20 years is a long time, measuring up to a generation, almost. For those like me, born a shade before this generation leap transpired, the idea of globalization has always been an issue of immense intrigue.
Imperialism, capitalism, modernization; globalization is all this and more. It’s appropriately a socio-political economic process that has converted the world into a proverbial global village, but doubts remain over the viability of this freshet of consumerism which has become the force behind Government’s neoliberal policymaking. A market driven approach works in developed economies where internal inequalities are next to nothing, but in a country like ours, the idea of globalization only fuels the prevalent skewed power equations, as a result of which it divides the society into stark gainers and losers. This is not to suggest that globalization is the marauding monster we must detest, it’s just that it works in the Indian scenario with a fair degree of moderation. It has successfully dissolved physical boundaries and obliterated the importance of nation states, it has made earth a flat planet, given us immense choices, exposed us to the inexorable explosion of innovations and possibilities and in the process, made the rich richer and happier. This, on the flip side has sounded death knell for unorganized sectors, trade unions and farmers.
Farmers across the world have been the biggest losers because of the inefficient price mechanisms while trade unions lose because of the corresponding loss of bargaining power. Globalization is creating more losers than gainers and the losses are not just economic. But translate into losses of lives, case in point being the increased number of farmer suicides across India in recent years. With the Government’s expenditure on agriculture successively declining and its focus shifting towards cash crops (a classic neoliberal practice), farmers are pushed into the irreversible debt cycle, culminating in years of bondage and eventually, suicides.
In agrarian economies like ours, globalization is doing its bit in promulgating ethnic hegemony and fostering economic divide. Rural economies have collapsed, agrarian crisis has amplified, inequality has intensified while public expenditure in agriculture has shrunk to less than 2% of the GDP.For every millionaire that we produce, there are 700 others who go without food. For a country whose 60% population depends on agriculture, the price of neoliberalism has indeed been very high.
The solution lies in alternate globalization that depends on human rights’ movements, women rights’ movements and pro environment movements. Globalization is welcome in the Indian society but not at the cost of unemployed peasants, landless laborers, dying farmers, hordes of hungry millions and debt inducing suicidal agrarian policies. The concept of flat globe has oodles of eye appeal, but the sight of countless, nameless dying souls-the victims of globalization- is too high a cost to entail.