Effects of Globalization on Indian Society

What is Globalization?

  • Globalization is increased global interconnectedness and interdependence
  • A process rather than outcome
  • Interchange of economic, social, cultural, political and technological attributes between the societies.
  • Though happening since times immemorial, has accelerated considerably in from late 20th century.
    • Ancient silk route connecting india to great civilizations : china, Persia, Egypt and rome.
    • People came and settled in India from various parts as : traders, conquerors and as migrants. Eg: Panini, who systematized Sanskrit grammar and phonetics was of Afghan origin.
    • Colonialism

Dimensions of Globalization

1. Economic

  • Integration with world economy ie greater inter connection between world economies in terms of free movement of goods, capital, labour and services.
  • It involves processes of liberalization and privatization. In india these two were heralded in a major way from 1991 through New Economic policy and New Industrial policy.
    • Liberalization means decrease in regulations for private sector. Government providing greater freedom and choice for private sectors to operate on their own. For instance dismantling of licence-permit raj – for opening new industries, expansion and diversification of industries, reduce regulatory compliance requirements – making more self certificatory etc. Removing barriers for free trade and investment through reduced customs duty and eliminating various non-ariff barriers. No of industries reserved for pubic sector reduced to 3 and requiring licencing were also drastically limited.
    • Privatization involves leaving more and more public sector enterprises to private sector for better and efficient management.
  • Development of
    • Electronic economy – Banks, Mutual funds, insurance and pension companies and other financial companies
    • Transnational Companies and MNCs,
    • Knowledge economy

2. Political

  • Collapse of erstwhile socialist country gave specific dimension – free market orientation and hastened globalization The existing process of globalisationin this sense does have a political vision as much as an economic vision.
  • However, the possibilities that there can be a globalisation which is different do exist. We, thus have the concept of an inclusive globalisation, that is one, which includes all sections of society.
  • Another significant political development which is accompanying globalisation is thegrowth of international and regional mechanisms for political collaboration. The European Union (EU), the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Asian Regional Conference (SARC) and more recently South Asian Federation of Trade Association (SAFTA) are just some of the examples that indicate the greater role of regional associations.
  • The other political dimension has been the rise of International Governmental Organisations. (IGOs) and International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs).
    • The WorldTrade Organisation (WTO) for instance increasingly has a major say in the rules that govern trade practices.

3.Globalization – Social and Cultural Dimension

  • The effect of globalisation is far reaching. It affects us all but affects us differently.
  • Thus, while for some it may mean new opportunities and choices, for others the loss of livelihood.
    • 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.
    • Similar displacements have come with the entry of large fishing vessels into Indian waters. These vessels take away the fish that used to be earlier collected by Indian fishing vessels. The livelihood of women fish sorters, dryers, vendors and net makers thereby get affected.
    • In Gujarat, women gum collectors, who were picking from the ‘julifera’ (Baval trees), lost their employment due to the import of cheaper gum from Sudan. In almost all cities of India, the rag pickers lost some of their employment due to import of waste paper from developed countries.
  • There are many ways that globalisation affects culture : india open to cultural influcences through out history.
  • We retain our ‘traditional’ open-ended attitude to this day. Thus there are heated debates in our society not just about political and economic issues but also about changes in clothes, styles, music, films, languages, body language.

3.1 Homogenisation versus Glocalisation of Culture

  • A central contention is that all cultures will become similar, that is homogeneous. Others argue that there is an increasing tendency towards glocalisation of culture. Glocalisation refers to the mixing of the global with the local, neither spontaneous or delinked from commericial interest.
  • It is a strategy often adopted by foreign firms while dealing with local traditions in order to enhance their marketability.
    • In India, we find that all the foreign television channels like Star, MTV, Channel V and Cartoon Network use Indian languages.
    • Even McDonald sells only vegetarian and chicken products in India and not its beef products, which are popular abroad. McDonald’s goes vegetarian during the Navaratri festival.
    • In the field of music, one can see the growth of popularity of ‘Bhangra pop’, ‘Indi pop’, fusion music and even remixes

3.2 Gender and Culture

  • Very often defenders of a fixed traditional idea of cultural identity defend undemocratic and discriminating practices against women in the name of cultural identity. These could range from a defence of sati to defence of women’s exclusion from education and participation in public matters.
  • Globalisation can then be taken as a bogey to defend unjust practices against women. Fortunately for us in India we have been able to retain and develop a democratic tradition and culture that allows us to define culture in a more inclusive and democratic fashion.

