For many hundreds of years, the West has symbolized development, prosperity and riches, while the rest of the world – the horrendously named, “Third World” in particular – has been synonymous with backwardness, disease and hunger. Let us, for the moment, forget that much of this disparity was actually a result of exploitation by colonialists from the West, and let us also ignore the fact that to this day, all too frequently, Western influence is exerted in most developing countries to the detriment of the local society. Despite the miserable history behind the exploitative abuse of the Rest of the World, the good news is that in the 21st century almost all countries will catch up with the wellness, HDI and wealth indicators of the West.
We’ve covered the case of Pakistan numerous times in the past. As the seventh largest country in the world, blessed with trillions of dollars of natural resources, there is no question that Pakistan will emerge as a power on the global stage. This will happen despite shortcomings in political leadership. The fundamental trends propelling Pakistan toward a developed future are far more powerful and basic than temporary considerations such as who occupies the Prime Minister’s house in a given term.
For much of the rest of the world, while perhaps not to the same extent as Pakistan, development and a general uplift of HDI indicators is nonetheless inevitable. How is this happening? Is it because of increased mobility between populations? Better communication? The democratization of technology? The rise of alternate power centers like China, which have very different goals than the West? The growing sense of self-identity and desire for freedom in erstwhile underpopulated and easily exploited resource rich countries? Perhaps the answer is “all of the above”.
Prof. Hans Rosling, statistician, friend to the Third World, TED fellow and marvelous story teller, shows us how this empowerment is unfolding and when China, as a reference point, will reach the per-capita GDP of the US. While China’s rise is praise worthy and phenomenal, the reality is that as long as we are able to avoid major wars, over the medium-term, much of the world will achieve high standards of living and wealth. Development and prosperity can no longer remain the exclusive domain of the post-colonial West. Good news all around. And here it is from Prof. Rosling himself: