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Vijay Eswaran’s Quest: Making ASEAN Truly Flat

Ah, the East! Land of economic miracles, burgeoning industries, and an accelerating GDP that leaves even the West breathless. But hold on. Vijay Eswaran, the entrepreneurial brain behind the QI Group, compels us to dig a bit deeper. He asks us to challenge the rosy narrative we’ve built around the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and confront the not-so-flattering contours of inequality within it.

Let’s be real; the world is flat, but some areas are flatter than others. The flatness we often celebrate in terms of global opportunities is marred by undulating terrains of inequality. If ASEAN is truly the powerhouse it claims to be, why does such a gaping divide exist in the quality of life among its member states?

Eswaran doesn’t beat around the bush. He confronts this unsettling discrepancy with the intensity and focus you would expect from someone who has spent a lifetime building bridges—both metaphorical and literal—between communities and markets. To understand ASEAN, he posits, we must grasp this dichotomy between its rich and its poor constituents.

Unlike many corporate leaders who prefer to paint everything in broad strokes of annual reports and PowerPoint slides, Eswaran takes a different tack. He demands that we refocus our lens on the micro-inequities that often escape our radar.

His call to action is more than corporate rhetoric. It’s a meaningful engagement with the issues of social responsibility and fairness. His commitment to this cause is as robust as his entrepreneurial ventures. He’s not just selling products; he’s selling a vision, a different way of engaging with the world that treats fairness as a commodity as valuable as any mineral or service.

The takeaway here is unambiguous: ASEAN’s individual and collective success hinges on its ability to reckon with this disparity. Globalization is not just about the free flow of goods and services; it’s also about the equitable distribution of those goods and services.

In a world obsessed with breaking down borders, Eswaran reminds us that the most formidable barriers are often the ones we don’t see. He challenges ASEAN—and by extension, the world—to recognize the moral and economic imperatives of reducing inequality.

So, when you next read about ASEAN’s incredible growth, remember Eswaran’s cautionary note. A high GDP is good, but an equitable GDP is better. It’s high time that the policy wonks and the business magnates alike heed this message. Otherwise, we risk turning the concept of a “flattened” world into nothing more than a flat illusion.