Has Globalization reaped fruits for every soul?

Published by Jeenal Vyas on

‘Globalization, as defined by the rich people like us is a very nice thing….you are talking about the internet, you are talking about the cell phones, you are talking about the computers. This doesn’t affect 2/3rds of the people of the world’ (Jimmy Carter)

Thomas Friedman, an Author and New York Times columnist in his book ‘The world is flat’ says that Globalization had three stages:

  • First stage was all about how much your country had. What percentage of muscle power, how many resources your country had, how your country was going to use those resources for the betterment of the population. Basically it was all about asking the question, where my nation fits in this competing world?
  • Second where companies were collaborating. The smooth process of countries globalizing was interrupted by The Great Depression and World War II. Then came a time when companies began to scout for cheap labor, efficient resources, and monetary gains by exploring new markets. For instance, Apple designs its products in Cupertino, California. Manufactures the same in China. While it ships the final product to India for sales.
  • Third stage which is happening today where we can see examples of Globalization at an individual level. An individual sitting in a cubicle in Bangalore is busy working on the Income Tax return of a U.S citizen.

While interviewing Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, he came across the sentence where Mr. Nilekani said that the ‘playing field is being leveled’. The world is becoming smaller and boundaries are decreasing in size.

But what about the large chunk of population which is not affected by this fancy term? And what if what we think is globalization might just be globaloney?

Having different views on the term Globalization than Thomas Friedman, Mr. Pankaj Ghemawat, an Indian Economist, Author and Professor at New York University says that if Globalization has happened at the scale we think it has, then there will be nothing left for us to achieve because we should have already reached the peak. As he had discussed in his Ted Talk, Globalization is happening, but it is more a perception of the affluent than a reality for all. Harvard Business Review conducted a survey asking people certain questions related to Globalization. The actual data and the responses had an astonishing difference. Following are the facts:

Immigration is a glaring issue all over the world. When asked the readers they estimated the immigration figures to be around 20% while according to the survey only 3% of the world’s population is first generation immigrants. In France where the population thinks that the percentage of immigrants is 24%, the actual figures run till 8% only. Out of the total investments made in the year 2010, Foreign Direct Investment accounted for only 10%. The percentage of world population reading global news is 1-2%. The U.S citizens think that the Fed is contributing a lot in providing international aid but only 1% of the total Federal Reserves are used for the same. The total percentage of the people who have called overseas within one year was less than 2% and if we include calls made through internet resources it can stretch up to 7%. The total number of facebook users has less than 3% of friends who are out of their vicinity.

According to World Bank development report indicator 2008, more than half of the world population is poor. For instance, Nike have their stores everywhere but there will be small percentage of population who can afford to buy its products but the willingness to buy the same product will be high among consumers.

There can be three parameters why globalization does not affect some people:

1.     Affordability

2.     Lack of education and

3.     Willingness to buy.

According to one survey of Harvard Business Review 820 million people in the world have their income below $1.25/day which makes an iPhone worth $900 unaffordable. But this does not mean that an individual having a low income does not desire to buy an iPhone. On the other hand, people not facing affordability issue will not be the willing to use the new technology.

It is very ironic when we talk about how globalization has not only affected India, but the world. On one side we talk about the amount of food wasted and on the other hand, there’s 2/3rd of the world’s population dying of hunger. For instance, the amount of food wasted “everyday” in Saudi Arabia is enough to feed ALL the citizens of Ethiopia for one day. So, if we do talk about globalization, there is about 2/3rd of the population which is not affected by it. So, the main question which arises is that, does globalization have a positive or a lopsided effect on India? The statement which we referred to above by Jimmy Carter was not only ironic but also contradictory.

According to an Investopedia report, a married couple in The States spends around $550 on diapers for their new born child. A new born will use more than 2700 diapers in a year costing $0.20/diaper. The additional costs of $20/month on wipes are yet not calculated. While comparing these numbers with the impoverished in the sub-Saharan nations, Global Multidimensional Poverty Index as published by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative says that there are more than 1.6 billion people living without the basic amenities like a roof above their head, nutritional and education facility, food, clothing and water. 71% of this population lives in countries (middle income countries) where in the name of globalization business has flourished but some are left behind.

There are other mind boggling facts also. Water used to be a free reserve. The world annually spends $100 billion on bottled water. An average American consumer according to the 2008 statistics of Business Insider drinks more bottled water which amounts to 9 billion gallons of bottled water (30 gallons per person) than milk or beer. And look at the figures where people are dying because of contaminated or unavailability of fresh water. As per World Health Organization, 3.4 million people are losing their lives because of water related illness.

As per the Census 2011 report, rural-urban distribution is 68.84% and 31.16% respectively, out of the total rural distribution only 9% has the access to technology according to a nationwide survey.

By ‘rich people like us ‘ Jimmy Carter states that only people who have access to technology and communication thinks that the world is getting closer because of the globalization, but in reality it’s just 1/3rd of the total world population that feels the same way. The idea of globalization perceived by the people who have less or no access to internet understand the term globalization in a completely different manner. For instance, 91% of the rural India won’t perceive the idea of globalization as a ‘progressive thing’, unlike people living in more developed cities or villages.

Mehtar and Mostak invented windmill in their village in India, though it did exist before, but for them it was an invention. They had no access to internet connection. If the village had access to technology before, it could have helped the brothers and other villagers with farming and other things they were trying to figure out a decade earlier. Looking at this incidence Facebook created Internet.org to connect these brothers and other 4.5 billion people to the vast pool of resources internet provides.

We say globalization is happening at a fast pace, if it is then why billions of people are not able to reap its benefits. Or is this affecting only the rich of the world.

 The books say that world is a global village but it does not mention that there no “ONE GLOBAL VILLAGE”.

 We are living in our own global villages and the roads in between change cultural dimensions.


Categories: Globalization

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