Prem Shankar Jha is a well known (traditional) journalist based in New Delhi, India. He mainly writes about politics and economics in India with a focus on globalization. His analytical and honestly balanced writings gave him more than once a hard time to survive in crucial positions within India’s newspaper landscape. Today he is working as a freelancer and writes frequently for Tehelka.com, one of the best sources of news in India – as The Guardian says.
I ran into Prem by coincidence. He stayed at Ken River Lodge, one of my most favorite places close to Khajuraho where I more or less live since March 2012. This is where the interview took place.
Luckily we’ve had the chance in further conversations to discuss journalistic values and approaches – mainly the differences between (traditional) journalism and citizen media. We talked about the Arab Spring in particular and reflected on the different point of views from the West and the East – way to often based upon interests instead of balanced reporting. The latter is undoubtfully needed to get the overall picture right, meaning to achieve objectivity in the reports. But how do you achieve this is an art form of itself. It requires definitely a lot of experience, empathy and willingness to “dig deep”.
For this I really would love to see a broader collaboration between well trained journalists and citizen media people – I have the feeling the potential which might emerge out of such a collaboration is huge. So please go for it!
It was last year in September. I spent 10 days in Shanghai doing some research on global governance, social media and the open source movement. I wrote about here and here – and I did a couple of interviews – with David Li, Marc Chijs, Carsten Ullrich … This one here happened more or less by coinincidence in a bar named Ying Yang. Ying Yang is a lesser known venue in the French Concession district in Shanghai. Full of atmosphere. Posters of Chairman Mao adorning every available wall space, the musical background floats seamlessly from bossa nova to jazz, progressive psychedelic, and everything in between – as you can hear in the interview;-) – a favorite spot for both bohemian locals and expats in-the-know.
This entire “meeting” was set up via twitter and facebook. A friend of mine, Kate Ettinger, connected me with a bunch of “gangsters” – all of them members of we.makesense.org – a worldwide network of social entrepreneurs (I would highly recommend to check them out!). Habib Belaribi, Larry Vetea Tchiou, Clément Renaud and his girl friend Qu Hongyuan (most people call her Yuan – that’s also the way she introduces herself). Over some French red wine we were chatting about Shanghai, China, makesense and global governance.
Global governance is not yet an issue for young Chinese people. Not even those who are politically and socially engaged are familiar with the expression. But once it was explained to them, they liked the general idea.
The questions we asked …
1. What role should China play politically in a concept of global governance?
2. What role should China play economically in a concept of global governance?
3. Does the education system in China teach anything about global governance?
4. What can you personally do to strengthens China’s role in a concept of global governance?
1. China should continue to develop a set of values out of its traditional political and cultural philosophies and experience accumulated over the past 30 years of development and promote them as part of global governance. China should hold on to some of the values that could counter mainstream Western narratives on global governance in terms of intellectual properties, patent systems and religion.
2. Traditional aid organizations and charities supporting developing countries have not worked. As a eveloping country and the world’s second largest economy, China has an opportunity to develop and provide more substainable economic models. This can be China’s contribution to global governance.
3. The school curriculum in China actually contains more information about other countries than the average western curriculum and thus prepares theChinese to participate in global governance. It’s a matter of building up their confidence.
4. I will continue to promote open manufacture and innovations which have emerged out of the necessities of a rapidly developing country like China in the past 30 years.
1. China should take a more active part in international affairs and respect global conventions and universal values. We should stop saying “China is a special case!”
2. China should be more open. It should deregulate a large part of its territory, place fewer restrictions on social networks and the new economy, and get more in line with worldwide tendencies.
3. In conventional education this concept hasn’t yet been defined.
4. In all the IT and SNS businesses I have taken part in, we want to use a more open attitude to develop international cooperations, to push and intensify the Chinese people’s progress in integrated technologies.
1. Corresponding to the economic boom, China should contribute “universal” values to global governance. Yet, China may not able to assume a greater role for a long time. Global governance is characterized by partnerships between states and non-state actors, and as for state actors, global governance tends to blur the distinction between international and domestic politics which is the last thing the CCP wants at this stage as it would theaten its monopoly of domestic political power. As for non-state actors, NGOs are still underdeveloped in China, thus far there is little Chinese presence in global civil society representing the interests and voices of Chinese society.
2. If the Chinese economy goes downhill, the global economy will be in trouble for at least 10 years, No doubt China must play an active role in global economic activities. It should have an independent and strong standpoint on domestic currency policies. The western world should respect more the values of developing or third world countries otherwise no true global governance can be achieved.
3. No, not really. There’re only a few scholars studying global governance.
4. I think in China individual roles could hardly help! Moreover China has too many internal problems to worry about at the moment.
At the Salzburg Trilogue I’ve met Chandran Nair, founder of the Global Institute for Tomorrow, an independent social venture think-tank dedicated to advancing an understanding of the impacts of globalisation through thought leadership and positive action to effect change. It#s based in Hong Kong.
Chandran really polarized the rest of the participants because he was questioning strongly “old principles” of economy and he gavethought provoking thesis on how WE should start a honest discussion on how to build our common future. I found it very refreshing;-)