A World Reorder: New Geometries, Fluid Partnerships, Uncertain Outcomes
Ministry of External Affairs | Observer Research Foundation
Jan. 8-10, 2019
New Delhi, India
08 January 2019
18:00-19:00: Inaugural Session at Durbar
19:30-21:00: Inaugural Session at Durbar
Foreign Secretary’s Dinner
When WTO met Westphalia: Preserving the Liberal Economic Order
In recent years, three secular tendencies have begun to challenge the last seven decades’ economic progress. Non-market economies have become models of success, with their state-owned and state-run enterprises engaging in zero-sum economics; meanwhile, perverse trading arrangements seek to create national or regional advantages. Second, the rise of nationalist politics has created a basis for nativist economics; countries across the globe are increasingly looking to economic policy as a means of populist political propagation. Finally, the illicit movement of information and intellectual property is challenging what was a fundamental part of free markets; knowledge creation. Can the economic order that served as the basis for decades of growth and prosperity survive? Must it adapt to meet these challenges — and, if so, should it fight them or accommodate them? Is there no populist, or even popular, case to be made for the liberal economic order?
Towards an Inclusive Human Capital Framework
The fast-growing populations in the emerging world are now demanding world-clas health services. This is in the backdrop of significant lifestyle changes, old health challenges, and new vulnerabilities arising from affluence. Addressing their aspirations will thus require new models of delivery, new partnerships — and novel financing mechanisms. How can communities become co-creators and co-providers of health services, instead of passive recipients of care? What models have emerged from policy experimentation in emerging economies that are worth investing in and spreading? And how can the politics of developing countries be re-ordered around the provision of basic health?
Trust in Tech: A New Framework for Digital Security and Prosperity
Is the digital realm an Impossible Triangle, where national security, privacy, and economic growth are impossible to be served equally? Cyber crimes, banking frauds, radicalisation online, repressive free speech regulations, and biased technology design have led to a growing pushback against technology generally, and technology companies specifically. How must corporates respond to the growing trust deficit that consumers have with the big technology platforms and technology service providers? How do we ensure digital freedoms and rights are served and protected by governments and regimes? Is it inevitable that citizen collectives will aggregate together to demand better performance from corporations, regulators, and licensers? Do we need a new framework to ensure digital peace and well-being?
Two Arteries, One Heartland: As the Arctic, Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific Converge
The economic and strategic drivers of the 21st century are forcing the political convergence of three hitherto distinct geographical entities: the Arctic, Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific. As in the parable of the blind men and the elephant: states will feel their way around these geographies, each seeking its own understanding of their unique importance to national interests. This panel will unpack the panoply of actors and strategies enmeshed in these geographies. Is a collision of interests inevitable? What institutions are best placed to manage and defuse emerging tensions? Must the norms governing international co-operation in these areas be abandoned, or can they be salvaged?
The U.S. and Us: Reset or Retreat (For AFGG/BSS Alumi)
Reports of America’s decline have often been greatly exaggerated. The United States has remained central to international politics, even as the size and scale of the global economy grew. Questions are often asked about US engagement with the world, but this panel will seek answers to an even more pressing query: How should the world engage the US? Can actors in global governance that have new-found purpose and capacity assist the United States through the difficult transition to a flatter world? How does the world view a US that has long enjoyed a constancy of strategic goals and ambition?
Jan. 9, 2019
09:00-10:00: Panel Discussion
Amoebic, Asymmetric and Anarchic: Countering Terrorism as it Evolves
What was once called the Global War on Terror will soon enter its third decade. While there have been successes, the threat has evolved over time; new vulnerabilities within free nations and societies have been identified and exploited. Have our tactics and strategy evolved in tandem? What are the new measures and mechanisms required to counter new terrorist threats? Can centralised national security states deal with radically decentralized dangers?
