Asian century: The creation of new world order and its impacts on existing global economic governance
The Asian century is a bitter reality and it is undermining other economic powers in this world order. A diminishing influence of the institutions of Washington consensus gives room for another economic actor to open wings in the competitive world. And this revisionist economic power is balancing out the sole dominancy of the US in economic affairs by the inclusion of regional states under its shadow and challenging the existing global economic order.
New world order
The dictionary.com defines “the post-Cold War organization of power in which nations tend to cooperate rather than foster conflict.”
The New World Order is a term used to describe a global system of socio-economic, political, and spiritual principles that promote universal peace, justice, and cooperation. It is based on the principles of freedom, equality, and unity among all people, cultures, and nations. The New World Order seeks to create a world where all humans are treated with respect, dignity, and justice regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or any other factor. It is a movement to bring about a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous global society (Bahai teachings)
Overview of existing global economic governance
Global economic governance is a process by which governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders collaborate to shape global economic policies, regulations, and outcomes. Established in the aftermath of World War II, global economic governance has become increasingly complex as the global economy has grown and diversified.
Today, the global economic governance system consists of a variety of institutions, processes, and initiatives. At the top of the system is the United Nations (UN), which is responsible for setting out general guidelines and principles. The UN is supported by several specialized agencies, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
These organizations are responsible for developing, negotiating, and implementing international economic policies and regulations. In addition, they also provide financial assistance to developing countries and resolve disputes between states.
At the regional level, there are several economic groupings, such as the European Union, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which each have their economic objectives and institutional mechanisms.
Finally, there are several international initiatives and forums, such as the G20, the OECD, and the Bretton Woods institutions, which have been established to improve global economic governance and promote economic integration.
US economic governance
The US model of economic governance is based on free-market capitalism and open global markets. This model promotes economic efficiency by allowing businesses to compete for customers and resources. It also encourages innovation by providing incentives for investment and risk-taking. The US government is committed to maintaining an open and competitive global economy and has been a strong advocate for policies that support free trade and open access to global markets. The US government also works to ensure that the global economic environment is stable and secure and that countries follow sound fiscal and monetary policies that promote economic growth, job creation, and investment. Additionally, the US is committed to a fair and equitable international economic system, where countries are free to pursue their economic policies while respecting the rights of others. The instruments for controlling global economics are the US-based institutions that create liberal institutional order.
The Washington Consensus refers to a set of economic policy prescriptions that developed countries, such as the United States, have sought to promote to foster economic growth and development in developing countries. The consensus emphasizes fiscal discipline, openness to foreign investment and trade, market-based macroeconomic policy, and the privatization of state-owned enterprises. The three institutions are the IMF, the World Bank, and the U.S. Department of the treasury. It is sometimes referred to as the “Bretton Woods Consensus” due to its close association with the Bretton Woods system of international monetary management, which was established in the aftermath of World War II.US also surrounded the WTO by Washington consensus.
WTO and global governance
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization that works to promote global governance of trade and to establish rules, regulations, and agreements to govern global trade. The WTO works to ensure that countries abide by trade commitments and to create a fair and equitable system of global trade, while also working to reduce trade barriers and promote economic development. The WTO provides a forum for countries to negotiate and resolve trade disputes and to work together to promote economic growth and development. The WTO also works to promote global economic integration by promoting free trade and the liberalization of markets. The WTO also works to ensure that all countries have access to markets, protect intellectual property rights, and ensure a level playing field for trade. In addition, the WTO works to promote transparency and to ensure a level playing field for all countries. Finally, the WTO works to ensure that countries comply with their trade obligations, and to provide technical assistance to countries in need.
WTO has been criticized for not adequately representing the interests of developing countries and for lacking effective enforcement mechanisms.
Overview of the emergence of an “Asian century”
The concept of an “Asian century” has been gaining attention in recent years due to the rapid economic growth in some Asian countries, such as China and India. This growth has enabled many of these countries to become economic and political powerhouses, and the region is increasingly seen as a viable alternative to the West for economic and geopolitical dominance. This has been further bolstered by the rise of Asian companies such as China’s Alibaba and India’s Reliance Industries, which have become major players in the global economy. This has led to an increased focus on the region, and many experts have predicted that Asia could become the dominant economic and geopolitical force in the 21st century. In addition, the rise of new technologies, such as mobile and digital payments, has further enabled the region to become a major player in the global economy. As such, the emergence of an “Asian century” is likely to continue in the years ahead.
