INDIA AND GLOBALISATION: AN OLD PAL OR A NEW NEIGHBOUR?

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SUBHADEEP SANTRA : Globalization is the process of interaction among people, companies and Governments as a result of trade and investment among nations.

Globalization is a 20th century word coined by Theodore Levitt. The word found its way in the Meriam-Webster dictionary in 1951. It is interesting to note that the concept is aged far more than the word itself.

Historians speak of trade between Meluha and Dilmun during the Indus Valley civilization-Meluha is believed to be the ancient name of Indus valley civilization and Dilmun is believed to be somewhere at Persian Gulf. International trade had a major economic impact on the Harappan Civilization.

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Economists however, do not agree that the Indus valley civilization was the initiation of Globalization. They argue that international trade during the time of ancient civilization does not clearly show that there was a prolonged social impact beyond the sphere of economics. A trade to qualify as a part of Globalization should have multidimensional impact.

Building on the above argument some put forward the ideology that globalization began in the 17th century. In the year 1615 AD Mughal emperor Jahangir gave permission to Thomas Roe to trade in Surat. This decision by Jahangir is the onset of Globalization in India. It is needless to say that this decision of Emperor Jahangir led to the British colonization of India a century afterwards changing the social structure, agricultural pattern and political scenario drastically and permanently.

THOMUS ROE
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Some philosophers believe that the change drawn by Colonization was a compulsive impact. Globalization, according to them, is a change that is accepted by a person who has the freedom to not accept such change. For instance, the agriculture in India shifted from subsistence farming to commercial farming not because the farmers perceived an economic benefit in doing so. The Indian farmers were forced to grow indigo.

Most economists believe that ‘new economic policy’ adopted by India in 1991 is the beginning of Globalization. Under the New economic policy India adopted the LPG:

Liberalization, that is, reduction of Government control over economic decision and promotion of free market economy, and Privatization, that is, enhancing private ownership of goods and services, leading to Globalization, by means of growth in import and export.

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But criticism still remains. The ‘new economic policy’ was adopted under compulsion. India faced a Balance of Payment Crisis in 1991. India appealed to International Monetary Fund and World Bank for financial help. These organizations provided India with a credit of 7 billion dollars but with a precondition that India shall open up its economy for private players.

Therefore the liberal approach of the then Government was under pressure of the international organizations. Therefore, technically speaking, the ‘new economic policy’ is also not the onset of globalization.

The above highly skeptical critics believe that the present era of digitization is the real onset of globalization in India, as there is no external compulsion for digitization. For instance, one may prefer to use OTT platform to have access to entertainment that originates beyond the national boundaries. This preference is not a result of any compulsion as there is no prohibition on attending cinema halls.

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When many people start preferring OTT platforms for its ability to provide access to international contents, the owners and entrepreneurs of these web platforms produce more and more international content estimating a growing market potential. Now, with more international contents these OTT platforms attract more viewers and thus making a production and consumption circle. With every round of this circle customers grow and the circle widens engulfing a large population of the country. This is a glaring example of Globalization.

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