BY VIVEK PATTANAYAK IN BHUBANESWAR, October 20, 2017: In the last two decades the world has witnessed cataclysmic changes in technology which has profoundly shaped the economy of the nations, from north to south and from east to west, encompassing both developed and developing societies. It began with internet followed by mobile telephone and now smart phone.

In the cyberspace and allied domain quantum jumps are taking place with cloud computing, internet of things and machine reading. Artificial intelligence and robotic have entered the global economy. Rapidity at which the people across the world are using this technology and acquiring these equipment in simply mind boggling.

In last few years with development of affordable technology solar energy and wind energy have threatened to replace oil and coal in generation of electricity which was not conceivable a decade ago. Electric cars, buses and utility vehicles have emerged thanks to pioneering entrepreneurship of Elon Musk. Tesla has given a life-threatening competition to diesel and petrol based automobile in less than three years.

No wonder all automobile corporate bodies have started to work in the direction of this change. In manufacturing industry artificial intelligence and robotic have started replacing human beings. Although before the second committee of the UN General Assembly, Professor Arvind Panagariya assured the members that robotics and artificial intelligence would not cause job loss, earlier UN and World Bank study had projected massive redundancies in human resource as much as fifty to sixty percent in the countries like India and other emerging markets.

In the background of this technological shift, the demographic changes are phenomenal with rising percentage of younger working population in developing and emerging markets. With greater availability of better medical facilities and advancement in science of medicine,aging population has increased substantially in the developed countries and now the same trend is noticed in the emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Argentina and Malaysia.

Middle class has grown and will grow further. By OECD estimates it will constitute one third of the world population by 2035, only twenty years from now.

Financial power has started shifting to the east from the west. Asia is attracting more wealth than Europe and North America. In twenty-five years China,it is believed, would outstrip USA in terms of GDP in real terms. As it is measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), it is number one in the world. India has already taken third position since early 2014.By conservative estimates India has all the potentialities to become third in terms of GDP in twenty-five years or even second in thirty years and first in thirty-five years. Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines would also gallop in their growth. From this one could foresee Asia would be the most populous and wealthy region of the globe.

Throughout the world, transparency in public life is increasing. One can see how after coming into force of Right to Information Act in India accompanied by widening of electronic media and massive growth of social media, public accountability has increased in less than a decade.

During question hour, debate on call attention motion or adjournment motion and legislative debates transparency of executive functioning was being ensured. Now an ordinary citizen can subject the government to reveal details of its functioning. Expectation of transparency in functioning of the judiciary has increased. Recent decision of the apex court in India to show the details relating to appointment and transfer of judges as deliberated in the collegiums reflect the trend.

There is occasional demand for greater transparency of the corporate functioning in media, also in the legislative forum. Lifting of corporate veil was occasioned by judicial intervention in the past just as information relating to working of government was revealed through legislature. Demand for transparency in the working of corporate sector would increase as expectation of corporate social
responsibility has expanded.

There is demand for transparency in the functioning of political funding. The Central Information Commission took historical decision stating political parties are public institutions and hence should be accountable under the Right to Information Act. With growing public consciousness about nexus between business and politics, demand for transparency in corporate donations to political parties will increase.

The power and influence of the fourth estate has increased particularly with coming into play of live TV. Media hype is being more and more discussed. This hyperactivity of media in recent days have also raised issues like paid news, ownership of media by corporate houses and indirect control of political parties over media. This would call for more of transparency in media, its real ownership and its political connection.

Civil society sometimes called fifth estate is seen in the streets more now than before. There is clash between government and civil society and more so between corporate houses and NGOs representing fifth estate with allegations that they are sponsored by rival corporate bodies. Their funding is being questioned by government, and by corporate bodies affected by such civil society agitations.

Privacy of individual has been recognized as sacrosanct in many developed nations like Canada, USA etc. To ensure that privacy is not violated by State, the Privacy Commission has been established in Canada. In India the apex court had recently given primacy to privacy while deciding in Aadhar link. It is now considered as an integral part of fundamental rights. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and both international and municipal legal instruments which followed also give great importance to right to privacy.

Women’s involvement in public life and corporate world has visibly increased but it would grow exponentially in the next ten to fifteen years. Recent statement by the chief of IMF very clearly reflects the trend. She asserted that the global economy in torpor since financial crisis of 2008 now showing signs of revival would pick up speed when the women are more in the work force.

Demand for reduction of inequality will grow accompanied by demand for more inclusive growth. Picketty and Atkinson have made path-breaking study and have shown the way. There is more and more media coverage through independent studies regarding wealth of billionaires and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) and world ranking of wealthy people. There is more and more revelation regarding how much of wealth is cornered by how many handful of people.

There would be increasing conflict between globalization and nationalization as is seen today with emergence of leaders like Trump, Le Pen and parties like Alternative for Germany. Brexit reflects a trend to leave the union. Catalonia asking for independence shows the same development. So, does Kurdistan. Scotland may follow suit. Quebec had shown that trend. Fragmentation against integration is a new feature. Clash between nationalism and sub-nationalism or regionalism shows how there would be clash between nationalism and internationalism.

Trends in technology and trends in political value system how will they together influence global and national economy and life of individual will be challenging subject for thinkers, academicians, and statesmen in the years to come. What administrative and political structure, legal framework and economic institutions will have to be designed to confront such trends and mega trends will bug their minds.

Harold J Laski, the famous political scientist of the early twentieth century had observed that scheme of our values is in the melting pot and are yet to crystallize into some new shape. Perhaps some new values may evolve the world over in years to come. Present pace of technological change when will it stabilize and would reach a plateau for humans to think in peace, reflect and recuperate is difficult to visualize. We must wait for that time to predict shape of things to come.