Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Are we Shifting from Globalisation to Nationalism and Regionalism today?

The breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic and the restructuring of  the states into a Commonwealth of Independent States was indicative of our movement towards a new world order that is based on smaller countries based on Socio-cultural, and Ethnic Geographic considerations. While the coming together of East and West Germany might be seen as an exception to the phase of fragmentation that the world is going through these days. Brexit, might be viewed thereof as the latest manifestation of the desire for individual state identity as opposed to a conglomeration of culturally diverse states.

Looking at the various incidents taking place across the globe, it is clear that the days of globalisation are almost over as the Internet emerges as a major tool of disruption and a medium for the expression of dissent at the ethnic, geographic and linguistic levels. If the Internet was once a tool for promoting globalisation, then it will not be wrong to argue that it has now become  a tool, inter alia for the fragmentation of the world into smaller, individual entities. It has provided a platform for dissent and an expression for rights by minority communities. In many ways, it might be paradoxical to assume that Internet and information technology - tools of disruption, are in fact undermining the very concept of globalisation.

History has shown how before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world was divided into two blocs, the East bloc or Socialist Bloc, and the West Bloc countries that labelled themselves as Capitalist, or even Democratic countries. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union however, did lead to a phase of Globalisation, what with the Eastern Bloc countries rushing in to taste the fruits of the open open market system, liberalisation of trade, removal of protectionism , an era where the consumer was spoiled for choice. MacDonald Burgers, Coca Cola, and Wrangler jeans were freely available to the local populace. What was thought to be a healthy trend of open competition soon  lead to the rise of powerful corporations, behemoths  which soon wiped out local, home grown entities. The dumping of products in the  International market, lowering of prices of products that were mass produced ensured that many home bound local industries were wiped out. Take for example the electronics industry in India, it is no longer profitable to manufacture PCBs, because we can't match the output and quality of products shipped from China. The same can be said of the native toy industry in India. It has been wiped off completely! Unfair trade practices are eroding the very basis of Globalisation!

Closer home, in India,we see a very strong movement in favour of swadeshi, or home grown products. It is not without reason, therefore, that the brand name Patanjali is gaining popularity!People today are exploring local options that are closer to home, cheaper in cost and better n quality. The Make In India idea is about bringing the market to India, and not the other way round. An increase in National pride, a stronger sense of identity with a community, linguistic, ethnic, or geographical groups has, in many ways, prompted us to strive towards greater indigenisation.

The move away from globalisation, is most certainly a step towards a market that will help the local industry to grow. In times when Corporations, and Multinational Conglomerates are becoming more powerful than the Governments themselves, it has become the need of the hour to somehow control them before they become detrimental towards the growth of the Nation! It is a known fact that Governments in many democracies are formed according to the wishes of corporations. The electorate is becoming smarter and smarter as time passes and it is this awareness about how Corporations and other global entities are running their lives that makes them want to shift away from globalisation and adopt localisation. Education, and dissemination of information, combined with greater connectivity have empowered the common man to fight for his individual rights, this has in turn lead to disruption in accepted beliefs. The common man is today more likely to favour dissent than agreement or conformism and this is in itself detrimental to Globalisation!

In recent times, the Jasmine revolution in the Middle East, the events that took place at Tahrir square in Egypt, the protests at Taksim square in Turkey have all been the result of the common man expressing dissent and displeasure over too much control by Governments, presidents and Prime Ministers. Dissent and non-conformity are trends and patterns that ultimately undermine the very ethos of Globalisation. One interesting case before us lies in the lack of equity in terms of carbon credits awarded to third world, developing countries and carbon credits awarded to the developed nations. Citizens living in developed nations consume more than resources than their third world cousins, they produce more waste than their third world cousins, they produce more pollution than the third world cousins, and yet, developed countries instruct third world countries to cut down carbon emissions, and then to add insult to injury, all the waste produced by developed nations is sent to third world countries for recycling, or disposal. Take for example, the ship breaking industry in India. Asbestos is highly toxic, and yet ships that contain asbestos come to Alang where they are broken up by local labour who are exposed to toxic fumes created by burning asbestos. One man's garbage is another man's garbage. Shouldn't countries that send their ships for disposal pay more for the rehabilitation of the people and the environment Equity is the basis of Globalisation, but then when disparity creeps in, the it results in fragmentation, localisation and regionalism. Globalisation assumes that everyone develops a holistic approach towards the entire planet, thus you should be aware about the global impact of each man's selfish acts. If you are sending your toxic waste to another country knowing well that it will cost you one third of what it would have cost you to recycle in your own country, then it is your moral duty to compensate the host country adequately!

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