Over the course of this paper, I will discuss how globalization has not been good for Indonesia. I will support this position by showing how population and consumption, hunger and poverty, the environment, disease and healthcare, disappearing indigenous populations and protest have been negatively changed in the country of Indonesia.
The Republic of Indonesia is located near Southeast Asia, with the Pacific Ocean to the northeast, Southern China Sea to the northwest, Indian Ocean in the southwest, and Australia lies southeast. Indonesia is made up of 13,677 islands with 6,000 inhabited and a population of 240,271,522 (I-4). It is one of the most culturally diverse and ethnically tolerant countries in the world (Robbins, p. 268). The vast number of languages and religions practiced on the islands demonstrates this point. Though Bahasa Indonesia is the official language of the Republic, there are 583 languages (Lyle, p. 22). Muslim is the most commonly practiced religion, though Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu and Buddhism are also regularly practiced (p. 9, 40).
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Indonesia has a strong Dutch influence. Indonesian spices brought the Dutch to the country looking to make a profit on the European market. The Dutch remained in control of Indonesia for the greater part of four hundred years. Throughout that time, the Dutch, the British, and the Japanese have had control over parts of Indonesia. After World War II, The Republic of Indonesia was born. The fight for Independence, freedom and diplomacy was a long hard road. As the nation was growing, globalism played a major role in how Indonesia became was it is today (Asian Info.org, 2010).
Population and Consumption
In 1979, under the leadership of General Suharto, president of Indonesia, a transmigration program was established to help poor and landless families in overpopulated areas of the country, find work and land to farm. This program took people from overcrowded areas, usually Java or Madura, and relocated them to less populated areas. Through transmigration, a labor force of farmers, miners, and loggers would be formed to work in these labor-intensive fields. Over a five-year span, from 1979-1984, 535,000 people were relocated. The government gave landless families unused farmland and a house on a less populated island, providing food until the family produced a self-sustainable crop. This program gave unemployed, hungry people in Java and Madura, a job, food and a better chance at surviving. Also, every family that transmigrated to a less populated island helped to feed the remaining people a slightly bigger portion of rice (Lamoureux, p. 77-78).
From 1984, the transmigration program began to deteriorate until it was ended by the Indonesian Government in August 2000. The program failed because of resentment between the trans-migrants and indigenous peoples, lack of funding, and the distance placed between friends and families with strong multi-generational connections (p. 77-78).
Overpopulation has still placed stress on the country’s resources, despite some success Indonesia has had in reducing its birthrate. Family land is divided over and over again as new generations inherit acreage from their parents, the plots given for rice fields become smaller and smaller. Large numbers of the younger generations consequently have moved to the cities looking for employment. An extensive labor force accumulating in the cities has resulted in devastating unemployment (p. 81; 83).
Hunger and Poverty
According to Economic Reform Today (2000), the Indonesian government has to take initiative to be more proactive in making industries and businesses competitive worldwide. Globalization has given Indonesia responsibility for development in the business sector – internationally and locally. However, the negative image of globalization has presented major challenges for Indonesia to manage. The income gap and instable access to economic opportunity between different societal groups, regions and smaller-scaled businesses, has lead to an impression of reinforcement exaggerated by globalization, rather than justification for reform (Soesastro, p. 51, 53, 54).
The growing population of Indonesia has placed increased pressure on the country’s access to food and water supplies. According to, Indonesia: A Global Studies Handbook, the population of Indonesia from 1929 to 1938 increased by 15 percent. However, food production only increased 3.5 percent (Lamoureux, p. 59). Approximately 225 million people lived in Indonesia in July 2001, with a 1.6 percent annual growth rate (p. 7). According to IndexMundi.com (2010), Indonesia has, as of July, 2009, a population of 240,271,522. July 2009 showed a 1.16 percent change over the same time in 2008.
Large families were needed to work the fields; therefore it was common for women to give birth to ten or more children. However, several wouldn’t live to be adults (p. 130). After World War II, infant mortality decreased largely due to antibiotics and other medicines, allowing more babies and children to survive. Less children dying resulted in an increase of population and an increase in government dependent resources, as well as, international aid, forcing Indonesia to import food (i.e. rice) (p. 130).
In the 1970’s, in response to the rice shortage, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) developed a strain of rice plants that produced more rice per plant. This development helped alleviate the problem of self-sufficient rice production. However, fewer people were needed to work the rice fields, resulting in younger generations migrating to the cities for work (p. 130).
Today, Indonesia is more dependent on imported foods, fruits and other manufactured goods produced by farmers and Java manufactures’, because they cannot compete successfully with the imported goods (Nasution, p. 2). At the same time, due to a deficiency of raw materials, labor costs must be kept minimal to be able to compete in the global market (Soewandi, p. 6).
Reducing the inflation and instability of the cost of food supplies coupled with agricultural investments to increase productivity, has encouraged rural incomes to grow and rice prices to stabilize. This in turn has allowed farmers to become self-sufficient on rice (Kartasasmita, p. 7). According to Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (2001), Indonesia’s national poverty line fell from 60 percent in 1970 to 40 percent six years later. The year 1990 showed a decrease to 15 percent to 11.5 percent another six years later (p. 8).