3.3 Culture of Consumption

  • Often when we speak of culture we refer to dresses, music, dances, food. However, culture as we know refers to a whole way of life. There are two uses of culture that any chapter on globalisation should mention. They are the culture of consumption and corporate culture.
  • Till the 1970s the manufacturing industries used to play a major role in the growth of cities. Presently, cultural consumption (of art, food, fashion, music, tourism) shapes to a large extent the growth of cities.
    • This is evident in the spurt in the growth of shopping malls, multiplex cinema halls, amusement parks and ‘water world’ in every major city in India

3.4 Corporate Culture

  • Corporate culture is a branch of management theory that seeks to increase productivity and competitiveness though the creation of a unique organizational culture involving all members of a firm. A dynamic corporate culture – involving company events, rituals and traditions – is thought to enhance employee loyalty and promote group solidarity. It also refers to way of doing things, of promotion and packaging products

3.5 Threat to Indigenous craft and Literary Traditions and Knowledge Systems

  • Yet another link between cultural forms and globalisation is evident from the condition of many indigenous craft and literary traditions and knowledge systems
    • For instance about 30 theatre groups, which were active around the textile mills area of Parel and Girgaum of Mumbai city, have become defunct, as most of the mill workers are out of jobs in these areas.
    • Some years back, there were reports of large numberof suicides by the traditional weavers in Sircilla village of Karimnagar district and in Dubakka village in Medak district, both in Andhra Pradesh. These weavers with no means to invest in technology were unable to adapt to the changing consumer tastes and competition from power looms.
    • Similarly, various forms of traditional knowledge systems especially in the fields of medicine and agriculture have been preserved and passed on from one generation to the other. Recent attempts by some multi-national companies to patent the use of Tulsi, Haldi (turmeric), Rudraksha and Basmati rice has highlighted the need for protecting the base of its indigenous knowledge systems.

3.6 Impact on Rural Society

  • The policy of liberalisation that India has been following since the late 1980s have had a very significant impact on agriculture and rural society. The policy entails participation in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which aims to bring about a more free international trading system and requires the opening up of Indian markets to imports.
  • After decades of state support and protected markets, Indian farmers have been exposed to competition from the global market.
    • For instance, we have all seen imported fruits and other food items on the shelves of our local stores – items that were not available a few years ago because of import barriers. Recently, India has also decided to import wheat, a controversial decision that reverses the earlier policy of self-reliance in foodgrains. And bring back bitter memories of dependencey on American foodgrains in the early years after Independence.
  • These are indicators of the process of globalisation of agriculture, or the incorporation of agriculture into the larger global market – a process that has had direct effects on farmers and rural society. For instance, in some regions such as Punjab and Karnataka, farmers enter into contracts with multinational companies (such as PepsiCo) to grow certain crops (such Retail in rural areas as tomatoes and potatoes), which the companies then buy from them for processing or export.

Contract Farming

  • In such ‘contract farming’ systems, the company identifies the crop to be grown, provides the seeds and other inputs, as well as the knowhow and often also the working capital.
  • In return, the farmer is assured of a market because the company guarantees that it will purchase the produce at a predetermined fixed price.
  • Contract farming is very common now in the production of specialised items such as cut flowers, fruits such as grapes, figs and pomegranates, cotton, and oilseeds.
  • While contract farming appears to provide financial security to farmers,it can also lead to greater insecurity as farmers become dependent on these companies for their livelihoods.
  • Contract farming of export-oriented products such as flowers and gherkins also means that agricultural land is diverted away from food grain production.
  • Contract farming has sociological significance in that it disengages many people from the production process and makes their own indigenous knowledge of agriculture irrelevant.
  • In addition, contract farming caters primarily to the production of elite items, and because it usually requires high doses of fertilisers and pesticides, it is often not ecologically sustainable.
  • Entry of MNCs into agricultural inputs:
    • Farming of Flowers Another, and more widespread aspect of the globalisation of agriculture is the entry of multinationals into this sector as sellers of agricultural inputs such as seeds, pesticides, and fertilisers.
    • Over the last decade or so, the government has scaled down its agricultural development programmes, and ‘agricultural extension’ agents have been replaced in the villages by agents of seed, fertiliser, and pesticide companies.
    • These agents are often the sole source of information for farmers about new seeds or cultivation practices, and of course they have an interest in selling their products. This has led to the increased dependence of farmers on expensive fertilisers and pesticides, which has reduced their profits, put many farmers into debt, and also created an ecological crisis in rural areas.

