These countries have been under despot rulers for decades and why suddenly the population is rising against them. If you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s time to use it. Uprisings occur when the needs are taken away from people. It started in Tunisia with a single man. Unable to find a job he was making a living with a roadside shop. When the police destroyed his shop, he committed suicide. Protesters gathered for his funeral and rest, as they say, is history.
Egypt, already reeling under high food prices, erupted. Jordan and Bahrain followed. How does this affect us as a country? As the climate crisis gets worse, the food supply will become erratic. Prices will rise. More and more countries in the Middle East will follow suit. There comes our first problem. The Middle East has a huge Indian workforce. All these people will have to come back at that point. Most of these people left for ME because they could not find a good job in India. This will lead to more unemployment. Without a strong manufacturing sector, we will not be able to support them. Especially, in a state like Kerala, which depends on overseas remittances, this will be a huge problem. The local economy which relies on remittances will be in shatters too. A situation like this is a tinderbox waiting for its first spark.
The second problem is local. Global warming is melting the Himalayan glaciers faster than ever. All the major rivers start from these glaciers. With warmer climates, these rivers will dry up rendering a big swathe of agricultural lands at the mercy of rainfall. Land output will go down and leading to high food prices. Also, this will trigger a migration from the heartlands to cities in search of jobs since agricultural jobs are not available anymore. If there are not enough jobs to absorb this migration, it will lead to more social unrest. Local population , threatened with competition, will not welcome the migrated population.
When the situation is ripe enough, we too might go the ME way. A healthy agricultural and manufacturing sector is the only way to get out of this mess. Not everyone can become a software engineer or a call center professional. Even these industries are at risk with the changing economic scenario in the west. The demographics of the west point more towards stagnation in the years to come. To keep these jobs, we have to create local demand which again comes from value creating industries. No need for a SAP professional if you don’t have a company to use it.
It’s in all our best interests to push for a healthy industrial and agricultural sector.