The most devastating amount of damage globalization has done to impair the environment in Indonesia is the destruction of the rainforests. Logging companies have destroyed the delicately balanced rainforest by over-logging to sell overseas. Forest fires have also become a concern. Fires have originated in the logging company camps, as well as, naturally (i.e. lightning), burning acres of timber and land.
Many animals and species have become endangered due to over-logging and expanding villages due to population and for farming. Illegal animal traffickers of the orangutan, the Javan rhinoceros, and the Sumatran tiger have helped to bring these animals close to extinction. Rare orchids and exotic plants have also become endangered due to the rapid elimination of the rainforest. More recently, pharmaceutical companies are interested in the potential for new medicines in the rainforests (Lamoureux, p. 159-161).
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Also, slash-and-burn techniques that are practiced by villages with larger populations leave the region when soil is drained of nutrients to grow crops. The villagers clear trees and vegetation and burn it over the area to be planted. The plots are used for one to three years and then vacated to regrow with natural vegetation. A new area is then chosen. As they relocate the slash-and-burn technique is repeated as the forest area shrinks (Robbins, 2008, p. 179).
In response, the Indonesian government has protected a number of areas: Komodo National Park, Gunung Leusser National Park, as well as a number of nature and game reserves; marine, forest and recreation parks; hunting and marine nature reserves; and national parks (Lamoureux, p. 161).
Disease and Healthcare
Increased globalization in Indonesia has also led to an increase in HIV and AIDS. The virus is most commonly found in women involved in the sex trade. Among prostitutes in Jakarta, the percentage of HIV/AIDS reported is about 17 percent. Among village women in some regions of Papua, not involved in prostitution, the percentage reported is as high as 26 percent. Many Muslim men refuse to wear condoms, exacerbating the spread of this disease (Lamoureux, p. 133).
Intravenous drug users also encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. According to an article in the Jakarta Post in December 1, 2002, it was reported that 43,000 people out of 120,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS were intravenous drug users (p. 140).
In 1997, forest fires ravaged Sumatera and Kalimanta, destroying hectares of forests by the thousands. This created additional hazards, health and environmental, to existing problems in Indonesia (Kartasasmita, p. 10-11).
Richard Robbins (2008) uses an example of the Meratus Dyak people living isolated in the Meratus Mountains of Indonesia to show hoe the indigenous people are effected by global. The Meratus have remained hunters and gathers and are dependent on slash-and-burn agriculture, traveling to fertile land within the mountains. The Indonesian government believes their culture makes them uncivilized and a threat to national security. The government has created a program, Management of Isolated Populations, to help discipline the 1.5 million groups of Indonesians, including the Meratus, and control their way of life (p. 269-270).
The government has built housing settlements close together to relocate these groups to. They have also implemented nutrition and family plan programs to educate them on what the government feels they should consume and how and to limit the size of their families (p. 270). This concept of government has helped to eliminate the cultures of indigenous people.
In 1997, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a loan of $42 billion to help the bleak financial outlook of Indonesia. Two months later General Suharto, president of Indonesia, irritated the IMF by presenting a budget that went against the IMFs loan criteria. This angered many Indonesians. As food prices soared in 1998, riots erupted across Indonesia. General Suharto was re-elected causing great disapproval throughout the country. Protests broke out on college campuses as students showed their disapproval of Suharto being re-elected (Lamoureux, p. 80).
The Chinese, having been wealthier under Dutch rule in colonial times, is often a target for brutality when Indonesians are experiencing difficult times (p. 82). Rioters robbed and burned Chinese shops. The Chinese were allowed to be merchants and own shops, separating them from the Indonesian farmers during colonial Dutch rule. Very few Chinese were farmers, therefore not subject to the large amount of farming needed to meet Dutch quotas, as the Indonesians were. Violent riots and rapes occurred in Jakarta during the protests in 1998 (p. 82).
The combination of a growing population and diminishing resources and environment, have put immense pressure on food and water supplies. As previously discussed, the IRRI and technology have helped to alleviate some pressure on the food supply. However, the diminishing water supply has potential to be a source of tension and conflict in the future (Johnstone, 1999).
All the different aspects of globalization covered are all intra-related and have had a negative effect on Indonesia. Overcrowded islands, such as Java, have a high unemployment rate due to too many inhabitants and too few jobs. People transmigrated to less populated islands by the government in hopes of alleviating the stress of over-population to become self-sufficient farmers. This had a negative effect on both the original inhabitants and the newcomers to the islands. The growing population has put tremendous stress on the food and water supply of Indonesia, creating a need for imports, which takes money out of the country. The environment has been destroyed as rainforests are cut down for precious timber, animals, and plants. The disruption of the delicate balance that is the rainforest has created an unbalance of resources and health conditions. The introduction of tourism has brought outside diseases, such as HIV/AIDS that have detrimental to women and children in Indonesia. Indigenous populations being forced to conform to the norm according to the Indonesian government has destroyed cultures. Protest has been an outlet for the disgruntled citizens of Indonesia. The Chinese have been targeted based on entitlements given in the past. All of these have come about because of globalism; therefore, I believe that globalism has affected Indonesia negatively.
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