By Dinker V. Katre
Mangalore, August 31, 2012: There were divergent views on the impact of globalization but nonetheless there was a consensus among all social scientists, social activists, scientists, scholars, thinkers, writers, artists and political activists at the grassroots level to come together, that India needed to be strong enough to look after the wellbeing of the entire people with us. What the country acquires in terms of strength should not be the privilege of a few, but be the prosperity of the masses of people on the ground, that is, the poorest of the poor. When a country becomes stronger and its people become poorer, that suggests that there is no participatory democracy. On the other hand, if the poor people become stronger, as the country prospers, that indicates that there is participatory democracy.
In fact, globalization is not new to India, as India believed from ancient times, “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”. So globalization is not a mistake. If there is any mistake it is in the way we have adopted ourselves to globalization or in how we have failed to safeguard our interests in global negotiations. The process of globalization was inevitable from the view point of technology and resources. However it is necessary to work out ways to negotiate with it. At the present juncture, there has been a great need to upgrade technology in order to meet the global challenge. Technological obsolescence has effected the country. No political party group could escape from the liberalization process. All political parties were party to the agreement, and the present government had the responsibility of its implementation with WTO commitments made by the previous governments. Very little was done to safeguard the interests of the country and this failure to protect the national interest was behind the crisis facing the nation today!
We seem to be more under the spell of international commercial and political forces working behind what was attractively called ‘globalization’. This is a genuine cause for concern and anxiety, for we are likely to jeopardize not only our hard-earned political freedom but also the time-tested indigenous ways of living and consequently the life-sustaining qualities of this beloved earth in our blind pursuit of a consumerist paradise! Can mere linear concepts of human development preserve the ethical qualities of ‘compassion’, ‘welfare’ & ‘humaneness’? Is a model that encourages market driven consumerism the only model that deserves to be hailed as progress? Whatever has been claimed to be true in the modern development thought so far, are they really true? Or, do they seem to be true because we have been made to think so by the subtly working western-centered view of such systems of knowledge? Or is it the western-born ideas, specific to cultures of their origin, are the only universal truths? Also should we not have the courage to ask, as Gandhiji himself would have asked, whether Gandhism is based on the profound truth of human experience in history? Or is it just a noble and idealistic aspiration? Which ultimately will have greater claim for truth – Gandhi nation of Swaraj or the modern world system?
Now is the most appropriate time to assess the impact of globalization. The farmers and the people working in the decentralized industrial sectors have been bearing the brunt of globalization for the past half decade. Now the question arises whether we have committed a mistake by opting to become a part of the global economy. But, instead of becoming emotional and getting negatively influenced by the fact that some sections of our society are facing problems due to globalization, we should reflect calmly on whether there was really any alternative to globalization from the point of view of the need for technology and the resource crunch in the country. We have a habit and often criticize everything! Japan imports iron ore from India, and sells steel at a much cheaper price than India. Actually it is India which should have been in an advantageous position to be competitive in the international market. Sometime back the entire steel industry faced the problem of dumping of steel. Why? It is because of technological obsolescence. It is the same case whether it is aluminium or textile industry. Take any segment of industrial sector. We consume too much energy and other raw materials because of which the cost of production goes up. But, we are not in a position to upgrade the technology or source of technology from within.
It is necessary to have good material resources-base ores and minerals – to become a developed country? America has a rich resources base; so does Russia; China’s rich mineral resource base is helping her in speedy economic growth; Australia too is well off in this regard. Most of Africa is endowed with some of the best mineral ores; many African countries were colonized because of this. Many developed countries propped up regimes in African countries which can assure them of these mineral resources but which do not bother about local growth. Therefore much of the African countries continue to be poor despite having the richest mineral deposits. Japan, on the contrary, has practically no mineral resource base of significance. Japan exports steel, builds ships, and is avowedly the economic and technological leader of this century. The Japanese mastered technologies to use their minerals and materials for economic and practical gains. That is how the economic strength of nations which master technologies is build up.
India has the one of the richest stocks of beryllium ores, which it also supplies to developed countries. The beryllium-copper combination creates products having several unique applications in electronics. The denial of beryllium products was one of the earliest lessons for India and we did develop the technology and now we need not beg others for beryllium products. We have our own beryllium machining facility at Vashi, Mumbai. Indian ore is finding its way to the Indian space, atomic energy and Industrial projects! India has a number of mineral resources. It has very good iron deposits, manganese ores, etc. As for the wonder modern metal titanium, India tops the list of countries having this resources. We have one of the best quality bauxite ores in the world. We have several rare earth strategic and high value mineral resources (about three million tonnes) of monazite, a source for many rare metals. Similarly, in other metallic and materials sectors as well we have capabilities. Our scientists are committed to the development of these areas. They have the knowledge base and they itch for action! Many of them met with frustration due to the slow decision-making process. Too little was given to them too in their lives. But most of them still have hope alive in them.
