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Blair: Global effort needed to tackle present crisis

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said whether it's the economic challenge, the terrorist threat, climate change or the battle for resources, we are in this together, reports Lalita Panicker. See Special | See webcast of Tony Blair's speech |Amit Baruah in a tete' a tete' with Tony Blair

india Updated: Nov 22, 2008 18:37 IST
Lalita Panicker
Lalita Panicker
Hindustan Times

"We stand together or we fall together." This was the theme of former British prime minister Tony Blair's keynote address on the second day of the Hindustan Times leadership summit. Addressing a packed audience at a session chaired by HT advisory editorial director, Mr Vir Sanghvi, Mr Blair said the chief characteristic of the economic crisis sweeping the world was that it is global, interconnected and interdependent. Whether it's the economic challenge, the terrorist threat, climate change or the battle for resources, we are in this together, he emphasised. See webcast of Tony Blair's speech

Making several references to the globalised world of his youngest son Leo, he spoke of how he saw this world as driven not by governments but by people. He had the audience in splits when he spoke of the Hindi jokes he had picked up from his son's friend's Indian father but declined to repeat them for fear of them being politically incorrect. "In Leo's school, I don't just hear random words of Hindi, but Italian, Spanish, every European language and dialects from every continent."

"The economic crisis is hellish complex," Mr Blair argued, adding that what began as a problem in a part of the mortgage market in the United State reverbrated round the world until today,shops in Delhi and businesses in Shanghai feel its impact. "Nowadays, no financial crisis will stay where it starts. There will be no solution without effective global coordination," Mr Blair reiterated.

"The economic crisis has done to our perception of the economy, what September 11 and its aftermath should have done to our perception of security. Terrorism, too is a global challenge requiring a global solution. In reality, there is one global movement based on a perversion of the proper faith of Islam. Its roots are deep. It has an ideology, it must be subject to military means where it poses a military threat. But its ultimate defeat can only come, not through force of arms but force of ideas," he said amid thunderous applause.

On India, a country for which he said he had deep love, he said, that it had moved into its rightful place in the sun. "We know power is shifting East and from now on, no issue that affects the world can be effected without India's leadership." He spoke passionately of broadening the representation of the UN security council and global financial institutions keeping in mind India's ascent in the global power hierarchy. But, he said, the challenge still remains of reconciling the two Indias, the one of dynamism, ingenuity and enterprise and the one in which millions still lived in poverty.

First Published: Nov 22, 2008 11:10 IST