Monday, March 12, 2007

Globalisation empowers ordinary people

At an online seminar on globalisation organised by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, in Manila, in March 2007, I looked at the forces affecting globalisation, and held that critics of globalisation have a political agenda to keep the people disempowered by restricting their choices, and preserving the privileges for the elite.

Globalisation: Power to the people

A lot of the times it seems to me that that debate over globalisation portrays the phenomenon as something new. The communication revolution has drastically changed the speed of information flow, and perhaps many of us have in a sense been disoriented with the pace. So much so that we lost a sense of human history!

Globalisation is a phenomenon as old human civilisation. It started when the first man learned to trade, barter, his or her goods.

Today, there is hardly a product that has not been impacted by some kind of voluntary exchange of one kind or other.

Rice and wheat, which are the staples of most humans on the planet today, are the results of enormous chain of modifications carried out by generations spread across the world, to come to their present forms. Spices were one of the first major agricultural commodities to be traded globally. Cocoa and Coffee are among the two most traded commodity of value for the past few centuries. Cotton and textile products are another example of products shaped by choices made by millions across generations.

Earlier, when the world was poorer, communications and transportation were slower, only the rich could have access to some of these globalised products. Today it is possible to make most of these erstwhile luxuries accessible to most across the planet.

Globalisation therefore is a reflection of popular empowerment. The voluntary choices that people make trigger the supply and demand chains to span the globe in search of the most cost effective solutions.

Far from harmonising the world, globalisation enhances choice for the locals, bringing them closer to the world.

For instance, over a decade, we in Delhi, the Indian capital, would have had to try really hard to find authentic Thai or Mexican restaurants, not even a MacDonald. Today, quite a few have sprung up, greatly enriching the range of choice for the consumers. And advent of choice has stimulated competition, inspiring a lot of local food outlets to greatly improve their product range and services. So it is quite common to find a Macdonald rubbing shoulders with, Indian food chain outlets.

While the locals have been similarly empowered with greater choices, the elite seem to have lost quite a few of their distinctions! Most of the opposition to globalisation today, comes from erstwhile elites, many in their new incarnation as social activists, who feel threatened that some of their privileges are becoming common place. It is these social elites who have often joined hands with economic vested interests, to oppose globalisation as a way to retard the pace of popular empowerment. This clearly political agenda is often clothed with terms like promoting economic self-reliance, protecting social values, or preserving the environment for the future generations.

We need to clearly understand that all these slogans are actually intended to disempower the people, and protect the privileges of the elite.

Lets go global and seize the new opportunities being opened up because of globalisation.

No comments:

Post a Comment