James D. Wolfensohn was the 9th President of the World Bank Group.
I met Mr. Wolfensohn for the first time on my very first day in the United States, 7th of November 2003. What could have been more significant than meeting the President of the World Bank as your first meeting in DC?. Mr. Wolfensohn blew your socks off, he was humble with a wonderful sense of self-deprecating humor and could be incredibly charming and very kind. He put my 23 year old self at ease, offered me whiskey at 11am :-), like one good colonial to another (his words) and the humor helped a very nervous me start a meeting which lasted for over an hour and a half.
Despite his often unpredictable temper, JDW brought vigour and foresight to the World Bank. Whether it was being picky about how business plans for developmental projects were written or surrounding himself with people who were talented and passionate, Jim brought uniqueness to the fight against poverty and corruption that the World Bank lacked and probably no successor has been able to replicate.
I was an incidental fly on the wall for some of his more creative meetings, his meeting with Quincy Jones at the Four Seasons in DC where the doyen of Wall Street and the godfather of music found a common voice for poor children to an informal dinner with very unpredictable dinner mates at the Development Gateway conference at Petersberg, near Bonn in Germany. In every situation he led, with his brand of unique leadership. In every situation he brought people together. Above all, he cared.
While the unauthorized biography, book “The World’s Banker”, irritated him to no degree, I believe he was secretly pleased with the title and at my unsuccessful attempt to try and get him to autograph it.
His passing yesterday, I also found out that his wife of several decades Elaine Wolfensohn, had passed away in August. A wonderful lady and a leader in her own right and definitely the strong woman behind this very successful man.
While BECA and the Quad 2+2 Malabar war games bring India the comfort that it has allies in its struggle against the Chinese dragon, the Indian tiger must start engaging China at its underbelly, its global economic dominance campaign.
Much has been spoken of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new international diplomatic offensive to keep China in check. During his first term (2014-2019) he had the dynamic Sushma Swaraj as his Minister of Foreign Affairs who revolutionised India’s image abroad.
New leadership at the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Swaraj’s abrupt passing away left a void in both the BJP as well as a potential successor to Modi nationally. Her replacement is low key, however has not let up pressure on India’s enemies abroad. S. Jaishankar, the current minister of foreign affairs, has done an excellent job as has the new foreign secretaryHarsh Vardhan Shringla. The dynamic duo are experienced old hands of Indian diplomacy and come from the cadre, which also implies that Modi has wanted to maintain control of the political narrative in his second term.
While internally, the agenda of the BJP has thrown no surprises, Modi’s foreign policy has been rather hesitant. India will, in 2030, be the most populous country in the world with over 1/3rd of its population between 15-34 years. It is already the largest democracy in the world. On the global stage however, India continues to play defence. It continues to react to China and Pakistan while seeks alliances to consolidate its position and security.
The US Presidential elections are almost over and we have a new President-elect. The democratically elected head of state promises to be the President for all 331 million Americans, but the rest of the world, 6.6 billion people will be affected by his decisions. Joseph R. Biden Jr. at 78 is the oldest elected US President, will be the only Roman catholic to occupy the office after John F Kennedy, the youngest to hold that office. His Vice President elect, Kamala Harris, is the first woman Vice President and has a good chance of inheriting the Presidency.
Another US presidential election is almost over, we still expect drama and the suspense of a Trump exit and there are strong apprehensions that there will be Trump fireworks in the next 11 weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris. The 2020 election was the most expensive in history and with a $14 billion USD price tag, over 140 million US voters elected the oldest person in US history who will take the oath on the 20th Jan 2021 with the first female Vice President. The world seems to the relieved that the Trump era is over and we seem to be just waiting for peace, harmony tolerance and love to take over world-wide from the 21st of January 2021.
L’India, con un nuovo accordo con gli Stati Uniti a pochi giorni dalle elezioni presidenziali, dà inizio ad una vera e propria offensiva congiunta contro la Cina. L’alleanza “quad” comprende gli USA, l’India, il Giappone e l’Australia, sfidando la Cina nelle acque dell’Indo-Pacifico.
Durante il suo primo mandato, Modi ha abbracciato una nuova dottrina nel campo degli affari esteri del Sud Asia. L’India è tornata ad essere molto impegnata in Afghanistan, ha aumentato i suoi sforzi per riconquistare il potere in Sri Lanka, dove i rapporti erano recentemente sfuggiti di mano. I fratelli Rajapaksha sono tornati al potere in Sri Lanka ma ora sono molto più sensibili alle esigenze indiane rispetto al passato, ciò è stato dimostrato dalla prima visita a Nuova Delhi del Presidente Rajapaksa dopo la sua vittoria.
Quando due anni fa Imran Khan divenne primo ministro del Pakistan suscitò subito molte aspettative. L’auspicio era che l’ex capitano della nazionale di cricket, in virtù delle sue storiche amicizie con i giocatori indiani, inaugurasse una stagione di pace e di dialogo col vicino, dando al suo governo un’impronta moderata e tollerante.
La notizia del 13 agosto sul riconoscimento reciproco tra Israele ed Emirati Arabi Uniti è stato il primo raggio di sole dai negoziati di Oslo del 1995 nella storia lunga, turbolente e violenta dei rapporti tra Israele e gli stati arabi. Come è accaduto negli ultimi anni di politica via twitter, il presidente Trump ha cambiato la storia con un click.
Chi viveva e lavorava a Dubai, e aveva rapporti in Israele, si è sempre visto tollerare da entrambi i paesi, mentre altri paesi arabi erano molto più severi con chi visitava Israele. Mi sono trovato più di una volta con un visto d’ingresso negli Emirati Arabi accanto al visto israeliano sul mio passaporto, forse una dimostrazione dell’addetto di polizia di frontiera di Dubai della tolleranza degli Emirati nei confronti d’Israele. Al contrario, Libano, Arabia Saudita e Sudan non rilasciano visti sui passaporti che rechino un visto dello stato d’Israele.