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Essay on “Globalisation and Culture ” Complete Essay for Class 9, Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Globalisation and Culture  

Essay No. 01

Outlines : For third world countries like India, globalisation does not augur freedom and progress; instead, it would only ensure the necessary climate for domination and hegemonisation by the consortium of world’s capitalist countries.

Words often disguise what they really mean, particularly when they form part of an ideological effort in the pursuit of hegemony. Globalisation is such a word which is an euphemism for domination. It suggests something entirely different from what it actually attempts to achieve. When innocently interpreted, it represents an ideal process of equal sharing and voluntary participation. Yet, it needs no ingenuity to discern that any relationship in con-temporary global order of uneven development cannot but be unequal.

The history of capitalism as a world order denotes its inevitable tendency to promote differentiation and domination. When post colonial societies without “post-coloniality” are being reintegrated into a global order, it would only ensure the subordination of the economically weaker countries. Therefore, for countries such as India, globalisation only heralds subjection. It might, for the U.S., Japan and Germany, hold forth exciting possibilities. But to expect the same for the weak in the world, like India, Bangladesh and  other post-colonial countries in Africa and Latin America, is to hope for the impossible. To them globalisation does not augur freedom and progress; instead, it would only ensure the necessary climate for domination and hegemonisation by the consortium of world’s capitalist countries. Therefore, it is necessary to question and demystify it, as it currently has an ideological veneer which masks its real import for third world countries.

That globalisation became a programme only in the 1990s, and not in the 1950s and 60s, is of significance. It has actually emerged from the ashes of a bipolar world. The collapse of the socialist block paved the way for the capitalist forces to launch a new era of con-quest. They had no opposition, only themselves to contend with. The best and easy way is to share the spoils and hence, the universal outlook of contemporary capital.

Resistance to this movement of capital would be normally expected from countries like India, which has, since independence, adopted self-reliance as the cornerstone of its economic policy. What is happening now is the reverse, which requires some explanation. The Nehruvian perspective of development, with an elaborate permit-licence system, was galling to the self-seeking bourgeoisie and consumer-thirsty middle class. They envisioned emancipation from these shackles in liberalization, and possibilities for their uninhibited growth in globalisation. It was eloquently articulated recently by an advocate of structural adjustment and vice-chairman of a multinational corporation, when he described liberalization as second freedom. The new freedom is limited to the bourgeoisie and inconsequent, except in adverse terms, to the majority of Indians. The irrepressible enthusiasm of this ideologue of the bourgeoisie is nothing but corn-paradorism on behalf of international capital.

A part from the economic reasoning, including the filtration effects for the poor, the Indian bourgeoisie and its ideologues advance two arguments in favour of globalisation. The first underlines the folly of isolationism, particularly in the context of the technological revolution taking place in the world. The second involves the interconnection between globalisation and modernity, as the former alone would give access to what the West has achieved and is  achieving.

That isolationism is   politically and morally indefensible and culturally debilitating is a familiar argument. In the past, colonial conquerors and their “ native” compradors have often invoked it.

When the European powers extended their trading activities to Asia, Africa and Latin America, they emphasised their civilising mission. They packaged their expansionist designs in the guise of international relations, and the benefits from integration, to a world economy. Countries like China and Japan, which had lived for centuries in self-sufficiency and warded off outsiders through a closed door policy, were forced to accept trade and investment. Contrary to promises of prosperity, the integration with the world market that colonialisin accomplished, led to impoverisation and exploitation. The colonial experience is proof enough that integration per se is not advantageous. What is crucial is the relative strength which determines who gains and who loses. Like the colonial experience, power differential is the crux of globalisation too.

The second is an alluring argument, particularly for the middle classes. Rajiv Gandhi’s slogan of taking the country to the 21st century has by now become a well-worn cliche. To the middle classes, however, it meant access to the products of the industrialised West, with which they had identified their sense of modernity. They look upon globalisation as an opportunity to organise a “modern” lifestyle based on the products of advanced capitalist countries—the computer, the consumer goods, the works. The franchise shops from MacDonald and Kentuky Fried Chicken, to Levis and Marsh sprouting all over the country, seem to satisfy the appetite of the affluent for the “modern”. This “modernity” is both superficial and paradoxical. In Bombay, the most modern metropolis of India, 62 per cent of the population lives in huts and pavements, without any sanitation facilities and drinking water. There is something fundamentally wrong with this concept of modernity which equates the interests of the nation with that of a miniscule section of society.

Culture appears to be an arena in which multinational or-ganisations are particularly active. It is reminiscent of the Bible preceding trade during the first stage of colonialism. The powerful cultural onslaught the third world countries are experiencing today is an attempt to establish cultural imperialism—culture as imperialism—as a precursor to an all-embracing domination. Through the imposition of the culture of capitalism, the third world countries are trained to prepare the ground for, to use Theodore Adorno’s phrase, an “administered world”, to which corporate capital would have easy access. The cultural imperialism, thus, provides the groundwork for exploiting the market potential of third world countries. Not that alone the cultural products of advanced capitalist block are themselves a driving force behind the contemporary cultural invasion. For, the culture industry is fast expanding in the capitalist West, from pornography to pizza.

 In recent times, there is a shift in investment in North America in favour of culture industry, the immense potential of which is being realised by corporate giants. James Petras, who has done in-depth study of culture industry, has calculated that one out of five of the richest North Americans derives his wealth from mass media. Television, newspapers., fast-foods, soft drinks, clothes and in-numerable other cultural artifacts are proving to be attractive fields for capital. To be profitable they have to find new outlets too.

