Globalization And Changing India
By Dr. Gadadhara Mohapatra
03 August, 2012
India is changing, however, the pace of change varied from time to time, group to group and region to region. The basic social institutions of India’s countryside such as village, the joint family system and the caste and tribe relation are under great transformation. The process of liberalization, globalization and privatization (LPG) in the last two decades have witnessed the interlinked phenomena of industrialization and rapid economic growth for the country as a whole, a slowdown of agriculture, and an intensification of social conflicts.
One of the central ideas about globalization is that a 'third culture', a global culture, is encompassing the world at the international level. First of all this refers to the Americanization of the world, characterized by the mass consumption of products delivered by multinational corporations such as McDonald's; in short, the existing Coca Cola culture familiar to all of us. This 'third culture' is not grounded simply on the contacts between states that formed the basis of the world system in the colonial period. It holds its own unique place and generates its own dynamics in the world at a supra-state level. The cultural dimensionof globalisation has certain implications on the nation-state and its future. This has more to do with issues of identity. Globalisation is both``the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole’’. While the process of this compression might have been occurring over a very long time, the recent growth of communications technology (cheap and fast air travel, telephonic and telegraphic services, satellite media transmissions, the Internet and cyberspace) has both accelerated and deepened this process. This is a process that, many argue, both brings the world together and splits the world apart simultaneously.
Quest for identity
Globalisation at the cultural level, leads to both the universalisation and the fragmentation and multiplication of identities. The concept ‘glocalization’ emerged to emphasize the simultaneity of the homogenizing and heterogenising thrusts of globalisation in the late 20th-century world. Globalization has both facets – homogenization and (cultural) identity enhancement. In case of the Indian diaspora, the trends of cultural fusion is emerging. Also in India, at the level of popular culture of music, dance, dramatic, cinema etc., the new trend is one of the fusion of traditional Indian forms or styles and western or global forms or styles. This emergent popular (fusion) culture is posing a threat to the indigenous local, regional or ethnic identity of cultural traditions in so far as it abstracts culture from people’s rhythm of life and its natural expressiveness or vitality, and converts its new packaging into a community. In this process the traditional identity deeply embedded in a community life (caste, class, tribe, principles of hierarchy and reciprocity) are metamorphosed into a faceless audience. Circumstances in the current world have not only changed the processes of identity formation, but have added new dimensions to both personal and collective identity. Furthermore, whereas the term identity implies continuity, that is, a solid basis in which people anchor themselves, the rapid changes that characterize the age of globalization, eroded most of the bases on which people used to anchor their identity. The age-old 'problem of identity' has thus changed its shape and content.
Mega development projects like multipurpose river dams and large scale mining generate benefits for the few relatively better off sections of population while marginalizing and excluding the poorer tribal people. The majority of the latter become the victims of development. It is found that in large mining projects tribals lose their land not only to the project authorities, but also to non-tribal outsiders who converge on these areas and corner both land and the new economic opportunities in commerce and petty industry. Their status changes from self-sustaining members of their local ecosystem to ecological refugees who are forced into the slums of the large urban centres and urban-industrial towns created by the development pathologies of our time. Internal displacement caused by irrigation, mining and industrial projects, resulting in landlessness and hunger, is a major cause of distress among the poor, especially the adivasis.
Large dam projects, notably the Suarnarekha Project and Koel-Karo Project, faced tremendous resistance from the local and tribal population. The Koel-Karo project was commissioned despite the fact that it would have destroyed 200 tribal villages and submerged 45,000 hectares of arable land. The Subernarekha Project has been the site of police atrocities and the high level of illegal transactions of funds within the project has been common knowledge. The campaign that drew the attention of the world to the politics of large dam construction and its harmful impact on the environment is the Narmada Bachao Andolan or the movement to save the river Narmada. Since 1985, the adivasis of the Narmada valley have been struggling against displacement and destruction resulting from the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). Their united fight reveals that not only the political and economic aspects of globalization, but also its intellectual repression must be resisted. The people’s knowledge resulting in their land must not be ignored. Living in the mountains and plains of the Narmada river valley, stretching for 1,300 km through Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra communities including tribal people also known as adivasis have, since 1985, mounted a tenacious struggle against displacement, state repression, and the destruction of natural resources resulting from the Narmada Valley development projects. The projects comprise 30 large dams, 133 medium size dams, and 3,000 small dams, along with 75,000 km of canal networks to direct the waters of the Narmada River to wherever the state decrees. Sardar Sarovar takes up over 80% of Gujarat's irrigation budget but has only 1.6% of cultivable land in Kutch, 9% of cultivable land in Saurashtra and 20% cultivable land in North Gujarat in its command area. Moreover, these areas are at the tail end of the command and would get water only after all the area along the canal path get their share of the water, and that too after 2020 AD.
The economic liberalization, privatization and globalization model of development in India is depriving the tribal people of their traditional means of sustainable livelihood by establishing the mineral-based industries in the tribal regions of India. The mining and other industries that are taking over the resources of the ecosystems of these people and poor peasants fail to provide them with an improved and sustainable means of making a living.
Dr. Gadadhara Mohapatra teaches Sociology at Tripura Central University, Agartala.
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