century. In the UN, the many agreements that have been introduced at the international conferences that were held during the 1990's on environment, on population development, on human rights, on women, on social development have become a blueprint for social development in the 21st Century. What was interesting about the conferences, apart from the subject matter that they addressed, they were also part of the development strategy, all had social goals and gender issues at the heart of their goals and recommendations.
The International Conference on Population and Development, for example, in which I had the possibility to participate in 1994, for example, set twenty year goals for reproductive health and sexual health, maternal and infant mortality deduction, unsafe abortion as a public health issue, prevention of HIV AIDS, gender issues, education with the elimination of gender inequalities and geographical inequalities. If all these agreements are implemented in the 21st century, Asia has a good chance of development without crashes like that which occurred in 1997.
But of course, the decision is not all in Asia's hands. Emphasis on the social sector depends on government involvement, but globalization has tended, as you know, to downplay the rule of government. The pressure is still on to reduce the role of the public sector. Even in the UN setting, which is a membership of governments, the role of the state is somehow not very clearly defined. It's always said what the state should not do, but not much discussed as to what the state should and must do.
For example, and equalization of opportunity, the social safety net providing equal opportunity for all, these have to be the role of the state. But these are not very much emphasized or discussed. I feel that the Asian countries must start to speak with one voice on social issues and issues of social investment and development in the United Nations, in the financial institutions and in other economic groupings.
They should also speak out for the value of social investment, environmental protection and resources conservation. They should defend the power of national governments against further erosion by economic forces outside of their control. I think there has to be some kind of framework within which globalization and the non-governmental sectors - and I say this with a "small n", which includes the private sector and multi-nationals and so on - operate so that there's no exploitation and there opportunity to equalize the playing field for all the people within the country.
There is much also that Asian countries can do to help one another. For example, in our field, we have facilitated an exchange of experience in population and development. This exchange has transferred good practices and supported expertise and training. Extending such arrangements in other areas, I think, is a matter of neutral self-interest.
The Unites States, which was the other part of the question that you are addressing will play an important role in Asia as the biggest economy, as the biggest consumer of Asian products and the biggest investor almost - I'm sure after Japan - in Asian countries. The US has also historically supported social development in Asian countries and in the area of population, of course the US is the largest funder, in fact, of population programs around the world and has done this very actively and has participated in all of the success stories in Asia. The US is and will remain preeminent in the international community and its leadership can make a great difference to the future direction in which Asian societies move. I feel also that the US must take a longer view of its own self-interest and not just a short term view. I think here many things are judged by returns that must happen instantly. I remember a story of a mayor that came from one of the cities in the former Soviet Union and he came here looking for long term investment. We were all at a lunch together and he said, "With all the businessmen that I have met, they want to know when the returns will start coming in and I was thinking of ten years" and they said, "Oh, ten years. Our shareholders won't stand for that". So I think long term and on the other hand, when they talked to Japanese, the Japanese talked about twenty-five years and thirty years. To them, five years and ten years was nothing. I think it's a perspective that really has to be taken into account.
While the emphasis in recent years has been very much on economic growth, it's now time I think for the US to lend its way to social investment as the foundation of all investment and as the best guarantor of strong societies and stable democratic government. I believe also that the US of course is the greatest beneficiary of the brain drain. I mean a large part - fifty percent - of all people that come to study here, for very good reason, elect to stay on in the United States and I think some of them are really the best brains.
Of course, that has been a mixed blessing because some of them of course, while they stay here, also return resources back to this and resources back to their own country. Some also take their expertise back and try to do something within their own countries. But the fact is that they have been lost to their countries of origin. I think just for that reason, the fact that they benefit from the brains, means also that they have a responsibility to give back to these communities something that they have gained from them. I think the US can also continue to exert its great influence in the international groupings on behalf of all the agreements and recommendations that have been reached at the international level in the conferences in conventions and treaties. Especially if it is to be a spokesman for the empowerment of all people, in particular women, the financial support is of course essential. But almost more importantly, is the moral leadership. I can demonstrate to you from our own field of work in the population field when the US really takes a leadership role, for example, immobilizing resources, in promoting certain sectors or issues that need to be addressed, it does make a difference.
As some of you may know, the international conference on population and development is the only conference that really agreed on a financial set of goals that should be reached by certain periods of time, both for the developed countries and for the developing countries. This was done really under the leadership of the United States, which, in fact, talked to all its partners in the European Union, in Japan, and got commitments from each one of these countries to increase support to the financial goals that needed to be reached. The US, because of its unique position, has a unique role that it must play. It's more than financial leadership, it's also moral leadership.
Europe and Japan look to the US for indications of commitment. For example, it called by the US for greater emphasis on social investment, and will, I think, resonate throughout the world and it will have its effect even on the poor woman at the village. It could help bring all these poor people into the 21st Century.
Question and Answer Session
1. Mr. Obud : I'm Calvin Obud, a member of the Asia Society. As I understand it, one of the reasons that the US Congress balked at meetings its obligations to pay its dues to the UN was the population control issue. The Clinton administration, as I understand it, reached an agreement with Congress. I was wondering how that agreement would effect your hopes for social investment and so forth? Thank you.
Dr. Sadik : That's a very interesting question because when the US had that clause, the Mexico City clause, as its called, on the UN arrears, it approved funding for UN FPA, the same Congress. We got money from the US Congress, while at the same time, the UN was not getting its funding. As you know, then finally Mr. Clinton agreed to accept some modified language on what is called the Mexico City language. The Mexico City languages, in fact, prohibited US organizations from supporting abortion, even from resources that they have collected from other sources. If they promoted abortion, they would not get any US funding. That's called the Mexico City Policy. The refinement that Mr. Clinton accepted was that the limit of that would be fifteen million dollars. The discontinuing of funding the UN FPA happened in 1985 when President Reagan was the President. In 1985, the US made the largest contribution to the UN FPA. In 1986, when they decided to stop funding UN FPA until Mr. Clinton came into power, that was because of the program in China. They wanted a small program in China to change all China's human rights - which, of course was not absolutely possible - and to change the China policy on abortion and so on. It was very clear from all the general accounting office inspections, a follow up program and many congressional reviews that went to examine our program in China, that our program itself did not support abortion or the one child family policy.
