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Kumar Mangalam Birla says 'slowbalization' will define decade

Tensions between nationalism and globalization will probably be the most defining trend of the new decade.

Updated: Jan 15, 2020, 09.34 AM IST
by P R Sanjai

For Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, the world isn’t flat anymore.

Tensions between nationalism and globalization will probably be the most defining trend of the new decade, he said in a personal statement on LinkedIn, after climate change gripped the global narrative in 2019. Being entrenched within regional economies protects companies from global trade entanglements, he said.

“While the march of globalization is perhaps inevitable, what is certain is that the world is no longer flat,” Birla wrote. “As globalization makes way for ‘slowbalization,’ the emerging pattern of trend is more regional.”

Birla cited examples of his conglomerate’s units, Novelis Inc. and Birla Carbon, as navigating the shifting trade environment with a regional focus. His Aditya Birla Group ventured into Thailand 50 years ago & derives more than half its revenue from abroad.

He also had words of admiration for Greta Thunberg, the high-profile teen activist who has became the face of a global movement against climate change. Companies are now forced to think about generating revenue while ensuring sustainability, Birla said.

“Greta Thunberg could well be the conscience of Gen Z,” 52-year-old Birla wrote. “You can agree with them. You can disagree with them. But you can no longer ignore them.”

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