By Aksa Bilal, honorable mention in the CIPE 2013 Blog Competition. Read the rest of the winning entries here.
I remember it was just 6 years ago, when boys and girls of merely 16 or 17 years of age wore a black cloth on their arms as a sign of defiance against our very own, our very recent, 4th dictator and former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. They wanted what is the right of the 7 billion people of this planet. They wanted democracy, a free and fair system, a truly representative government.
Now some wore the black sign of defiance not because of their sudden political awakening or out of their spirit of democracy, but because defiance seemed oh-so-cool and I admit – all the cool kids were doing it. When they talked, you could hear the father’s and uncle’s last-night dinner conversation, with angst driven knives and forks waving in the air. You could imagine furrowed eyebrows and big mustaches while the kid reminisced very verbally, for too long, only to forget it as soon as the black cloth was no longer “in.”
Then there were those who took to the streets for the judiciary and for the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and stood their ground against dictatorship with such zeal and zest that these became monumental achievements in the history of the country. They were the theatrical productions of the power of the common man, of the power of masses. With sadness I confess that I was amongst neither of these people. I was among the indifferent, too occupied with the next exam, too ignorant of what was not happening within the kilometers between my home and my high school.
By Jasper Wong, honorable mention in the CIPE 2013 Blog Competition. Read the rest of the winning entries here.
In this decade, perhaps the defining story of global significance is the rise of China in the global economy as it displaces Japan to become the world’s second biggest economy. It is no coincidence then that the prevailing view that democracy should go hand-in-hand with development was seriously challenged at the time as China’s economic success overshadowed U.S. culpability in the Global Financial Crisis (some say, Western Financial Crisis), which saw the “largest and sharpest drop in economic activity of the modern era.”
Yet China’s development wasn’t the first to challenge the link between economic and political freedom, as it sits fittingly in the context of East Asia’s developmental trajectory, most exemplified by the phenomenon of the Four Asian Tigers during the 1970s and 1980s. Similarly, the accompanying story to their remarkable growth was the political environment in which growth took place under authoritarian leaders like Park Chung Hee and Lee Kuan Yew.
While South Korea and Taiwan have gained strides in being more democratic, Singapore appears to be stuck in limbo, classified as a “hybrid regime” and ranked at 81st position, well below countries like Indonesia and Malaysia in the latest 2012 Democracy Index published by the EIU.
In global surveys, Singapore has consistently ranked top in governance as its zero-tolerance for corruption, coupled with meritocratic efficiency, are the usual suspects in explanation. Yet ironically, recent times have not bode well for the ruling party of the Singapore government, having just emerged from the latest election with its lowest support ever since independence (60.14 percent of total votes) and facing an increasingly critical electorate.
CIPE is pleased to announce the 2013 Blog Competition winners today! Democratic and economic reform advocates from around the world are invited every year to express their thoughts through CIPE’s writing competition. For the 2013 competition, CIPE encouraged international bloggers to share their opinions in three categories: social media and democracy; youth and development; and personal stories of reforms.
We received nearly 100 entries from over 30 different countries around the world, including Egypt, Mauritania, and Uganda, and a panel of international judges selected seven winners.
Past CIPE writing contest winners have gone on to publish a book with their winnings, start a similar contest in Romania, and found an NGO in Ghana focused on youth, garnering media attention from the likes of the Wall Street Journal. Keep an eye on these rising stars as they become accomplished writers and journalists!
Social Media Category:
Shrey Goyal (India) I Paid a Bribe, and Tweeted About it
Youth and Development Category:
Madalina Maria Iancu (Romania) A Model of Peaceful Revolution
Personal Story Category:
Dan Erwin Bagaporo (Philippines) Achieving Inclusive Growth
Congratulations to everyone! Click the links above to read the winning blogs. Honorable mentions will be published on the CIPE Development Blog in the coming weeks.
Maiko Nakagaki is Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.
By Dan Erwin Bagaporo, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.
The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, recently registering 6.6 percent GDP growth (second highest in Asia). However, few Filipinos experience its benefits, as 76 percent of this growth went to the richest 40 families in the country. While the government is doing its best to promote “inclusive growth,” 26 percent of Filipinos still live on less than $1 a day. As large companies swallow up wealth, many Filipinos are left out, especially the indigent, young, and elderly, who find securing employment difficult. A few years ago, I witnessed this tragic reality firsthand.
My friends and I went to visit an old retirement home for abandoned senior citizens. We were set to conduct interviews with residents for my friends’ thesis about geriatric loneliness. It turned out, loneliness was the least of their problems. Going around the compound, we saw that it was very ill-maintained. Corridors and rooms were dirty, and pungent. The retirement home was clearly understaffed and lacked necessary funding to maintain an acceptable standard of living for its residents.
After we left, I did some research and discovered that the retirement home has constantly been the recipient of numerous social programs, from food distribution to privately-sponsored Christmas parties. I also found that many other public retirement homes experienced the same situation. My question was: despite all of the largesse, why was the quality of life of residents in these retirement homes still poor? I must admit; it took me a while to answer this question.
By Madalina Maria Iancu, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.
There are not many “peaceful” revolutions in the history of mankind, especially during the last decades of our modern history. Even if we think to join these two words — “revolution” and “peaceful” — it does sound a bit unusual.
This is the reason why I chose to write about this example of a totally atypical revolution, which happened recently in Iceland. In my opinion, the Icelandic Revolution is an example of the fact that a revolution doesn’t have to be violent and bloody but peaceful and civilized and with a positive approach things can be changed in order to improve the status quo and to create a better standard of living.
There were also other movements also called “peaceful,” as it is a new paradigm, but still…nothing like Iceland.
One of the characteristics that made this revolution so atypical is its duration. It all started in 2008, when the main bank of Iceland was nationalized, the currency of Iceland devalued and the stock market halted. The country was in bankruptcy. During 2008 – 2009 as a result of the citizen’s protests and demonstrations, both the prime minster and the whole government resigned. New elections were held. In spite of these changes, Iceland remained in a bad economic situation.
By Shrey Goyal, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.
A few months ago, the Global Corruption Barometer 2013 by Transparency International (TI) told us that 47 percent of Indians think corruption is a serious problem in our public sector, and 68 percent feel the government is ineffective against it, with most corruption perceived to exist in political parties (86 percent), police (75 percent) and parliament/legislature (65 percent). It is evident that most Indians are perturbed by the presence of corrupt practices thriving in all nooks and crannies of the public machinery.
Not only is corruption rampant in India, it’s also remarkably visible and lacking in subtlety. In fact, for most Indians, corruption has always been a way of life. To think about it, I ended up paying a bribe no less than four times last week alone, and had to disperse massive amounts in cash to bureaucrats and their peons a couple of years ago just to make sure that my new business registration does not get stuck indefinitely for no discernible reason. And I am hardly alone: A 2005 study by TI found that more than 62 percent of Indians had a first-hand experience of paying bribes or influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices successfully.
According to some estimates, India has lost a staggering $462 billion in illicit financial flows since gaining independence in 1947, and the economic burden of corruption in the last decade is estimated at INR 1,555 thousand crore ($250 billion).