Towards a new world order (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: World Economic Forum
Mains level: Role and characteristics of the World Economic Forum in economic
- The World Economic Forum (WEF) started in 1971 with the noble objective
of improving the state of the world, but now serves as a platform for world
leaders, billionaires, professionals at the top of the business pyramid,
senior government ministerial delegations, and others, who gather to change
- This is the 49th year of the congregation, which now resembles an ice
circus. The messages from Davos drift like snowflakes, on the agendas of the
- Social inequalities and the grim problems of stark and continuing
poverty are at the epicentre of the new world.
- The latest Oxfam Report presented at Davos points out that 2,153
billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people.
- The emergence of billionaires and oligarchs in different parts of the
world coincides with increased poverty among the already poor people,
- These realities make observers question the tenability of stakeholder
capitalism as a concept.
- Characteristics of economic development:
- One of the chief characteristics of economic development is the
intensification of energy use.
- There is an unprecedented concentration of high energy density in all
economic development strategies.
- The bulk of the energy continues to be generated from non-renewable
- The developed world’s, and China’s, central objective is to capture
energy-generating resources from across continents and put them to use to
push GDP growth to greater heights. In the process, sustainability is
becoming a casualty.
How do we define energy?
- In physics, energy is defined as ‘work done’ or, in other words, the
force that moves all objects. It is important to understand the
philosophical implications of one of the great laws of physics — the Laws of
- The first law states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed,
it merely changes form and is always conserved.
- The second law states that when ‘work is done’, only a part of the
energy is consumed, the balance is lost. The lost part is called ‘entropy’
and it is proven that entropy always maximises.
- This whole phenomenon also leaves behind inert material as waste. The
higher the use of energy, the larger the amount of waste generated. Entropy,
like time, is always unidirectional, it only goes forward.
- Egregious consumption of energy by the developed world has been
accompanied by the disposal of residual products (‘e-waste’) on the shores
of many African and Asian countries.
- As a result, the poor in the developing world are, unwittingly, drawn
and exposed to toxic, hazardous materials like lead, cadmium and arsenic.
- Hence, the ‘globalisation’ phenomenon has turned out to be nothing
other than exploitation of the developing world, with most countries being
treated as a source of cheap labour and critical raw material.
Nordic Economic Model:
- The ‘Nordic Economic Model’, which pertains to the remarkable
achievements of the Scandinavian countries comprising Denmark, Finland,
Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and allied territories.
- The total population of the Nordic countries is estimated at almost 27
million people. These nations are among the richest in the world when
measured in terms of GDP per capita.
- They also have large public sector enterprises; extensive and generous
universal welfare systems; high levels of taxation; and considerable state
involvement in promoting and upholding welfare states.
- UN reports also indicate that the Nordic countries are the happiest
countries in the world. The U.S., in contrast, is in 19th place.
- Taking the Nordic model as a template, there are some ingredients that
could be part of a new ‘enlightened global order’. These should include —
effective welfare safety nets for all; corruption-free governance; a
fundamental right to tuition-free education, including higher education; and
a fundamental right to good medical care.
- This also has to involve shutting of tax havens.
- In Nordic countries, personal and corporate income tax rates are very
high, especially on the very rich. If a just, new world order is to arise,
taxes everywhere should go up.
Holding companies responsible:
- When it comes to the corporate sector, there are some new
- In traditional business accounting, ‘bottom line’ refers to the
financial year’s profit or loss earned or incurred by the company on pure
- However, following vigorous debates, a new format has emerged under
which a company’s performance is measured through four ‘Ps’. The first is
‘P’ for ‘profit’.
- The second ‘P’ is for people — how the company’s actions impact not
only employees, but society as a whole.
- The third ‘P’ is for planet — are the company’s actions and plans
sensitive to the environment?
- The four ‘P’ is for purpose, which means the companies and individuals
must develop a larger purpose than ‘business as usual’.
- Using big data and text analytics, a company’s performance can be
measured in terms of all the four ‘P’s and a corporate entity can be thus
- Market capitalisation need not be the only way to measure the value of