The article discusses the potential of the “Asian century,” in which the region is set to become the leading global economic force. It points to the increased economic growth and integration of Asia, as well as the rise of the Chinese and Indian economies, as key drivers of the shift. It also outlines the various challenges the region will face to fully realize the potential of the Asian century, such as infrastructure, education, and health systems, as well as the need to foster greater trust and cooperation between countries. The article concludes by noting that the Asian century is still in its early stages and that creating a successful narrative for the region will be crucial for its success.
Fall of Washington Consensus
The Washington Consensus was a set of 10 economic policy prescriptions developed in the late 1980s by a group of economists and policymakers in response to the Latin American debt crisis. It emphasized the need for fiscal discipline, the liberalization of markets, and the strengthening of the rule of law. However, by the early 2000s, the Washington Consensus had come to be seen as inadequate for addressing the needs of developing countries. In response, China proposed the Beijing Consensus, which emphasized the importance of state-led development, a focus on economic growth, and the gradual liberalization of markets. The Beijing Consensus was an important alternative to the Washington Consensus and is credited with helping to propel Asia to a position of global leadership in the 21st century. However, the Beijing Consensus has also been criticized for its lack of transparency and its focus on economic growth at the expense of other issues, such as human rights.
Rise of the Beijing Consensus
The Beijing Consensus is a term coined to describe the development strategies and policies employed in China since the late 1970s. The term is often used to contrast the Western-style, neoliberal model of development with the more state-centric, authoritarian model pursued in China. The Beijing Consensus has been credited with helping to lift millions of people out of poverty and providing a viable alternative to the Washington Consensus. The brief outlines the main elements of the Beijing Consensus, including central government control over the economy, a focus on human capital development, and a commitment to long-term economic growth.
Beijing Consensus gave a set of policy guidelines under the United Nations and these guidelines are implemented through BC institutions, which are considered regional institutions.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Special Reserve Fund (SRF).
Challenges to existing economic governance structures
It is a well-known fact that since 1945, the economic governance structures were designed in such a way that they were West-centric. The introduction of the Bretton woods system in 1944 was designed in such a way that it ensured the interests of the West and the United States. For example, in recent times International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank strengthened the economic governance structures of the West. Because the structure of economic hegemony is linked directly with the political hegemonic structure. But, in the last few decades, the existing economic structures are facing numerous challenges that would be highlighted.
The rise of China is the latest and the most lethal challenge to the existing economic structure. The making of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are thought to be replacements for IMF for developing and Third World Countries. In simple words, the next clash would be Beijing Vs Washington.
Similarly, the Rise of India along with China in the Asian region as contenders of upcoming hegemons, supported by resources and workforce can surely challenge the existing economic structures of governance. The rise of India and China in terms of economy and geo-strategic importance has questioned the “Euro-centrism” of every aspect whether it is economy, power, or decision-making ability.
Moreover, the rise of Eastern Europe along with the Central Asia n region has massive potential to challenge these governance structures, Russia had been a great power but if it cooperated with Beijing then Beijing with the support of Moscow can challenge as well as replace the existing economic governance structures.
Impact of an Asian century on global economic governance
Overall, the emergence of the Asian century has had a significant impact on global economic governance. This has been seen in the increased influence of Asian countries in international trade and investment, the emergence of new regional economic organizations, and the increased recognition of the importance of regional integration.
First, the emergence of the Asian century has led to the increased influence of Asian countries in international trade and investment. As Asian economies have become increasingly integrated and open, so too have their interests in international markets. This has led to an increase in the number of Asian countries involved in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international trade and investment agreements. For instance, China and India have become major players in the WTO, while other countries such as South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia have also become more active in international trade.
Second, the emergence of an Asian century has also led to the emergence of new regional economic organizations. Examples of these include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). These organizations have allowed for increased economic integration within Asia, as well as increased cooperation between Asian countries and the rest of the world.
