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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Natural resources on the political system but depleting fast, extremely alarming situation

The big hint is contained in the very beginning of Christopher Nolan Movie Interstellar, seen by many but how many taking it seriously to act for future generations?

Is the reality of barren earth, dusty atmosphere and uninhabitable mother earth is not far, just at your eye sight. How politics can help to rectify the scenario?

Natural resources usually translate into prosperity to its people. It is a blessing from the side of Nature, resource –rich nations can export these to resource – deficient corners of the world and increase their income and their clout. The best example that comes to mind is Saudi Arabia that owes much of its prosperity and clout to its oil reserves. Countries are always looking at ways to buy these essential resources therefore; political stability in resources-rich countries is a prerequisite for trade to occur. A great deal has been written and discussed about the economic effects of possessing nature’s booty. It does bring better income to its people. Does it however, have any impact on the political system? This is an area of research which is just beginning to gain some momentum. An international study by Francesco Caselli and Andrea Tesei has gone into this area and come up with some ideas regarding the effect of natural resources on the political system in the land. Natural resource booms, typically translate into direct windfall in the hands of the political elite. An abundance of natural resources tend to shape the political outcomes. Political systems in a lot of natural resources-rich cannot be understood without taking into account the role of these riches on the type of governance systems they evolve. The mechanism by which political systems are effected by natural resources is rather complicated This is evident from the fact that resource -rich countries span the entire spectrum from democracies on the one hand to autocracies on the other .The stability of each of these mechanisms also vary in each government type. There are stable and unstable autocracies and similarly stable and unstable democracies. Saudi Arabia and Nigeria both show a strong bend towards autocracy but while the one in Saudi Arabia is exceptionally strong the one in Nigeria is remarkably unstable. Nigeria has suffered innumerable successful and unsuccessful coups since its independence. Inferences from these studies across the political systems has shown that windfalls have no effect on the political system when they occur in democracies The reverse is true of autocracies, windfalls in revenue make them more autocratic than they were before . The effects of revenue windfalls on the strong autocracies is almost negligible. In the less strong autocracies, windfalls make them more autocratic by using repressive measures to thwart any opposition. Windfalls from natural resources seem to have little or no impact in stable democracies as in Norway as well as in stable autocracies like Saudi Arabia. However, it does impact the political scene in less stable autocracies like in Venezuela and Nigeria. A large resource windfall is seen to have tipped countries from the democracy-autocracy inequilibrium like Venezuela and Nigeria to lean towards autocracy. On the basis of this work it can be deduced that natural resources tend to have a complicated effect on the political scenario of the country. Moreover, in autocracies it will lead to a harsher autocracy whereas it has less of a ripple effect in a stable democracy.

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