For aging Asia, productivity growth will have to be a priority, for which an enabling environment for innovation and enhanced use of technology will be key. While East Asia is aging rapidly, South and Central Asia are still relatively young and growing. Such a large young population can bring demographic dividends by enhancing consumption, saving and growth, but can also be a demographic disaster if productive employment opportunities for the young cannot be found. Without remunerative jobs, the economy would not accumulate wealth to eventually pay for the old-age care of this large population when it is much older. In his second in the series of five lectures, Mr Nag discussed on how Asia will manage these challenges. Professor Abhijit Sen from Jawaharlal Nehru University, as discussant for this lecture, also shared his views.
Asia’s Two Faces and the Need for Inclusive Growth
March 31, 2015
Many have termed the 21st century as the Asian Century. Asia’s economic growth has been spectacular over the past several decades: it accounts today for over a quarter of global GDP. Three of the five largest economies in the world today are in Asia. And millions have been lifted out of poverty. Asians today are richer, healthier, more educated, and live longer than they did a generation back. But the region also faces severe development challenges. Continuing poverty—two thirds of the world’s poor still live in Asia—rising inequality, social deprivation, environmental degradation, gender bias, food, energy and water insecurity, and poor physical and social infrastructure pose many pressing challenges. If these challenges go unmet, Asia could get caught in a “middle income” trap thus rendering the dream of an “Asian Century” just that: a dream. Delivering the first in a series of five special lectures, Rajat Nag spoke on need to pursue an inclusive growth strategy to meet the challenges of the diverging two Asias.
NCAER’s five-lecture series on the Asian Century by Distinguished Fellow Rajat M. Nag will be spread over the next few months. This lecture series examines the challenges that Asia must confront and also the opportunities that it must exploit to achieve the potential of an Asian Century, a proposition that he will show is plausible, but not inevitable. Future lectures will cover Asia’s population demographics; green growth and the competition for natural resources; infrastructure deficits and transforming finance; and, finally, governance, institutions, and regional integration.
Rajat Nag was until 2014 the former Managing Director-General of the Asian Development Bank. Besides joining NCAER, he is currently the Chair of the Look East Council of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and is a Visiting Professor at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila. Mr Nag began his professional career at the Bank of Canada, and held senior positions in consulting before joining the ADB. He has engineering degrees from IIT, Delhi and the University of Saskatchewan. He also has an MA in Business Administration from Canada and in Economics from the London School of Economics.
Upcoming Asian Century Lectures
Infrastructure Deficits and Transforming Finance
Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 3.30-5:30 pm at NCAER Conference Room
Most of Asia is still plagued by severe physical infrastructure deficits. Some estimates put the capital investment requirements of about $ 8 trillion over the next decade in all sectors: transportation, energy, water supply and sanitation, health and education. This lecture will attend some important challenges like the infrastructure demands and consequences of urbanization. As Asia’s share in the global economy grows, it should have proportionately similar shares of financial assets to efficiently recycle and allocate its huge savings and foreign reserves. The discussions in this lecture will look into how will this transformation unfold and also into the important aspects of financial inclusion.
Governance and Institutions
Thursday, May 28, 2015, 3.30-5:30 pm at at NCAER Conference Room
Asia’s prosperity and security in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world would require greater cooperation among itself in a spirit of open regionalism and not fortress Asia. Sub-regional cooperation initiatives have flourished, some more than others in various parts of Asia and the prospects of garlanding them leading to a Pan Asian integration will be assessed in this lecture. . Rule of law, predictability and accountability are fundamental bedrocks of good governance, which is a key condition for sustainable growth. Strong institutions are equally necessary to deliver development results and deliver economic progress, social justice and welfare for all and their roles will be discussed in this lecture.
Regional Cooperation and Integration
Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 6:00-8.00 pm at IIC Multipurpose Hall
Asia’s growth will not be sustainable if it is not simultaneously green. And, yet Asia’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions will be substantial as the region grows. What should be Asia’s role in future global accords on climate change? This lecture will focus on the need for Asia to take a proactive approach to managing its environmental footprint in its own interests as much as for the global good.