GLOBE Practitioner Seminar, 27-28 September, 2012
Economic Transformation and Political Re-Balancing on a Global Scale: The Cases of India and China
The rise of Western Europe and the United States to global dominance arguably can be described as the pre-eminent historical phenomenon of the past 500 years. In 1500, the ten European kingdoms that would become the modern era’s global empires accounted for 10 percent of the world’s territory and a little more than 40 percent of its economic output. By 1913, those same states, plus the United States, controlled 58 percent of the world’s land surface and 79 percent of global GDP. On the eve of the Great War, the world was characterized by a yawning institutional and technological gap between the West and the Rest. In Europe, assumptions of white racial superiority were much en vogue, and academics routinely discussed impediments both formal and informal to non-white advancement. This was, so to speak, the ultimate global imbalance.
What a difference a hundred years can make. Today, ‘economic convergence’ seems well on its way as hitherto less prosperous countries catch up with their richer counterparts. In aggregate terms, the economies of the United States and Europe will likely be overtaken by China soon, with India not too far behind. The financial and sovereign debt crises that began in 2007 has revealed fundamental structural problems as well as a culture of debt accumulation in nations whose predominance in institutions of global governance used to be taken for granted. Today, China is the single largest creditor of the United States government, and European heads of state are asking the Chinese president for money.
Against the backdrop of ongoing economic transformation and political re-balancing on a global scale, we shall be looking at two major actors, that is, India and China. In light of what the French so aptly call “histoire longue”, one might say that things are merely getting back to normal. China and India, after all, must be considered as re-emerging rather than emerging economies as they are regaining an eminence they once enjoyed. For more than a thousand years and well into the 19th century, these two were the world’s biggest economies by a comfortable margin. Today, they are clearly on the rebound. Yet, in what regard and to what extent is the world’s center of gravity actually shifting from West to East? Obviously, economic numbers alone do not tell the whole story.
The Seminar will be structured in three sessions of 1.5 hours each. Each session will be introduced by 3 prepared interventions of no more than 10 minutes each, followed by general discussion for the remaining hour. A final fourth session will focus primarily on discussion and synthesis. The session outlines are suggestions for general discussion and will be more finely tuned as the seminar date approaches.
The Tufts European Center is located in the resort village of Talloires, France on the shores of Lake Annecy in a mountain setting at the foot of the French Alps in the Haute Savoie region. Talloires is approximately an hour outside Geneva. The European Center provides state of the art conference facilities in a renovated medieval Benedictine monastery. Further information on the Center and the region may be found at: http://ase.tufts.edu/frenchalps/