In olden times when the prince in a royal household committed a wrong and he had to be punished, a boy was produced to receive the whipping in place of the prince. Thus came into existence the ‘institution’ of the whipping boy. The naughtier a prince was, his whipping boy had to receive more of whipping. This is happening in Kerala today. For all the ills of the state today, the whipping boy is Globalization.
Globalization, in historic as well as pre-historic sense, is not a new phenomenon. Perhaps globalization started when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden to the wider world . God told Adam to earn his livelihood by the sweat of his brow (which needed wandering about on the earth) and told Eve to deliver her children in pain (which needed requisitioning the help of neighbors and initiated interdependence in human relations).
A further push to globalization occurred when God scattered the sons of Noah who built the Tower of Babel , across, ‘over the face of all the earth.’ The globalization push was also manifested when God asked Abraham: “ Go out of your country, from your kindred and from your fathers house to a land I will show you” . The land was far away from Ur the native town of Abraham . Abraham going with his family to prosperous at the time is very much like a family from Kerala migrating today to the , the country where milk and honey flow . Indeed the Bible is replete with stories and allusions to globalization.
The Indian ethos exhibited both globalizing and anti-globalizing trends. While on one side Hinduism traveled to East Asia , it’s Brahminical version imposed banishment on those who went abroad. Yet the ideal of vasudeiva kdumbakam stands for the global village brought about by globalization . With Emperor Ashoka sending missionaries abroad, Buddhism had become a globalizing force in the third century B.C. Karl Marx believed in a proletarian revolution resulting in the workers of the world inheriting the whole world under communism . In recent times Sree Narayana Guru was the prophet of globalization and spoke of one humankind . All these point to the fact that globalization is not new but as old as mankind.
This does not mean that globalization in every era had the same defining traits. Instead, globalization of each era had distinctive features relating to that era. The globalization of our time is distinguishable by two elements from the globalization of former times. One is the collapse of travelling time from one point to another point on the globe.( The travel time is shorter from Thiruvananthapuram to Toronto today than it was in Abraham’s time from ( former Mesopotomia) to . The other is the collapse of communicating time between people irrespective of their geographical location . (While it took an year for ( St ) Francis Xavier S.J. to send a letter from Cochin to Lisbon , it would take just two minutes for Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil to do the same between Cochin and Rome by e- mail.)
It is the collapse of distance and time that has created the global village of our era. Just as it is difficult for a house holder to live in a village in isolation from other villagers behind high walls and locked gates , it is difficult for a country to segregate itself from other countries of the global village. Yet as in a village, the weak has to band together to resist the iniquities of the rich and assert the rights of the poor who are also the children of God.
Let us admit that globalization is a phenomenon of great complexity, which involves not only flow of goods and services but also flow of ideas and free movement of all the children of God over all the parts of the earth. The WTO has also eventually to work for a visa-less world where job opportunities arising any where are available to the jobseekers in every country. Unfortunately the WTO deals with only a part of the globalization process viz. the free movement of goods , services , capital and the protection of patents and intellectual property rights.
Of the 192 countries in the world ( including the new babe , East Timor ) 144 countries have become members of WTO. Thirty other countries including ,, , , Lithuania Romania, , are in the queue for membership. and which account for one third of humanity are already members of WTO. In other words almost over 90 % of the peoples of the world have already opted for globalization. Globalization, as one writer said, is the single train available to future. Any one who stand on the track will be run over or left out in the cold and bitter night of isolation.
Those who oppose globalization forget that 174 countries out of 192 countries of the global village would not have opted for membership of WTO had they not been convinced that there was a net advantage in doing so. Indeed ‘net advantage’ is the criteria for accepting globalization. For globalization is not a trouble free , fool proof process. But it is the better of the options available to us to deal with chaos that will reign otherwise over the market in the global village. The 18 countries which have not queued up yet to join WTO will do so soon.
The ice is already melting in North Korea where Stalinist governance had failed to bring prosperity to the people, North Korea has shown its intent to dump Marx and follow the ‘market’ recently. The first Chinese model special economic zone – where hire and fire is the employment rule – was opened recently in . Given time and opportunity, the remaining countries including and cannot but seek membership in WTO.
If globalization is a historic process and it has advantages as proven by countries who have embraced it on the WTO forum, the question arises why is it opposed by intellectuals both of the left and the right , in Kerala.
For one thing , Marxist parties are a force in Kerala despite collapse of Marxist states the world over. Most of the reigning intellectuals of Kerala are nurtured in Marxist ideology and phraseology for a very long time . The Marxist Parties of Kerala being rich in cash and human resources are in a position to patronize the intellectuals . In no way can Prof . Sukumar Azhikode be categorised as a Marxist intellectual. Yet the professor appears more on the pages of Deshabhimani than on other periodicals. While being camp followers , these intellectuals have to mouth slogans which their patrons decide.
The other reason is that the Marxist leaders fear that any change in the status quo of the economy might bring prosperity to the people which in turn will erode their support base. Marxism feeds on poverty and Marxists are afraid that globalization will bring prosperity to people.
Unfortunately globalization like any socio- economic change follows a ‘J’ curve of growth viz. decline first and steep climb later. This gives opportunity to its critics to focus on the initial decline associated with globalization such as cheaper imports and loss of traditional employment opportunities.
In modern economies, trade is the engine of growth. However trade as an operation is beset with risks. Due to adoption of the Soviet model of development has fallen far behind in growth of trade. Although accounts for one sixth of the population of the world ’s share in global trade is only 0.65 %. The CPM and CPI think that blocking globalization will arrest the growth of ’s foreign trade as also the country’s over all economic growth. This they need for their survival . For, to repeat a fact again, prosperity of the people erodes their support as it happened in countries in Europe where they had a strong presence long ago.
It is easy to depict globalization as a plot, a simplistic process, in which the rich nations take advantage of the poor nations. Man is driven by self-interest. Countries, also. In trade therefore, there is a hidden agenda for reaping the maximum gain in every deal . The rich nations desire to open up the markets of the poor nations without doing the same thing in return for the poor countries. As a result trade become unfair for the poor countries in the initial stage because the rich countries have more manipulative power in decision making. This misuse of WTO by the developed countries is to be expected and the developing countries have to band together to defeat the former in their double game . The process may take a little time till the poor countries acquire the requisite skills of negotiation in WTO forums.
Globalization in the global village can be compared to the coming of age of a girl. Her biological destiny is fraught with risks as well as opportunities . In globalization too the opportunities have to be seized and the risk minimized. The greatest risk for fair trade in globalization is the rigging of the rules of institutions of control – the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO – to suit the interest of the rich countries. This has to be resisted by the developing countries ( read , poor countries ) through the strength of unity taking sound positions on issues and voting together in the WTO.