George Soros, billionaire and founder of Soros Fund Management LLC, speaks at an event on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. (Bloomberg: Simon Dawson)
Billionaire US philanthropist George Soros Thursday cited India as an example to illustrate the rise of nationalism, which he called the "great enemy" of open society. Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Soros, an advocate for international cooperation, said the "biggest and most frightening setback" was in India. "The biggest and most frightening setback occurred in India where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship," he said.
Soros said we live in a "transformational moment" in history, where the twin challenges of open societies and climate change are "threatening the survival of our civilisation".
He opined that the responses to these challenges by politicians who "exploit" the situation for their own purposes are "unlikely to correspond to people’s expectations", and therefore, have already caused "widespread disappointment".
"There are also grounds to hope for the survival of open societies. They have their weaknesses, but so do repressive regimes. The greatest shortcoming of dictatorships is that when they are successful, they don’t know when or how to stop being repressive. They lack the checks and balances that give democracies a degree of stability. As a result, the oppressed revolt. We see this happening today all around the world," Soros said.
"Taking into account the climate emergency and worldwide unrest, it’s not an exaggeration to say that 2020 and the next few years will determine not only the fate of Xi and Trump, but also the fate of the world", the Hungarian-American said.
Soros has pledged $1 billion to set up an international educational network, Open Society University Network (OSUN), for teaching and research. The idea is Soros' long-term strategy to provide quality education that "reinforces the autonomy of the individual by cultivating critical thinking and emphasizing academic freedom".