Together, are we any better?
Gone are the ages when a person from another country could be either a complete stranger or a never-met pen pal. Gone are the ages when products could be associated by a country and obtained only by tourism. Studying in international schools, purchasing from the global markets, we are the global citizens of a common world with one market. We have never been so connected, so privileged to get access to anything from around the world. Last week, when my grocery order was delivered from Amazon, my family was admiring the mobile nature of global market, while I was disgusted at the amounts of plastic I saw. I had never seen so much plastic together, as much as I saw last week in a box of groceries worth 4000 rupees. I wondered, is all this extra-connectedness even needed? Aren’t we overdoing things for the sake of too much globalisation, so foolishly happy with a new benefit, that we completely neglect the harms it is having, on our environment, on our economy, on the society? I would’ve easily walked to the nearby store and purchased the same grocery, but extensive interconnectedness is isolating us further. In this more connected world, we are becoming more consumerist because of surplus avaliability of certain products, due to which there is a great paradox of education which is leading the whole world in a conundrum. While education is said to reduce poverty rates, decreases fertility rates to control overpopulation, and increases sustainable awareness leading lead to more egalitarian societies, literate people are consuming more.
Talking about nation’s growth, 3 decades ago, developing nations contributed to only one-third of the total global output, whereas now we are contributing to almost 50% of the global output. Furthermore, this number is seen to grow to 75% in the future. Countries like China, have used global trade to their benefit to be able to eradicate more than 100 million people out of poverty. While a connected market and world is enabling us to grow, it is having huge impacts on the environment. With reduced poverty comes an increase in consumerism. This increase in consumerism is leading to massive pressures on land, water and forests of the world, and the resultant mass burnign of fossil fuels is leading to a change in climate which will threaten our survival as a species, as it has already done to our counterparts who have become extinct. Whether it be our love for cars, or all kind of plastic stuff, globalisation is leading to an unsustainable world. In 2013, Chinese government carried an advisory prohibiting the elderly to come outdoors because of unbearable levels of pollution. What is the point of all the growth if our cities become unsustainable, unliveable?
Non only this, globalisation is leading to deception in trade and politics. When the Indian economy was liberalised in the late twentieth century, coming in of foreign operators was seen as being able to set benchmark quality and enhance healthy competition. It was a great achievement for the world to be able to access products from around the world, and share their resources with others. However, with the coming of foreign brands in India, local companies have failed to hold the public’s attention. Amazons and McDonalds of the world are taking leaps in their profits, advantaging from this new era of globalisation. These multinational powerful firms use their immense financial backup, to manipulate consumer demand out of substitutes offered by the local competitors, to establish themselves in a monopoly. When Coca-Coal came in, for example, it used its wealth power to give out free bottles of Coke to the population, making a incomparable place in their hearts, and defeating every other local brand in India. The local manufacturers, who make a living with the local consumption of their product go for a toss, and are left unemployed, stuck in a continuous vicious cycle of poverty. Our nation is progressing, by working for the Cokes and the Googles who have set them up here in India, but the nation’s people are being used for low-wage labour, and transfer of skills is not happening.
While globalisation has opened doors to vast cultural exchange, it has lead to Westernisation of the entire world, and I observe my nation’s heritage to be dying. While cultures are spreading both ways, powerful countries are seen to influence their ideas due to better technologies and communication. Unconsciously, our lives have become so westernised that we have started ridiculing our own traditions in our own country. In this mass transformation of ideas, we have lost contact with our roots, and are constantly becoming prone to thinking of oursleves as inferior. Because of the power of media and the speed and magnitude of transportation of ideas, the western culture has set itself in our minds. While globalisation has been a mass accelerator for growth of transnational progress and blurring of borders, there is a lack of understanding of local and global integration which needs to be inculcated. Only when global and local processes are linked, will everyone prosper, or the pigs will shit and the ants will wipe.