Third, the emergence of an Asian century has also led to increased recognition of the importance of regional integration. This has been evidenced by the creation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which has helped to facilitate increased economic ties between Asian countries. Additionally, the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement has helped to further integrate the economies of Asian countries.
Potential implication for global economy after Russian invaded Ukraine
The Russian invasion of Ukraine created a significant impact on the global economy. ‘As the war between the two major agricultural states, has various negative socio-economic impacts that are now being felt all across the world, the food and energy crises will worsen the situation for countries especially in Middle East, North Africa and Europe’ (Ben Hassen 2022). ‘Earlier in February and March, the Russian annexation to the Crimea has led Europe to one of deadliest crises after cold war’ (Russia’s latest land grab: How Putin won Crimea and lost Ukraine 2014). ‘The main supplier of gas to Europe is Russia. In 2019, it met 34% of the gas needs of the EU27 plus Great Britain. These shipments might be stopped as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, posing a threat to Europe’s energy supplies’ (Pedersen 2022). ‘Multiple international sanctions were placed on Russia as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war in order to persuade Russia to de-escalate the issue, although the sanctions imposed on Russia were designed to harm Russia, they had a negative impact on the global economy, primarily through disrupting global supply chains’ (Ozili 2022). ‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a horrific humanitarian disaster and jeopardized the stability of geopolitical connections, also the battle has heightened fears of a significant slowdown in global economy, an increase in inflation and debt, and a spike in poverty. The economic impact of violence has reverberated across different worldwide channels, including commodities and financial markets, trade and migration linkages, the economic impacts of the war on the Globe is affecting the three main channels including financial sanctions, hike in the products prices, and disturbance in the supply chains’ (Orhan 2022). ‘On the day of the invasion, the worldwide stock market index fell and the Euro zone manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell in the month of the invasion. Furthermore, the transportation component of the consumer price index climbed in the month of the invasion due to a scarcity of energy and fuel supplies, which resulted in a spike in the price of gasoline for transportation throughout the Euro zone, also Ukraine was hit worse by the invasion than Russia and the rest of Europe’ (Ozili 2022). This crises have also impacted environment, war has affected the water soil and agricultural land along with the ecosystem. ‘This crises would lead to inflation all across the globe, Reduced household consumption due to higher prices (for oil, gas, wheat and minerals), supply chain disruptions, unpredictability, impediments to economic growth, declining investment and stock market volatility globally and particularly in Europe Nations are heavily exporting to this continent. It is therefore crucial that decision-makers in these countries, which are heavily dependent on Russia for importing basic goods, begin to discuss alternative livelihoods should Russia decide to punish and support the West with export restrictions in “Own” Manufacture of such essential products when this is a viable option’ (Mbah 2022). ‘This scenario’s wide consequences are reminiscent of the 1970s energy crisis, when OPEC countries effectively hiked the price of oil, and subsequent oil price shocks. Rising pricing and supply constraints significantly affected global economic activity, leading to higher inflation, which increased the cost of living and might further compress family spending. US asked KSA to produce more oil but King Salman refused to produce more oil, as KSA is a member or OPEC plus. UK is facing huge energy crises. Not only UK the whole Europe is facing the energy problems, due to shortage of gas and energy, European markets have started woods in the malls’ (Liadze n.d.). The consequence of sanctions over Russia is felt by the whole world especially by the Europe. Due to economic linkages and huge dependency of Europe on Russian gas and oil Europe is most affected region of the world due to this war According to a report published by National Institute of Economic and Social research the economic cost of Russia Ukraine conflict might cut global GDP by 1% roughly 1 trillion by 2023. Both countries are the suppliers of rare earth metals like Titanium, Palladium, also the wheat and corn and supply chain issue will further increase the problem for the user around the world. Russia on the other hand increased the prices of oil and gas to recover its economy affected by the sanctions. The war in Ukraine not only impacted the Russian economy but also it has affected the other countries especially European countries. The potential implications of Russia Ukraine war on the local economies and the global economy that war leads to the economic consequences such as inflation, supply chain disturbance, and energy crises. In this way this war not only impacted regionally but also affected the global economy.
