Over 30 intellectuals from around the world converged on Goa last weekend to look afresh at poverty, justice and environmental issues. Thomas L. Friedman, US author of The World is Flat – an
analysis of globalization – and addressing the November 4-6 Think Fest 2011, stressed the need to uphold old values of discipline and simplicity in the modern world. Friedman termed God as an active agent who intervenes in history and is also present in one's actions. “It is the old fashioned stuff that protects us. It is not in cyberspace and cannot be downloaded. Hence the need to upload it,” he added. Friedman also said his country is now facing financial insecurity because it chose to chase terrorists and failed to follow the examples of India and China in what is a changing world. He regretted the US has neglected education, infrastructure, incentives for growth and ground breaking research while concentrating on al-Qaida and the Taliban. Neglecting these core principles have weakened the US and strengthened Asian economies, he noted. Tamara Abed of Bangladesh Rural Advance Committee said something was fundamentally wrong with the west, which wastes so much food while millions starve in other parts of the world. She noted that the US wastes around 222 million tons of food a year which amounts to Africa’s total food production. Esther Duflo, professor of Poverty Alleviation
and Development Economics
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
, attributed poor education standards in India to overburdened teachers and an “insane curriculum.” Afghan parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai said her people have become victims of their country’s geo strategic position. “We have paid with our lives for other nation’s interests,” said the woman who was publicly flogged for going to a hospital without an escort. Father Feroz Fernandes, who edits Vaurvadencho Ixxt
(Workers’ Friend), a Church weekly in Goa, noted a general consensus at the event on helping the poor. “This is the same idea the Church has been harping on about for years. The time has come for the Church and corporations to come tighter [together],” he said. The biggest challenge for both is to understand each other’s language, the Catholic priest added.