By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

The global financial crisis sparked by the world’s rich will have the poor paying the highest price, wrote one UK newspaper columnist this week. Meanwhile the United Nations was calling for this crisis to be used positively – to refocus of the world’s economy on a Green New Deal. But as the western world contemplates the collapse of capitalism as we know it, there are different priorities being expressed around the globe.

The view from Beijing, according to CCTV9, the official English language news channel, is that China just needs to concentrate on improving livelihoods in its own backyard, rather than get embroiled in a global effort to shore up other markets. The effort to raise incomes in rural areas is at least partly seen as a way to offset the impacts of slowing export markets.

In India today, ahead of the Asia-Europe Meeting, The Hindu’s front page reports: “The fact that ASEM leaders will be discussing a crisis that is essentially of America’s making underlines the fact that any overhaul of international financial architecture is bound to have profound geopolitical implications as well.”

And writing in India’s business daily, Business Standard, Arvind Subramanian states that preserving ‘Brand India’ is of utmost importance at this time: “‘Brand India’ has come to connote not just rapid growth but a reasonable ability of policymakers to respond to challenges. Of course, this response will be assessed by outcomes. But critical to this assessment will be whether processes for arriving at outcomes are effective, and specifically, whether all concerned institutions play their rightful roles and maintain their credibility. “Brand India” must pass all these tests.

Meanwhile UN-Habitat have starkly illustrated the size of just one of the challenges facing world leaders – urbanisation – with the publicaton of the annual State of World’s Cities report. The report warns that wealth inequality is creating a social time bomb. Let’s hope the world leaders at the ASEM in Beijing can hear the ticking and react accordingly.

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