Will this shift in economic governance and the rise of the Asian century lead to the creation of new world order?
A world order is a set of ideas, and rules about how the world should be and a roadmap for any country’s foreign policy. If we take a step back to the era of empires, according to Henry Kissinger there were different world orders in the form of empires and civilizations. Globalization has flourished under the umbrella of colonialism and mutual trade. After the cold war, there is the American world order which is a liberal order, and institutions play important role in predicting a country’s behavior under the supreme UN. The critics of Dependency theory and World system theory on this world order, that this system produced classes and core countries exploit peripheral countries. Therefore, they suggested trade within the region will ultimately make developing countries progress. The enormous innovation in science-tech makes it possible to decentralize globalization which ultimately breaks the hegemony of one country and this lead to regionalism.
Waltz contends that this decentered globalization is beneficial because it allows countries to pursue their own interests without having to rely on any single power. This increased autonomy has enabled countries to establish stronger bonds with their neighbors and to collaborate more effectively in areas such as trade and security. Additionally, it has allowed countries to develop more freely and pursue their own paths toward economic and social development.
Barry Buzan’s view on decentered globalization is that the world has become increasingly interconnected and complex, with the emergence of new technologies, economic structures, and political power. He argues that this process of globalization has created a new type of global governance, which is characterized by a more decentralized, networked, and cooperative system of international relations. This system is marked by a proliferation of multiple centers of power, with states, international organizations, and non-state actors all contributing to global governance. According to Buzan, this new form of global governance is more effective than the traditional Westphalian system of international relations, as it allows for more flexibility and responsiveness in the face of global challenges. Buzan believes that the decentered model of global governance provides a more effective way of managing global issues, as it allows for greater flexibility and responsiveness, while also recognizing the different interests of all actors.
Kawakita, looks at the history of Asian nations and their growing influence in international affairs, citing the increasing economic power of countries such as China and India in particular. He also looks at the potential political implications of an Asian Century, arguing that the region could soon become a major force in international security and diplomacy. Kawakita concludes by noting that while an Asian Century is a distinct possibility, it is still too early to tell whether the region will be the dominant power in the coming decades.
The international order under the United Nations institutions is going to be decentered and the power shifting from sole liberal institutions influenced by democratic values to emerging Asian economic giants, which leads to an increase in the importance of regionalism once again. By which regions compete with each other, the Asian region might challenge the west, and the Asian century could be the regional economic hegemony but not create a separate world order.
The current world order in which America enjoys its hegemony through institutions in all spheres of life is now under challenge from the Asian century, especially in China, Japan, and India, now this Asian region is influencing global economic decision-making through the development of new institutions. These institutions replaced the American order and set themselves in a new institutionalization process, which not only focused the economic development but also on environmental sustainability, poverty eradication, and improving infrastructure. In this century china is taking lead through the Beijing consensus and becoming an active member of regional organizations. Hence by seeing the arguments of different social science experts, we can deduce that the world is once again going from unipolar to multipolar and this time it is regionalism and regions cooperating for common regional good, EU, ASEAN, etc. are examples of it but in economic means, Asian century is emerging as an economic global hegemon.
International Cooperation to Address Economic Inequality and Promote Sustainable Development
Economic inequality is a pervasive issue that has plagued societies across the world for centuries. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened over the years, leading to numerous social and economic challenges. The impact of economic inequality on sustainable development cannot be ignored, as it poses a threat to social stability, economic growth, and the environment. International cooperation is crucial in addressing economic inequality and promoting sustainable development across the globe. It refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, income, and resources among individuals and communities. Economic inequality can lead to poverty, poor health outcomes, limited access to education, and limited social mobility. Economic inequality is a complex issue that affects various aspects of social and economic development. A recent report by Oxfam International indicates that the world’s richest 1% possess more than twice the wealth of 6.9 billion people. This inequality has far-reaching consequences, including poverty, poor health outcomes, limited access to education, and limited social mobility. Sustainable development aims to address these challenges by promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and ensuring social and environmental sustainability.