10:00-11:00: Panel Discussion
The World in a Moment: Looking Back, Looking Ahead, Looking Hard
Grand strategy seeks to distill the essence of eras into ideas; international relations is the study of epochs, not of years, hours or minutes. But the 24x7 cycle of the digital era lends itself to insta-punditry, making it difficult for both states and scholars to understand the world for its complexity and sophistication. This panel will press pause on that picture. What broad trends can we see affecting the world in this moment? Where did they come from, and where will they cause us to end up? Is there a discernible pattern to contemporary geo-politics — and what can the past teach us about the present, and the future?
1130-1200: Ministerial Address
1200-1300: In Conversation
Engendered Globalisation: What will it take?
Fifty years of globalisation has rendered people, goods an ideas more mobile than ever. But this brave new world mirrors the biases of the provincial and feudal one that it sought to replace. The involvement and induction of women into factory floors, office suites, and the corridors of political power changed the way we think and tackle problems of global governance. Is this progress now irreversible? What can be done to make this participatory process more sustainable? How are different communities and regions responding to the global realisation of engendered growth and political decision making? Is there a new ethics of politics and power on the horizon that centres gender justice?
13:00-14:30: Lunch Conversations
Green Capital: Sustained Finance for Sustainable Growth
A lack of access to finance remains the key barrier for emerging economies trying to discover sustainable development pathways. What new instruments can they leverage to utilize previously unexploited finance? What can we learn from the successes and failures of such experiments as blended finance and green bonds? How can the development community partner more successfully with international finance to overcome the barriers that prevent greater cross-border investment in green infrastructure?
Bridging the Gulf: Towards New Politics and Economics of a Dynamic Geography
Today, the Gulf is dominated by two strong trends. On the one hand, it is emerging from its old political order and economy and is embracing the knowledge age vigorously. It is visualising a future where it can be a part global value chains in the information age? On the other hand, we see the continued presence of old divides that fester. Is this region an economic powerhouse held back by its political realities? What are the old and new fault lines that need urgent attention of the region and beyond? What new institutions and coalitions can help to respond to these differences? What is the prognosis for a new dynamic and economically-integrated region emerging in the near future?
The Future of Work: Earning to Live vs. Living to Earn
The International Labour Organisation estimates that, in two years, nearly half of all workers in Asia-Pacific will be engaged in “vulnerable” employment. Economic trends, a vast gap between the skills needed to succeed in the global economy and the skills actually available to the most at-risk sections of the workforce, and changing technology have made “decent” jobs ever harder to create. How can governments deal with the skilling and re-skilling needed to emerge from economic vulnerability? Is there a role for redistributive politics to correct a distribution of value that is increasingly seen as perverse — and, if so, how must social welfare and security nets change? And is the notion of a “decent job” obsolete?
The Arrival of Global Politics: Navigating a Multi-perspective World Order
The post-1945 world order, created and sustained by a small group of nations, has dissolved into an apparently chaotic contest for power influence involving individuals, institutions and states. As global governance moves away from states to more diffuse and decentralised networks in which governments are but one player, can traditional channels of diplomacy and troubleshooting remain effective? Are new strategic cultures emerging that reflect this new phase of globalisation? How are these tectonic shifts in power and influence seen by different regional and national worldviews, and can these differing perspectives be reconciled?
14:30-14:50: Ministerial Address
14:50-15:50: Panel Discussion
Indo-Pacific: Ancient Waters and Emerging Geometries
The waters of the Indo-Pacific are the high roads of globalisation — but may also be the domain of the greatest contestations of this century. Is the Indo-Pacific merely a reactive concept willed into being by regional tensions? Or can it become a conduit for economic and political diplomacy that advances prosperity in Eurasia and beyond? The pre-requisite for such cooperation is a peaceful and secure maritime realm, whose prospects this panel will discuss.
1550-1610: Keynote Address
1630-1730: Panel Discussion
The Road from the Khyber to the Bosporus: Partnerships, Perils and Opportunities
The ancient powers that are Turkey and Iran have new ambitions. Their rise permanently alters the balance of power in Asia. As critical conduits for flows of energy, and as repositories of faith for millions of people, their diplomacy will profoundly influence the region. How much autonomy do these states truly possess in a multipolar age? Can they be contained, or only confronted? And does the apparent stability of their politics offer the tantalising possibility of developing a unique Asian blueprint for development?
