Vulnerable Democracies, Hunger and Inequality
By Omar Noman
Routledge – 2010 – 238 pages
Until the dramatic economic collapse of 1997, East Asia was the symbol of a successful market-led development strategy for Western governments, aid agencies and academics, despite underlying concerns about a lack of rights and freedoms. The crisis changed Asia and the world; currency depreciations, personal and state indebtedness, mass unemployment and rioting brought the paternalistic capitalist phase to an end in Asia. The decade following the economic crisis has seen a swift response, with the major restructuring of Asian economies, improved corporate governance, banks recapitalized, more attention paid to the environment and foreign exchange reserves restored so the IMF became redundant in Asia.
Dividing the countries that emerged from the crisis into three categories – the Insecure Rich, the New Aspirants for Prosperity and the Danger Zone – Noman analyses the complex Asian recovery and future challenges within the framework of Responsible Development, an agenda for Asia that emphasizes the simultaneous challenge of building sustainable democracies, a viable environment and an equitable economy. Covering the many related issues that pose a threat to Asian economic stability – climate change, religious fascism, inequality and hunger – this book will have particular relevance in the areas of development studies, economics, international politics and Asian studies.
Part 1: Prosperity and Discontent 1. Freedom and Responsibility2. The Asian Boom on the Eve of the Great Recession3. Asia’s Hunger Test4. The Loss of Egalitarian Capitalism5. Damage Control: Can Asia Reduce Environmental Stress? Part 2: Expansion of Freedoms 6. Investing in Just Democracies7. The End of "Asian Values" and the Spread of Democracy Part 3: Comparison of Asian Development Strategies 8. Conflict and Arrested Development: Pakistan’s Divergence from Eastern Asia 9. Democratic India and Authoritarian East Asia: Are Economic and Political Systems Converging? 10. Responsible Development in a Vulnerable World
Omar Noman is Head of the United Nations Development Programme Regional Center in Sri Lanka and was previously the Deputy Director of the Human Development Report Office (HDRO). Prior to working at the HDRO, where some of the key ideas for this book were developed, he taught at Oxford University, UK. With a mix of analytical skills and pragmatic policy experience gained in official missions to nearly 100 countries, he has written books on economics, political change and the environment.