Friday, November 13, 2009

Power, Politics, Success and Excess

Lord Acton said, 'Absolute Power corrupts absolutely'. I couldn't agree more. And I somehow see some correlation between power and success. Now which follows the other is purely subjective, since some argue that success corrupts a person by making her believe that she is invincible and her confidence alone makes her feel powerful and so wield power. Some others argue that when power is on your side, success verily follows since the power to tilt balances in your favor lies with you. Regardless of which explanation we choose, one must really watch out for the event when power in success moves over to power in excess.

Take China. Undoubtedly she is a superpower. And rightfully so. She has taken all the right decisions, made the right economic moves at the right times. At a time when the world is grappling with dwindling exports, she still registers positive GDP growth. This is power and success. But push the lever a bit further and China presently sits on 2.1 trillion dollars of foreign reserves. The world wants the Yuan to be revalued. The world wants a level playing field, where market forces dictate export competitiveness, not Governmental controls which choose arbitrary exchange rates. But given China's power in the T-bill market, no one dare push her too hard. Now that is power in excess.

Take China again. Post the second World War, when the UN came into being to prevent hostile take overs of other countries' territories, people felt that there would never be anything like the rise of the third Reich. But take India and China since 1962. The bloody Sino-Indian war, where India lost a portion of it North Eastern part of Kashmir. And now, with the Chinese Government going all out to claim ownership of Arunachal Pradesh, Chinese Troops entering Indian territory and painting rocks red, dam construction on the Brahmaputra (which the Chinese bluntly deny... well, I wonder how can someone fudge satellite images then???), it really feels like a push of power to the side of excess.

But then again, economic might can do many things to many people. It is up to an economic power to exercise restraint and be responsible, since those one bristles on the way up are sure to keep watching and waiting on one's way down.

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