Farmers Suicide

  • While farmers in India for centuries have periodically faced distress due to drought, crop failures, or debt, the phenomenon of farmers’ suicides appears to be new.
  • Sociologists have attempted to explain this phenomenon by looking at the structural and social changes that have been occurring in agriculture and agrarian society.
  • Such suicides have become ‘matrix events’, that is, a range of factors coalesce together to form an event.
    • Many of the farmers who have committed suicides were marginal farmers who were attempting to increase their productivity, primarily by practising green revolution methods.
    • However, undertaking such production meant facing several risks:
      • the cost of production has increased tremendously due to a decrease in agricultural subsidies,
      • the markets are not stable, and
      • many farmers borrow heavily in order to invest in expensive inputs and improve their production.
    • The loss of either the crop (due to spread of disease or pests, excessive rainfall, or drought), and in some cases the lack of an adequate support or market price, means that farmers are unable to bear the debt burden or sustain their families.
    • Such distress is compounded by the changing culture in rural areas in which increased incomes are required for marriages, dowries, and to sustain new activities and expenses such as education and medical care.
  • The pattern of farmers’ suicides point to the significant crises that the rural areas are experiencing. Agriculture for many is becoming untenable, and state support for agriculture has declined substantially. In addition, agricultural issues are no longer key public issues, and lack of mobilisation means that agriculturists are unable to form powerful pressure groups that can influence policy making in their favour.

3.7 Labour: New International Division of Labour

  • A new international division of labour has emerged in which more and more routine manufacturing production and employment is done in the Third World cities.
  • For instance: Nike grew enormously from its inception in the 1960s. Nike grew as an importer of shoes. The company grew to a multinational enterprise, a transnational corporation. Its headquarters are in Beverton, just outside Portland, Oregon. Only two US factories ever made shoes for Nike.
    • In the 1960s they were made in Japan. As costs increased production shifted to South Korea in mid-1970s. Labour costs grew in South Korea, so in the 1980s production widened to Thailand and Indonesia. In the 1990s we in India produced Nike. However, if labour is cheaper elsewhere production centres will move somewhere else.
  • This entire process makes the labouring population very vulnerable and insecure.
  • This flexibility of labour often works in favour of the producers. Instead of mass production of goods at a centralised location (Fordism), we have moved to a system of flexible productionat dispersed locations (post-Fordism).

3.8 Globalization and Employment

  • Here too we seen the uneven impact of globalisation. For the middle class youth from urban centers, globalisation and the IT revolution has opened up new career opportunities.
    • Instead of routinely picking up BSc/BA/BCom degree from colleges, they are learning computer languages at computer institutes or taking up jobs at call centers or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies. They are working as sales persons in shopping malls or picking up jobs at the various restaurants that have opened up
    • The largest number of poor people lives in South Asia. The poverty rate is particularly high in India, Nepal and Bangladesh,” states an ILO report “Labour and Social Trends in Asia and the Pacific 2005”… The study provides a stark analysis of a growing ‘employment gap’ in the Asia region. It states that the creation of new jobs has failed to keep pace with the region’s impressive economic growth. Between 2003 and 2004, employment in Asia and the Pacific increased by a ‘disappointing’ 1.6 per cent, or by 25 million jobs, to a total of 1.588 billion jobs, compared to the strong economic growth rate of over 7 per cent
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