Dilip Ratha: the hidden force in global economics – sending money home

globalization

 

Globalization, like it or hate it, has brought tremendous impact to global economy, either on the very macro level – as often discussed in global forums, or in the deeply micro level – as shown by the restless dedication put forward by hundreds of millions of people who move outside their home countries, to pursue either personal goals or dreams, or to help their families and beloved ones thriving. With nearly 250 million people now living outside their national borders, as many as 180 million of them originate from less developed countries, and most of them, while being overlooked by bulk of international economists, are the economic lifeblood for their home countries. India, counting its millions of migrant workers in Middle East and Western Hemisphere alone, receives the world’s largest amount of remittance, currently reaching 72 billion US$ as of 2014, three to four times the amount of its IT export. Egypt itself receives 18 billion US$, three times the revenues obtained from Suez Canal. Both Tajikistan and Somalia respectively account their remittances into nearly 40% of their overall GDP. While the next time you see a migrant worker toiling hard in a construction site in an otherworldly city, or cleaning up their masters’ flat, do not, for ever, underestimate their labor: they bring a staggering amount of 415 billion US$ back to their countries each year, excluding another half a trillion dollars in their personal savings. The amount of money highly enough to make sure children go to schools, families receive adequate healthcare, and help their beloved ones in setting up small-scale businesses. It’s even three times the amount of international aid; a charity concert will do unforgivably small compared to the contribution of these migrants.

In this brilliant TED talk, Dilip Ratha, himself one of the migrants hailing from India, and now a development economist based in US, wants to talk about one of the world’s largest, and most thriving, sectors, thanks to globalization, and also one of the most overlooked, all with its bureaucracy problems, mismanagement, and even remittance abuse by labor agencies across the globe.

Listen to his talk, and let us think deeper.

 

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Pico Iyer: Where is home?

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Last year, the latest reports from United Nations about international migration proved something surprising about the world today: more people are living outside their home countries than ever in human history. As many as nearly 250 million people – that’s a quarter of a billion – do not, or do no longer, live in countries they were once born or raised. Many factors contribute to such phenomenon. When a country’s economic situation is in dismal condition, a huge diaspora will ensue. If a country is plagued by wars or other civilian conflicts, millions of people will seek a safer place to survive, no matter what challenges they endure. Some choose to leave just because ‘they want to leave’; looking out for a better, more tranquil life, or somewhere that really supports their souls, dreams, and/or ambitions.

No matter what the reasons are, these people are increasingly identifying themselves as ‘global citizens’. They share a belief in the source of their origins, or ancestors; but in the end, with waves of globalization penetrating all aspects of life, migration is now an inevitable issue. There will be more and more people moving out of their countries, forming new communities, new mindsets, new cultures, and for sure, reshaping the world over and over. Earth has never been colorful like that before.

Pico Iyer, himself a full-blooded Indian, but raised in UK, working in US, and spending some time in a rural village in Japan, and also a travel author, shares his insight as one of 250 million international migrants, in this empowering TED talk about travel, moving out, and self-identity.

 

Esther Duflo: Social experiments to fight poverty

poverty

 

Here’s one big question: what has happened to poverty? While optimists talk about flourishing economic growth and proudly declare that this disease will end sooner or later, realists, or the skeptics, point out worsening inequality in nearly all parts of the world as the main consequence of globalization. Despite an ever increasing abundance of various materials amid a burgeoning world population now 7.2 billion strong, 40% among them still earn 2 US$ a day or even less – threshold of what constitutes as ‘economic poverty’ in developing world.

Hundred billions of dollars, the countless of it, have been spent by industrialized countries for decades to help lift these people from the satanic cycle that has plagued them for generations – for little effects. Food production has now enabled surpluses, but people go hungry. Latest marvels in medical technology have shown their potential to heal a great many diseases, but millions of people remain untreated for diseases that are easily recoverable. Children still drop out of school and are entrapped in labor exploitation. What is happening here?

Esther Duflo, a development economist, believes that the root of this problem lies in rampant mismanagement of available resources. The TED talk below offers a detailed explanation, and also solutions as well as examples, on how to handle these mistakes.

 

Eric Liu: Why ordinary people need to understand power

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Beforehand, I’ve posted one TED talk about the uncontrolled inequities between the plutocrats and the commoners. And, here’s again another power-related one, which pretty much can explain about the previous video: ordinary people’s illiteracy, and blatant ignorance, of the importance of power. Given this rationale, it is why power – and much of the vacuum left by ignorance – is concentrated only among a handful elsewhere, not just in United States, but also across the world. Democracy, in sum, hasn’t been completely realized.

Eric Liu, a Seattle-based civics educator and also pioneer of Citizen University, wants to debunk the ongoing cycle, and provides one proof where civic engagement is possible, and thanks to globalization, can become a contagious ‘positive virus’ as well: cities. Cities, in his idea, can become great social laboratories to engineer changes for the sake of the people, particularly at a time when national governments mostly end up in deadlocks for partisan, stalled negotiations.