International cooperation is essential in addressing economic inequality and promoting sustainable development. The global nature of economic inequality requires collective action and collaboration among nations and international organizations. By working together, countries can pool their resources, share knowledge, and develop strategies to address economic inequality and promote sustainable development. The success of international cooperation in tackling transnational issues like economic inequality can serve as a valuable lesson for countries like Pakistan that are facing similar challenges.
The Challenge of Economic Inequality:
-Economic inequality refers to the unequal distribution of wealth, income, and resources among individuals and communities. It is a significant challenge faced by many countries, including Pakistan. The effects of economic inequality on society are far-reaching and can have severe consequences.
-One of the most visible effects of economic inequality is poverty. Those who are most affected by economic inequality are often those who have the least access to resources, which makes it difficult for them to meet their basic needs. As a result, they are unable to access healthcare, education, and other essential services. Poverty can also lead to hunger, malnutrition, and poor health outcomes.
-Economic inequality can also limit access to education, particularly for those from low-income backgrounds. This can create a cycle of poverty and social exclusion, making it difficult for people to access higher-paying jobs and improve their economic situation. In turn, limited access to education can also limit social mobility and perpetuate economic inequality across generations.
-Another significant effect of economic inequality is the limited access to healthcare. People from low-income backgrounds are often unable to afford quality healthcare and are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses. This creates an unequal burden on healthcare systems, and ultimately affects the overall health of the population.
-Economic inequality also threatens sustainable development by hindering economic growth and development. Countries with high levels of economic inequality often experience lower levels of economic growth, as wealth and resources are concentrated in the hands of a few. This can make it difficult for countries to invest in infrastructure, social services, and other initiatives that promote sustainable development.
The Role of International Cooperation:
International cooperation is crucial in addressing economic inequality because it is a global issue that requires a collective response. Countries must work together to address the root causes of economic inequality, develop policies that promote economic equality, and ensure sustainable development. International cooperation provides an opportunity for countries to share resources, knowledge, and best practices to promote economic equality and sustainable development.
The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations are examples of international organizations that play a significant role in promoting economic equality and sustainable development. The World Bank provides financing, technical assistance, and policy advice to developing countries to promote economic growth and poverty reduction. The International Monetary Fund works to promote global financial stability and provides financial assistance to countries in need. The United Nations plays a critical role in promoting sustainable development through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
International cooperation is essential for tackling transnational issues like economic inequality. Economic inequality is not limited to one country or region; it is a global issue that requires a collective response. Countries must work together to develop policies that promote economic equality, reduce poverty, and ensure sustainable development. Through international cooperation, countries can share resources, knowledge, and best practices, and develop strategies to address economic inequality on a global scale.
Recent Examples of Successful International Cooperation:
The SDGs cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, renewable energy, and climate action. The SDGs have had a significant impact on promoting sustainable development by providing a framework for countries to develop policies that address economic inequality and promote sustainability.
The Paris Agreement on climate change is another example of successful international cooperation in promoting sustainable development. The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, is a global agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the global temperature rise to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement is the result of years of negotiations and represents a significant achievement in international cooperation on climate change. The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 190 countries and is seen as a critical step towards promoting sustainable development and addressing economic inequality.
International cooperation has also helped address economic inequality and promote sustainable development in other countries. For example, in Kenya, the government worked with international organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme to develop policies that promote economic growth and reduce poverty. As a result, Kenya has experienced significant economic growth over the last decade, with poverty rates declining by more than 10%.
Similarly, in Colombia, the government worked with international organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank to develop policies that promote sustainable development and reduce poverty. The country has made significant progress in reducing poverty, and its economy has grown significantly in recent years.
In Pakistan, international cooperation has also played a critical role in promoting sustainable development and addressing economic inequality. For example, the World Bank has provided financing and technical assistance to Pakistan to support initiatives that promote economic growth and poverty reduction. The United Nations Development Programme has also worked with the government to develop policies that promote sustainable development and reduce poverty.
Pakistan’s Efforts to Address Economic Inequality and Promote Sustainable Development:
Pakistan faces several challenges related to economic inequality and sustainable development. The country has a large population, with a high poverty rate, and faces significant environmental challenges such as water scarcity, air pollution, and climate change.
