By Farha Iman
Globalization or ‘Globalism’ is beneficial for the dominant and destructive for the submissive. It always streams from developed countries towards underdeveloped and developing countries in three ways:
a) in the form of products and services
b) as cultural dependency and domination
c) and as deceptive thoughts to mould the thinking of the world population.
Globalization of products and services:
In early 1990s, illiterate Indians used Neem twigs for cleaning teeth. A company from foreign land came and announced a “Super Toothpaste” with sodium bicarbonate which cleans the teeth in a far better way. Native people started using the “Super Toothpaste” instead of Neem twigs. Another foreign company declared that “Extra-Super Toothpaste” containing fluoride and desensitizing agents would reduce tooth decay and lessen painful sensation.
People began to use the “Extra-Super Toothpaste”. Afterwards a third International Corporation appeared and proclaimed that their “Ultra-Super Toothpaste” has xyz antibacterial agents and peppermint flavor in a new attractive package with a free toothbrush. So the consumer started using “Ultra-Super Toothpaste” by paying 10 rupees extra.
In 2012, several toothpaste-producing Multi-National Companies conducted a research and found that Neem barks, leaves and extracts contain potent antibacterial effects. Neem kills the bacteria responsible for plaque, tartar and cavities.
In India, Neem has been used for centuries as an Ayurvedic treatment for mouth ulcers, gum disease and tooth decay. Suddenly, ‘smart customers’ were made to realize that their great grandparents used Neem and they had beautiful and healthy set of teeth. Therefore, they should buy the new “Xxtra Ultra Super Toothpaste” by paying 50 rupees more to the retailer because it contains Neem as an ingredient.
Now, anyone can analyze who is smarter in the above story; “an illiterate Indian” of early 1990s, who used Neem free of cost or a “smart customer” of 2012, who spent extra money for the product found abundantly in our country.
Some scholars argue that Globalization actually benefits the rich and developed nations more than the developing and underdeveloped ones. On the contrary, others maintain that poor countries get benefited more. I support the first argument and would like to claim states that developed nations are the absolute beneficiaries. No doubt that globalization elevates many out of poverty, provides exposure to competition, offers cheaper prices and more choice of products. But poor countries receive all this by putting more essential possessions at stake.
For instance, it widens the income inequality between the developed and developing nations; foreign companies rarely reinvest in local economy; exploitation of workers is very common and MNCs have not yet come to terms with trade/labor unions. After the arrival of MNCs in 1990s, labor unions got totally wiped out. It created more poverty because small companies which were in majority could not sustain themselves in front of large business giants. It also puts the local country exposed to environmental hazards, whereas their home countries are free from water, noise and air pollution.
Not only this, later rich countries blame and penalize poor countries for environmental degradation. One can easily analyze who is the real beneficiary of globalization?
Globalization of cultural dependency and domination:
Hegemonic Ideas of Globalization showcase developed countries as the role model and expect poor ones to achieve the same status, that too without any collateral damage.
They exhibit themselves as modern and more civilized. A poor country gets astonished by their shallow glitz. They have confused modernization with Westernization. If one wants to be modern s/he has to follow Western trends. People usually forget that modernity is not synonymous with Western culture.
A person can be modern and at the same time can wear kurta pyjama or any local dress (designed according to one’s climate), instead of a three piece suit with the tie tightly tangled around his neck in a scorching summer. By and large modernity is more associated with the rise of industrialism, capitalism and abandonment of recent past. Nevertheless, I see modernity as a ‘current updated idea’ or ‘an intellectual progress’, which is one step ahead from our recent past.
It is a process and part and parcel of our recent history. We do not entirely abandon the past; in fact we acknowledge it. We would not be here, where we are today, if we did not have that past. In this sense, I personally do not see any relation between modernity and Westernization. A Chinese can be modern and simultaneously can follow Chinese lifestyle.
Globalization creates dependency on developed nations. As a result developing nations lose self respect and allow the blood sucking giants to establish by eliminating the natural and traditional sources of income instead of sustaining them. Dr. APJ Abul Kalam, Honorable Ex-President of India rightly said “Do we not realize that self respect comes with self reliance?” Now, it’s high time to consider his quote seriously.
To gain respect we need to build our own national products. Our youth should not feel ashamed of wearing Indian brands/products instead of Levis, Gucci or Addidas. The idea that if you eat Domino’s Pizza or Mc Donald’s Burger you belong to the modern and high class in fake and hollow. Carbonated beverages which have serious health implications have replaced our healthy and refreshing drinks like Nimbu-Pani, Rasam, Chaahch, Roohafza etc. As such people find it difficult to avoid branded and foreign items because they are in’ these days.
The ideas like ‘in’ and ‘out’ are the creation of this globalism to maintain the flow of new products in the market. Alas, we are lie aa herd of sheep. We follow what outsiders want us to follow, hence become their puppets and allow them to exploit our labor, land, resources, culture, traditions and ideas. Sometimes I feel that if India had faced some sanctions we would have been more self-reliant.
Globalization of deceptive opinions:
Globalization deceives the world population by propagating biased opinions for their supreme agendas and it is the worst kind of globalization. It uses the media to deceive, misinform and mislead by stereo typing the particular community, nation or ideology. By default it makes their enemy, the enemy of the entire world. The conception of Islamophobia is one of the dangerous installations of Globalism. If something happens in US then Muslims of the world suffer and need to prove their loyalty towards their nations.
A nation like Iran which has not attacked any other country from the last century is projected and publicized as dangerous for world peace. In contrast, the country which has waged some of the deadliest wars of this era is considered as the harbinger of world peace. Rich countries change, redesign and tear the attire of other nations to execute their bigger schemes. This is how globalization is used by developed countries to accomplish their ambitions. We should see the things from our lenses not what the First World is screaming about.
Everybody has its own definition of Globalization. For people like me, it is the contemporary form of Imperialism and Colonialism in which the motives are same only the approach has changed. Objectives of Globalism, Colonialism and Imperialism are to collect great benefits from “promising markets”.
When Imperialism and Colonialism faced the confrontation by poor countries in 1990s, for the sake of survival they changed (only) the rules of the game but not the game itself. To deliver old wine in a new bottle the dragon called Globalization took birth and re-entered in poor counties.
Globalism is the product of dominant business class, which is implemented by the second class i.e. political leaders for the third class of the society i.e. bourgeois. This game was fulfilling the two objectives at the same time.
a) It was keeping people busy and superficially happy in consuming products, so they never questioned the activities of political class
and b) business class making more and more money.
As far as the lower class is concerned, they are left in the lurch only to be discussed in UN’s MDGs.
(Farha Iman is Advocacy and Communication Officer in Social Watch India, New Delhi
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to her organization)