What do you do when you don’t have solutions to the most pertinent problems devastating the world? Well, you just form a forum of like minded, power hungry and ayesayers, find an exotic resort in Europe and discuss the problems for a few days in the most obscenely luxurious environs and pledge to meet next year again with some new issues to discuss, albeit without any substantial solutions. This is the best way to define a forum most ceremoniously called the ‘World Economic Forum’. From which viewpoint it is a ‘world’ forum, is hard to comprehend. It can be termed a world forum if and only if the world is just about the US and Europe. And since it is not, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is in no way a global forum. So what is it? Well, to begin with, the World Economic Forum is a private entity and not essentially one, which is necessarily represented by all the nation states. Initiated by Professor Klaus M. Schwab (who has been famous for equating the anti globalisation protesters with terrorists), the World Economic Forum has been a forum where companies are invited based on their annual revenues. No wonder, if this is the criteria, then no one can expect any company from under-developed economies to have a fair chance to put forward their view points and problems, forget expecting any substantial solution in return. While the WEF has been crying aloud that it is the ideal platform to discuss pertinent issues plaguing the world, one wonders how does the coming together of the perpetrators themselves solve the problems of AIDS in Asia and Africa, sectarian violence in Iraq and Pakistan, ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, and ripples created by the onslaught of globalisation. Well, one could have still been hopeful of some concrete ideas coming out of it had some prominent organisations, research institutions, think tanks and economists been part of it. But certainly, you don’t expect much when the CEOs of aerated drinks, beverages and chocolate companies come together for a rendezvous. Add to this the millions of dollars wasted on this useless annual event for the so called ‘fool proof’ security from not just terrorists, but also the people who come their to voice concerns through protests and resentments. It is not only that the voices of resentment are gagged, but considering them as threat, a curfew like situation is created to keep the protesters at arms length; while the men who have congregated there, at their hypocritical best, pretend to talk about these very people and their plight. To gauge the scope and depth of the hypocrisy, let’s have a look at one of the theme issues of the forum this year. It’s been named ‘the shifting power equation’, which essentially is all about the emergence of India and China. To realise this ‘global secret’, the organisers have spent millions of dollars, in one of most expensive locales of the world, with a war-time like security arrangements (Frankly, it’s quite clear that neither India nor China was waiting for the WEF endorsement; the ascent of these countries is not because of WEF, but because of the sheer perseverance, dedication, determination and sacrifice of their millions of middle class employees and entrepreneurs). It was also interesting to note that they did feel it pertinent to discuss about the burning Middle East. But even when the entire world knows how the idiosyncrasies of one dim-witted individual destroyed and disintegrated one entire country forever, no one in WEF found it significant enough to take up this issue or to, even for the sake of lip-service, conclude with a solemn pledge that such a thing should not be repeated again anywhere in the world. Understandably though, as the entire conclave is at the mercy of the American multinationals – and their sponsor money – along with American senators, who form the bulk of the heavyweights representing the forum. Trade, globalisation, aid, petro-politics, climate change, were among the other ‘prominent pertinent’ issues that were discussed at the forum with the usual barrage of hollow rhetoric. What more, the mother of all hypocrisy, the home page of the World Economic Forum states – The World Economic Forum is a ‘truly independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas’. The fact is, even if they would have pledged just half of the forum’s income (which runs into millions of dollars) to a miniscule proportion of the billion plus people who don’t have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, it would have made the existence of the forum more meaningful. In fact, to live up to their deeds (defying Shakespeare), the forum should immediately re-christen themselves as World Hypocrites Forum, as there is a lot in a name!!!
- 11 February 2007 |
- Arindam on Indian Economy