Should global democracy be a prerequisite for economic globalization?

Author, peace-keeper, refugee worker, human rights activist and now political candidate for the Indian Parliament, Shashi Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience.

Chairman of Dubai-based Afras Ventures and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Shashi Tharoor was the official candidate of India for the succession to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006, and came a close second out of seven contenders in the race. His career began in 1978, when he joined the staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, and included key responsibilities in peace-keeping after the Cold War and as a senior adviser to the Secretary-General, as well as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

Dr. Tharoor is also the award-winning author of nine books, as well as hundreds of articles, op-eds and book reviews in a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek and The Times of India. He has served for two years as a Contributing Editor and occasional columnist for Newsweek International. Since April 2001 he has authored a fortnightly column in The Hindu and since January 2007 in The Times of India.

Born in London in 1956, Dr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a Ph. D. in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he received the Robert B. Stewart Prize for Best Student. At Fletcher, Shashi Tharoor helped found and was the first Editor of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a journal now in its 31st year. A compelling and effective speaker, he is fluent in English and French.

In January 1998, Dr. Tharoor was named a "Global Leader of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He is the recipient of several awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was named to India’s highest honour for Overseas Indians, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, in 2004. He serves on the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute India, and the Advisory Boards of the World Policy Journal, the Virtue Foundation and the human rights organization Breakthrough. He is also a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: Should global democracy be a prerequisite for economic globalization?

Shashi Tharoor: I’m not sure what the question means by “global democracy”. Because if it means global institutions should be run democratically, well we don’t have global democracy. In the U.N. for example, five countries have a veto. In the World Bank or the IMF, the U.S. has a preponderant voice. Global institutions are run in varying degrees of equality, and we don’t have global democracy in the sense of one man-one vote, or one person-one vote across the planet; which would give Chinese and Indians a heck of an advantage, but we don’t have that. So I don’t think that it can be a pre . . . prerequisite. I think economic realities are, to some degree, independent of the political connections that give you democracy. We have a sort of economic democracy because you can move money across the world with the press of a button. And . . . and . . . and that’s something which has actually affected human beings’ lives in many parts of the world. But we don’t have global democracy. I don’t think we’re likely to have global democracy in the political sense; but I think economic transformations will go on anyway. And it’s going to be a very interesting few decades ahead. And we hope to be able to see . . . to see how the institutions of the globe adjust to and take account of the economic transformations that we can all see happening.

Recorded on: 9/18/07

 


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