Despite these challenges, Pakistan has made progress in addressing economic inequality and promoting sustainable development. Pakistan has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has developed a National Action Plan to implement them. The country has made progress in achieving some of the SDGs, such as reducing the number of out-of-school children and improving access to clean water and sanitation.
Pakistan has also made efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy. The country has set a goal to generate 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Pakistan has also launched several initiatives to promote energy efficiency, such as the installation of LED lights and the development of energy-efficient buildings.
International organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have played an essential role in providing financial assistance to support Pakistan’s economic development and poverty reduction efforts. The World Bank has provided financial support for initiatives such as the Benazir Income Support Programme, which provides cash transfers to poor households, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Plan, which aims to improve access to education in the region.
The IMF has also provided financial assistance to Pakistan to support economic reforms aimed at promoting sustainable development and reducing economic inequality. In 2019, the IMF approved a $6 billion loan to Pakistan to support economic reforms, including measures to reduce the fiscal deficit, promote tax reforms, and improve the business environment.
In conclusion, international cooperation is crucial in addressing economic inequality and promoting sustainable development. Through collective action, international organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations have played a critical role in supporting countries’ efforts to achieve economic equality and sustainable development. The successful examples of international cooperation, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change, provide valuable lessons for countries like Pakistan.
Pakistan has made progress in addressing economic inequality and promoting sustainable development through international cooperation, such as adopting the SDGs, reducing carbon emissions, and receiving financial assistance from the World Bank and IMF. However, Pakistan still faces significant challenges related to poverty reduction and environmental sustainability, and continued efforts are needed to promote sustainable economic growth and development.
Therefore, Pakistan needs to prioritize improving the business environment, promoting entrepreneurship, and investing in infrastructure to support economic growth and poverty reduction. The government should also continue to work closely with international organizations and other countries to address economic inequality and promote sustainable development, ensuring a better future for all.
Women’s mobility must be a key focus in urban policy
Historically, cities across the world have been designed to fit the needs of able-bodied men, or a neutral, often male, user. Yet, cities are experienced differently by men and women. Women and girls find their access to employment, education, care services and even leisure is constrained when urban mobility systems and public spaces are not safe and inclusive.
Across Indian cities, studies show that concerns about commuting safely during the late evening hours or beyond a particular radius are among the biggest barriers to girls and women going to school, college and work. For instance, a 2020 study in Bengaluru showed that only 2% of women commuters surveyed made journeys after 9 pm. Barriers to mobility can thus thwart women’s long-term aspirations, eroding their financial independence and agency. The threat of sexual harassment deters women from stepping out. For instance, a 2017 study in Delhi showed that women were willing to travel for 27 minutes more each day to take a route that was perceived to be safer. It will thus be important to devise strategies to prevent and penalise sexual harassment in public spaces.
Typically, women travel shorter distances at off-peak hours, and make chained trips, frequently changing between transport modes to complete multiple tasks, balancing domestic errands and employment. Systems are, therefore, needed to collect and analyse gender-disaggregated data to understand women’s mobility patterns and design public transport services accordingly.
It was after the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation, working with the World Bank, conducted a detailed study of mobility patterns on suburban trains, that it identified women’s safety as a key priority and devised solutions to make platforms, stations, and trains safer for women. These activities sought to do more than just introduce women-only trains — the Ladies Specials — by addressing the fundamental design of the infrastructure to make it more women-friendly.
Hiring more female staff can make travel safer. In Kochi, for instance, 80% of the metro staff are women, working as station managers, train drivers, ticket vendors, and cleaning staff. Similar initiatives can be taken by other bus and rail agencies to enhance safety.
What’s more, since deep-rooted social norms restrict women’s movement outside their homes, local communities need to be brought on board as partners to help shift the norms around women’s mobility. A number of community-based organisations have been working across cities such as Delhi, Gurugram, and Pune to sensitise communities; they also provide gender sensitisation training for frontline public transport workers.
Under the Nirbhaya Fund, the Centre provides valuable resources to states and central ministries to implement solutions for enhancing women’s safety. Since 2015, eight cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Lucknow) have used these funds to identify hotspots for crime, enhance police capacity for investigating crimes against women and establish one-stop centres for violence survivors.
