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SEIDO Student Officer Helps Host Managing Director-General of the Asian Development Bank

In 1970, one in two Asians[1] were in poverty. By 1995, that number dropped to one in five, according to Managing Director-General of the Asian Development Bank Rajat M. Nag. Nag spoke at The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker Centre for the Study of Canada on November 26th, 2012 thanks to an invite from the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO).

In order for this progress to continue, Nag believes Asia needs to work towards growth that is inclusive, green and sustainable. To illustrate this theory, Nag and his colleagues at the Asian Development Bank created a scenario analysis named Asia 2050, predicting the state of Asia in 2050.

The scenario analysis offers two possible outcomes. The first, The Asian Century, shows Asia expanding from producing its current 20% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 50%. This scenario has a per capita income of $40,000 and three billion people escaping poverty. While this is “not impossible,” Nag says, it’s also “not pre-ordained.”

In The Middle Income Trap, the second scenario, Asia produces 32% of the world’s GDP and shows a per capita income of only $20,000. In this projection, Asia would be unable to compete with more technologically advanced countries or countries with more competitive wages.

Currently, 600 million Asians don’t have access to clean water. 1.8 billion don’t have access to sanitation. Nag shared that income and equality have worsened in Asia. He feels inequality of access to opportunity stunts a country’s growth and must be removed by means of inclusive growth. This calls for social inclusion (the rule of law and its implementation) and a social safety net.

Nag went on to illustrate the difference between justice and true justice with a story about his efforts to build a girls’ school in a remote village. The village chief explained that the village needed a rural water supply. While the school was procedurally correct (justice), building the water supply would free the girls from having to spend hours collecting water, which would allow them to go to school (true justice). Recognizing the importance of true justice, said Nag, is imperative.

Nag feels this is not the so-called “Asian Century,” but the “Global Century.” “The ‘Asian Century’ is possible if Asia makes the right choice of growth model,” says Nag. “Asia is up to the challenge, and all evidence points toward Asia making it. This is a tremendous opportunity.”

In his brief interview with SEIDO Student Officer Brandon Ziola following the event, Nag shared that he found the audience extremely engaged. He enjoyed the event and found it to be “a homecoming and emotionally significant.”


[1] Mr. Nag’s definition of Asia is all of Asia, less Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).

The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at or or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.

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