Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Post-American World - Fareed Zakaria

The Post-American World deals with bygone, current and predicted world trends. It gives one a historian's, and an economist's view of the rise and fall of nations, political and regional undercurrents and the issues confronting the world at large. The book begins by putting forth the notion that major acts of terrorism have been on the decline, and more terrorist organizations and their activities are being subdued than ever before.

Zakaria analyzes the rise of the Asian giants, the elephant and the dragon, explaining why the set of challenges India and China face are different from each other although being two of the oldest civilizations on the planet. How the system of government and age old ethos played a part in the rise of these nations has been explained in good detail, and predictions based on a study of world economy backed by statistical data have been made on the rise of China as a superpower in the future, and of India as a major world player.

Even with the gross neglect of infrastructure and development in most regions of the country and people are taken for a ride by rulers in India, the system itself is stable.

".....the messy politics of coalitions - someone, somewhere can always block a proposed reform - and you have a recipe for slow movement, one step forward and three-quarters of a step back. It is the price of democracy."

China, on the other hand can force reforms with grater authority as it has been doing, since its system of government can subjugate protests and dis approvals, thereby concentrating all its efforts on development and reform.

The book moves on to the Old Blighty and the United States, on how the balance of power shifted from England to America. The effect of the world wars took a toll on all countries, but mostly on Great Britain which had to relinquish the reins of being the world's only superpower to the United States. Gradually Britain's control of its colonies began to wane and this was the point where many of the colonies gained independence.

Finally, the pillars of American might, Universities, industry, economy, defense and social life and what makes them tick are delved upon. One profound difference among American and foreign methods of learning has been explained as follows.

"While American system is too lax on rigor and memorization-whether in math or poetry-it is much better at developing the critical faculties of the mind, which is what you need to succeed in life. Other educational systems teach you to take tests; the American system teaches you to think.

It is surely this quality that goes some way in explaining why America produces so many entrepreneurs, inventors, and risk takers. In America, people are allowed to be bold, challenge authority, fail, and pick themselves up.

Even though the educational system faces a lot of flak for being not competitive enough, the quality mentioned above makes it much superior to any other educational system.

Fareed Zakaria
produces a well researched and excellent analysis of modern world issues and trends.

1 comment:

Smita said...

Fantastic Review...

Not my kind of book though :)