Nevertheless, because China policy was so linked with human rights and so on in the Congress, that many in the Congress were opposed to any funds going for population programs in China. Since President Clinton became President, UN FPA's funding has been restored and we've been getting funding every year except for 1999 when the Congress passed a bill again somehow de-funding UN FPA for one year. President Clinton accepted it in exchange for the IMF funding.
What they said was something had to be given up in order to get what was the highest good and at that time, bail out of the East Asian countries. Therefore, the IMF got its funding and UN FPA didn't.
2. Nicholas Platt: I want to explore what's good about globalization with the relationships between men and women in Asia.
Dr. Sadik: Well there are many positive things. For example, information technology. I think what you see on the television and the satellite and you look at in e-mail systems and so on, the information flow; I think that really does make a change. I think from the international community and from the international level, one thing is very clear, that you know all women's rights, gender groups, human rights groups, what they use as their basis for defining their own work, are the international conventions and agreements. That's, I think, part of this globalization process. The networking has really been tremendous. Recently, in a case in Pakistan on these links for example, one person here in the United States set up a website and has linked herself with millions of people - literally millions - around the world and they have all come together on this issue and it's really having an effect in Pakistan. I think there are many benefits.
Now, between women and men, I'm not absolutely certain that I really thought about women and men but I think the status of women certainly makes a difference to the relationship between women and men and the understanding that you can have more than you have. That's the best answer I can conceive for you.
3. Mr. Clark: Could you give us a brief rundown, country by country in Asia as to the population control in each country - if it wouldn't be too much of an imposition.
Dr. Sadik : You mean the growth rates? I think the growth rates in all the countries of the region are declining. In China, I think the size of family has come down to two or 2.1. Indonesia, for example, also is going to be at what is called replacement level fertility. So is Thailand and Malaysia by the year 2002. In the case of the Philippians, also family size has declined - not as much as the other East Asian regions, but it is declining. It is the same with Vietnam. The countries that are behind are Cambodia and Laos, which I've only just started and we haven't even got a program.
In the case of Bangladesh, they're doing extremely well. The size of family has really reduced to 3.5. India, the continent, is quite varied. The South, as you know, is increasingly reaching replacement level fertility but the states of the north, Bihar, UP in particular, but also Haryana, and Rajasthan, even with the high economic level, because the status of women is so low; they don't have the decision making power in their families in family planning issues. So the size of family continues to be much higher.
The Indian growth rate is - I don't remember now - it's 2.8 or something of that order. Size of family is something like 3, something average. In the South, it's much lower, but in the North, it's much higher. Pakistan has a size of family still of five. It's come down from seven and the demographers say demographic transition has started but its really way behind in the demographic transition.
Sri Lanka has achieved demographic transition. Nepal is somewhere in between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But it's moving along. Nepal is extremely poor communication and it's extremely difficult. These are all the countries that I can think about at this moment.
4. Barnett Rubin: I'm sorry, this is also one of those huge questions. You mentioned in your talk that there are clear, very large scale regional differences within Asia between especially Eastern Asia and South Asia; although, as you just mentioned, of course, there are very big inter-regional differences and even then there are such large interregional differences within a country the size of India as well. But I wondered if you would hazard some kind of big picture explanation of why that might be the case. Is that the cause or effect of different rates of economic development? What role do you think different cultural factors might play, although the so-called traditional culture in both regions was equally higher in regard to gender relations, as far as I can tell? And of course, behind that is the implications - what is a strategy of transformation?
Dr. Sadik: One explanation that occurs to me for South Asia, especially Indian and Pakistan, among others, is the investment in defense. Especially India and Pakistan, I think we spend such large amounts on defense. I was looking at Pakistan many times and they made economic progress. But really social progress has been very limited and social investment has been very limited. In India, again, there are states where the social investment was high, especially those that had socialist governments: In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, there seems to be much more progress. There's not gender equality, but there is a better status of women in those parts of the country.
I think the East Asian countries always invested in education. I think that was the influence of Japan at least that's my person view. When they invest in a country, they invest in the whole country in all ways, not just by aid. They invest in trade, they invest in technical assistance, they have commercial interest and they have development assistance. The model of Japan then was a model that was emulated by the East Asian countries which was also then an educated labor force. In fact, I do recall that Japan, when it used to make its investment in some of our countries, one of the first things they looked at was the education levels of the labor force. Well, then they couldn't make any investment in country X because how would they be able to understand what to do. So I think that the influence of the Asian - and perhaps I don't know, this is just a speculation on my part - but why the difference between the two groups of countries? Also, I think that in the Sub-continent, the feudal system is much more powerful. We have real strong feudal societies. I don't think East Asian countries have that feudal society at all. I mean there may be differences between women and men, but it's not a feudal structure. But in South Asia, it's like passports in the forties and fifties used to list women and children as household, not as people. Not occupations - household - like you're a part of the household. I know that even into my children's passport, my daughters were so shocked, "I'm not a household to anybody". It was automatic and then you had to have it changed to student or whatever it was that they were. I think that is a real problem in the South Asian system. Even in the political process, in the social progress, in all aspects of life, that's very much a problem in our societies.
Dr. Ashok Khosla, Founder, Development Alternatives
It's very hard to follow an act like Nafis. She's covered so much ground and raised so many issues that one really can't add very much Globalization has been with us for some time. In some ways, we've benefited a great deal from it - globalization of music, of culture, of political awareness, of the ideas of human rights, democracy, self-governance. Globalization is a good thing. It has also brought some problematic issues that we can't really ignore just because some of it is a good thing.
The word globalization actually has a particular meaning today. Within that context, it has many problems. I don't want to be heard saying globalization is good, bad or whatever, but we need to analyze and look inside the black box of globalization and see really what does it do to human beings? What does it do to societies and communities? What has it brought into the lives of people that is good or not so good?
