ABSTRACT

The sangam (confluence) of foreign investment, multinational corporations (MNCs) and human rights raises new challenges for the developing countries in Asia. Though development is the underlying current behind this sangam, there is a fundamental tension in how the three streams intermingle. For example, the trend of investment-driven development often compels developing countries to allure foreign investment by MNCs, even if it brings negative effects on human rights realisation and development of the majority. A “race to the bottom” for securing foreign investment amongst developing countries further reduces their bargaining position vis-à-vis MNCs. Taking India as an example of developing countries of Asia, this article explores the individual and collective strategies that developing countries could employ to exercise a control over the flow and direction of foreign investment. It argues that developing countries should realise their place in an interdependent world, be guided by an approach of “diversified integration”, rely on human rights norms, and foster alliances with civil society organs in order to control the flow and direction of foreign investment.