Globalisation and Human Resource Development
The recently concluded U.N. Millennium summit convened by the U.N. Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, was aimed at raising consciousness of the member nations about the scourges of war, poverty and disease. More than 150 monarchs, presidents and world leaders spoke and expressed their views and set ambitious targets for reducing poverty and HIV/AIDS and spreading education for all children by 2015. They committed themselves to the vision of benevolent globalisation in which economic and technological progress should unite rather than divide humanity. However neither the peace-keeping reforms nor the poverty reduction goals were accompanied by any financial commitments. The United States, the wealthiest U.N. member, failed to pay up the arrears of $1.7 billions of its contribution due to the world body. This did not portend for effective peace-keeping operations. Nor was any concrete progress made towards and promotion of human resources.
This conference was preceded by another Millennium World Peace Summit in which gathered a thousand representatives of all religions, faiths, beliefs and spiritual tenets. They signed a document which affirmed that all religions are equal and condemned violence committed in the name of religion. Obviously humanity cannot rest assured with what happened at these summit conferences and their aftermath. Common people all over the world irrespective of the countries or religions to which they belong should come together and transcending all the constraints and divisiveness of religions, nations and economic interests and create a world free of conflict, insecurity, poverty and exploitation.
Remote - Controlled Wars:
The good earth has been a cockpit of conflict and war through centuries of human history. These wars have taken a heavy toll of human life. The twentieth century which witnessed two world wars was easily the worst. World War II concluded with two atom bombs let loose by the U.S. on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet humanity does not seem to have learnt the lesson. The years since World War II have not been years of peace. After World War II, the U.S. and USSR emerged as two superpowers. They led two hostile power blocs confronting each other. The confrontation could have easily led to the conflagration of World War III. Fortunately for humanity the confrontation remained as a prolonged cold was which came to an end with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1992 and of the Soviet Bloc of countries. The Warsaw Pact which tied these countries together was wound up. However, even after the end of the cold war, the U.S. has not found it necessary to wind up the Atlantic Pact. On the other hand its scope has been widened so as to include countries of the erstwhile Warsaw Pact. Through all this period, the world was afflicted by conflict and war. Since 1945 till the present, nearly 200 international and civil wars have been fought around the world. Of this the Vietnam War was the most brutal and horrendous which took a toll of two million lives and ultimately ended in the ignominious withdrawal of the U.S. from that country of Asia. The only lesson the U.S. learnt from this war is that in future it should engage only in remotely controlled wars as in Iraq and Kosovo without directly engaging its troops on the ground. If in the process two hundred thousand Iraqi lives are lost it should not matter, since in its view America is the only "indispensable country" and only American lives are precious.
Though wars are born in the minds of men, men are influenced by politics, economics and religion. The two World Wars were essentially fought between European powers in their struggle to establish their imperial hegemony over Asia and Africa and the Pacific. The hegemony ended after World War II and the era of decolonisation began. Countries of Asia and Africa under the tutelage of the imperial powers for centuries awoke to life and freedom. But soon this was followed by the struggle between the capitalist and socialist blocs of countries which led to a prolonged cold war.
Clash of Civilisations:
In an influential work, Samuel Huntington has predicted that the Twenty first century will witness a clash of civilisations Christian, Muslim, Chinese, Japanese and Hindu civilisations. How far is this thesis valid? Will the medieval crusade wars reappear? Already the rise of Muslim fundamentalism has threatened not only several countries like India, Indonesia, Philippines and the Central Asian Republics but even Russia and the U.S. Russia has fought a brutal war in Chechnya to destroy Muslim fundamentalism while the U.S., after her embassies were attacked, is after Osama bin Laden who is the chief suspect.
If education in modern humanitarian values is one liberalising influence, democracy is another. Democracy nurtures freedom, spirit of tolerance and accommodation. On the other hand totalitarianism in any form crushes the human spirit, and therefore cannot provide a life of dignity which is worthy of a human being. Military dictatorship of Pakistan led to genocide in Bangladesh. The Myanmar military rulers imprisoned for several years the duly elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and have deprived the Myanmarese people the chance to live in freedom and without fear. The communist rulers of China ruthlessly crushed the youth movement. The charter of the new millennium should demand the end of such tyranny and provide the fruits of democracy to all the people of the world.
With the collanpse of communism, capitalism and the free market economy have emerged triumphant. Apparently there is no alternative economic system which can pose a challenge to capitalism. That does not mean that capitalism can solve all problems one wishes away problems of poverty, deprivation, economic insecurity, unemployment, illiteracy, disease and squalor. Market cannot provide all the solutions. Market fundamentalism cannot work in all spheres. The need for the state action and initiative should continue. Both the state and the market should supplement and complement each other. The market can be imperfect and leave out the underprivileged and have-nots. On the other hand the state machinery can be corrupt and inefficient. The deficiencies of the market and the state should be removed and both should work in tandem for the betterment of humanity
Globalisation was the magic word of the last decade of the Twenty century. The establishment of the World Trade organisation (WTO) has given a fillip to globalisation which is now sweeping the world. Globalisation stands for free movement of goods and services, capital and finance, technology, management and enterprise. To that has been added recently the migration of labour because of shortage of human resource in countries like Germany and the U.K. which till recently were very conservative in their immigration policy. The WTO regime insists on reduction of trade barriers. It insists on protection of intellectual property through a patent regime. Nations have lost their economic sovereignty and national boundaries are no longer sacrosanct. The technology of computer and communication had facilitated globalisation. However globalisation can pose dangers. The multinational companies will not hesitate to dictate their will on the developing countries in order to promote their own interests. They have the power and the clout to do so because the GNP of many of the developing countries is less than that of the MNCs. The MNCs can misuse their power to exploit the natural resources of the underdeveloped countries which can prove seriously harmful to the bio-diversity of the underdeveloped countries. The exploits of the MNCS may lead to an early exhaustion of the non-renewable resources and rapid denudation and degradation of renewable resources like forests which though renewable would take years to develop once they are destroyed.