Globalization today is an economic concept - political concept. It's also a cultural concept; in some ways, it is quite destructive. The average villager today, for instance, not only demands better rights for women and for themselves, not only would like to have local government and to have some degree of control over their lives, but they're also subjected every night to Bay Watch, to Santa Barbara, to Dallas and things that you may have forgotten.
In essence, is bombarded with a consumerism and a message about the good life that is, neither necessarily appropriate nor achievable. So even within the context of culture and communication, there are some problems with globalization. But when you look at the economic meaning of globalization, which really means liberalization and privatization, then we enter some very deep waters - very deep waters. I'm a businessman and clearly I believe the marketplace is a good place to be in. But not the marketplace that globalization brings.
In fact, that is a marketplace - a very particular kind of marketplace - that is extremely destructive of societies, of environment, of the global survival systems, life support systems, all of which are essentially outside the purview of what today's meaning of globalization's about. Human beings are not important in globalization and this meaning societies are not important, communities are not important. The meaning of globalization that most economists and their masters - the politicians - talk about is very destructive, if you're not careful. It has to be redesigned.
I'll give you a couple of examples of where it doesn't work. I'll also try to give you at the end a couple of examples of where it may be the only solution as well. Globalization is about big. Globalization is about centralized. Globalization is about homogeneity. If we believe that the only way to live in life is to wear blue jeans, chew gum, live in five star hotels, then globalization is for you. But if you believe that there is some happiness and wealth in diversity, then you have to worry about the kind of globalization that is being forced in on us by the very powerful machinaries of commerce that exist today.
I've been looking inside this black box because I see the marketplace as the only real solution to very large numbers of problems. Nafis has made a very strong and very, very appropriate case for the role of government in social services and I'm not talking about those. That's where government ought to be. Most of our governments in poor countries tend to do the things they're not supposed to do and forget to do the things they are supposed to do.
But having said that, that a large part of the social sector has to be the responsibility of the public sector, there is a huge amount left over for the private sector. The private sector can come in many different forms. It's not only big multi-nationals. It's not only big global companies. The private sector in small villages can be just as important and thriving and change producing as the big companies - in fact, very much more so. I'd like to share with you some examples.
Today, the aspirations of our leaders, both in the North and the South, is what is called global competitiveness. That's the buzzword. How could we be more competitive? Well, what does it mean to be competitive? To be competitive means you've got to produce things cheaper and deliver them at a lower cost into the global marketplace, which means that you mustn't take into account any of the costs that might be loaded onto your goods and services. So you cut down your trees, destroy your rivers, destroy your soils, you break up your families, kill your communities and then you can be competitive.
To create an industrial job in the United States in the global economy, it costs something like 1.3 million dollars investment - one workplace. In Germany, it's about 1.8 million dollars. In Japan, of course, it's about 2.3 million because they're much more mechanized and automated. In a poor country, like Thailand or India, when you want to create a job that's going to be so called 'globally competitive', you have to import all this machinery, all these experts, all the other technological know-how and everything else, it ends up that it costs you something of the order of three hundred, four hundred thousand dollars per workplace. If you do your calculations, it's pretty stark because we have massive unemployment and if we were to close the unemployment gap by the year 2015 - not a great ambition because in fifteen years time, one would hope to be able to do that - in my country alone, in India, we would have to create fifteen million jobs every year, starting today.
Now, you multiply fifteen million by, let us say, just one hundred thousand - it's not even four hundred thousand to create one workplace - it comes out to eight times the GNP of the country. So if you want to be globally competitive and you're going to set up all these industries making Nike shoes and all kinds of other stuff the global economy wants, you're going to end up basically by de-creating jobs because you don't have the eight times the GNP to invest only in job creation, let alone on the other things that need to be done.
In fact, I've interviewed a large number of the captains of industry in my country and they've all told me that since 1991 when we started liberalizing our economy, they have not, among them, created a single job. So, that's globalization too. I don't believe that it has to be like that. I think we can design totally different kinds of technology and industry and resource management systems, which are based in the community. We don't have to bring people into the slums of big cities when they could stay where they are and make goods and services that are needed right there. But that's what the globalized economy is heading for at the moment. I don't think that one can justify that. So one really has to look at it, not just as a moral or ethical imperative, which suddenly is there, but a practical issue. If development is to be sustainable, you have to have sustainable consumption patterns, sustainable production systems. That's by definition. But a sustainable development must also meet the basic needs of everyone and not destroy the environment.
Now, if you're going to look at the basic needs, what is the most basic need of all? It's livelihood. You've got a job; you can earn some money; you can decide whether you want to have kids or not; you can decide whether to send them to school or not; you can stand up to your husband and say, "Look, I'm making money and you don't have to push me around." You can do a lot of things if you have a livelihood. And a sustainable livelihood particularly, I think, is the most fundamental thing for the liberation and the empowerment of homogenized people - particularly for women.
I have a factory and we make recycled handmade paper. There are forty-five women in there. Over the last eight years, that cohort of women compared with their sisters in the same villages has had four babies as against eighteen expected. Education, healthcare, reproductive health - all these are important. But you can get access to them if you have a little money. I've come to the conclusion that sustainable livelihood is the fundamental issue that confronts our countries. And globalization isn't addressing that. Globalization is about producing what the rest of the world wants, not what the locals need. My own experience in this area is setting up a so called multi-national, if you'd like, working in villages, setting up industries. We call them mini-industries because they're neither the Grameen Bank micro credit schemes, nor are they the big, large industries, but they create jobs. They're the only ones that create jobs. My organization creates a job for one thousand dollars - not a hundred thousand, not four hundred thousand - one thousand, which gives you the same kind of purchasing power, same kind of quality of life and right there, in the village, as you would get if you migrated the slums of Bombay or elsewhere.