17:30-17:50: Ministerial Address
17:50-18:30: Panel Discussion
The Waning West: Can it Discover a New Direction?
The global economy’s centre of gravity is relentlessly shifting eastward. Emerging powers seek to become guarantors of local and regional security, and are experimenting with new norms for international engagement and imagining alternative global governance architectures. Must the West reconcile itself to a steadily declining role in international affairs? Can the values associated with the liberal democracies of the West still lay claim to universality? And are the societies shaped by those values capable of discovering a renewed dynamism and a fresh direction, and can partnerships with the East aid this process? Or is it time for the West to rethink its founding propositions?
18:50-1910: Ministerial Address
19:10-2000: Panel Discussion
Old World, New Frontiers: The Future of Europe
A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of nationalism. Once seen as a beacon of liberal prosperity and strategic stability, the continent is today buffeted by multiple headwinds, not least of which are the intertwined concerns of migration, populism, nativism and extremism. Can the European idea, which emerged from the chaos of two great wars, survive this new confrontation with the demons of its its past? Is the notion of an “illiberal Europe” a contradiction in terms, or are the institutions developed over decades of integration robust enough to deal with a populist upsurge? Is reform within Europe necessary — and will that require greater integration, or greater distance?
20:00-21:30: Dinner conversations
Bits and Bytes: Creating an Agile Governance Framework for the Future
The digital revolution is transforming jobs, growth and even the very conception of profit. It is within this fluid context that policy makers must balance access, security and business-friendliness. How can growth be made sustainable and inclusive in an economic framework characterised by the transfer of wealth and value over giant trans-national tech platforms? What will governments expect from corporations in terms of security and nurturing prosperity — and what can corporations reasonably ask in return? And how can we create institutions that ensure both governments and corporations respect individual rights and respond swiftly to individual preferences?
Curating a New Concert: Multiple Visions for the Future of the Indo-Pacific
The Indo-Pacific as a concept was born amid great power rivalry, but is becoming concrete through the formation of various coalitions between the democracies of the region — countries that see a free, open and inclusive order as being to their mutual benefit. This panel will consider possible threats to such an order, and their implications for the future. Can a positive economic vision, for states both large and small, emerge from these autonomous concerns? What are the benefits of a multi-polar Indo-Pacific, and can co-operation replace competition in both the security and economic domains? Are alternative, sustainable paths to connectivity, development and infrastructure being made available to the countries of the Indo-Pacific?
State of Play: In Defence of the Liberal Order (by Invitation only)
Defending Freedom and Countering Influence Operations
The more open the society, the more vulnerable it is to manipulation of public opinion and interference in its political processes. What safeguards do democracies need to counter such threats while retaining the core values of a free society? Must individuals, companies, and the state be mutual adversaries in this effort, or can can a new consensus be forged that protects the integrity of liberal democracy?
SALT and Security: The Unclear Nuclear Dynamics
The treaties that have for decades underwritten the nuclear order are fraying. A generation ago, the nuclear arms race was consigned to the dustbin of history; but a new age has brought new politics and the possibility of fresh competition. Meanwhile, new actors have arisen that challenge the very basis of the nuclear order of haves and have-nots. Are we moving to a world in which both nuclear and technically non-nuclear states have decided to normalise proliferation and enable an arms build-up? Is there any way to avoid damaging competition over missiles and warheads while reassuring regional powers?
MeToo: Mobilization, Impact and Transformation? (For AFGG/BSS Alumi)
The #MeToo movement is a concatenation of serious, individual grievances, but its collective impulse and implications need more careful study. Will identity politics and mobilisation be different in the aftermath of this movement? Does it have the potential to transform power relations within states, businesses — and households? Can formal institutions respond adequately to the aspirations and demands that fueled this movement across the world?
