Cover story: Chandran Nair, founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Tomorrow

The opinion leader is highly sought after at international forums where he entertains and instructs his audiences on the dangerous fallacies underlying current development thinking.

(Photo credit: Mohd Shahrin/The Edge)

Iconoclast. Contrarian. Trailblazer. Chandran Nair slips into roles like these — in a lifetime of challenging the status quo — with ease and aplomb.

Armed with a knack for upending convention, he critiques world-shaping trends in rarefied circles, including events hosted by the World Economic Forum, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) economic bloc.

A recent induction into the Club of Rome, a premier global think tank that counts world figures among its 100 distinguished members and fellows, has set him on a mission to reorient its sights towards burgeoning Asia. As the first Malaysian and first person from Asean to join this predominantly Western forum, he has to break new ground to present the view from this corner of the world. It is a challenge that Nair, 64, gifted with a talent for communication, clearly relishes.


Catastrophic consumption model

An important theme in his arsenal is the catastrophic over-consumption that is being driven by the Western model of development. This is the subject of Consumptionomics: Asia’s role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet (2011), his first book. It was rated among the top 10 books of 2011 by The Globalist, an online forum on the economics, politics and culture of globalisation.

A review in The Guardian boils his treatise down to a warning that “the kind of growth that propelled the West to global dominance can only lead to ecological and political crises if repeated in Asia”.



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