So there are other ways to do these things and I would imagine that one day that will come to be called globalization because that's the only future. It's the only way you're going to stop climate change. It's the only way you're going to protect your biodiversity, it's the only way you're going to build up your communities and your human beings. Thank you.
Muzaffar Chishti, Director, Immigration Project, Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!)
Thanks very much. I guess I'm to give the US response and more particularly, the American trade union response to the issues of globalization. I think in Dr. Sadik's reference, I'm the classic example for the foreign of brain drain; here we had to get an Asian person from India to give the trade union and American perspective to audience of the Asia Society, and that's global economy for you, I guess, in some manner.
let me try to summarize the American trade union perspective on globalization. First of all, globalization by itself is neither good nor bad. I think it depends on who benefits from it and who sets the rules of the game. First, the issue of benefits. I think one of the most remarkable evidence about globalization is how it has reaped unequal benefits. I think even countries of the world like the United States where globalization seems to benefit a lot of people, evidence of an equality is so dramatic in the last two decades that it boggles your mind. We have had sustained economic growth since the 1960's.
We have never had a more sustained economic growth. And this era of sustained economic growth, we have never had deeper in the equality as of income in this country. Today, a typical CEO makes four hundred fifty times more than an average worker in the United States and on a long term basis, as Dr. Sadik reminds us, is not a particularly good trend. If you look beyond the United States, I think the evidence and the rest of the world is pretty troubling. I think the World Bank report that I saw last time about the majority of the income of the population of the last decade has gone down and the per capita income about eighty countries of the world is less today than it was ten years ago - not very good news about the benefits of globalization.
Second is that there is clearly a disproportionate group of people who have benefited from globalization. If you look at a hundred economies of the world today, forty-nine of them are multi-national corporations. The gross annual income of General Motors is bigger than that of Thailand. General Electric is bigger than Poland. Wal-Mart is bigger than Malaysia's. So in this kind of unequal distribution of wealth, you really have to wonder about the effects of globalization.
The most striking figure that I read and talking about this in the UN makes my heart skip a beat, is that two hundred richest people of the world today have an income higher than the two billion people on the rest of the economic ladder. Whenever historically, we have seen such islands of prosperity among the seas of misery, it is generally a prelude to upheavals.
The second point I want to make is that the rules of globalization that have emerged essentially are skilled - they're intended to favor capital at the expense of labor. This is not just true in the US worker's context; it's true about workers everywhere. When corporations decide that wages in Thailand or Korea are too high for them, it doesn't stop them from moving to Vietnam to China or to Malaysia.
The third thing that I want to say is that rights in this whole debate do matter. After all, if you look at NAFTA, if you look at the World Trade Organization, their rules are intended to give privilege to rights of capital and are silent of the rights of workers. And rights of workers ultimately are important. We are not talking here about the parity of wages between the United States and the rest of the world, we are talking simply about core labor standards. I think there is a lot of consensus in the world.
The core labor standards that we are talking about are the right to free speech, right to organize, right against child labor, right against forced labor and right against discrimination in the workplace. No country in the world is too poor to demand that these basic rights are part of their legal structure.
I think rights alone obviously are not going to solve all problems. But rights do matter a lot in terms of people's standard of living and in terms of meeting the issue of equality. And we have also known from our US's own experience that when people make higher wages, they become better consumers and that helps the economy in general.
The last word on this is that democracy matters. A rather impressive article in Business Week recently looked at wages in democracies of the world against wages of non-democracies of the world. The evidence is absolutely clear that democracies do pay higher wages. I don't want to say too much because I know there are a lot of interesting questions that we'll hear from the audience, but from a trade unionist, it's impossible to talk about globalization today without mentioning Seattle. I think it's absolutely clear whether you're in Seattle or you watched those proceedings away from Seattle on television, that Seattle was a very important transition point in the debate about globalization.
I think the debate about globalization will never be the same again. I think Seattle taught us that the rules about globalization can no longer just be navigated and negotiated by protected elites behind glass doors talking only about commercial interests. That unless other issues of workers rights, of environmental protection, about social standards, are made a part of the trade of cause - and made a part of the protocols of international financial institutions, we are not going to go very far in the debate about globalization. No one said it better in terms of the transition than President Clinton - no friend of organized labor in this regard himself - when he stated that if global economy has to succeed, it must work for working families. And if it doesn't work for working families, it's not going to be a successful phenomenon.
In terms of the long run that Dr. Sadik I think rightly asked us to look at, I think in the modern democracy, the legitimacy of every economic system is going to be measured by the quality of life it affords the largest number of people against the quality of life it has afforded very few. And I think the working people everywhere in the world, not just in the US, are going to react unless that becomes a reality. Thank you.
Nang Lao Liang Won, Co-founder, Migrant Assistance Programme, Thailand
This evening, I would just like to tell you a story of migrant women called Nimon Nimon Wego fifty-five, lived with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren in a small village in a central borough. One day, in 1996, the village headman came to them and told them that the Burmese Troop came. Again, she thought, because she knew them very well. They demand everything. They demand money, food, building materials. They use villagers as forced laborers. They used them as hoarders to carry the weapons. They used them as human shields for the land mines. They also raped women. What do they want now? She found out all of the villagers were forced to go to outside the village and the soldiers systematically burned down all the houses - all the crafts - killed all the animals and they also destroyed the farmlands. More than that, all the villagers were forced to leave the village at gunpoint within five days for a relocation site.
At the relocation site, there were no buildings, no food, no clean water. There was no way for them to survive there. So Nimon's family and the others fled to the Thailand border. Once they arrived through a local broker, her daughter and son-in-law got a job at an orchard at a wage of about one dollar a day. That wage was just enough for the family to live; not enough to send the children to school; not enough for healthcare. The following year, the owner of the orchards stopped paying the wages regularly. Instead, he gave them rice, salt and cooking oil. He also told them that he would give all the money after one year of work. For her daughter and her son-in-law, this is daily survival. They didn't have a choice, but kept working. And one day last year in November, her daughter and son-in-law didn't come back from work. She was so worried that she ran away crying looking for their parents. Then her neighbor, who had escaped from police arrest came and told her that police were everywhere arresting all the illegal immigrants and workers and sending them back to the border.
