The Great Economic Meltdown: Are we ready for Happier Times?

This is the era of globalisation. We live today in a world that is no longer (in areas that matter the least, or should, rather, matter the least) bound and broken into figments by narrow thoughts of nationality, regionalism, caste, creed or racial differences. Which is why we have Indian corporations funding movies in the United States, Indian designers showcasing in the London Fashion Week, couture houses setting shop in developing, erstwhile-third world, impoverished countries, and other such landmark occasions being celebrated.


There are also other, though not as noteworthy, improving, or important implications, of this pattern – British GM seeds destroying an entire people – along with their farms, their lands, and their regional biodiversity – in peninsular India, adulterated Chinese milk killing thousands not only in China but also causing concern in the European nations, Somali blood diamonds being smuggled out of Africa to be polished in Belgium, so that money from their sale can allow purchases of Russian and Chinese weapons by warlords that have been raping their people for more than two decades now, while somewhere in New York, the United Nations representatives sip cool French Evian and debate and deliberate on this issue. At the same time, Thai, Malay, Viet and Cambodian, with many other, young girls are being freely traded and sold in flesh trade markets all over the world.


Hats off, then, to the beneficial and soothing influence of Globalisation, and its happy offspring Consumerism!


Though you may find the above written statements contradictory to your perception of the recent meltdown, I would like to clear my stance with the following observations. Let me move forth and suggest some more “global” phenomenon that have, or certainly will be, of great benefit to the world.


America alone knows how much it needs to save it’s economy – though I must confess I think even I’m unsure when I say America knows.


Lehman Brothers, Meryll Lynch, Goldman Sachs – once mines of wealth. Today, no more.


AIG – the world’s single largest insurer needed US Treasury funding to ensure it’s existence.


Lloyd’s needed the RBS to ensure that Britain does not fall into chaos.


EU member countries scrambling to find resources to save their major financial institutions.


In what is being heralded as the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the world today is in the throes of a major, world-wide, financial meltdown. No country is safe, and indeed, after almost pumping more than a $100 billion collectively in their respective markets, central banks and governments of all countries are looking desperately for cover. So much so that France has openly declared that there is a need of a complete overhaul of the economic structure of the world, are we to ensure our economic existence.


If all of this is isn’t convincing enough, here’s this: “mild” estimates suggest that it will be October-November, 2009 before the global economy can finally stabilise and grow. Ofcourse there are “gurus” like Mr Ramanathan who’ll tell you that there’s no need to panic, and that capitalism shall once again rise and conquer. India, calm and serene till it were the Western nations that were collapsing – and reassuring itself that it is quite immune to the Wall Street fallout – all of a sudden finds no measure enough to prevent stock markets from continuously falling. It is no longer hailed as a bear market, it is a recession.


There are layoffs by the thousands everywhere – Europe, The States, Far East. All economies are crumbling, and those that are not are preparing for the plunge as best as they can. Well, here’s the top chip – no one really knows what is it that is going wrong, why is it going wrong, and, that which is most important, how to stop this from going wrong any further.


Well, that is just one of the many things that are going on right now, and that justify the heading I’ve given to this piece. The other, of course, is the global food crisis.


I needn’t tell you, chances are that you’ve already had a taste of it – since, of course, there’s remote chance of you having tasted your choicest delicacy thanks to an inflation that stays over 11%. The situation is no doubt spiralling out of control, and mighty soon, we’re going to have to figure out ways to ensure that, no matter what happens, the elite of the West, and their colonies that ape them in the East, stay with enough to feed their dogs. It is needless going to be a mighty difficult task, one which will have us forfeiting all of South America and South East Asia (India excluded : refer the previous sentence) of all food supplies. Something that we’re carrying on with great success in much of Africa.


Then, of course, there’s the dastardly thing – the environment. What do we do about that? I mean, around me, there are friends who’ve reduced their trips to the mall to only ten times a week, from the previous twenty. When they do, they make sure that no more than five items make their way to the bin when their plates are carried away. They ensure that they buy only ten more things than they really need, and also ensure that, instead of one each, two items are clubbed into a large polybag.


Believe me, these are happy times!


And, why do I still insist on that.


Well, pretty simple. In another couple of weeks from now, we’re finally going to find out how was it that the Universe came into being. Thanks to the blokes at CERN who’ve proudly created what they bill as the world’s largest ever particle physics experiment. With the Large Hadron Collider churning out millions, if not billions, of MBs of data by banging high-speed, very high energy particles into each other in a tunnel 27 km long, and ‘The Grid’ of computers – some hundreds if not thousands – spread across the world saving it, we’re sure that the answer shall not be elusive for a long time.


Of course, there have already been a couple of hiccups, but none the less, things are going to get back on track mighty soon. Now, obviously, that we’ve been told that threats of mini-black holes wiping out mankind – energetically pursued by the Indian media, especially the Hindi one, is not a major happening. So, well, let’s wait for happier times…


Abhimanyu Jain

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