This article deals with ‘Globalization’. This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
When did Globalization start?
There is no agreement on this.
- 1st view: Since old times as world was never isolated. There was trade & exchange of culture & ideas.
- 2nd view: It happened during the 15th & 16th centuries when Europeans connected new countries through colonialism.
- 3rd view: It was during Industrial Revolution due to the invention of the steam engine.
Finally, although there is no agreement on the definition, everyone agrees that the pace of globalization has increased during the 1990s with the advent of the internet & telecommunication.
Note – India’s concept of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ is in line with Globalization. Hence, Indians have been experiencing Globalization for a long.
What exactly is Globalization?
- Globalization is a process of increasing interdependence, interconnectedness and integration of economies and societies to such an extent that an event in one part of the globe affects people in other parts of the world.
- Due to globalization, the world has become a “global village”.
- Due to globalization, the concept of the sovereignty of states is diluting. MNCs are encroaching and sometimes becoming more powerful than States.
- It has various aspects – social, political, economic etc.
- Whether it is beneficial or not is a matter of debate. It has both sides:-
- Some consider it the cause of the rising standard of living throughout the world.
- Others think globalization to be the soft underbelly of corporate imperialism that plunders and profiteers on the back of rampant consumerism.
Factors helping Globalization
- Trade is the most significant contributor to Globalization.
- Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Regional Integration & Global institutions such as WTO plays an important role in promoting globalization.
- ICT has connected offices situated in different parts of the world.
- BPOs in India can work for companies based in the US and EU at a fraction of the price.
International Governmental Organisations
- Organizations like WTO, UN, European Union (EU), ASEAN etc., have integrated different parts of the world.
- People are travelling in different parts => such surge in tourism was never seen before.
- CWG, Olympics, FIFA etc., play an important part in globalization.
Negatives of Globalization in general
- Attack on the sovereignty of nations by MNCs, institutions like WTO, IMF etc. and other powerful countries.
- It has led to the spread of terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy etc.
- Globalization has negatively impacted Micro and Small Scale Industries. E.g., Women silk spinners and twisters of Bihar lost their jobs once the Chinese and Korean silk yarn entered the market. Weavers and consumers prefer this yarn as it is somewhat cheaper and has a shine.
- Increased Insurgencies
- Adivasis have been uprooted from their ancestral lands by MNCs.
- Support of diaspora to insurgencies. E.g., Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers relied on the Tamil diaspora.
- Environmental damage due to overfishing, forest depletion etc.
- Disease Spread: Diseases spread like fire in the forest because of increased global connectivity & movement. E.g., Covid-19’s rapid spread during 2019-20.
- The global economy became too fragile, corroborated by frequent depressions and slowdowns.
- Inequality has increased as capitalists have exploited the situation to their advantage.
- Increased vulnerability of workers: MNCs keep on shifting their manufacturing bases based on the cheap availability of labour. E.g., Nike shifted their production from Japan to South Korea to Indonesia, India and Thailand when labour became expensive in these economies.
- Globalization has given impetus to the culture of materialism and consumerism.
- Exploitation of farmers
- Globalization has exposed farmers to global competition.
- WTO obligations regarding the de-minimus limit have led to lower farm subsidies in developing nations.
- MNCs are controlling farmers through contract farming.
- Seed monopoly by MNCs like Monsanto.
Then how much Globalisation is required?
- Outright rejection of globalization and a retreat into autarky is neither practical nor desirable as nobody wants to be the next Myanmar or North Korea.
- Also, nobody wants to be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – who opened their border for all goods with the same tax as on domestic goods and had double-digit negative growth in 2009.
- Countries that find the golden middle, like Chile and Singapore, tend to thrive.
We can’t live in isolation, and we can find a warning against isolationism in a parable about a well-frog- the ‘Kupamanduka’ that persistently recurs in several old Sanskrit texts.
Socio-cultural Globalization & India
- Socio-cultural Globalisation has increased cross-cultural contacts.
- Globalization has resulted in the penetration of western food culture like McD, Pizza Hut, KFC etc. & western cloth culture.
- Critics say that it is Westernization and not Globalization because of the imbalance of transfer.
- But MNCs also adapt to the local cultures, e.g. McDonald’s doesn’t serve beef burgers, Pizza Hut comes with Indian flavours etc.
- In theory, globalization tends to reduce poverty by promoting economic growth in developing countries. Some scholars have argued that ‘trade is good for growth, growth is good for the poor, and so trade is good for the poor’.
- Cultural Homogenization: We all watch the same television programmes, buy the same commodities, eat the same food, support the same sports stars. Hence, cultural diversity is being destroyed.
- The use of ‘English’ is rapidly increasing, and multilingual speakers are growing as well.
- In reaction, there is a rise of right-wing parties to protect local values & culture.
- Globalization has, through greater exposure, liberalized our attitudes, reduced our biases and predispositions about people, situations and communities worldwide.
- Due to Globalization, many languages are becoming extinct every year. A UNESCO report states that nearly 1,500 ethnic languages are globally becoming extinct every day.