Now she's more than worried - it's fear. She didn't know what to do and she was wondering. She didn't understand why Burmese soldiers came and destroyed her village; destroyed their livelihood they have been living all their life. And now again, she didn't understand why they were accepted when they first came to Thailand and now rejected. So she didn't understand anything. She thought she and her two kids might face arrest and be sent back to the border. Where should she go? Where should they go? There was no hope in Burma. The only thing she knew and she felt is fear. This is just a glimpse of real life pictures of what happened to tens of thousands of ethnic families who were forcibly relocated by the Burma military regime under the name of peace, development and open door trade policy to welcome the international investment to be part of global trade.
This is also an example of how Burmese people, who had fled to Thailand had been exploited in the Thai labor market during the economic growth in the region. They did the jobs, dirty, difficult and dangerous, which Thai workers don't want to do. This story is also the example of the experience most of the families - migrant families - faced when Thai economy fell in the global markets.
So for women like Nimon, she doesn't know. She never heard of what globalization is, nor did she know about the economic expansion, nor economic crisis. For what she knows is just to survive daily. Maybe for them, globalization means fear, suffering and maybe exploitation. My organization, Migrant Assistance Program, known as MAP is helping such families. This is based in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. It helps these families to get access to health services. We also are working to lobby the Thai government for fairer conditions for illegal migrant workers; also to recognize their labor and rights.
We hope that one day, these migrant workers will enjoy the effect of globalization in a positive way. Thank you very much.
Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Well I'd like to begin by congratulating the Asia Society on its inauguration of this five year program to launch the Asia Social Issues Program. We in the Oxfam Family share the concern of the Asia Society to promote internationalism and internationalist values and a concern for other regions of the world, among the American population and certainly among the leadership here in the United States. I congratulate the Asia Society for providing leadership to our community in doing that. I must say just anecdotally that I have to thank the Asia Society in some way for helping me personally sort of see the importance of this kind of program. Some years back, I collaborated with the Asia Society in a prior life on an initiative to do a study of what some of the foreign policy options were for the United States government in South Asia.
As the Asia Society often does, it put together an extraordinary blue ribbon panel of specialists in the region, sent them there, gave them significant amount of time, organized all variety of meetings with leadership and South Asia and then came back and put together a very significant report and presented it on Capitol Hill. I recall the meeting in the foreign affairs room of the House when the panel was presenting their findings and one senior congressman came to the session and sort of looked over his glasses and looked at the panelists and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I have one question for you: Why is it the Philippines is not included in this study of South Asia?" And you could sort of hear the Asian journalists in the back part of the room sort of whispering and wondering where that question came from. But it speaks, I think, the need for the kind of program that the Asia Society is launching and I salute them.
Dr. Sadik gave us a kind of comprehensive overview of the whole issue of globalization in a somewhat comprehensive way. I found myself listening to her and looking at her remarks and realizing there's very little of it that I disagree with. What I'd like to do is maybe provide a perspective on the issues of globalization to compliment Miss Won's presentation - maybe from the perspective of a civil society actor concerned about many of these issues. And what I'd like to do is maybe begin by offering maybe just sort of three principal points. One is to talk a little bit about how the perspective of civil society - and I'm going to use that term even globally - global civil society is evolving in terms of its perception and perspective on globalization. And what perhaps is some of the emerging consensus about the issue of globalization? And then maybe what are some of the challenges that lie ahead as we try to engage seriously this process?
First, I think it's important to maybe be humble about this concept. In some ways, I think the more I participate in a forum like this, the more I realize we're all learning about globalization. I think often times, the concept is often used in a very narrow sense to mean market immigration. But more and more, I think those of us who are working on the issue in a variety of different forms are realizing that it's really not just about market integration, it's about the movement of ideas, people, technology, images, money and goods at a highly accelerated pace around the world in ways that are reshaping our communities in dramatic fashion.
I think it's perhaps worth asking, as was offered, what did we learn from the Asia crisis in Seattle as civil society actors? I think one thing we've learned is that perhaps the Washington consensus - as it was once called regarding the correct path to development - is no longer a consensus or it's seriously in doubt.
The second thing we've learned, for what we saw in the streets of Seattle, is that the world is awakening to the realities of globalization and its impacts on individual's lives. Individuals experience globalization as something other than just market integration.
I think its important to also underline that Seattle was not an isolated event. For those of us who live in the United States, we were somewhat shocked to see furniture going through the windows of Starbucks. But in fact, there was a larger drama taking place in the streets there that really wasn't reported on by much of the media.
Civil society organizations appeared in Seattle, but they also appeared at G8 meetings in Cologne. There were seventy thousand people there. They appeared in Birmingham before that. And only just after the Seattle meetings, they were in Bangkok in great numbers. So this is not just an isolated event. But I would agree with Muzaffar, I think Seattle was a watershed in some important ways.
The other thing that's important to underline is that the population of people who appeared in Seattle and in these other venues were not just Europeans or North Americans, they were Asians and Africans and Latin Americans, as well as those of us from the United States and Europe.
So what are these civil society groups attempting to say at Seattle and these other places? Well the media interpretation of the message is that civil society is anti-globalization, anti-trade. But I think it's more complicated than that and I think the civil society organizations have evolved to some degree. I think what we're looking for is perhaps globalization that is characterized by inclusion, accountability and transparency or process of globalization under all those different categories that allow for those kinds of characteristics.
Seattle I think has unleashed extraordinary phenomena. I think there's an active, more conscious effort underway to build a global social movement that links labor, environmentalists, women, human rights organizations and NGOs at the national, as well as international, level. Under a common banner and under a common set of principals, largely I think constructed - again, as Muzaffar has underlined - under sort of a rights based approach to development emphasizing a social and economic rights as cornerstones or principals.
