Economic Times: January, 2017
Ahmedabad: Lars Heikensten, executive director of the Nobel Foundation, said he expects India's share of the global economy to increase while commenting on the role of the country in the emerging world order, ahead of the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.
"For decades, the western world has been standing up for democracy, science and facts. Now these values are being questioned. Democratic countries like India, which also have a growing role in the world, need to step up. I think the policies of India are important," he said. "The world needs more of values that India has been building since the 40s."
The investor summit will for the first time see the participation of a galaxy of Nobel Laureates apart from various heads of state and global corporate leaders. The Nobel Foundation is the institution that manages the Nobel prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.
Heikensten emphasised the need for adequate infrastructure to connect people to the digital economy. "In my country Sweden, everyone is connected today. With more people being connected in India, you will see people shifting to digital transactions," he added.
He also addressed the digital divide and the need to bridge this chasm. "Digitisation is part of our lives and necessary but it does have consequences," he said.
Heikensten has been governor of the Swedish Central Bank and held various positions in the Swedish ministry of finance, including that of director general and head of the economic affairs department.
There are risks (with digitisation) and IT policies need to address these issues," he told ET. "This is not something that will solve itself. People have been left behind in the process and I expect we shall see more and more academic debate on how to keep fairly equal, at the same time we have good economic development… The populist movements in the western countries reflect that people are left behind."
He said that Sweden, for instance, has become less equal over the years.
"This is not the whole story part but an important part of the story,” Heikensten said. “But it is still very equal compared to the United States where there are wider income differentials between people."
The link between digitisation of the economy and inequality is not a straightforward one. However, he pointed out that this marks the way forward and said that "we will see more and more countries moving towards digitisation as lot less cash is being used now than before."
He said that India was one of the countries buying notes from Sweden.