Economic Globalization & India
Economic globalization comprises of two aspects :
- Globalization of production
- Globalization of markets
- Creation of jobs. E.g., jobs in the BPO sector.
- Bringing in improved technological processes.
- MNCs are providing revenue by way of paying taxes.
- Global Corporations bring better work culture to India.
- The indirect impact is that to attract more MNCs to India, the government invests a lot in infrastructure (roads, faster railway services, and aeroplane facilities).
- It has led to the IT revolution in India due to the setting up of a huge BPO sector providing services to their clients in the developed world.
- Worsening of labour conditions as the chief aim of MNCs is the maximization of profits (the main thing that seduces MNCs to manufacture in India is cheap labour ).
- MNCs repatriate their profits to their respective countries rather than investing in India.
- Global Corporations are deriving small companies and artisans out of business.
- Big MNCs violate human rights & damage environment.
- The health sector has been significantly impacted. Due to patent protection, the price of patented drugs has skyrocketed.
- It has impacted agriculture negatively because of the creation of seed monopoly and dumping of food crops by the US & Europe.
- For its survival in the face of global competition, Indian industry has transformed itself from labour-intensive processes to capital intensive processes by adopting global technologies and automatic machinery. It has resulted in a high rate of unemployment in India.
Impact of Globalization on various sections of society
1. Society as a Whole
- Globalization promotes the value of individualism and has led to the nuclearization of families.
- New forms of families are emerging. E.g., Single-parent households, live relationships, female-headed households, dual-in career families (both husband and wife are working) etc.
- Children are taking their own decision to select their partners.
- Finding partners: Younger generations have started depending on internet marriage sites like ‘Shaadi.com, Bharat Matrimony’ etc. Family involvement in finding a groom/bride is reducing.
- Marriage is now seen as a contract rather than a sacrament.
- Due to globalization, we are observing a large number of divorces.
- Globalization has brought about information technology and the internet, which have also helped, though indirectly, consolidate and promote caste solidarity. For example, matrimonial websites help in locating the same caste grooms. Similarly, caste-based forums are mushrooming on the web and social media.
Social interactions and festivals
- Due to the value of individualism, social interactions have been reduced.
- People prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day rather than Holi and Diwali.
- Youth is increasingly becoming westernized and consumerist in their thinking.
Food & clothing
- People have abandoned local foods & attracted to junk food which has increased health disorders.
- Males prefer western suitings, but they are inappropriate for the Indian climate.
Withdrawal of Government from Social Sector
- LPG Reforms led to a general reduction of the state’s public spending. The state has now taken the role of regulator instead of the service provider.
- The government has placed significant budget cuts on health, education and social security.
Globalization affects different groups of women in various places in different ways. On the one hand, it may create new opportunities for women to be forerunners in economic and social progress. But, on the other hand, it may take away job opportunities by providing cheaper avenues in the form of assembly-line production or outsourcing.
- Globalization has opened new avenues of jobs for women, raising self-confidence and bringing about independence.
- Working from home and flexible hours are physically less burdensome.
- Globalization has posed a challenge to the institution of Patriarchy.
- The feminist movement has spread to India due to globalization, making women more vocal about their ideas.
- Women in India are inspired by women worldwide to fight for their rights. E.g., fighting for maternity leave.
- Modern ideas like Equality of Sexes and Equal wages for both sexes have reached India.
- Due to globalization, India has signed conventions like CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women).
- Double Burden / Second Shift: Women are suffering two-fold. As women in developing countries move into the workforce, their domestic responsibilities are not alleviated. Hence, women are forced to work two full-time jobs.
- Globalization exploits cheap women labour in countries like India, Bangladesh etc.
- Globalization has exacerbated gender inequalities => although it has benefitted women, but has benefitted men more than women.
- Globalization has corrupted the value system of males => Due to the objectification of women, cases of rape and sexual exploitation have increased.
- With the encroachment of MNCs, small women entrepreneurs have gone out of the market. E.g., Women silk spinners from Bihar aren’t able to compete against Chinese silk yarn.
- Male members have moved to other nations (especially from Indian states like Punjab and Kerala). Women have to pass almost the whole of their life without their husbands.
3. Farmers and Agriculture
Positive impacts of globalization
- Globalization has provided greater access to better technology like
- High yield varieties
- Genetically Modified Crops (GM crops)
- Micro-irrigation techniques
- Foreign investment in agriculture through contract farming and food processing has helped farmers.
- Globalization has given access to farmers to foreign markets.
Negative impacts of globalization
- With globalization, farmers were encouraged to shift from traditional crops to export-oriented ‘cash crops’ such as cotton and tobacco. But such crops need far more inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and water.
- Exposed to competition from World => good produce in Jamaica can make the price of sugarcane fall in India.
- MNCs use IPRs to create seed monopolies. E.g., Monsanto’s monopoly over BT cotton seed.
- Due to WTO obligations and de-minimus limits, state support for agriculture has declined substantially.
