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Posted on: 1 Dec, 2014

Modified on: 1 Dec, 2014

By Fr. Ambrose Pinto S.J.


Essence of Globalization:
We are familiar with the term “globalization”. In political terms, globalization creates a global order with increasing denationalization of the nation-state and its sovereignty. In the process, it steadily and critically changes the nature of the state. Economically, globalization represents the new emergent phase of capitalism. All the countries of the world are transformed into a single economic unit cutting across national boundaries. The Transnational and Multinational Corporations play a decisive role in the economic activities of the world. The world is governed and controlled by a few global corporations and international financial institutions altering the economy, modes of production and our very existence. The most important aspect of globalization is privatization. Privatization of government enterprises has adversely affected the lives of the poor. Even since globalization began, there have been cuts in government spending particularly expenditure on services that are crucial to the poor, the vulnerable and the aged. Government development projects and social service initiatives are suspended to the detriment of the poor. With the MNCs and TNCs entering the world of production, uniformity is on the increase with what we consume, the dress we wear, the food we eat and the education that is offered. Some have even argued that globalization is erasing cultural differences. It is termed as coca-colaisation, McDonaldisation or Americanization of global culture.
The most glaring aspect of globalization is the increased inequality between and within nations. 200 richest people in the world have assets greater than the combined income of more than two billion people at the other end of the economic ladder. The US has more than 60 million poor and one percent of the population there owns 39% of the country’s income. The European Union has 50 million poor. The combined wealth of 358 richest people is greater than the total income of 45% of the world’s poorest inhabitants, that is 2.6 billion people. What does this all mean?
- The ratio of average incomes in the richest countries to those in the poorest has risen.
- The gap between the high-income countries and the developing countries too has risen.
- Global inequality among individuals has risen.
- The number of people in extreme poverty and starvation has risen
- The proportion of people in extreme poverty has risen.
- The poor of the world are worse off in a wide range of human welfare indicators.
- Income inequality has risen in every country specially those exposed to integration to the markets.
India has been one of the investment friendly countries for the corporates. We have become the second most attractive Foreign Direct Investment destination in the world. Multinationals have entered the retail sector in a big way in India. The reason for their investment in retail is that in India the retail industry is large and generates more than 10% of India’s GDP, only next to the agricultural sector. Our growth rate is getting bigger. Globalization has brought benefits in terms of infrastructure, knowledge, efficiency, quality, consumer awareness, dismantling of monopoly, transport and a wide-range of choices. Distance between countries has been reduced thanks to the revolution in communication. With a billion strong population, India is acknowledged as a country for increasing number of consumers with the growing incomes with a small section in the country.
On the other hand, the process has adversely impacted the country. To take full advantage of globalization requires both capital and access to technology. Large proportion of the world’s as well as country’s population does not have access to technology. Globalization like the caste system in India is hierarchical and pyramidal. It is another form of social Darwinism, promoting the law of the jungle or the survival of the fittest. The decades of neo-liberal economic corporate globalization has produced inequalities in the distribution of wealth and income. More than 30,000 children annually die of preventable diseases in the country. Poverty in the midst of plenty is a scandal. We are also affected by the unjust and unfair terms of trade and other transactions. Corporates look after the global needs of a small percentage, negating local needs.
Globalization has replaced labour intensive mode of agriculture to capital-intensive mode. Agri-business corporations have diversified in aqua and shrimp cultivation. There has been continuous exodus of people from rural areas for want of jobs. India has done away with restrictions on agricultural products thereby becoming an open field for agri-business making way for the entry of corporations in a big way. Unskilled and semi-skilled workers involved in agricultural and agricultural-related activities are traditional artisans are phased out. People’s control over their resources is lost. Communities who were guarding, conserving and multiplying their natural assets for generations have been displaced. We have had more than 10,000 suicides of farmers in the southern states of India in the last five years. With over 70% people in the agricultural sector, we have experienced a major crisis in the field.
Migrant labour has become an essential part of global free market system. Capital is moving where there is cheap labour to maximize profits. The movement of capital is therefore towards the two-thirds world. This has placed unnecessary stress on cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other cities already stretched. More than anything else, life in these cities is altered due to changes in the very style of MNCs and their culture. While distance between countries is shrunk, the distance between communities has widened. There are large number of communities who have become poorer in the last five years of neo-liberal economics with malnourishment, starvation, illiteracy and poverty.