We are likely to see more Seattle-like behavior and grassroots organizing to support it that will connect Asian social actors and their counterparts throughout the world. Only yesterday, I'm coming from Boston to this meeting and we're hosting a five thousand person large meeting on genetic engineering. The streets have been filled with demonstrators and the police have treated it as if it was another Seattle event - and there's Asian representation alongside Americans at that event as well.
What is the core of the message being put forward both North and South by civil society actors in the face of this globalization challenge? The simple message I think is, can we have globalization with equity and justice - and can we participate in defining the rules that will enable that to happen?
I'd like to ask maybe another question, which is what are the particular institutional and social resources that Asians bring to the process of shaping this emerging vision of globalization in their own context and on their own terms? I think as we look at Asia today, we see a rich tapestry of grassroots experience at acknowledged global leadership in the NGO movements throughout the region and throughout the world for that matter. We see a tradition of innovation in social service delivery that is being replicated, not only in Asia, but in Africa and Latin America, as well as here in the United States.
We see centers of excellence and policy research and training. We see a growing number of outstanding examples of civil society and state collaboration. We see deepening experience in democracy and in democratic practice at the local as well as national level. We see tremendous capacity and technological management and innovation. And perhaps most importantly, we see countries that have the capital to link these various assets together to produce a globalization or process of globalization in the region that might enjoin equity and justice with the larger process of market integration and other features of globalization that I've underlined.
Challenges - what would it mean for the individual Asian states and societies to embrace this broader vision of globalization? Well I thin it'll mean the need to build a shared social contract or vision that Asian societies want to be leaders and full participants in the process of globalization and are willing to look beyond traditional antagonisms to do this. It will mean a commitment to building more open, inclusive and participatory societies that motivate and capture the rich basis of knowledge capital and human energy that rests throughout Asia. It means confronting the realities of poverty and social exclusion that we've heard about this evening and making the appropriate investments in state and private programs to address these issues. It means making a commitment to creating an environment that encourages strong institutions and leadership, both in the state and civil society to build this vision together. It means giving meaningful space and investment to NGOs and other civil society actors to innovate and experiment in collaboration with, rather than in opposition to, the state. It means building stronger and more diverse linkages with institutional actors in the broader, international community who are debating and shaping the rules of global economic governance in citizenship.
As citizens and decision-makers here in the United State, it perhaps means seeing the Asia beyond Hong Kong and Singapore. It means assessing our role in building creative partnerships with Asian institutions around issues of globalization. It means joining the international community and supporting important initiatives in Asia that can enhance Asian participation and the process of globalization that will benefit all of the populations and not a narrow segment of a elite and middle class. It means asking ourselves, as Americans, perhaps some tough questions. I'd like to offer a few. What, for example, is our role in building systems of global governance that temper the excesses of the highly organized market systems that are driving today's decision making about resource allocation and defining the future global distribution of wealth?
Can we afford to leave this complex process entirely in the hands of government officials and private money managers? What is our role in investing in the learning and communications capacity of our southern partners to optimize their access to the flow of ideas, technology images that might nourish and reinforce the positive dimension of their work and strengthen their capacity to be heard within global forum?
What is our role in building modern, humanitarian and development response capacities that are tailored to the needs, capacities and opportunities of a post cold war and globalizing Asia? In an era when we can cite very specific examples of a simple, persuasive idea, like the Grameen Bank, having a more far reaching short term social benefit than millions of dollars of foreign aid, it is perhaps appropriate to ask whether we need to reevaluate our institutional currency and determine if what we have traditionally offered to organizations and institutions in Asia - namely money and technical expertise- continues to be the most effective and appropriate currency to shape our future relations with Asian partner institutions.
Or indeed, do we need to consider giving higher status to other currencies, such as ideas, access to certain kinds of technology, networking and support for collaborative advocacy initiatives on a global level? Should we as well evaluate how prepared we are to support the emergence of new institutional forum that will be essential to building systems of global governance?
In many of our own institutions, such new institutional forms in the past would have simply fallen between the cracks because we're not ready for them - we do not see them or they do not fit our version of how the world looked or should work.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly - and I think reflecting the views of almost everyone on this panel - are we ready philosophically to step forward and recognize that market-led globalization unmonitored and unregulated may harbor certain dangerous tendencies that may lead to even more profound economic disparities in the world than what we have witnessed over the last two decades?
As we imagine the future institutional landscape that would be needed to support, monitor and regulate a world community, further integrated by the forces of globalization, we would be limiting our view only to formal interstate, international or regional bodies. We would be limiting our view if we only were looking at interstate, international or regional bodies.
Rather, we must have the imagination to presume a positive role for non-state actors; propose the terms under which such actors might be engaged as supporters and critics of these historic change processes and afford them the legitimacy and political coverage necessary to assure they may operate and genuinely open in independent manners in global for and pursuit of their missions.
I firmly believe that kind of commitment would perhaps go a long way toward helping us build a sort of sustainable development in just an economic type of globalization that we'd all, I think, support. Thank you very much.
Question and Answer Session
1. Mr. Obud: I see kind of a cultural clash in so-called Asian values. This meeting is largely structured on NGOs, which are basically a Western and American - especially American - phenomena - grassroots, bottom-up kind of process and structure. And yet, much of East Asian development has been topped down, government-led and so on. And the governments there seem to be reluctant to yield to grassroots type activity - at least that's the impression I get through the American media. I was wondering if any of the panelists would care to address that issue and maybe claim that it's a non-existent issue. Thank you.
Mr. Khosla: That comment, with all due respect, may be the exact and most important reason for the launch of this program, the ASIP program of the Asia Society because I think perhaps more so in the last ten years, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but for some time, I've been feeling that the American public is becoming more and more insular and doesn't necessarily recognize what is going on in the rest of the world as it is going on.
Voluntarism has a long and very, very vibrant history in the US - no question about it. Probably no county has ever had the kind of voluntary action that this county has. India has a voluntary movement that goes back centuries and the independence of India was entirely a result of that kind of action.