- MNCs control farmers through Contract Farming due to monopsony in exotic products.
- Crops grown in contract farming usually require high doses of fertilizers and pesticides that damage the environment.
- The number of suicides has increased since LPG reforms in India. E.g., Vidharbha is called the suicide capital of India.
4. Old Age
- Children are migrating either to work in MNCs in cosmopolitans or other countries. (also known as Empty nest syndrome)
- With new kinds of jobs and technological changes, they are not fit for employment in many sectors.
- They cannot accept encroachment of foreign values, which has occurred at a huge pace. It leads to clashes between parents and children (especially girl children).
- Due to agreements like TRIPS price of patented drugs have skyrocketed. It has impacted Old age the most.
5. New Generation / Youth
- New avenues of Job: New avenues of jobs have opened. E.g., IT sector, BPO, Sharemarkets etc.
- More political awareness: Due to the idea of individual liberty, justice etc., among the youth.
- Rise of entrepreneurial spirit: Globalization has led to the end of the monopoly of Parsis, Marwaris etc., in the industry. India has seen the rise of startup culture & first-generation millionaires (e.g., Ola, Oyo etc.).
- Pressure for protection of children:
- India has signed international conventions like Convention on Child Rights.
- NGOs & Social workers like Kailash Satyarthi’s efforts got global recognition.
- Youth see themselves as global teenagers. They belong to a much bigger community than the community they were born into. The younger generation embraces Western popular culture and incorporates it into their Indian identity.
- Change in value system: Individualism had increased suicidal tendencies & loneliness.
- Hyper consumerism: Globalization has engulfed a feeling of relative deprivation in the youth.
- Increased Competition: Now they have to compete not just with their countrymen but the whole world.
- Globalization is also changing family institutions, and the nuclear family is increasingly the norm. Youth are not as close to their grandparents as were earlier generations and spend less time with the older generation resulting in loss of wisdom handed down from generation to generation.
- Drugs: Globalization has brought drugs like heroin, smack etc. to India.
6. Art Forms
- Globalization has led to the fusion of Indian and Western Art forms—E.g. Fusion Music, Fusion Dance etc.
- Packaging and branding of traditional folk and festivals.
- Tourism to see Indian culture. E.g., Langar of Golden Temple to ruins of Hampi have become tourist destinations.
- Yoga has become world-famous.
- Foreign culture is also penetrating India, and hence, right-wing groups have revived cultural nationalism. E.g., campaigns against Valentine’s Day etc.
Glocalisation vs Homogenization vs Clash of Civilisation
With the increase in globalization, what will happen?
There are three contrasting views regarding this:-
- All cultures will become similar/ homogeneous.
- It will lead to an increasing tendency towards Glocalization.
- Clash of Civilizations will happen at a large scale.
Glocalisation refers to the mixing of the global with the local.
Glocalisation = Globalization + Localisation
Arguments for Glocalization
- It is a strategy adopted by foreign firms to enhance their marketability.
- Glocalization can be seen in the following things in India,
- Netflix is making Indian TV Series.
- Foreign TV channels like MTV and Cartoon Network use Indian languages.
- McDonald’s is selling Indian Burgers.
- English movies are dubbed in Hindi to increase marketability and cater to a larger Indian audience.
- Bhangra pop & remixes have become extremely popular.
- But the ratio of influence of the western culture on local cultures is more.
Argument for Homogeneity
Homogeneity due to globalization in India can be seen at 2 levels
- Common values of Globalization like modernization and the promotion of democracy.
- Homogenous food habits (Mcdonaldization, pizza culture etc.).
- ‘English’ is becoming the global lingua-franca.
- Creation of Global Celebrities like Britney Spears and Ronaldo.
- Large corporations have a presence in the whole world.
- Same corporate culture.
- Same production techniques.
- Use of crypto-currencies like Bitcoins, Ethereum etc.
In fact, Globalisation is the Americanization of the world.
3rd view – Cultural polarization
- Samuel Huntington dismissed the idea of a global monoculture as well as Glocalization.
- He was the proponent of a phenomenon known as the ‘clash of civilizations, ‘ i.e. the civilizational conflict between the USA and China and between the West and Islam.
Does economic globalization promote prosperity and opportunity for all?
Points in favour
- The magic of the market: Economic globalization can expand opportunities and prosperity.
- It lets the country produce goods in sectors where it enjoys a ‘comparative advantage’ & import other goods, thus benefiting from economies of scale.
- MNCs bring with them access to modern technology in the developing world.
- Economic freedom promotes other freedoms: When people become rich, they demand democracy and rights.
- Deepening of poverty and inequality: Winners are USA & MNCs, and losers are people of the developing countries who are exploited.
- Globalization is often alleged as the soft underbelly of Capitalism.
- Globalization promotes ethics of consumerism & feeling of relative deprivation.
- Example of Bhutan: People are happy even without outside links.
Previous year UPSC GS Mains questions
- Critically examine the effect of globalization on the aged population in India.
- Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India?
- To what extent globalization has influenced the core of cultural diversity in India? Explain.