The threat of Corporation led Globalization
Ladakh, or ‘Little Tibet’, is one of the last remaining traditional cultures on earth. For over a thousand years the Ladakhi people prospered, creating a rich, harmonious and sustainable culture from the sparse resources of their region. In 1975, traditional self-reliance and cultural pride were suddenly replaced by feelings of inferiority, dissatisfaction and competition when the area was opened to ‘development’, including tourism, media and advertisement, which brought with them highly idealized impressions of life in the West. Outside economic pressures began undermining the local economy, and ills that were previously unknown – pollution, crime, unemployment, family breakdown, rapid urbanization and ethnic conflict – began to take hold.
“Ladakh was a huge source of inspiration. I learned about social, economical and personal well being – about the roots of happiness.- It made me look on our western culture in a different light – the material living standard was high, huge houses, plenty of leisure time, unemployment was unknown and nobody went hungry. And they had a lifestyle that was far more sustainable and joyful than ours.”
Ladakh is a remote land, most centuries isloated from the world. Until recently the ladakhies sustained themselves through farming and local trading. It was a way of life that was finely tuned for the local environment. Economic Analyst and Autor Helena Norberg-Hodge knows Ladakh from the inside – she believes that the Ladakhies story can shed light on the root course of the economic crises threatening the planet.
“I have spent much of the last 35 years in ladakh working with the people to strengthening the culture as it confronts the modern world.”
In the mid 1970’s Ladakh was suddenly thrown open to the outside world. Cheap subsidized food trucked in on subsidized roads, by vehicles running on subsidized fuel. Undermined Ladakhs local economy. At the same time Ladhakis were bombarded with advertising and media images that romanticized western consumerism and made their own culture seem pitiful by comparison.
“As the area was increasingly exposed to the consumer culture, I saw how people started to think of themselves of backwards, primitive and poor.In the early years I went into this beautiful village and just out of curiosity I asked one of the young men to show me the poorest house. He thought for a bit and then he said- we don’t have any poor houses here – the same man I heard a couple of years later saying to tourists -Oh if you just could help us – we are so poor”
Today Ladakh faces a wide range of problems that were unknown in the traditional culture.
The changes in ladakh are so clear cut – you can see those changes with your own eyes. One Minute you got a vital people and a very sustainable culture – the next you got pollution – both of of air and water, you got unemployment, a widening gap between rich and poor, and most shockingly of all, people who were so spiritually grounded – divisiveness and depression.
There changes were not results of human greed or some sort of evolutionary force – they happened far too suddenly for that – they were clearly the direct result of the exposure of outside economic pressures.
We see here clearly how these pressures created intense competition, breaking down community and the connection to nature, that had been the corner stone of ladakhs culture for centuries. This was Ladakhs introduction to globalization.
The consumer culture is increasingly Urban – but the moment a person moves into a city – the energy use shoots up, the water use shoots up – the infrastructure to run a city per capita is many times higher than creating a high quality life in a village. The system of consumerism we are living in could not be more wasteful than it is at this moment, thanks to subsidies Foods and Materials are shipped around the whole planet – to get sold cheaper than the same products produced locally.
Globalization is the most powerful force for change in the world today – effecting not only remote populations like that one of the ladakhies, but all societies across the planet, without any exceptions.
For some people who fell for the corporate propaganda globalization in its actual form is the biggest hope for the future – the solution for world poverty in particular. For others its a fundamental cause of many of the problems we face today and a ongoing thread.
“People often think of globalization of something that brings us closer together – but in its core its an economic process – its about deregulation – freeing up big Banks and big businesses to enter markets worldwide – the focus is on profit, not people. That doesn’t bring us together – it increases competition and division.”
Documentary about the exploitation of all nature and human beings in favor of big corporations and Banks
Globalization is the rapid expansion of a process that started about 500 years ago. At that time Europeans conquered and colonized much of the world. They dismantled self reliant economies and enslaved their populations – forcing them to work in mines and on plantations. In the mid – 20’s century colonialism gave way to a more settled form of enslavement – debt – shackled by so called aid packages and crippling loans, nation after nation fell deeply into poverty, making it easier for corporations and financial institutions to extract resources, money and cheap labor. Today those trans national businesses have grown so large and powerful , that they effectively control governments, dictate economical policies and shape peoples opinions and world views.
In order to compete, the big corporations demanding ever more de-regulation still further globalization – its and agenda that has major implications and negative impact on our global economy, nature, all people and their well being.
Case Study: India
Indians last Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intoned once, “Our salvation lies in moving people out of agriculture.” Government officials shared the same viewpoint. The globalization development model in India not only encourages, but actually forces urbanization through its intentional reduction of farmers and its assault on the small peasant economy. This is most blatant in the mass displacement of rural peoples by industrial projects occurring all across the country. Land seizures for these projects are provoking massive social upheavals and sometimes violent conflicts in numerous states. The dispossessed rural populations are left with few options besides migration to India’s swelling metropolises, where survival is precarious and undignified, secure livelihoods are difficult if not impossible to find. The stated purpose of this development model is to increase economic growth, which in turn is supposed to ‘create employment’. On the contrary, the period from the early 1980s to the mid-2000s – during which the Indian government fully embraced the globalization mode – was a “quarter century of jobless growth.” The much-ballyhooed employment that is supposed to accompany heavy industrialization and urbanization simply isn’t there for the majority of India’s displaced rural people.
Globalization and the Indian farmer suicide crisis
The shocking tragedy of farmer suicides has only worsened since “The Economics of Happiness” was made in 2006. Arguably the most well-documented research on farmer suicides linked to globalization has been done by the noted Indian journalist P. Sainath. A recent article by Sainath providess a ruesome update: “At least 270,940 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995, NCRB [National Crime Records Bureau] records show.
This occurred at an annual average of 14,462 in six years, from 1995 to 2000. And at a yearly average of 16,743 in 11 years between 2001 and 2011. That is around 46 farmers’ suicides each day, on average. Or nearly one every half-hour since 2001.” How is this crisis connected to economic globalization? Sainath connects the dots powerfully, explaining why this tragedy, like so many others, is no coincidence or random accident. Rather, as Sainath writes, “The spate of farm suicides – the largest sustained wave of such deaths recorded in history – accompanies India’s embrace of the brave new world of neoliberalism [corporate globalization]. The rate of farmers’ suicides has worsened particularly after 2001, by which time India was well down the WTO garden path in agriculture.
India’s agrarian crisis can be summed up in five words: the drive toward corporate farming. The route: predatory commercialization of the countryside. The result: The biggest displacement in our history.”
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