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Globalisation best way to erase poverty, says Prof Bhagwati

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The RBI Governor, Dr Bimal Jalan, with Prof Jagdish Bhagwati, Columbia University, New York, at the Twelfth C.D. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture delivered by Prof Bhagwati in Mumbai.

MUMBAI, Dec. 13

DIE-HARD globalisation advocate, Prof Jagdish Bhagwati has said that economic globalisation was perhaps the best way, if not the only one, to reduce poverty and promote egalitarianism in society.

Delivering the 12th C.D. Deshmukh Memorial Lecture instituted by the Reserve Bank of India here on Thursday, Prof Bhagwati, who teaches at University of Columbia, New York, said globalisation actually already "has a human face." The argument that globalisation entailed heavy social cost was actually false. Empirical evidence suggested that globalisation had benefited most poor nations. "The so-called social agendas were actually supplemented, complemented and accelerated by economic globalisation," Prof Bhagwati maintained.

He said the reduction in child labour was an indicator of how pressures brought on by globalisation helped remove entrenched social ills. "Countries will not dilute labour standards that have already been instituted to help others to catch up. The others will have to raise their labour standards to the level of their peers. It only benefits the labour," he said.

Prof Bhagwati said globalisation also helped bridge the gender gap. Citing an anti-globalisation argument against special economic zones that they were in reality sweat shops, especially employing short-term work forces of women, for multinationals, he said the world over, women were paid less than men. "Even if the women only work for a short while (in SEZs) and go back to the hinterland, they would actually gain from the experience." They would actually be better off because of the exposure they would have got, he said.

For example, when Japan was on its economic high, "there were literally no women in executive positions in Japan. Japanese women who went out of Japan were accompanying their husbands. Even in their limited role, the experience and exposure to various cultures and women's role elsewhere helped empower them and gain prominence in their own right later on," he said. There was enough evidence to suggest that globalisation actually helped improve such social and moral dimensions, he added.

The professor said the anti-globalisation reaction was actually a reaction to economic crises that had hit different parts of the world. However, a reasonable consensus had emerged that globalisation, barring a few occasional downsides, produced good outcomes, he reiterated.

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