My impression is that the fundamental cause (of economic slippage in the Third World) is the lack of political consistency and stability. Are we talking about free enterprise? Are we talking about socialism? Are we talking about Marxism? … No matter what these countries do, unless they have underground wealth — not just oil but ores, diamonds, uranium — or are able to harness in efficient manner their very cheap labour to an industrial machine, they can’t overcome their problems. And an industrial machine requires access to capital, either self generated or invested from abroad. So no matter how you approach it you can come back in the end to the requirement of political stability and a climate attractive to investment.

INCOMPLETE: We regret that from this interview, only limited portions made public by the reporter are available below. We would be very grateful if any of our readers who may have the complete transcript would kindly share it with us. Please click here for information on making submissions to NanoWisdoms; we thank you for your assistance.

Interviewer: Stanley McDowell


Even at 7:15 on the morning after a banquet, with breakfast and an interview to be got through before an 8:30 meeting with Premier William Davis, the Aga Khan easily lives up to the promise of his own press release: “A man who possesses in full measure the charm and wit shared with the rest of his family.”

The Aga Khan insists on praising Canada’s “generous response” to the Uganda crisis. Apart from renewing contact with the community of perhaps 25,000 Ismailis in Canada, that is a main point of his visit. If pressed he will also recognize what Canadian experience had demonstrated: that his people turn out to be uncommonly valuable citizens of any country to which they go.

In much of the Third World they have established the best schools and the best hospitals, and not for themselves alone.

All our schools are open to non-Ismailis. In none of our schools is the proportion of non-Ismaili students less than 30 per cent and in some it is up to 90 per cent. All our hospitals are open to non-Ismailis. Ours was the first non-racial hospital in Kenya. We were the first to insist that such barriers could not survive, that they were wrong from every point of view.

He has little patience with that growing school of thought, increasingly influential at the United Nations, that sees heavy capital investment in Western-style industrial development as a cause, rather than a cure, for the widening gap between the rich countries and the poor.

My impression is that the fundamental cause (of economic slippage in the Third World) is the lack of political consistency and stability. Are we talking about free enterprise? Are we talking about socialism? Are we talking about Marxism?

Shifting ideological winds, he believes, frighten away investment.

No matter what these countries do, unless they have underground wealth — not just oil but ores, diamonds, uranium — or are able to harness in efficient manner their very cheap labour to an industrial machine, they can’t overcome their problems. And an industrial machine requires access to capital, either self generated or invested from abroad. So no matter how you approach it you can come back in the end to the requirement of political stability and a climate attractive to investment.

SOURCES

  • Globe and Mail, 24 November 1978
  • Text (secondary source): Ismaili.net

POSSIBLY RELATED READINGS (GENERATED AUTOMATICALLY)