Thursday, May 05, 2005

Jagdish Bhagwati

Jagdish Bhagwati is an University Professor at Columbia's Economics Dept. His homepage is I wish he gets the much deserved Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions in the field of international trade. One of the more important positions that he holds is that of the Director of NBER.

Some of his articles/papers that I read include..

'Bush's Immigration Blunder', Sep 2001 - a 3 page writeup criticizing US Prez GW Bush's (then) proposed GUESTWORKER program for Mexicans who wish to work in the States. He states that the motive behind such a program is purely political and hence, leaves a non-Mexican immigrant discriminated (given the fact that America belongs to immigrants who arrived from different parts of the world and contributed to what it is today!!).
In the 2004 State of the Union Address, Bush stated, '...I propose a new temporary-worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job. This reform will be good for our economy, because employers will find needed workers in an honest and orderly system. A temporary-worker program will help protect our homeland, allowing border patrol and law enforcement to focus on true threats to our national security."

'Trade and Poverty in the Poor Countries', May 2002 - The authors take up the issue of trade and its impact on poverty in poor countries. They give supporting numbers to show increasing growth and declining poverty levels among developing economies that integrated with the world economy, citing examples of India, China, Vietnam and Uganda. Thus, they eliminate the many critics of free trade(and FDI) who see the heavy hand of globalization casting an evil spell on the poor of the poor countries.

'In Defense of Globalization', 2004 -
The riot-torn meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999 was only the most dramatic sign of the intensely passionate debate now raging over globalization, which critics blame for everything from child labor to environmental degradation, cultural homogenization, and a host of other ills afflicting poorer nations. Now Jagdish Bhagwati, the internationally renowned economist known equally for the clarity of his arguments and the sharpness of his pen, takes on the critics, revealing that globalization, when properly governed, is in fact the most powerful force for social good in the world today. Drawing on his unparalleled knowledge of international economics, Bhagwati explains why the "gotcha" examples of the critics are often not as they seem, and that in fact globalization often alleviates many of the problems for which it has been blamed. For instance, when globalization leads to greater general prosperity in an underdeveloped nation, it quickly reduces child labor and increases literacy (when parents have sufficient income, they send their children to school, not work). The author describes how globalization helps the cause of women around the world and he shows how economic growth, when coupled with the appropriate environmental safeguards, does not necessarily increase pollution. And to counter the charge that globalization leads to cultural hegemony, to a bland "McWorld," Bhagwati points to the example of Salman Rushdie, a writer who blends Bombay slang and impeccable English in novels touched by magic realism borrowed from South American writers. Globalization leads not to cultural white bread but to a spicy hybrid of cultures. With the wit and wisdom for which he is renowned, Bhagwati convincingly shows that globalization is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Anyone who wants to understand what's at stake in the globalization wars must read In Defense of Globalization. (Source:Amazon).
Even when most of the reviews by the media and fellow economists applauded this book, a critical review by Daniel Drezner @Chicago says that although this book is an useful tool to defend globalization, it does very little to persuade anti-globalization activists. Drezner also suggests that Bhagwati is confusing in his views about the government's role in a globalizing economy and 'fatally flawed' in defining globalization in different business cycles. A sharp rebuttal by Bhagwati in the Times is a good follow-up.

'Religion in Public Space', 2005 - A very logical breakdown of simple related history and practices..and yet another shout-out for equality (in law) from Bhagwati!!

'Truth About Trade', 2005 - He makes a clarification by separating the wheat (legitimate concerns about WTO's workings) from the chaff (mistaken rejections of the advantages of freer trade).


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