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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
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China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
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Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
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Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
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Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
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Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
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Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
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Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
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Limited offer sale: Buy a country
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Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
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Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
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Storm in a teacup!
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News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
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Facebook revolution but Indian style
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Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
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Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
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Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Economic Times, June 21, 2012
 

I saw, by chance, the first episode of a UK TV film about Afghanistan narrated by Rory Stewart who, incidentally, walked alone across its north-central region in the winter of 2002. He reflects in his series "... some of the parallels between history and the recent past are uncanny. A well-equipped army, full of confidence, swaggers into the country to fight a war against an enemy that some think doesn't really exist: they have little idea of the horrors that lie ahead. This was not 2001, or even about the Russians in 1979, but the British in 1839".

In the second part, a Russian general was asked for advice to give to the Americans: he replied "look for the exit as quick as possible!" But this text is not about Afghanistan, nor of the thoughts of Alfred T Mayer who was dubbed "one of America's greatest strategists" and who revived the idea of the 'Great Game' as a troubled world between the 30th and 40th parallels of the Asian continent which includes much of modern Central Asia. No, I wish to reflect on an activity which truly deserves to be called "The Great Game" - the perversity of humans. There are many aspects of this perversion - but the greatest involves 'fooling oneself!'

To study this, we perhaps ought to follow the advice of Marshal McLuhan, who in 1964 suggested "the medium is the massage", advocating that it was not the content but the way in which this content is delivered that is important. Look at the fact that millions of people round the world play computer games, and billions strive to buy televisions even when they are starving. This latter point was discovered fairly recently by aid workers who had forgotten that "... the visual massage" assuages the depths of despair, yet they wanted people to eat more nourishing food even though they were very poor.

Returning to the PC games, bought by the rich and the poor (with global market of $20 billion) - they too carry messages! Consumers find they are educational, teaching subtly how to build personal capacity; how to interact better in work and leisure and how to extend knowledge. Others might wish to engage in 'warfare' games... either against the computer programme or against unseen other humans through the Internet. Although such activities develop motor and strategic skills, they may feed our dark psyche and be worrisome in case of copycat activity in the real world.

The games support thousands of software developers globally, many in India, who strive to make them more innovative either through paid-use of the games to find glitches, or through writing new code. They are the in-work people, but across India are millions who hardly can afford food notwithstanding India's relatively good economic indicators across all sectors.

Aggregate indicators hide many aspects: and as with all media massaging, increasing trends are applauded. The greater number of software programmers is a case in point. But India does not note in its economic growth indicators its lengthening delays in resolving Court cases. These contribute significantly to its national inability to curb corruption at all levels and in doing so, force more into the slums that both surround and co-exist between the glitzy buildings of the new India. It doesn't take much strategic learning to realise that if the Courts don't get round to a conviction, one may continue to play the 'Great Game' - fooling oneself that corruption is a winning strategy.

There is always hope. Sometimes, in these tight-knit poor communities, self-aid and the very local trading will overcome the debasements by encouraging each to pull for the other. We have seen through the essence of the Grameen Bank that has spread widely from its early base - now 'micro-credit' has become a buzz word with too much meaning: 'everything to everybody'. We should put labels to various types of microcredit so that we can clarify which form of microcredit we are talking about.

This is very important for designing appropriate institutions and methodologies, since the most distinctive feature of Grameen-type-credit is "trust", not legal procedures or formal systems. As we can see in Slumdog Millionaire, we have further evidence that the medium massages us all... anti-cheating is encapsulated therein for our pleasure.

The Economist (June 2, 2012) opened with a leader upon 'Morals and the Machine' developing appropriate questions. Yet, it is somewhat ironic that we can't teach ourselves the answers to these questions when dealing with fellow humans. I feel, sadly, that India is slowly dragging itself down.

It is mired in the stickiness of dithering. Its decision to 'be independent' years ago ought to be changed to acknowledge interdependence, and to acknowledge we must trust to defeat corruption. Then India Inc may develop more fully its people, raising its 'slumdogs' to more prominent positions and so raising its 'Great Game' from fantasy to a richer reality.

 

The author is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global business community


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