NGOs come in different forms. They have different kinds of functions. But the kinds that we're talking about here - the ones that are concerned about human values, about improving a lot of people, about development, about environment, they're found everywhere. It's true it's been hard for NGOs to function in a country like China but they're coming into being there too. But in most Asian countries, there's a great deal of non-governmental, extra-governmental action of various types. So it's not quite correct what you were saying, but I think it is extremely important that a program like ASIP bring to the attention of the American public and indeed to Asian publics too, the values of these things and how they can learn from each other and interact. Thank you.
2. Question: I'm with a company called Tactics and we invest worldwide and very much so in Asia as well. I have a question specifically for Ms. Won. You told such a beautiful story. It was so heroic and you told it so vividly. It's a story I'll remember forever. I have a question to ask you specifically. How could the Burmese army justify, explain or excuse that action of destruction as part of globalization?
Ms. Won: For them, their excuse is to develop the country because our country is left behind so we need to develop up our country so we have to welcome the foreign investment. That's why they had to relocate these people. This is an excuse - to develop up the country. Because these people live along the Salween River where the mega dams will be built. It's welcomed a lot of money.
Dr. Linda Lim: I should mention though that Burma is actually a country with very, very little foreign investment and trade. In fact, there are many sanctions on it and it's actually an example of non-globalization - very self-sufficient economy. Trade is about one percent of the total economy. Most of the richer countries of the world don't invest in Burma. So it's not a typical case at all.
Dr. Khosla: That story is repeated for one million people in my country every year. It's exactly the same story. So whether it's Burma or Thailand or India or anywhere else, if some multi-national wants to put up a power station, everybody's got to move. And if you want to put up a big dam because of all the factories that are coming from elsewhere are being invested in, the not only everybody has to move, but forests have to be submerged, the wildlife has to be killed obviously. We have forty million people who have been displaced since the time of independence fifty years ago.
3. Ms. Pearlman: I'm from the Mega Cities Project and Trinity College. My question is for Ashok Khosla, but I'd like any of the other panelists to address it if they would wish. I'm very excited by this concept of sustainable livelihoods because of the work that I've been doing over the past thirty years in Asia and as well in Africa and Latin America and in this country. It always boils down to that - whether you're looking at the urban or the rural or the housing problem or the transportation problem. Without the livelihood, nothing else makes a difference. If you can't educate, you can't do anything. My question is about globalization and sustainable livelihoods. I would like you to explain a little bit more of how you see globalization being able to, in the positive sense, enable sustainable livelihoods that permeate and percolate to reach the people who may not be participating, either as citizens or as producers or consumers at this point. Thank you.
Dr. Khosla: That gives me an opportunity to finish the story that I didn't have time for because Linda told me I was running out of time. Sustainable livelihoods are livelihoods or jobs that basically have three or four characteristics. They give meaning and dignity to life; they give you a decent income; purchasing power; to become part of the economy. They're generally non-destructive and regenerating of the environment because the environment's being destroyed already, more or less. And they're particularly suited to women. So for me, those are the four sort of characteristics. They're benign jobs - jobs that essentially take you forward. I believe that the only way to get there in large numbers, is through 21st Century leapfrog in technology. Technologies that basically are environmentally sound, are human oriented and so on. And of course, one such technology is IT, information and communication technologies. Nafis mentioned that a little earlier.
I was mentioning to Linda a little while ago - she asked me how do illiterates work? Well, I didn't know any manner in Chinese. So I'm just as illiterate as anyone else. But being able to read English is actually a handicap. It's the three year old kids and the little old ladies in the village who actually get to do the double clicking on the mouse much more effectively than people who've got Ph.D.s and so forth. So in essence, you are enabling people to enter the 21st Century and be able to click their way into buying seeds or learning about organic agriculture or getting their horoscopes, or whatever it is that they want, right on the screen. So I think the question you raised does in fact goes right to the roots - the heart - of this new program we're launching today because it brings together people who are thinking about these things, both in Asia and in the US to commonly solve these problems. If there's anyone out there who wants to work at a dot com company at village salaries, we've got lots of jobs.
4. Question: It appears that globalization is strictly bail. This is directed to Ashok Khosla. I wanted to ask one thing - there was a sixty billion dollar problem with Mexico that was ironed out by our Secretary of the Treasury and Wall Street. Very shortly thereafter, all the countries of East Asia and Asia started falling economically. I understand that our Secretary of Treasury went out there and said, "Don't worry about overheating, just keep doing what you're doing." Very shortly thereafter, Indonesia and all the rest of them just went down the rabbit hole. Any comments, sir?
Dr. Khosla: The only lesson one can draw from that is don't listen to the US Secretary of the Treasury. I don't know what else one can draw from that. I'm not sure in the time we have, one can do justice to that question without getting into some depth. I'd be happy to do that in the corridor with you.
5. Mr. Klatsky: I'm presently a medical student but spent last year working for Earth Rights International on the border between Thailand and Burma. I just to speak to that one question about international development and globalization in Burma The recent construction of a pipeline across Burma to Thailand has generated a guaranteed annual revenue of two hundred million dollars to the country of Burma - and that's a country that was defaulting in all it's international debts. So globalization has impacted the people there and that has led to a massive influx of people, many of whom - almost all of whom - had similar stories to the one who are having a similar experience happen to them as a result of these dams on the Salween River, which are financed by the Asian Development Bank.
My question was for Nang Lao Liang Won. Since the story you told, I know there have been a lot of changes on the border and there was the killing of those ten Karen rebels. I was wondering how this has changed - if the government of Thailand will restrict policies towards migrant workers and how that's changed?
I also had a question for Muzaffar. If he could also speak to the new government on dealing with lessening the quotas and tariffs on manufacturing products coming from Africa. Thank you.
