Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
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Organization's love dong crystal ball predictions:the crystal ball shows pictures that are likely to happen in the future. The more professional label is scenario planning or envisioning the future. It is really difficult to predict the future but some trends are telling and need to be monitored to create a pattern of key indicators. Normally countries prepare their 10-year vision, their 5-year framework and their annual plan. However, some trends override time barriers.

What the world will look like, what the people in the world will be living for, how politics will change and how technology will intervene are all aspects that build up scenarios that create more sense out of conceptual commotion.

Strategic envisioning is the broad starter where normally the big thinkers will sit down and do a moon landing analysis. This analysis covers the brain stretching into the fantasy world where they try to be as wild in their thoughts and predictions as possible. The pace of change is so rapid that the moon walking exercise may be as near as the end of the year. In the 20th century we saw the rise of the economy of affluence, i.e. the US.

While the rest of the world was still trying to get out of the great depression of the world wars, the US was leading in producing cars and computers in the 60s and 70s. It became a military and an economic giant. However as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, the scenario is changing at the speed of light.

The first change that the world needs to prepare itself is for the new 'Cold War' between the US and China instead of US vs Russia. The US has a President who is talking about building wars on borders and China has a President who is talking about building belt and road initiatives between a number of countries. This is just not going to be reflected in a few projects but in the way they deal with countries and companies.

America's sudden disenchantment with wars may be late but it still poses a threat to it and the world as after having contributed to war ravages in these countries, leaving them in a hurry, would become even more destabilizing rather than disengaging in a planned manner. Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are no way prepared to gather the broken political structures without American support. Moreover, the policy impasse back home in Washington over constructing Mexican wall has literally shut down the government.

The ex-rulers of the world, i.e. Britain is in any case finding it difficult to rule its own united yet divided kingdom leave aside the world. The latest rejection in the British parliament of the Brexit policy has made the current government vulnerable to a no confidence vote.

China meanwhile has celebrated forty years of reform. It is no longer an awakening the dragon story but a story of the rise of the dragon to a level where the western world despite its disdain for "human rights" and lack of democracy, has reluctantly acknowledged it as a power of great influence.

The first phase of Chinese reforms focused on stability and continuity while the second phase of reforms focused on domestic and export markets. Deng Xia oping who created the modern China was also very conscious of social development of people in education and skill training.

The stability helped them to cut military spending and focus on people development especially rural development. The task to get people out of poverty started by reforming the agricultural sector when the land owned by government was handed back to the farmers and this ownership transformed the lives of millions of people as yields and income improved remarkably.

From food shortages to food surplus China became an exporting giant whose products flooded the world market creating favourable balance of trade with nearly every country in the world.

The third phase of Chinese reforms was initiated by President Xi Jinping when he took over in 2013. New era was marked with Xi as President of China in 2013. Introduction of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was the beginning of globalization and international role of China in world affairs. China is now institutionalizing the process of regional domination politically through planned economic cooperation and shrewd fiscal management through its banks and financial systems.

The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Silk Road Fund are all international initiatives spearheaded by China over the past months that symbolize Beijing's growing influence in providing development funding and potential new sources of financing for developing countries. These institutions are positioned as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank.

Aside from the traditional geo politics, technology is tearing down all walls. Cars are and will be based on electric charging rather than traditional fuels. Cars will be driverless and cars will be skirting the traffic by having flying gear options. All this is either already there or is on the horizon within the next decade. This has huge implication not only for auto industry but for oil industry, for Middle East economies that are already finding oil prices collapsing.

India meanwhile is also positioning itself as a rising power. Malaysia is back with Mahathir Mohammad to regain its Asian tiger glory. Many countries are under new governments. India and China are no longer back office service centers for the developed world but are trying to be the main players in the corporate world. This presents an opportunity to countries like Pakistan.

Pakistan in the last three decades has missed the opportunity of being part of the supply chain of the emerging giants. Bangladesh and Vietnam etc have surpassed Pakistan in being textile and input providers to these global chains.

Pakistan has to really revisit what position it needs to occupy in 2020 and then 2030 in the world. Does it want to be a low cost in put supplier? Does it want to be a back office service provider? Does it want to be a young emerging IT developer? Does it want to be a retail marketplace? Does it want to be the factory of the world in 2020? Does it want to be the hub of tourism, software and skilled labour in 2030? These are the questions that the country policy makers, the think tanks and the corporate strategic planning boards need to answer to be able to position itself in a world that is ready to knock down giants and rearing to welcome those who can renew and recreate the way the world lives, works and plays.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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