Day 3 – January 10, 2019
0900-1000: Panel Discussion
A New Delhi Consensus - India’s Imagination and Global Expectations
In 2014 India declared its intention to be a “leading power.” This ambitious proposition was matched by the greater visibility and determination of New Delhi’s foreign policy — especially its regional engagement. Yet, in a world buffeted by multiple disruptions, does an emerging power have room to manoeuvre? Does India’s policy and implementation capacity match its new aspirations? How can this emergent New Delhi consensus effect favourable changes in the trajectory of Asian and global politics?In 2014 India declared its ambition of becoming a “leading power.” How has this affected the posture and design of India’s Foreign Policy?
1000-1020: Ministerial Address
1020-1100: In Conversation
Africa First: Global Growth’s New Frontier
Despite the world’s professed commitment to assist African countries emerge from their lost decades of development, more needs to be done in order to improve and sustain livelihoods in the continent. Financial inclusion and enhanced access to liquidity for African entrepreneurs are crucial to achieve this goal. How can development stakeholders worldwide, including elsewhere in the global South, capitalise on the emerging shoots of prosperity in Africa? Can agile economic institutions be created that are capable of converting these green shoots into irreversible, broad-based improvement in living standards? Is the current trade and financial architecture geared to emerging Africa’s needs?
11:30-11:50: Ministerial Address
11:50-12:50: Panel Discussion
Conflicted Coalitions: Discussing the Curious Partnerships Shaping Eurasia and Indo-Pacific
The twin geographies of Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific play host to a myriad of shifting and sometimes contradictory alliances and partnerships. Rather than sharp and consistent divisions over ideology and influence, regional powers are developing issue-based alliances with each other. States that co-operate on land can compete at sea, and vice versa. This panel will seek to untangle the strategic threads that problematize the politics of these regions. Is there coherence in this confusion? Can a sustainable balance of power emerge from such apparently contradictory partnerships? Or is strategic ambiguity the characteristic that will determine the order in these regions?
12:50-13:30: In Conversation
Avenue of the Americas: Discussing Globalization in the Western Hemisphere
Once the epicentre of globalisation, the Western Hemisphere is today the site of disaffected protectionism that threatens to wall off its economies from the free movement of goods and people. North America and Western Europe, with strong roots in global capital and commodity markets, could perhaps endure a protracted period of populism. Emerging markets in the Americas, however, have been forced to reconsider their options as potential markets turn their gaze inward. Must political sentiments always dominate economic conversations in an age of populism? What can be done, through diplomatic channels, to ensure this fraught political moment does not obstruct the continued growth of economies in Latin America?
1330-1500: Lunch Conversations
Shaping Policy in the Asian Century: New Politics, Ethics and Economics
The concerns that determine policy and the interest groups that shape them are changing as rapidly as the global economy itself. The rise of new powers and the growth of new sectors means that a new architecture of influence and ideation is needed. Are the traditional norms governing the creation of policy-related thinking capable of dealing with new challenges? What is the role for domestic think tanks in a new, integrated world — and how can they create a role for themselves beyond national borders? In a world in which influence operations are increasingly suspect, is the funding of policy research the first victim of insecure nationalism? What would a more multi-polar policy discourse look like in reality, and are we moving sufficiently quickly in that direction?
From Labour to Leadership: Investing in Children
Rapid technological change is rendering low-skill-intensive manufacturing less effective as a pathway to growth and development. In a world in which skilling, entrepreneurship and adaptability are essential strategies for developing countries, investing in children is not just a moral but a central economic imperative. How can governments integrate their growth strategy with human capital investments that also catalyse social mobility? Can the private sector be incentivised to share the responsibility for creating a well-fed, well-educated and healthy child population — thereby ensuring sustained productivity growth in the future? And is there a need to formulate a new prosperity-rights nexus?
Development amid Disruption: Uncommon Pathways for the Common Good
Twentieth-century governance paradigms were not broad-based: both the conception and the delivery of development assistance tended to prioritise and privilege a handful of actors and geographies. New technologies and political churn provides the chance to change this. The panel will address the two big questions that emerge from this opportunity: Can sustainable and future-proof livelihoods be created? Can hitherto marginalised communities have a greater voice in the design of development assistance, and be included in the benefits of growth?