He offers some examples where we should learn:

1. The idea of ‘bike-friendly cities’ that kick-started in Copenhagen, Denmark, and spread to dozens of cities across the world

2. How Seattle led the initiatives of numerous major cities across the United States to set targets for reduction of carbon production; at a time when the country, overall, refused to participate in Kyoto Protocol

3. When national government in Washington, D.C., was highly paralyzed due to partisan conflicts of interests, it is instead local cities, towns, and lower-level administrative divisions that continued providing essential services for the people

4. How ‘participatory budgeting’ in Porto Alegre, Brazil, by which city dwellers decide together how much funds the city should be allocated for expenditure by sectors, spreads into numerous major cities across the planet

5. The rise of grassroots movements in China to oppose corrupt authorities at a local level, and the rate is rising

Learn more about this potential by tuning in to his TED talk below.

 

George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me

george takei

 

Let’s say you are a citizen of country A, born, raised, and educated there with all that country’s beliefs and values, but your ancestral origin is from another one, say, country B. Your physical features, your face, your appearance, all of which are precisely those of people living in the latter.

Let’s say that country A and country B are involved in a diplomatic crisis, a conflict, or worse, a war. Your family wants to move, but they can hardly decide what may be a better decision. In case they stay, it is very likely that either the government of country A, or the public majority, will label you as ‘enemies’, ‘aliens’, ‘non-citizens’, and will even resort to all measures, no matter how extreme, to eliminate you, despite your innocence and your having no political connection to the latter. On the other hand, moving back to your ‘ancestral homeland’ is hardly a good notion, though. Citizens, or government there, may very possibly dub you as ‘enemies from country A’, ‘vermin’, ‘national traitors’, or what have you. You can hardly speak their language, despite your exact body features. You are rejected, and being pigeonholed, by the two countries. You don’t know where to move. And you don’t know what to do.

Numberless minorities over this world, for all the eons, have been faced with such dilemma. Chinese in Southeast Asian countries, Asians in the United States, Whites, Asians, and Arabs in some parts of Africa and elsewhere, and even minorities in Europe, they are just a handful of examples that illustrate such phenomenon. Identity crisis oftentimes becomes inevitable. But we know we can barely make a choice. Whatever that happens, we must accept and fight against that label, that prejudice that sticks over us for a lifetime.

George Takei, a Japanese-American actor, and also a proud gay, shares his experiences of being interred during World War II, and the subsequent, long and uneasy, processes that made him eventually love America as it is, despite all the pains it had incurred towards his family. Watch his inspiring talk below. May this talk be an inspiration to all of us.

 

Simon Anholt: Which country does the most good for the world?

good country index

 

Globalization has brought numerous changes across the whole world, be it positive and negative. It frees up nation-states, breaks political and geographical boundaries, and enables an increasingly faster exchange of ideas, monies, products, and people than ever. Nonetheless, it also creates new problems as well: global warming, transnational crime, the overwhelming control of multinational corporations, influx of foreign products and culture, and erosion of traditional values, are just a handful compared to countless effects this trend has brought in in these recent days.

The largest problem, however, is all the nation-states’ failure to well adapt to such phenomenon, and their over-tendencies to focus inwards, rather than outwards. As though ‘every country itself were an island on its own’, according to Simon Anholt, a policy adviser having brought expertise to governments worldwide.

What he wants, right now, is a new approach taken by leaders and societies in response to problems taking place today, not a conventional one that had been in place for two or three centuries or so. One by which domestic and international agenda can be synchronized altogether, one that not only satisfies the people’s well-beings, but also improve the countries’ image abroad. And, most importantly, the country that cares not just for the sake of the nation, in this 21st-century context, but also the rest of humanity.

Firstly, Anholt had released Nation Brand Index in 2005 to list countries which have the most positive image among people overseas. Right now, he has another index on his own hand, measuring which countries contribute the most to the whole world (and not necessarily in financial terms): Good Country Index. Having gathered huge datasets, and analysis by numerous experts across different fields, they have listed nations which contribute the most for the world’s well-beings. And you must be curious which countries rank on the top.

PS: it’s not United States. It’s not even China.

 

Watch the brilliant TED talk here.

 

Stella Young: I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much

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We have been, oftentimes, exposed by media to ‘inspirational high-tales’ about people with physical disability who seemingly ‘go out of their comfort zones’ – doing things normally only their able-bodied counterparts can do. Such stories make us question our existence, our self-esteem, and kinda ‘force’ us to improve our life quality, or whatever terms you can associate with it. Someone born without legs who can swim 100 m will ‘force’ normal people who are yet to learn it, to learn it.

Stella Young, herself a physically disabled person nonetheless, disagrees with this notion. She thinks the media, using this way, is instead ‘objectifying’ people of her kind, packaging them in soap-boxy shows she terms ‘inspiration-porn’, exploiting them only for the sake of able-bodied people. An activity normally done by us, when done by them, is instead ‘absurdly’ dubbed as an ‘extraordinary achievement’. She feels something wrong is going on with such perception, and she wants that to change.

The Australian stand-up comedian shares in this humor-charged TED talk her alternative perspective in looking at this phenomenon. Watch it, and think again.