Privatization, Liberalization and globalization are interrelated and inseparable from each other, and have fundamentally altered the production relationships of industries in such a way that the working class of the social class did not exist at all! They had become mere workers as raw material for a price in the highly risk competitive markets. The women are the worst hit . In the grab of feminization force, women are deprived of forming trade unions and have become virtually bonded labourers. the state, instead of considering privatization of sick industries, was selling profit-making public sector enterprises thus absolving its social responsibilities enumerated in the directive principles of state policy . About 4.5 lakh small scale industries was closed throwing thousands of people jobless during the past half decade. For instance, the economy has resulted in decline in fishing! Thus depriving the livelihood of fishing communities. Further half of the country’s population was living below poverty line and did not have the purchasing capacity to buy the necessary food grain. The government which accumulated large quantities of food grain by cutting Public Distribution System was spending far more than it saved in the storage of grain!
The hegemony of G-15 countries had been always working against the developing countries , how each and every clause of W.T.O agreement was anti farmer and anti development of third world countries. This systematically deprived the freedom of choice of the farmer in taking decisions in his farming capabilities. By being linked to the global market economy, our poor farmer had become poorer, virtually a destitute, his condition leading him to commit suicide out of desperation. It is the bureaucrats who rule the country at all levels. They work for the W.T.O, World Bank and the IMF and in the process , disregard the interests of the country. Farming sector today is in deep crisis . It was made to believe that independence on the high tech methods was real development . While capital in the form of cheap skilled labour and people’s knowledge was freely going out of the country, why was not there a proportionate flow of working classes ? How could the country adjust and adapt to the globalization if it was going to destroy our economy!
There has been really a wide gap between the real impact of globalization and what the proponents of globalization had been saying about its benefits. The people who support globalization in India , mainly the middle classes ,were only reacting to the past six decades’ experience of overloading of the public sector ; and as a consequence they had developed hostility towards the public sector . Thus the middle class’s linear imagination of human welfare and the development , which were highly reductive , was also the propelling force of globalization. Globalization would induce brahmanisation of the society by reducing participation, by creating communities of elite and specialists . These groups would then have a grip over the media as well as in politics , making participatory democracy a myth. Infact globalization has greatly increased the existing inequalities in the politics of liberalization and globalization . This has contributed a significant redistribution of income and wealth from the poor to the rich , both nationally and internationally . In this whirlpool of internationalization , community culture have been swept away and the labourers were turning out to be virtually bonded labourers and had reached the stage of committing suicide! It was a cause for concern that while a great deal of attention was paid to formulate rules for the expansion of global markets and capital flows, little attention was paid to the objectives like labour standards, poverty reduction and human rights.
Globalization has facilitated growth in the global circulation of cultural goods . They include printed matter, music, visual arts, cinema, photography and television . Elements of ethnic cultures are woven through them , while the ownership of these goods were mostly with Media Corporation. The State had very little control over this transnational corporation. There was a great imbalance between the cultural flows between nations and domination of the western and especially American culture . The rich-poor gap has increased during the years of liberalization. There was seen a sharp decline in government capital investment, which led to the relative neglect of infra-structural sectors. There was a seemingly decline in investment in social sector such as education , health and poverty alleviation in the liberalizing decade in India . No doubt globalization has brought the world together as never before ,but all the connectivity and interdependence brought about the trade and capital flows in the world mostly concentrated to the three regions of the world viz., U.S.A., Japan and the European union-in fact globalization has buttressed the hold of the developed world over the rest !?!
The miracle of India is that democracy is our traditional strength, even though we are not of democratic temperament. We need to strengthen the functioning of democracy because the institution of democracy is extremely important . If you draw up a balance sheet, listing our strengths and weaknesses, we may have more pluses than minuses. There is a huge and dramatic interest in India today-so it is good time to introspect our Indian civilization has some distinctive traits which chance our time. We are certainly not static , but also we cannot change suddenly. We are suspicious or shy of public display of altruism. The solution is not equity or redistribution of justice because any such attempt will be subverted. We need to understand our character and make policies to suit that. The poor are not less talented but they lack only opportunity, Morality to us is just a peg to hang our actions on It’s a camouflage. We are concerned only with our ends, not means. Our approach has both its strengthen and weaknesses Justification of the common good legitimizes corruption. One way our strength is that we are focused and will seek solutions to work towards a goal despite formidable obstacles. So, we are resilient, ingenious and ever-hopeful. A Japanese or a German will seek solutions with certain parameters, while we Indians will go further outside conventional methods . Our Indian morality adapts itself to the circumstances and is linked to our phenomenal drive to reach goals through uncomfortable escapades of our politicians. We are institutionalized hypocrites. As they say in Kannada ‘Swalpa adjust Maadi’(Please adjust a bit). We have cases where parents accompanying students to buy ‘leaked;’ question papers, since the goal has to be achieved somehow.
It is the change in the value structure. Surprisingly, in a different milieu the same Indian behaves differently. His accent changes, He turns creative. One may wonder, why does creativity take a quantum leap when the Ganga flows into the Californian desert? Besides funding and infrastructure, it is the exposure to a new value structure and freedom from the Indian pre-occupation with hierarchy. There is a direct correlation between achievement and return. But, it is slowly beginning to happen here also. Today, an individual has much greater opportunity for self-growth, depending on his qualifying nature and good temperament, without being frowned by the society. India needs administrators who have more than intelligence, social vision and common sense to understand the society’s woes and sufferings and are compassionate to deliver equity and justice in terms of upholding the values of participatory democracy, and will teach mankind here and everywhere how to develop the head, heart and hands simultaneously so that all may attain peace and perfection in this very life!