Economist Alfred Sauvy in an article in the French magazine’ L Observateur’ (August 14, 1952) comprehended the expression ‘Third World’. It was a premeditated excerpt to the Third Estate of the French Revolution. This phrase earned universal recognition during the Cold War where many poorer nations remained neutral and convene together to form a non-aligned third world bloc. During the Cold War USA and its allies were considered as the ‘First World’ countries while the East was considered as ‘Second World’ countries.
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However, the term ‘Second World’ has never gained any recognition. Egypt, India and Yugoslavia were the original members of the third world countries. Today, Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America are considered as ‘Third World’ as most of the countries belonging to these continents are underdeveloped. Underdeveloped in the sense that they are still struggling to get rid of the issues related to poverty, water and sanitation, population growth, low per capita income, and unemployment leading to unrest and less industrialization.
This unjustified distribution of resources has divided the world into “have” and “have not” countries. In general terms, they are identified as Developed and Developing Countries. Developed countries are well-equipped with resources and are progressing to advancement while the developing countries are under severe stress due to the above factors. All such countries known as Third World Countries face the same problems of stigmatization by the developed countries – First world Countries.
The underdevelopment of the Third World Countries is marked by a number of common traits; distorted and highly dependent economies devoted to producing primary products for the developed world and to provide markets for their finished goods; traditional, rural social structures; high population growth; and widespread poverty. Nevertheless, the Third World is sharply differentiated, for it includes countries on various levels of economic development. And despite the poverty of the countryside and the urban shantytowns, the ruling elites of most Third World Countries are wealthy.
One of the major problems of Third World Countries is water. Since the advent of humankind, civilizations fought for water for their survival whether through democratic processes or military escalation. It has been said that the future wars will be fought in a struggle to control the water resources where third world countries will be hardly hit (Agence France Presse, 2001). Availability of drinking water and its accessibility for other uses lead to conflicts within the nations and ethnic groups. For instance, Indo-Pak political confrontation can be viewed from a different angle, which is the distribution of water through rivers. Though both the countries are following the ‘Indus Water Treaty’, very often there is a conflict over river water distribution and dams’ construction. A solution by the governments of these nations, be it through policy formulation or other mechanical means may help plough their ways to economic growth.
Poverty is another major problem facing Third World Countries. It has various serious consequences on human lives. With the rising rates of poverty, many of the local citizens face problems of famine and lack of lodging. An obvious example would be India. Poverty comes with lack of hygiene and this favors the proliferation of various harmful bacteria which results in the development of diseases such as cholera, malaria, etc. People either do not have enough facilities or these facilities are too expensive to overcome such diseases.
Overpopulation – most of the third world countries are facing difficulties in adjusting their population explosion within their boundaries, resulting in migration of people from their home countries to the developing or developed nations. The biggest example is Bangladesh and India from where people migrate to the Middle East or even China, which is already highly populated. Due to over-population and relatively limited resources, China has a ‘One child’ rule where a couple can only bear a single child. If the economy of a nation cannot sustain its population, it is definitely bound to fail. With the increase in population, there arise complimentary problems such as the need for better housing, antagonism for social infrastructure, a bombarded national budget and the prevalent problem of unemployment. Having said this, there is a need for population regulation so as to create a better environment for economic growth.
Another problem in the recent times is Globalization that upholds that everyone must benefit from modern transformation (Phil Marfleet, 1998). Emerging technology is doing more harm than good to Third World Countries. First World Countries use highly updated technology for example to manufacture clothing, food and other items; they no longer use the cheap labor from third world countries, which in turn leads to unemployment and poverty. Again, the third world countries being the struggling economies are unable to reap the benefits as they are already encircled within their basic problems. Furthermore, the gap between the first world countries and the third world states continues to widen in all aspects. Poor nations are becoming even poorer in contrast to rich nations which are getting richer than ever. It is important that G8 nations should derive some solution to the problems of third world’s migrating labor class rather than implementing more and more technology based industrial units.
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An even more threatening plight to the development of Third World Countries is terrorism. Terrorism is the use of violence against civilians by sub-national groups for political purposes. A sense of perceived injustice and the belief that violence will effectively redress it is the ideal breeding growth of terrorism. It has occurred throughout history but today the world is experiencing a global rebirth of attacks. The whole world is getting familiar with Arab and Muslim names. Terrorism therefore is designed to have psychological effects that reach farther beyond the impact on the immediate victims of an attack. The growing terrorist population is becoming more and more dangerous, with new organizations forming out of nothing. Politicians make terrorism a blame game and throw mud on each other. Also, the terrorist groups have the power to bribe or corrupt the public officials that aim to shut them down. Ending terrorist threats requires imaginative and fluid thinking, whether to attack the roots of terrorism or neutralize a particular group.
Education is the most neglected area in a country’s economic policies. Third World Countries lag behind since they may either have insufficient funds devoted to literary growth or these funds are wasted wrongfully. A big part of the population is illiterate due to wrong planning. Under such circumstances these countries have failed to excel in Science and Technology. In addition, there is intellectual ignorance from the government as they deliberately ignore the issue of education. Any stable economy must drink from the brook of literacy without which a nation would be intellectually malnourished.
Debts have crippled many developing countries. Often based on loans taken out by prior rulers and dictators (many of which various Western nations put into power to suit their interests), millions face poorer and poorer living standards as precious resources are diverted to debt repayment. In this regard, the question of transparency and corruption being evident In Third World Countries emerge. Many third world countries especially in Africa have been sited as having some of the most corrupted government officials in the world. These dictators squander money meant for development as they appeal for more donations from the developed nations. This has led to sanctioning of several Heads of States from getting into some European nations due to their corruption records.
As if this is not enough, some Heads of States have clung to power forcefully and by so doing, they drive their economies to the ground. For example Zimbabwe faces the highest rate of inflation where its currency has totally lots its international value. Dictatorship and corruption are greatly accredited to the slow growth in the economy of the developing nations.
Foreign aid, and indeed all the efforts of existing institutions and structures, have failed to solve the problem of underdevelopment. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held in New Delhi in 1971 suggested that one percent of the national income of industrialized countries should be devoted to aiding the third world. That figure has never been reached, or even approximated. In 1972 the Santiago (Chile) UNCTAD set a goal of a 6 percent economic growth rate in the 1970’s for the underdeveloped countries. But this, too, was not achieved. The living conditions endured by the overwhelming majority of the 3 billion people who inhabit the poor countries have either not noticeably changed since 1972 or have actually deteriorated.
In conclusion, we have to identify these factors that are contributing to the slow growth of the developing nations and try to bring a revolutionary approach towards them. These issues are however complicated by the stereotypes of what third world and first world countries are like. People in the first world, for example, often describe third world countries as underdeveloped, overpopulated, and oppressed. Third world people are sometimes portrayed as uneducated, helpless, or backwards. Modern scholarship has taken steps to make academic discourse more conscious of the differences not only between the first world and the third world, but also among the countries and people of each category. Let there be a universal change in ideologies that may enhance a growth in the economies of the third world countries hence put an end to the global stratification..
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