Moving a step further, the Greater Chennai Corporation established a Gender and Policy Lab, which will support the government of Tamil Nadu in implementing projects under the Nirbhaya Fund to create safer public spaces in the city. An assessment to understand gender differences in mobility was carried out, alongside a safety audit, in Tondiarpet in north Chennai. Installation of CCTV cameras and panic buttons in city buses is also underway, with Chennai’s Metropolitan Transport Corporation establishing a command-and-control centre to monitor incidents of harassment.
Our experience in Chennai and Mumbai, and other cities globally, shows that addressing gender concerns in urban mobility and public spaces requires long-term commitment from multiple stakeholders, with solutions aimed at addressing deep-rooted issues.
Drawing lessons from international best practices and project experiences in India, the World Bank has developed a toolkit for the Indian context, which both government and private agencies can use to make cities safer and more inclusive of women.
The toolkit outlines a four-pillar approach: First, assess the ground situation to understand gender-disaggregated mobility patterns and undertake safety audits; second, strengthen policies with a focus on fare policies and grievance redressal for sexual harassment; third, build capacity and raise awareness both within government agencies and through partnerships with community-based organisations; and fourth, improve infrastructure and services with a special emphasis on women’s safety and inclusion.
Making cities safer can ensure that women and girls have choices — they can choose to stay longer in the office, go to better educational institutions, and even have a wider array of entrepreneurship opportunities — all of which will help increase female labour force participation and, in turn, boost economic performance in India.
This Opinion piece first appeared in Hindustan Times, via World Bank
The Persian Gulf-Black Sea Corridor: Why should India consider an alternative getaway?
Recently Armenian has suggested the creation of a corridor linking the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea to facilitate trade between India, Russia, and Europe. On March 3rd, 2023, a delegation of high-ranking officials and experts from Armenia proposed the idea of creating a corridor linking the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea while visiting India. This suggestion came from the visit of Armenia’s foreign minister Mr. Ararat Mizoyan to India; he has suggested the creation of an alternative trade Corridor that will operate alongside the International North-South Transport Corridor(INSTC) to establish a trade link between Mumbai and Bandarabas Seaport in Iran and then proceed to Armenia and further on to Europe or Russia. This alternative route’s main objective is to bypass Azerbaijan because Azerbaijan has closer ties with Turkey and Pakistan, so Armenia is asking for India’s support and financial assistance. India and Armenia both have a very cold relationship with Turkey and Pakistan. Historically, Turkey has been the closest ally of Azerbaijan and supports Azerbaijan in the Nagarno-Karabakh dispute. Azerbaijan also has close diplomatic relations with Pakistan, and Pakistan also supports Azerbaijan in the Karabakh dispute, and in return, Azerbaijan backed Pakistan’s narrative on the Kashmir Issue. Azerbaijan has entered into defense cooperation and shown interest in incorporating JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft jointly developed by China and Pakistan. Periodically participated in joint military exercises bilaterally and multilaterally. Azerbaijan has repeatedly supported the Kashmir issue on Pakistan’s position and criticized the India-Armenia defense deal on PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers, anti-tank munitions, and a wide range of ammunitions and warlike stores worth US $250 million to the Armenian Forse. India has overtly positioned itself on Armenia’s side in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and has consequently opted to resist Azerbaijan and its supporter, including Pakistan and Turkey, over the Kashmir issue and Turkey’s imperial aim of establishing a pan-Turkic empire, governed from Ankara. These factors created a lack of warmth in India-Azerbaijan’s political relations. Thus, India and Armenia both the country have some sets of issues with Azerbaijan as well as Turkey. Armenia’s relationship with India has been growing steadily due to defense exports in recent times.
Historically Armenia shares strong political and business ties with Iran. Both countries share a 35-kilometer-long border that runs along the northern edge of Iran. Iran’s foreign policy towards South Caucasus is very pragmatist in the case of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict between Muslim-majority Azerbaijan and Christian-majority Armenia is viewed differently by Iran, which supports Armenia rather than Shia-majority Azerbaijan. India also maintains a strong relationship with Iran. For India, Iran plays an important role in its connectivity projects to link Central Asia and Europe. India also invested in Iran’s Chabahar Port to develop a transit hub that will benefit Indian trade reaching Europe, bypassing Suez Canal. Chabahar Port holds strategic importance for India, mainly because it is the direct competition with Chinese operated Gwadar Port in Pakistan, situated in the Arabian Sea, which is an important part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC).
