Globalization and India

Despite the enthusiasm of its supporters economic globalization gives rise to fierce exploitation, economic instability and crisis.

The “globalization” touted by the major economic gurus has created problems around the world, including AIDs, poverty, hunger, debt, labor migration (people having to flee their own countries), global warming and increased national and racial oppression.

Today’s global economy, much more than an arena of free exchange of resources, is one of coercion and unequal power, with a few countries and powerful corporations sitting at the top and the vast majority of nations and people struggling for survival.

Perhaps nowhere has this become more obvious than in India, the home of more than one billion of our planet’s inhabitants.

“The impact of globalization on India has been devastating,” writes A.B. Bardhan, general secretary of the Communist Party of India. “The country’s markets have been thrown open to unrestrained exploitation by foreign exporters at the expense of agriculture, industry and even traditional handicrafts.”

Bardhan points out that multinational corporations and foreign monopolies are using “disinvestment” laws that permit foreign corporations up to 100 percent equity in Indian businesses. Even the vital public sectors are not immune to this transnational corporate raiding.

“Portions of the country’s valuable public assets, including land, minerals and transportation networks, have been handed over to domestic and foreign monopolists at throwaway prices. The financial sector has been opened to foreign capital and to the rampages of speculators, manipulators and swindlers,” according to Bardhan.

He takes issue with “bourgeois governments ruling India” that have “long asserted that “there is no alternative” to the new ecomomic order.

He writes: “Today, globalization is being pushed forward with incredible speed by the technological revolution. But there is nothing inevitable and irreversible in the form and character of present day globalization. It is occurring in a specific situation and is influenced and conditioned by the existing relations in the world economy. What we have today is imperialist globalization working in the interests of international monopoly capital.”

“An ever-growing broad section of the people is rising up in opposition,” Bardhan says. “Peasants, workers, youth, and others are rising up in India.”

In this respect, of course, India is much the same as the rest of the world in which there is no shortage of issues around which millions are mobilizing, including the blocking of so-called free trade in the Americas, the ending of child and sweatshop labor, protecting the world’s rain forests and food supply, defending the land and rights of indigenous peoples, abolishing the debt of the developing countries, to name only a few.

Bardhan also points out that globalization fails to end the economic stagnation that has occurred all over the developing world. As privatization and globalization are pursued with “frenzied” speed, he says, “there has been a sharp decline in the economy’s growth rate from 6.4 percent in 1999 to 5.2 percent in 2001. It has declined in agriculture, manufacturing, mining – indeed in all sectors.”

The transnational corporations, of course, are the main structural operators of the global economy. They control and utilize supranational organizations, like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, to make sure that the process of economic internationalization develops along lines beneficial to them.

This translates for a country like India into public warehouses full of food while 350 million go malnourished. The government of India has agreed to International Monetary Fund mandated cutbacks in the national food distribution program. If it takes starving children to earn a good credit rating, so be it.

Fiscal austerity measures enacted by India’s government are not enough to satisfy the IMF, however. They have also demanded “labor reforms” that essentially weaken trade unions by replacing full-time workers with part-time workers, that enact “hire and fire” at will programs for the big companies and that allow contracting out of labor that used to be performed by union workers.

While Bardhan is critical of India’s government for failing to take initiatives in defense of the interests of third world countries, he is hopeful about the future prospects for the struggle.

“Left and democratic parties, as well as several non-governmental organizations, united in a people’s campaign against globalization, mobilized very broad forces for a massive demontstration in Nov. 6 in Delhi,” he said. “We believe that the people’s movement will suceed in bringing about a revolutionary change – a new form of globalization that is humane, that meets the material and spiritual needs and aspirations of the people.”

John Wojcik was a political writer for the Daily World, the People’s Weekly World’s predecessor. We welcome him back as a regular contributor.