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Asia Update

December 2019

Asia-related activities of Bertelsmann Stiftung and insights into important developments in the region.



On Dealing with Minorities in India

India is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse countries in the world. For a long time, the dominant response of the Indian state to minority claims was a policy of accommodation. More recently however, this approach has come under severe pressure from the Hindu nationalistic activities of Prime Minster Modi’s government. As a new study shows, the Indian government would be well advised to return to its previous policy of accommodation because it has made a significant contribution to holding the huge and incredibly diverse country together. Read more here



Inclusive Innovation Atlas

How can economic innovation promote globally inclusive well-being? The Bertelsmann Stiftung's cross-national study "Inclusive Innovation Atlas" analyzes which Asian countries offer the best conditions for progress and sustainable development - an innovation-driven economy that simultaneously benefits all population segments. India is one of the leaders among the 21 countries surveyed. Read more and download the study here


Asia in Infographics

Cost of Living

Standards of living vary greatly among Asian countries. This is reflected in the vastly different working time needed to afford everyday products. An average employee in India would need to work almost a year to buy a single top-notch smartphone. A worker in Singapore can afford more than 30 smartphones in the same amount of time. Read and download the infographic here


Holiday reading list

What we are reading over Christmas (and hope to discuss with you in the New Year!)

Anika Laudien recommends Frank Dikötter's "How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century".
The book deals with eight of the most effective personality cults of the 20th century: Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Haiti's Duvalier, Romania's Ceauşescu and Ethiopia's Mengistu. All of them were fully-fledged evil villains, longing for respect and admiration of the masses and putting great effort and PR manipulation into creating an illusion - which was nothing but a big lie. Based on impressive sources, which include 16 archives from nine countries, the historian Dikötter analyses what links these 20th century dictators and how a cult takes hold, grows, and sustains itself.

Bernhard Bartsch will read "China is Messing with your Mind" by Bilahari Kausikan.
Singapore’s former ambassador to the United Nations, who now heads the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, has decades of experience of dealing with China’s rise and ambitions. In January, Kausikan will be our first lecture guest from Asia at Bertelsmann Stiftung’s new office in Berlin.

Ina Alexandrovski recommends Shoshana Zuboff’s "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism".
Zuboff is an emeritus Harvard professor. Here she describes the social challenges that arise in the age of rapidly advancing digitalization and big data. The book deals with the business models of Facebook, Google and Co. and also looks into current developments in Asia, in particular the Social Credit System. Is this an approach to tackle undesirable social phenomena like crime, or is it a dystopian scenario for a future in which privacy and freedom no longer exist?

Max v. Laer will indulge in Arundhati Roy's recent publication "My Seditious Heart".
The book consists of a compilation of Roy's already published essays over the last 20 years. Reading her work in this synopsis might help to better understand the journey that has shaped modern day India.

Parvati Vasanta recommends Parag Khanna’s "The Future is Asian".
The book shows Asia from the inside-out, telling the story of how this mega-region is coming together and reshaping the entire planet in the process.

Peter Walkenhorst recommends William Dalrymple’s "The Anarchy. The Relentless Rise of the East India Company".
The book tells the remarkable story of how a private corporation - the East India Company - conquered India and destroyed the once mighty Mughal empire. In his brilliant narrative William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power. His riveting account of how a piratical corporation subjugated India resonates with the challenges of today's global capitalism.



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Dr. Peter Walkenhorst

Senior Project Manager


Bertelsmann Stiftung

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Tel: +49 5241 81-81172




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