Ms. Won: Your question is why the Thai government policy changed on the migrant workers. When Thailand faced the economic crisis, lots of people, Thai workers, lost their jobs and the government just want to play that because of the migrant workers who are taking jobs of the Thai. That's why they can't get the job. That's why they would like to deport back the migrant workers to Burma. They would like to use migrant workers as scapegoats to the nation, let's say. They think that if these migrant workers go back to Burma, Thai workers will get the jobs. But actually, this is not a point. These migrant workers are working in the sector which Thai workers don't want to do because of the situation - the condition - is so dirty, difficult and dangerous and they work in well below the minimum wages.
For the illegal migrant workers, they could only earn about one dollar a day. But for Thai workers, they got five or six dollars a day.
Mr. Klatsky: Have they changed their policy? Are they still importing people back to Burma?
Ms. Won: Deportation crackdown happened last November, deportation crackdown was at the national level a violation. But the community didn't pay attention. We didn't get attention.
Dr. Khosla: The African Trade Bill. We opposed the Africa Trade Bill for the same reasons that we opposed China's permanent most favorite nation trade bill. Let me clearly say what it is. We don't resent investments getting attracted to countries which want to open up their markets, especially on the basis of lower wages. What we want as part of the Africa Trade Bill was to make sure that it had provisions about labor rights; it had provisions about reduction of the debt of these countries, which crippled a lot of these economies, and it had environmental protections. If those protections are kept in place in the Africa Trade Bill, we'll be glad to support it.
6. Question: I'm co-chair of the UN NGO Committee on Sustainable Development. We've been talking about these issues all year. We're now getting into the question that I was interested in. We discuss a lot in our committee the issue of the sweat shops in Asia and no one has mentioned this as an issues of globalization, but one of the side effects that we also talk about and Dr. Sadik might be able to answer this correctly, is that if we do these boycotts as a lot of the university students are doing and effect the way the sweat shops have been running, what does that do to the people who are working in the sweat shops? A lot of people say young women go out and go into prostitution for an example. What's the story on that?
Dr. Sadik: I think that what you're saying is correct. We had in the child labor rights issue tabled for very good reason. In some countries - I think in Bangladesh, even in Pakistan and India - the children were out on the street. I in fact decided that this was not the way to deal with child labor. What was agreed is that if they worked, they had to have certain conditions and criteria. One was that they had to have access to education and the environment had to be healthy and the kind of work that they did would not be a health hazard and the time worked - I'm not absolutely familiar with it. But the reason that this was instituted and I think now there are some positive examples of how this is being handled in Bangladesh and I think even in Pakistan where there was a labor team that went there - was because when the children were out on the street or when the young women were out of jobs, they really were in a much worse situation than they were in the sweat shops. It's really not an easy issue to address. You can't just say, "Do away with it." You have to provide some alternative for the people who are working in these places. I think that's the whole key to all the discussion that we are having. How do we provide equality of opportunity to have everybody have a sustainable level of liberty - a sustainable livelihood in conditions in which we all accept or agree are the conditions in which they work? But I think just passing a law is not the end. You can have the law, but you have to have actions that make the law implementable. I think the second part is not always done.
Mr. Offenheiser: Maybe just to add a couple comments. In Bangladesh, I worked closely with the whole process of negotiation with the garment worker manufacturers during that period when they were trying to set up those arrangements. It was really a complex process that involved setting some standards as to what was child labor. In other words, sixteen years and above was considered not child labor and so the discussion with the manufacturers was really about how do we assure that there aren't girls under sixteen in the factories? And if they are, are there possibilities of arranging schooling for them and preserving their jobs at the same time so they might go back to the factories while at the same time improving conditions in the factories as well as a arranging schools and so on and so forth? A key to this though was actually getting the garment manufacturers themselves to buy into the whole program. The leveraging for that came actually from industry here in the United States and elsewhere which tried in some sense to bring codes of conduct and new standards to the kinds of sub-contracting arrangements that they were carrying out. So there is, I think, a role for people here that are involved in that movement to push for those kinds of codes of conduct and certification processes in order to see that those things happen appropriately.
7. Ms. Sharma: I'm from Women's EDGE in Washington, DC. I spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill with our geographically disabled congress. My question is for Dr. Khosla. You've described a really compelling and quite beautiful vision for development that takes advantage of the good parts of globalization and leaves the rest. My question for you and the rest of the panel is what constructive role can US policy play in catalyzing that process, if any? Or, is it more appropriate for the US to get out of it and essentially leave it to you?
Dr. Khosla: I don't think we're big enough for it on our own. If there was a slightly different attitude, one that is not confrontational and based on an expression of outrage and morals of high ground, but one of sensitivity and understanding, I think a lot could be done. Child labor is pretty bad. I'm not going to be heard saying it's a good thing. Sweat shops are pretty bad. I certainly don't want to promote them. But you know, in the U.K., Charles Dickens has written a lot about it and basically got where they are by investing very heavily in building up their countries and a hundred years ago, there was a lot of sweat shops here. Thirty years ago there were quite a lot. In fact, my company makes machines to make handled cloth and the first six that I sold were to a sweat shop in Chicago. Not that there are no sweat shops here either, but it's this sense of outrage and moral indignation that makes it difficult to have a dialogue. I don't believe that children should be working. They should be at school or playing or whatever else. If that's the only source of income in the family or their conditions haven't gotten to a stage in society and in the economy where you can eliminate all forms of child labor, it's not quite as disgusting as we tend to make it out to be. We essentially need transparency, accountability, but above all, local governance.
We need people at the center of decision-making. And if people are at the center of decision-making in a community or village, they tend to take care of their surroundings. They tend to protect their forests and waters and everything else. We need to encourage all that. If the international community - not just the US Congress but the UN and everybody else - is promoting generally the right kind of thinking instead of forcing it down your throat, I think they'd be much more successful. I think they would basically say, "Yes. We've got a problem and there has to be ways to deal with it. Let's work on it together. We'd like to put some money into it. We'd like to work with you". I think the chances of achieving a lot more are higher. It seems to me what you can do. Yes, we need to do that.
Dr. Linda Lim : We need to close now because we have to vacate the space by nine and there's a reception back there where you can mingle and ask the rest of the questions. Thank you very much.