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With the developing countries being far behind the developed ones, it becomes important that the latter do not overrun the needs and aspirations of the former

Globalisation is a multifaceted and all-encompassing phenomenon.  It is a process that breaks down boundaries between countries and slowly transforms the globe into a unit.  Globalisation has economic roots and political consequences, but it has also brought into focus the power of culture in this global environment – the power to bind and to divide in a time when the tensions arising out of integration and separation tug at every issue that is relevant to international relations.

Historically, the process of globalization can be traced to what is known as the `voyages of discovery’, when Vasco da Gama and Columbus went around the globe in search of wealth for their rulers.  In other words, it began with the emergence of capitalism in Europe about five hundred years ago.  Its later development was in the forms of colonialism and imperialism.  Characteristics of these two systems have been the economic exploitation and plunder of territories that were colonized and people who were dominated in order to ensure accumulation of capital or wealth by the colonial and imperialist powers

Globalization is carried out through the policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. Liberalization policy encourages, among others, free market and free flow market can encourage efficiency and healthy competition, but it is mostly motivated by the desire to accumulate large profits, to the extent that the interests and welfare of people are often compromised. Also, in order to attract capital investments various governments offer many incentives, which, when benefiting foreign capital, cause losses to the country.

Deregulation strengthens the possibility of free competition by reducing, setting aside or abolishing all restrictions or barriers to economic activities. One of the consequences of deregulation is that the position of the low-income groups is weakened. Regulations, which exempt payment or impose low fees on health or education for the lower income groups, can be cited as an example. If these regulations are removed under the diktats of the IMF, which opposes subsidies, it will surely increase the burden on the economically weaker sections.

It is true that privatization can be a better alternative when the management or administration under the public sector is fraught with inefficiency, waste and corruption. But in practice, it is also well known that privatization does not necessarily offer a better and cleaner management. Management of water, electricity and telephones after privatization has not become any better than before, but the charges and levies for these services have increased to the extent that they have become burdensome on the people.

In addition, there are also pressures from the developed countries – through IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) and trade blocs – to remove trade barriers in developing countries, so that their doors can be widely opened to capital and commodities from the powerful countries. When this happens, the big capitalist countries get an opportunity to dominate the economy of the developing countries, which are striving for developing countries, so that their doors can be widely opened to capital and commodities from the powerful countries. When this happens,, the big capitalist countries get an opportunity to dominate the economy of the developing countries, which are striving for development. In this way, the process of neo – colonialism begins.

When national economies are increasingly inter-linked and capital is mobile, crisis in one country can rapidly spill over to other countries, creating a kind of global domino effect. There can be no denying that this is exactly what has happened in the past. One good example in this context is the South East Asian crisis. Developing countries have been ruined in the process. In such situations, powerful countries step in to ‘help’ these countries and take over the production process with the help of MNCs and international financial institutions.

The idea of the nation-state was perhaps the most significant concept and practical innovation of modern times. But, in the new global age, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Now, the very idea of the “nation state” is fast becoming obsolete. Economic control by developed countries result in strong political influence over developing countries. These processes beget  development of economic and political structures at the international level, which often play more important roles than the national, economic and political structures. Dominant economies use these international agencies to expand their interests and global influence. USA often manipulates the United Nations Security Council to further its global policies. Among agencies within the economic sphere which are used by big powers especially USA, to influence or control the developing countries in the Third World are the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). When the WB or IMF lend to developing country, they often impose strong conditions, camouflaged as structural adjustments. Economic or corporate adjustments involve steps to reduce costs and control labour, in a way that erode the competitive advantage of loanee countries. These often result in the reduction of wages or increase in productivity without increase in the wages. Expenditures grouped under subsidies for social sector, including education, health and housing are reduced. Experiences in various countries like Mexico and the Philippines demonstrate how WB and IMF loans have resulted in their being dominated by developed countries via these institutions.

Besides, globalization also encourages the dissemination of what is characterized as global culture. ‘International’ cultural traits have become more popular among youths than `national’ ones.  Developments in communication and transportation have heralded the emergence of a global mass culture.   Increasing “homogenization” is a worldwide culture fact and a direct consequence of globalization.  It is feared that this will lead to stripping away of individual identity of cultures and a bland uniform world.

In terms of dress, fashion, social mores and intellectual practices, most people are fast becoming indiscernible from Westerners.  All this, thanks to “opening up” of the country to the global economy.  Western-style individualism is on rise.  The age-old cultural value of social conformism is fast losing relevance.  Traditional societies, who prided themselves on their exclusively, are fast losing their distinctiveness.  Some refer to this as “Mcdonaldisation” or “Coca-Colasation”  of the world and view it as one of the supposedly pernicious effects of global capitalism.  In the past, this had led to socio-cultural conflicts and this may happen in the future too.

So, why do these leaders of developing countries accept globalization?  Firstly, the waves of globalization are too strong an influence of the superpowers too great, so much so that the process has become inevitable.  Secondly,  in the Asian region, many countries and leaders accept capitalism as the best way to achieve progress and development.  So hey readily accept the influence of globalization that originates from the capitalist countries, although they realize  its weaknesses and dangers.  Thirdly, some of the political leaders and leading economic figures believe that globalization, the policies related to it and the capitalist system can provide them and their groups with huge profits.  As has been amply shown, many among them have become rich and powerful through greed, corruption and cronyism.  That these have also been responsible for the downfall of many of them, is altogether a different story.

Globalisation has become the overarching fact that all countries and cultures of the world must contend.  The real challenge of globalization is that of reaping the undeniable opportunities it offers for increasing general level of prosperity  throughout the world through liberalized trade regimes and international cooperation.  With the developing countries being far behind the developed ones, it becomes important that the latter do not overrun the needs and aspirations of the former.  It is only in this way that the world can hope for lasting peace and prosperity.

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