Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday morning musings - Indian elections, demographic change and the situation in the Ukraine

Voting in the 2014 Indian elections opened on 7 April and will conclude on 12 May. That's a very long time, but it's a very large electorate. This Economist piece looks at the difficulties involved.

Talking to my taxi driver last Sunday, he came from India when he was seventeen but retains close links, he commented that corruption and the need for change was central from his viewpoint. One of the features of this election has been the importance of social media. This piece will give you a feel. Measured by the size of the electorate, well over 800 million, those with access to social media remain a minority, but an increasingly important one.

Meantime, down in Victoria, a Parliamentary Committee is investigating the possible misuse of social media and ads associated with election campaigns. I must say the story sounds a bit of a beat-up, Perhaps I'm wrong.   

Over on The Interpreter, Stephen Grenville records
The latest IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) records a watershed moment for the global economy. In terms of purchasing power GDP, the emerging and developing economies are now clearly larger than the advanced economies. Moreover, they have accounted for three-quarters of global growth since 2009 and make up two-thirds of forecast global growth.

The inexorable power of compound interest means that this trend will continue. However, we need to exercise a little care in interpretation.The subdivision between developed and emerging and developing economies is a statistical subdivision. Like all statistical constructs, it conceals as much as it reveals.After all, when these statistics were first collected Japan, Korea or Singapore were not included as developed countries!

What is clear is that particular countries and indeed areas are experiencing shifts in economic position that greatly affect the world's power map.Underlying these changes are the progressive shifts in demography that I have been writing about for a while, shifts in the size and structures of populations in particular countries and regions that over time greatly affect the economic and political power of those areas. This makes for unstable politics.

In the Ukraine, the position gets messier all the time. Faced with a declining Russian population and influence, Mr Putin appears to be responding by a combination of irredentism with action to increase the domestic birthrate. Driven by the dream of Imperial Russia, a vision of the great Russian people, Mr Putin is attempting to re-establish Russia's position now.

It is very hard to see a sensible end-game in the Ukraine. Events in Slaviank suggest a situation rapidly spiraling out of control. The suddenly apparent well trained militia men may, or may not be, Russian as this Australian Melbourne Age story suggested, although it is hard to see just how such forces could emerge without some form of state backing. However, it would seem that Moscow cannot control local responses among the groups that it has been backing. Mr Putin's rhetoric makes it very hard for him not to order intervention in order to "stabilise" the situation should things spin further out of control.And from that point, things get even messier. . .   .   

Australians don't realise how unusual Australia is. Russia needs people, but they must be "Russian" people. Immigrant countries such as New Zealand, Australia, the US or Canada have defined images and political structures independent of ethnicity or religion. Despite their problems, these are inclusive societies.That's actually quite unusual in the current world.        


Rummuser said...

I am surprised that you have not yet talked about Thomas Picketty when you have talked about the overtaking. In both economies, the long term implications are mind boggling though quite whether I will be around to see some major upheavals in the form of higher taxes for the wealthy is doubtful.

Indian elections are fun to watch and read about when you are here!

Jim Belshaw said...

From the little I have seen, Ramana, I am sure that the Indian elections has many strange oddities magnified by its very size.

I haven't commented on Picketty because I haven't read the book and the commentary that I have seen doesn't quite give me the ammunition to write properly. Will be forced to find it in due course.