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Since the past few years, globalization has become a much bandied concept around the world. Some people are of the opinion that reforming the economy, making it more suitable to become capable to easily trade with all the nations of the world, is the quickest way to kick start an economy and benefit from the opportunities available through out the world. But there are some people who look at the international business conglomerates with suspicion, especially in third world countries, who find it hard to trust them and are wary of their country becoming associated with international economic upheavals.
Philip McMichael gives us an interesting, well researched and intellectual understanding of the history and implication of globalization project. Foundation of modern globalization was laid during the massive colonization carried out by mostly European countries. Nearly all the occupiers got cheap raw materials from the colonies, produced finished products from raw materials and then sold these products at massive prizes in the colonies. This was the globalization in its crudest form. During colonial period, citizens of the colonies became exposed to European languages like English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, these people also adopted lots of elements of European culture especially clothing, civil administration and ways of the modern enterprise.
When after 1940s colonized countries started becoming free, they were exposed to a world order, which was largely governed and managed by the ex colonial masters. At the world bodies like UNO, these so called superpowers ran the show and pushed those policies best suited to them. A large number of those ex colonies were termed as third world, with first world being liberal, democratic and rich western superpowers, second world was a group of communist countries headed by Soviet Union.
Some of the newly liberated countries started residing in the orbit of successful western nations, became ready part of globalization project, some benefited from it like Japan, South Korea, etc and then those Latin American countries which saw a rich elite island existing in the sea of poverty. Then there were communist nations, for them 'globe' existed among themselves.
There were countries like India, which practices non alignment and mixed economy, where economy and industry were managed and controlled by beaurocratic red tape.
But with the fall of leftist bastion, more and more countries liberalized their economies to integrate with globalization project. Though the most shining example of a late entrant to the globalized economy was China, which has dazzled the world with its massive success. More and more countries have followed suit and benefited by integration with the global economy.
But questions are still being asked about the effectiveness of the globalization project, since a vast majority can not still afford to avail the fruits of globalization project, every WTO meeting sees a long wave of protests every where. It seems search for that perfect economic mechanism is still not over.
China's Economic Success
China's huge economic success is considered as one of the biggest economic miracles world ever saw. This success assumes even more importance, when we look at the condition of China before its landmark economic reforms. Economic condition of pre reform China was typical of a centralized and corrupt economy, where Chinese Communist Party controlled every aspect of the economy through iron fists. Quite a few failed experiments were carried out to kick start the economy and reform the political system like "The great leap forward" and "Hundred flowers campaign", but these events had a drastic effect on Chinese populace. Many people lost their lives, economy continued to be in shambles and there was little or no change in the political system.
China begun to see change when Deng Xio Ping assumed power in 1978, he was the first one from the Chinese communist brass to recognize the importance of becoming prosperous and successful. Before formally assuming power in December 1978, in the month of November, 1978, Deng visited South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. He met with iconic Prime minister of Singapore, who advised him to carry out economic reforms. By the beginning of year 1979, China saw radical changes in economic arena, farmers got more independence in managing their lands and
Selling their produce in the market and most importantly Chinese market became open to foreign investment. Some thing which acted as a catalyst in the new beginning of China's relationship with United States. American companies were buoyed by getting access to such a huge market and it kick started frantic economic activity in China.
Most important Chinese economic reforms were carried out in two stages, In first wave of reforms, collective farming was discontinued, Chinese market was made open to foreign investment and entrepreneurs were allowed to start their own business. Second stage of reforms saw privatization of state owned industries, price controls were removed and monopoly of the state in most of the sectors of economy was lifted.
These reforms unleashed the entrepreneurial energy and skill in an unprecedented manner, so much so, that very quickly China became world's factory. Most of the top manufacturers, from the around the globe, shifted their facilities to China, in order to avail the attractive incentives and low cost labor.
Today China is on its way to become dominant economic super power. So the journey which started in 1978, seems to have reached its destination and how?
Anti Globalization Movement
Though globalization has won lots of fans and admirers. Though it is true that it created wealth for lots of people around the world. But there is a large section of the people, which stays dead opposed to the ideals of globalization project and do not agree with the benefits it accrued. These opponents are particularly vocal about the steep schism between rich and poor that has been created in globalized economies. Opponents also are highly critical of financial institutions like World Bank and IMF, who they think try to bypass the local leadership and impose their own agenda, which often is not beneficial for the host country.
Most hated entities in the eyes of the these protestors are World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and various free trade regional treaties.
As per today this protest movement is a loose amalgamation of protest groups into one single entity, which goes by the name of People's Action Group. Despite not having a formally organized structure, they never fail to mobilize a huge group to protest against every summit of the WTO or other organizations in their hate list. Various tools of information technology have come in handy for these protestors to spread the word around and coordinate with each other. National Lawyer's Guild offers legal support to these protestors and Independent Media Center covers their activities extensively and propagates their views prominently.
Women in Third World and Dr. Amartya Sen's theory
Women in third world are often a persecuted lot. Males bully them, dominate them and often do unthinkable atrocities just to keep them subjugated. In many societies women are allowed to be literate and even if they manage to go to school, they are barred from pursuing higher courses in the Universities. Some societies like to keep them confined to their homes and cater to the men folk in the families. In some countries women have to observe strict rules of veil and can not venture out alone or with a male not from their family. These various types of restrictions are imposed under the guise of religion, age old 'golden society rules' to preserve the sanctity of family and society. But most of the males in such restrictive societies do not realize that with out giving women complete freedom to do what they want to do; society will never realize its true potential and success.
In order to achieve success, hard work is very important. But in order for a person to work hard, there should be no restriction on acquiring the requisite knowledge, skill and opportunities. Nobel Laureate and eminent Indian economist Dr. Amartya Sen put forward a very interesting theory, a novel way of looking at poverty and how to get rid of it? According to Dr. Sen, every person is blessed with certain skills and unless a person is not being given conducive environment to utilize these skills, they will remain confined with in the prison of poverty forever.
We can easily find the relation between pathetic and poverty stricken existence of the third world women and Dr. Sen's theory. If top leadership of third world countries strive to create a liberal and beautiful environment where every woman can educate herself, learn productive skills, dream big and achieve her destiny, then that nation would be better placed to remove the tag of 'third world' from its name.