Armenia is seeking Indian Investments for the corridor within Armenian territory in light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Indian investment could also facilitate the development of other regional projects like the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and put India on the map of Central Asian transport with links to Europe and Russia. India’s trade with Russia has substantially increased through the INSTC, which provides a trade link between Mumbai and Russia via Iran and the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan plays a vital role in the INSTC mainly because of its geographical location and connectivity links with Iran. However, Azerbaijan has been slow in developing infrastructure projects under INSTC.
With the ongoing cold war between Russia and the West, any large-scale cargo transit passing through the Russia Europe border looks too risky for international Logistics and Insurance companies. Armenia intends to initiate a discussion with India to explore the possibility of Indian companies’ involvement and funding of the Persian Gulf Black Sea Corridor project. Armenia doesn’t have direct access to the Black Sea, which means Goods have to be further transported to Georgia. Only then can reach Europe and Russia. Armenia recognizes the need for Indian traders to do business with Europe, so they have proposed this idea to the Indian government.
The proposed Persian Gulf Black Sea Corridor aligns with India’s objective of seeking new trade routes to Europe that avoid the Suez canal, significantly reducing transportation costs and time. This corridor which will link Iran and Georgia via Armenia also reduces the risk of sanctions for India moving to Europe from the West because of ongoing West and Russian hostility. It will boost the confidence of the Indian Treadres and will be beneficial for the Indian economy.
In this sense, the Persian Gulf-Black Sea project has a reasonable cause. However, the question is, why would Iran agree to launch a multimodal corridor through territories with proven issues when it can reach the Black Sea via Turkey? Iran and Turkey have a conflict of interest in this case. Their relations have been tense lately since Turkey informally blocks Iran from using its rail routes to reach Europe. The root of this problem is situated within between Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. The cold relations between Iran and Turkey are one of the main reasons behind the stagnation of the INSTC. Iran is closer to cooperating with Armenia, while Turkey backs Azerbaijan. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has the greatest impact on the issue. Turkey is a key stakeholder in the conflicts and empowers Azerbaijan to overcome Armenia and block the Iran-Armenia border. If Iran eliminates Turkey, then Iran only has two options to reach the Black Sea: pass through Armenia or Azerbaijan via Georgia. Georgia has existing railway and highway connections with both Armenian and Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan has a railroad reaching the Iran-Azerbaijan border, but the problem is there is no direct Railway connection that connects Iran to the Black Sea via Armenia.
On the other hand, Iran and Azerbaijan also working on a 165-kilometer Railway section of the Rashtra-Astra line, which is missing a link to connect the Azerbaijani and Iranian Railways. The railway line will connect the city of Rasht, the capital of Gilan province, with the city of Astra, located on the border with Azerbaijan. This Railway link is part of the International North-South Transport Corridor, which aims to provide a more efficient trade route between India, Iran, the Caucasus, and Russia. Recently in January 2023, Russia and Iran agreed to fund the construction of this Missing Link. But the project completion is in question because of the ongoing cold war between Russia and the west.
For India, INSTC is more than enough to trade only with Russia, Iran, and the caucus region, but India also wants to trade with Europe to throw an alternative route and not via Suez Canal. Thus, the Armenian government is proposing to the Indian government. If India uses the Russian route to reach Europe via Iran through the Caspian Sea, then it has more chances of getting sanctioned from this Black Sea Corridor will reduce the chances of getting sanctioned by West. However, this alternative trade route involves two countries, Armenia and Georgia, which is calling for heavy infrastructure Investments. However, there can be several potential negative sites to investing in infrastructure projects in other countries, such as political and economic risks, cultural and Social Challenges, legal and Regulatory issues, Financial risks, and geopolitical risks, so it is going to be a tough call for India nevertheless opportunities are there, but nothing is risk-free. Currently, it is a proposal by the Armenian government, we have to see how the Indian government will respond.
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