Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is quite right when he says that the recent G-20 summit in Washington is “a clear indication that the balance of power is shifting in favour of emerging economies”. And high time, too.
There are two reasons why leaders from countries such as India and China were called to attend the meeting. One, emerging economies have never accounted for this large a slice of the world economy since the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Two, this is the first modern crisis that began in the rich world and was then exported elsewhere. This seems to have punctured some of the old arrogance in the US and Europe. What the emerging world says is worth listening to these days.
The world economy has been run undemocratically since 1945, with the major global institutions dominated by the victors of World War II. That is not how it was originally meant to be. Forty-four countries took part in the original Bretton Woods talks to rebuild the world. The Indian delegation was headed by C.D. Deshmukh, who did such a sterling job that J.M. Keynes wanted him to be the first head of the International Monetary Fund. That was not to be.