Strategic Cooperation Among Democracies
15:00-16:00: Panel Discussion
Ideas for Industrialisation 4.0
Innovation will be central to governments’ efforts to grow jobs and incomes in the decades to come. Nations will compete to foster a hospitable climate for innovation and innovators, and to provide a solid foundation for the digital transformation of analog economies, even as big data and artificial intelligence usher in a new era of intangible economics. What does it take to become an innovation hub? Can human capital-scarce countries use technological breakthroughs to leapfrog into their digital futures? Can innovation capital be regulated or protected like other forms of capital, or will new trans-national norms have to be developed?
16:00-17:00: Panel Discussion
Accountable Autonomy: When Machines Kill the World
Although the international community appears to have moved away from a pre-emptive ban on lethal autonomous weapons to discussing the parameters of “effective regulation”, there is still no consensus as to what constitutes meaningful human control over LAWS. How would a new legal instrument for fully autonomous weapons supplement existing international humanitarian law? Further, how should the development of autonomous platforms contend with the looming threat of cyber exploitation?
17:00-17:30: Tea Break
17:30-17:50: Ministerial Address
17:50-18:40: Panel Discussion
Diversity within the Union: The EU’s Midlife Checklist
The European Union, long seen as a collective of technocratic institutions, has struggled to accommodate the growing diversity of political opinion in its midst. Debates about migration and economic austerity have thrown up hard choices for the region’s leaders. Can the ethos that drove European states to create a functionally integrated union adapt to a new era of disagreement and disputation? Are the structures of the Union flexible enough to accommodate this growing diversity of views? Can we even imagine a Europe without the European project?
18:40-19:00: Tea Break
19:00-19:20: Valedictory Address
19:20-20:00: Showstopper at Durbar
The Road to 2030: Challenges, Partnerships and Predictions
A world in the midst of re-ordering itself is one in which there are more questions than answers. Yet this panel will seek clarity in the midst of confusion; it will identify and discuss three challenges that will shape the next decade, three partnerships that will evolve in response to these challenges, and finally attempt three predictions about the shape of the world in 2030.
20:30-22:00: Dinner conversations:
Populism and Prosperity: Confronting the Looming Trade Wars
Conflict over trade between the United States and the People’s Republic of China dominates the world’s headlines — but discontent about the conditions and consequences of trade is widespread among both developing and developed countries. Insecurity about livelihoods has driven a populist turn towards industrial policy, protective tariffs and national corporate champions. Will the world’s global trading architecture be forced to respond, and if so how? Can shared prosperity be preserved in an era increasingly defined by competition and not co-operation? And how can liberal, open market economies deal with the challenges of state capitalism without resorting to zero-sum confrontations?
Clicks and Kalashnikovs: A New Battle for Hearts and Minds
What extremists cannot win through bomb and battles, they seek to win through online rhetoric. The World Wide Web has become a potent tool for those who seek to radicalise and recruit across borders. Combating new terrorist threats will require national security policy that prioritises cooperation with individuals and corporations. Do we understand how these new terrorist networks are created and can be countered? What tools exist in policy makers’ arsenals that can be brought to bear on a conflict that is now as much about discourse as it is about traditional counter-terrorism? How can the liberal state balance policing and individual rights in this new and fraught environment? Deciphering the evolution of global terror threats, from clicks to Kalashnikovs: what would be the role of the individual and the state in combating online and offline extremism?
Reflections: A Conversation with the Raisina Young Fellows
Facebook Salon: Defending Democracy
Electoral democracy is among the most robust political innovations of recent centuries — but today everywhere appears threatened and fragile. Internal and external actors have proved their ability to disrupt and discredit the electoral process, and to amplify division and distrust within free societies. How can liberal democracies fight back? How can the integrity and sanctity of elections be preserved — and be seen to be preserved? And what resources are available to tackle the dangerous and sometimes violent divisiveness caused by the proliferation of fake news and propaganda campaigns, instigated by forces both within and outside the nation-state?