One gets the feel when globalization is well analyzed that it is spreading intolerance. European colonialism embodied a fundamental intolerance. Colonialism was legitimized on the premise that European nations had a responsibility to civilize the natives. The culture and values of Europe were held to be superior to the life and attitudes of the people of the land. Globalization holds to the very same tenets. We are asked to be more and more like the West. The world with all its richness is plural. Each culture of the world is possessed of its own specific wisdom and characteristics, its own novelty and uniqueness, born of its individual struggles over thousand of years to cope with nature and circumstances. It is now been drowned by the hue and cry that the world is one now with neo-liberal markets, liberal democracy and a Western model of development imposed on all. The emergence of global market has engendered a belief that we are all consumers. Our cultural identities are transformed into a single economic identity of consumers.
Globalization is an economic and political ideology. An ideology can be countered only with another ideology. If option for the poor is our credo, we can’t be silent in the midst of this harsh reality of globalization. We must be challenged by the cries of the poor and evolve an alternate vision or a counter culture of inclusive communities and of solidarity with the Poor. Time has come for a radical change of the dominant economic system. We can’t accept the often repeated slogan that there is no alternative to globalization. To work for an alternative, we need to understand that the present system is unjust and unfair. How do we go about? We need to educate ourselves. We need to become aware to what extent the ideology of the free markets has come to dominate our minds, hearts and thinking. Globalization denounces interventions of governments and social movements aimed at people’s control over politics and the furtherance of social justice. We need to become a party to all those who are fighting against the neo-liberal economic model while at the same time work towards a plural and local model of development and denounce the uniform, single and global model. Our struggle has to be at three different levels: international, national and local.
a. The Society of Jesus is international. While the enemies of the Poor are very powerful, as an international body we can be as powerful with an alternate agenda. As members of the Society of Jesus, we could attempt to build a broad coalition of anti-corporate forces across the globe. There are several concerned groups already playing an important role in coalitions for global justice. Bringing them together with all the religious and secular groups, our social, educational and other centers could as well match the power of the corporations. The Business world networks for profits while we could commit ourselves to build God’s kingdom on earth. In fact, as human beings are becoming more and more dependent problems like global warming, the international drug trade and terrorism can only be managed through cooperation at the international level. The Assistancy could propose a model, which could also do work with UNO and other bodies for the establishment of another world.
b. At the national level, we have yet to gauge our strength. We are a powerful body if we work as a body at the national level. With 26 colleges and a large number of secondary schools, primary schools, social centers and grass root involvement we can become a strong force of resistance. Universities and Colleges have a rich history of resistance in the country. They were in the forefront of freedom struggle and the fight against emergency in 1975. Several students across the country today are involved in the Narmada struggle, environmental struggles, fight against communalism. Our social centers have been active in recent years working with other groups on concerns of the poor. Is it possible for the Assistancy to bring together all people of good will under a common mission to fight for the cause of the marginalized by denouncing the corporate agenda? This may also help us to work out our priorities anew and tune our mission to the needs of today.
c. We need to be alive to local concerns as well. There are instances in various parts of the country where local people have resisted global corporations. Dupont was not allowed to establish itself in Goa. The coco-cola company in Kerala has had problems with the locals. Medha Patkar has been fighting for the last two decades against the single model of development. There are numerous other groups across the country that is fighting for people’s right for control over resources. These local struggles are aligned with global struggles. Could we all be a part of these struggles providing our support and energy and internationalize them through our networks?
d. Of course, to work for a new social order, we need to have a common vision. Our common vision should be to replace the present capitalist and communal order with a socialist and secular order. Our concern should be to create a society where all enjoy security and participate. Such a society cannot be created without our participation in social movements that increase people’s political power. To defeat the global corporates, we need to be present in Fishworkers movements that resist foreign trawlers entry into our oceans, right of tribals over their land, the struggle against displacement, working to protect forests, parks, greenery, encroachment over people’s rights for livelihoods and a host of other struggles.
e. Among the unresolved issues is the relationship of globalization to democracy. Since globalization weakens the ability of states to make autonomous economic and political decisions, it is an anti-democratic force. It is a national responsibility of all citizens to protect and defend the rights of citizens over corporations.

Our mission in the Assistancy has to be prophetic and political. We cannot remain as mere spectators as MNCs and TNCs loot and plunder the resources of our country and cause misery to the people. We need to change our forms of response and move from the model of aid or reforms to that of resistance. The need to provide awareness, organize people and build up alliances and join networks both at the local, national and international should be the main thrust of our mission to defeat the designs of the Corporations.

Questions for reflection:

a. How do we view globalization? What are its impacts on the country?
b. What are the impacts of globalization on our life style as Jesuits?
c. How has globalization impacted our mission?
d. Are there alternatives to globalization?
e. What strategies do you propose to resist globalization and its impacts in the work assigned to you?

(Fr. Ambrose Pinto S.J. is the Principal of St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore 560027)