The devastating COVID-19 pandemic reminded us that no country is an island. A virus that originated in an open air ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, China soon engulfed the entire world inflicting tragedy on millions of households around the globe, vividly demonstrating that in a shared global ecosystem what happens anywhere affects countries and peoples everywhere.
The pandemic also brutally exposed the fissures in the global system. Instead of pooling knowledge and resources to put up a collective fight against the microbial enemy, countries retreated into self-centred enclaves with their lockdowns, border restrictions, vaccine nationalism and ‘my country first’ policies. Narrow, sub-optimal parochialism prevailed over sustainable, optimal globalism.
For sure, fissures in the global polity and economy were evident even before the pandemic as evidenced, for example, by fault lines cutting across tariff wars, cross border regulation of finance, taxing of multinational companies, a code of conduct for pan-national technology companies, collective action to combat climate change and growing restrictions on migration. The war in Ukraine which erupted even before the world emerged out of the pandemic expanded and exacerbated the cracks.
Globalization over the last 75 years has brought enormous benefits to rich and poor countries alike. The East Asian Miracle of the 1980s, and later the spectacular rise of China from a low to a middle-income country in a matter of just one generation were a result of globalization. Countries of South Asia, latecomers into globalization, have been hoping to move up the income ladder through integrating with the world. Collectively, Asia was hoping that the 21st century would be an emphatic Asia-Pacific Century. Is that dream now threatened by the post-pandemic fractured world? Is it at all possible to reverse this global race to the bottom, and how? In a world divided by nation states, where and how to find a constituency for the global optimal?
The Roundtable intends to generate a discussion around these questions.
About the Speaker
Duvvuri Subbarao served as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for five years (2008-13). Prior to that, he was Finance Secretary to the Government of India (2007-08) and Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (2005-07).
Subbarao joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1972, topping the highly competitive civil services entry examination in that year. As a career civil servant, he worked in various positions in the state government of Andhra Pradesh and in the federal government of India. He was a Lead Economist in the World Bank (1999 – 2004).
Subbarao studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, the Ohio State University and at MIT.
Subbarao was alternate governor for India on the Governing Boards of both the World Bank and the IMF. As Finance Secretary to Government of India and later as Governor of RBI, he participated in G-20 meetings and the meetings of the Bank for International Settlements.
Subbarao’s book “Who Moved My Interest Rate” chronicling his experiences in leading the Reserve Bank of India through five turbulent year is best known for the way he explained the policy dilemmas and challenges facing an emerging economy central bank in a globalized world.
After stepping down as Governor, RBI, Subbarao was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the National University of Singapore (2014-18), at the University of Pennsylvania (2019-20), and most recently at the Nanyang Technological University as Visiting Senior Fellow
This event is off the record/not for attribution.