Protesters Get the Cold Shoulder at G20

By K.S. Venkataraman

The group of G20 nations is a disparate lot. In addition to industrialized democracies, it includes China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia, and Russia, among others, hardly a compatible group. These 20 nations, accounting for nearly 80% of the world population, may account for even a larger proportion of world’s economy.They have conflicting interests with each maneuvering for better deals to parade as their accomplishments when they go home, and to strategically position themselves in the geopolitics of the world. This is particularly true among emerging economies — some of them have already emerged — as they try to counterbalance the overweening domination of the industrialized nations during the greater part of the last century.

The huge problems facing the planet are complex needing concerted efforts by all the 160-plus nation-states. The G20 nations will try to shape the agenda for the rest of the world to follow even as they jostle to influence each to their mutual benefits driven by self-interest.



Amidst the gala surrounding the Pittsburgh G20 meeting, the region’s elected officials are eager to project to the world how the region has transformed itself in the last four decades to attract new businesses. We support their effort. But that does not mean that elected officials need to be churlish in muzzling the G20 protesters. Some of them have legitimate concerns over the impact of the decisions the G20 leaders will take. After all, Pittsburgh has a long history in trade union movement, an inevitable response of organized labor to the unbridled capitalist economy of the 20th century. One cannot run away from one’s own history to bring about change. The pictures of the Old Pittsburgh hanging in the lobby of the Inclines on Grandview Avenue is a stark reminder where we were. 


Consider these: The farm subsidies in the US, Europe, and Canada are ruining farmers in Africa where overwhelming proportions of the population are subsistence farmers. The commercial fleets of the G20 nations have destroyed the food resources of poor fishermen in coastal Africa. One wonders who will speak for them in the G20 meeting. (September 10,2009).

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