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Manmohan calls for new global vision
Cambridge honour for PM
Naveen Kapoor

Cambridge University (UK), October 11
Over a year after being honoured with a doctorate by Oxford University, Cambridge University bestowed upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Doctor of Law degree here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Singh said he was deeply conscious of the honour bestowed upon him by two of Britain’s oldest universities, and said the tutelage that he had received from teachers like Nicholas Kaldor, Joan Robinson, Maurice Dobb and Prof R.C.O. Mathews, and his interactions with contemporaries like Amartya Sen, Jagadish Bhagwati, Mahbul Haq and Rehman Shobhan — all of whom have become renowned economists from South Asia — had stood the test of time, and “taught me to be open to argument and to be fearless and lucid in the expression of one’s opinions”.

Describing the links between India and Cambridge as long and enduring, Dr Singh said vast changes had taken place around the world between 1950s and the new millennium.

Whereas in the mid-50s, the Cold War had frozen the world into two blocs, the world today was radically altered.

“A new age of freedom has harnessed to it new technologies that have transformed production and communication. The dismantling of state control has unshackled economic forces. More countries are now integrated into a global economic system in which trade and capital flow across borders with unprecedented energy. The age of freedom is also the age of economic growth. Prometheus has truly been unbound,” he said.

He went on to say that a significant feature of the global economy was “the integration of the emerging economies in world markets. They now account for more than two-fifths of world exports compared to a fifth 25 years ago”.

“In many parts of the developing world, especially India and China, per capita incomes are doubling or are expected to double over every decade. This will lift millions of people out of poverty,” he added.

Referring to India, Dr Singh said the economic reforms initiated in the early 1990s had made it more competitive.

“Indian business is responding to new market opportunities. India’s growth is underpinned by a vibrant and growing entrepreneurial class. Indian youth is keen to get into technical and scientific institutions —helping India gain salience as a knowledge-based economy. Our country, I believe, is now on growth path of 7 to 9 per cent per year, while maintaining price stability. The proportion of people living below the poverty line is declining,” he said.

Globalisation notwithstanding, Dr Singh said the process had not removed personal and regional income disparities.

“The working classes in industrialised countries are becoming fearful of the opening of markets. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. This, coupled with the inability of the public sector to provide adequate and quality services in health and education, and cater to the needs of the poor, is causing resentment and alienation. This is nurturing divisive forces and putting pressure on the practice of democracy,” he warned.

“I suggest that we address these vital concerns by making globalisation an inclusive process. We need to work for inclusive globalisation. This calls for a new global vision,” he added. He said the vision must ensure that the gains from globalisation are more widely shared.

Expressing concern over the impasse of the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations, Dr Singh said: “If trade is to be an instrument of combating poverty and spreading manufacturing capacities more evenly in the world, it is vital that barriers to the export of agricultural goods from developing countries be eliminated.”

“To convince people in poor countries about the benefits of globalisation we must take a more enlightened view in liberalising trade in services and labour-intensive manufactures, in which developing countries are competitive. I see trade not only as a means to prosperity but also to peace building,” he added.

He suggested a more enlightened approach to the negotiations on the reduction of harmful gas emissions, intellectual property rights in the production of life saving drugs, transfer of technologies that help combat poverty and such issues.

He added that all efforts to eradicate poverty would be in vain if societies and nations continued to be threatened by the spectre of terrorism and extremism.

“Open societies like India and Britain are more vulnerable to this threat. The very openness of our societies makes us more vulnerable. Yet we must fight terrorism without losing the openness or the rule of law that guarantees the freedom of the individual,” Dr Singh said.

“As democracies we must also stand together in making governance across the world more democratic. As a democracy we aspire to a world in which global institutions are more democratic and more representative of all peoples of the world. A more inclusive global process that carries the population of the world with it calls for a reform of these institutions, in which the developing world will have a greater voice. Not to do otherwise is to risk alienation and to render ineffectual the global system,” he added.

In his speech, the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, Prof Alison Richard, said it was rare indeed for the position of Prime Minister to be given to someone who was not a professional politician.

Describing Dr Manmohan Singh as a scholar and public servant of great distinction, Professor Richard said: “He grew up in times so perilous that for a long while when India and Pakistan were brutally created, his father went missing, and he himself could not discover his own examination results. Yet, he pursued his studies as far as Cambridge.”

Professor Richard further went on to say that Dr Singh read his economics with “such brilliance” that he was awarded the Adam Smith Prize.

“Millions look to this man. They see in him someone of auspicious integrity. He is in the words of the Greek poet Simonides ‘Cool and Calm’, and a man of healing virtue,” Professor Richard concluded. — ANI



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