Furthermore MNCs can take undue advantage through the use of their monopoly power to enter into contracts which the national governments of poor countries would not be able to resist. The indigenous industries with limited resources may not be able to survive in the face of competition with the MNCs with their deep pockets, vast resources and superior technology. They could take patents to make exclusive claims on products and processes which have been a part of the traditional knowledge of the local communities. The patents on turmeric and neem had been a warning of the shape of things to come. They may introduce products like the terminal seeds and biotechnological by engineered food products which may ultimately prove harmful. They can locate in underdeveloped countries "dirty industries" which are environmentally harmful and hence not allowed to be set up in developed countries. The rich countries would also dump their industrial waste in the developing countries as has already happened in India. What the developing countries require is sustainable development based on judicious use of natural resources, traditional skill and appropriate technology together with the use of modern and communication technology. The WTO and the World Bank should keep this in mind while promoting globalisation, otherwise the latter may well usher in a new era of imperialism of G-7 countries.
Stewardship for the Third Millennium:
As the dawn of a New Millennium approaches, the world's economic and political leaders, planners, entrepreneurs, workers and thinkers can look back with some pride at the scientific and technological developments. Asia has emerged from western colonialism and somewhat acquired a leading role on the global stage. Perhaps the best indications of the regions resurgence is its biggest worry in recent years: Can its economies survive in the global economic value using factors of production like money, machine, resources, labour and technology.
In Asia the mood is towards capital investments, industralisation, liberalisation for greater economic growth and productivity. Malaysia and Singapore are already among the Newly Industrialised Economies focussing on education, research and development to get smarter and alleviate chronic shortages in skills and know-how. Whereas in the Philippines and India the struggle is how to technologise (computerise) the whole country. In this milieu the church in Asia is supposed to be in mission and to be able stewards of the leftovers of the former mission enterprises. Management, sustenance and profit-making seems inevitable keys for the future. The missionary-managed institutions have to be maintained. New institutions of stewardship have to be created and managed; and the churches too need to make profits not for individual comfort but for progress and collective growth.
Therefore, three aspects should attract our attention rather urgently:
All the above three requirements need skills and futuristic policy decisions in not only judging our future but the way we do things. Axiomatically, accountability and transparency would become key in our deliberations without which confusion, misinformation and miscalculations would abound. The church and its hierarchy needs to be more sensitive and sensible in its decision-making and administration, and the Christian congregations as a whole should become meaningful participants of the ongoing processes and become creative stewards of the new era.
Human Resource Development (Ministerial Formation):
People's decisions are the ultimate - perhaps the only control of an organisation. People determine the performance capacity of an organisation. No organisation can do better than the people it has. But an effective, non-profit organisation must try to get more out of the people it has. The yield from the human resource really determines the organisation's performance. And thats decided by the basic people decisions. Whom we hire and whom we fire; where we place people, and whom we promote.
The quality of these human decisions largely determines whether the organisation is developing human resources. Whether its mission, its values and its objectives are real and meaningful to people rather than just public relations and rhetoric. Any organisation that develops people; it has no choice. It either helps them grow or it stunts them. It either forms them or it deforms them.
What does the church know about developing people? Quite a bit. It certainly knows what to do.
One of the most successful developers of people is the pastor of a large church. "It was said of a pastor from whose congregation an amazing number of first-rate leaders have come out. So when one asked him to explain how his church has become the breeding ground, the cradle of volunteer leaders. He said that the church tries to provide four things to young people who show up for services:
The lesson is to focus on strengths. Then make really stringent demands, and take the time and trouble to review performance. For all this to come together, the mission has to he clear and simple. It has to be bigger than any one person's capacity. It has to lift up people's vision. It has to be something that makes each person feel that he or she can make a difference that each one can say, "I have not lived in vain".
One of the great strengths of a non-profit organisation such as the church is that people do not work for a living, they work for a cause (not everybody, but a good many). That also creates a tremendous responsibility for the institution, to keep the flame alive, not to allow work to become just a "job".
That sense of mission should be a tremendous source of strength for any church organisation. But it comes with a price tag. The decision-maker is always inclined to be reluctant to let a non-performer go. The more successful an organisation becomes, the more it needs to build teams. In fact, non-profit organisations most often fumble and lose their way despite great ability at the top and a dedicated staff because they fail to build teams. The purpose of a team is to make the strengths of each person effective, and his or her weaknesses irrelevant. One manages individuals on a team. The focus is to look at the performance and the strengths of individuals combined in a joint effort.
Are we attracting the right people? Are we holding them on? Are we developing them? We need to ask all three questions about the organisations where people matter, like the church. Are we attracting people we are willing to entrust the work of the church to? Are we developing them so that they are going to be better than we are? Are we holding them, inspiring them, recognising them? Are we, in other words, building for tomorrow in our people decisions, or are we settling for the convenient and the easy today