A Shared Future: Exploring the Asian Century

Bunty Chand, Executive Director, Asia Society India Centre, Akhil Gupta, Chairman, Blackstone India and Josette Sheeran, President and CEO, Asia Society

MUMBAI, 21 January 2014 – As we progress further into the twenty first century, the popular moniker ‘Asian century’ is becoming more and more of a reality. The region continues to expand its relative global power. Asian nations continue to undergo population growth; expand and strengthen their economies; become more deeply involved in international trade and their governments wield increasing political clout. Asia is becoming the focus of global affairs and the rest of the world is quickly adapting. Therefore, the relationship of the established world leader, the United States, with Asia as a region and individual Asian nations stands central to the future of global affairs.

To address the evolving dynamics within Asia and in U.S. – Asian relations, the Asia Society India Centre hosted a private round-table discussion as a part of its BASIC (Breakfast at Asia Society India Centre) series with Josette Sheeran and Akhil Gupta.  Sheeran is the President of the Asia Society. Sheeran previously led the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, the United Nations World Food Programme, and served in senior positions at the U.S. Secretary of State. Gupta is a leading figure in Indian business with lengthy experience living and working in the U.S. as well as being a founding member of Asia Society India Centre. He is currently the Chairman of Blackstone India.

In the context of the BASIC private and off-the-record setting, participants benefitted from a candid and engaging discussion. The discussion spanned the macro issues of Asian affairs and U.S. – Asian relations and the micro issues of recent developments that inform them. Participants universally acknowledged and detailed the contemporary centrality of Asia and stressed the region’s importance looking into the future. In particular, they discussed the importance of Asian economies demonstrating vision to look outwards and engage widely with global markets. Analysing the outside perspective, participants questioned whether the West has yet adjusted to the Asian shift and in particular how to facilitate better understanding and greater effectiveness in U.S. – Asian relations. As a part of this investigation, Sheeran explained her vision for the Asia Society and its members to help build bridges to overcome the understanding deficit between the U.S. and Asia through the Asia Society’s three pillars of policy, arts and culture and education. Participants gathered valuable insights from experts with practical experience in Asian and U.S. – Asian affairs and a renewed understanding of the important role the Asia Society is playing in effecting change in this crucial sphere of global affairs.

Reported by Thomas Pierce, Intern, Asia Society India Centre.