Lecture Hop: Eastern Promise

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Bwog newbie Sahil Vora goes Beyond the Hype of India and China to investigate the mysterious trend of “panda-hugging.”

The Heyman Center for the Humanities joined up with the Committee on Global Thought and put on its second event of the spring semester, a forum entitled “India and China: A Comparison of their Past, Present, and Future.” The event attracted an illustrious panel of globalization economists: Ngaire Woods, of Oxford; Prabhat Patnaik, an Indian economist; and our very own Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and chair of the Committee on Global Thought.  

Prabhat Patnaik, the first speaker of the day, presented his thoughts on India and China’s internal economic affairs rapidly, precisely, and without the aid of notes. He acknowledged the popular consensus that India and China were emerging as global economic powers, but remained surprised by “the hype about India and China” because both countries suffer from incredible poverty.

Ngaire Woods shifted the topic of discussion to an analysis of “Western hysteria emerging from Chinese donations to Africa.” According to Woods, Western nations interpret Chinese donations to other developing countries as a threat to Western influence. China purchases a substantial amount of U.S. debt, exports more merchandise than any other country, possesses over a trillion dollars in its reserves, and owns nationalized energy markets.

Established Western donors criticize China for making reckless loans without encouraging good governance or environmental stewardship in developing countries. However, Woods argued that the West’s use of controversial conditionalities, which restrict loans or debt relief based on the borrowing country’s adherence to certain good governance or development goals, fails to produce either growth or good governance. “You might accuse me of ‘panda-hugging,’ which is a term I just heard, [but] my point is not to be a Chinese apologist, my point is to dissect the Western response to Chinese aid, which has become hysterical, and bring the debate down to a more sensible [level].”

Like Woods, Stiglitz argued that Western donors, especially the International Monetary Fund, treat aid as a “white man’s burden.” Western governments use conditionalities, “as if they know best how to create growth,” even though their methods tend to fail in practice.

Finally, Stiglitz opened the floor for questions, during which well-dressed businessmen and women scrambled over each other to get the illustrious panelists’ view on the anticipated economic downturn. The evening ended on a note of optimism, however, when Stiglitz argued, “These global economic changes affect how we run global governance. It’s an exciting period in which we’ll have to rethink the foundations.”


  1. jj9  

    sahil, what are you doing being serious?
    poor form, sahil, poor form.


  2. What the?

    Is this a Blog, Bwog, or a fucking 2nd-grade caliber journal?

  3. bwog  

    just because some kid writes a retarded essay doesn't mean you have to post it.

    full disclosure: I did not read past the first sentence

  4. Anonymous

    Comments 2 and 3, I don't understand your criticism. This piece is neither a journal entry, nor a "retarded essay." It's a summary of points presented at a lecture that I would have wanted to attend, and I'm thankful to Sahil for having presented the basic ideas.

    Perhaps its tone is out of place? It's not as peppered with snarky remarks that characterize much of this site, but that's precisely what I find refreshing about this post.

  5. the piece in itself

    is very poor grammatically

    the author needs to understand the function of a comma

  6. rajib  

    yeah brown power.

  7. KER

    Hey guys,

    Over the winter, like most publications, we switched up our entire editorial staff. If you have specific concerns about content, please email us at [email protected] or [email protected] We welcome criticism. Otherwise, please understand that the new staff is working hard to produce quality content. Thanks.


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