The cultural onslaught is intended to pave the way for these cultural products to conquer new territories. The current cultural invasion has two definite dimensions : hegemonisation on the one hand, and instrumentality on the other. The cognition of either of these dimensions alone does not comprehend the total reality. The globalisation achieves much more than cultural imperialism : it foregrounds culture as an instrument of imperialism. In other words, culture acts both as a sword and a mask. The cultural presence of advanced capitalism in third world countries contributes in myriad ways to capitalist hegemony, by creating an ideological climate for forces of globalisation to operate. It would be useful to draw upon the insights provided by Antonio Gramsci in his analysis of culture and politics to understand this phenomenon. Particularly useful is Gramsci’s concept of “common sense” which, according to him, is “the uncritical and largely un-conscious way in which a person perceives the world”. The cultural,. social and political behaviour of each individual and group is influenced by this common sense. Gramsci argues that leading groups in society try “to transcend a particular form of common sense and to create another which is close to the conception of the world of the leading groups”. The forces of globalisation and their compradors in India are precisely engaged in such a task.

Essay No. 02

 

Cultural Globalisation

Globalisation is a process of transnationalisation of production and. capital and standardisation of consumer tastes and their legitimisation with the help of international institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund (Win etc. Obviously, the process is a move towards a borderless regime of free trade and transactions based on competition. Globalisation has four parameters : (t) reduction of trade barriers so as to permit free flow of goods and services across national frontiers; (ii) creation of an environment in which free flow of capital can take place among nation-states; (iii) creation of environment, permitting free flow of technology; and (iv) creation of an environment in which free movement of Jabour can take place in different countries of the world. In the realm of economic life, globalisation has offered an expanded and varied life for the rich and made the poor poorer. In India, where caste occupations remain the survival source for the lower caste communities, globalisation has offered an expanded and varied life for the rich and made the poor poorer. In India, where caste occupations remain the survival source for the lower caste communities, globalisation killed many such trades and displaced traditional labour from the original fields and this labour displacements has created nightmarish conditions for the poor. Dalit-Bahujan movements have to grapple with this situation and resist economic globalisation.

In the cultural realm, globalisation seems to have opened up a new channel of hope for the historically suppressed masses. Modern sociological studies have shown that the Brahminic notion of purity and pollution in relation to ritual-culture, food habits and dress code kept a majority of India’s masses as cultural slaves. Productive culture was defined as impure and the ritual-consumerist culture constructed as pure and great. Even the concept of knowledge was defined in relation to a consumerist culture; while the productive knowledge was no knowledge at all.

Knowledge was essentially seen as the ability to read the classical Sanskritic texts. The day-to-day activities of producing food, domesticating animals, constructing irrigation systems, building technological systems were considered unworthy in the realm of religion. The semi-scientific experiments of people were not even allowed to become part of textual knowledge.

Even Muslim rule and the cultural hegemony that Islamic thought established in the late medieval and early modern periods did not change the Brahminic notions of culture. Though Islamic thought did not see religion and productive activity as antagonistic, Muslim scholars never thought of changing the cultural relations of people as they too became Brahminised in many ways. Muslim scholarship did not try to study the productive culture of the Dalit-Bahujans.

The real change came after the Christian missionaries began interacting with India’s productive masses. The missionaries, instead of condemning the food habits,. dresscode, ritual practices of these masses, began seeing them as part of the divine process. They lived with them, ate their food and adopted their dress code in order to give them cultural confidence. The practices of William Carrey and de Nobili are good examples, Scholars such as Verrier Elwin and Hermandoff built integrative values among the Adivasis as well. A major blow to the process of the productive masses being denied the right to read and write, as these were considered divine, was the opening up of schools for all.

The missionaries opened schools for the children of what Jyotiba Phule called Sudras and Ati-Sudras. Some educated Dalit-Bahujan Youth began to understand the commonness between Western culture and their own. For the first time, the productive masses began to feel that their culture had globally respectable aspects.

During the nationalist campaign and more so in the post-Independence reconstruction of the cultural realm, Brahminism regained the ground it lost during the colonial period. The productive masses again felt insecure in the cultural sphere. The recent globalisation process has reopened channels of cultural integration of the productive mass culture with the global culture. This gave enormous confidence to the intellectuals who began organising Brahminic campaigns. It is well-known that education is the major instrument of upgrading people’s culture. This very education was denied to the productive masses before the colonial administration opened that channel for them.

In fact, the globalisaiton of Indian education has been done with the expansion of English medium schools. Regional language education to the poor and English to the rich had stalled the process of cultural exchange between the Indian masses un-Hindu culture and the Western cultures. Yet, English is more available to the masses now than Sanskrit in the ancient period, and Urdu and Persian in the medieval times. It appears that the first National Language with which the children of all sections came in contact was English. It came without any spiritual tags.

The Dalit-Bahujan children who came in touch with the language acquired skills to learn global knowledge and skills. They too could communicate with a global audience. Though over a period of time even English became the social capital of the upper castes, quite a large number of people coming from the oppressed castes learnt it and came in touch with the world’s egalitarian knowledge systems. There is a world of difference between persons from historically educated castes learning English and historically suppressed communities learning the language and reaching out to the knowledge of the West.

However, for a Brahmin scholar, for example, Western culture that came through English was a negation of his own inward-looking culture—whether the culture of food and drink or the spiritual culture of worship of an inward-looking nature. For a Dalit-Bahujan who learns English and adopts the Western culture, there are many things in it that are common with his/her own condemned culture back home. Eating on a dining table with spoons and forks may appear new but there is a lot in common between Western foods and those of the Dalit-Bahujans.

It can be said that the cultural globalisation negates the Brahminic myth of purity and pollution and liberates the Dalit-Bahujans in several ways. The first and fore-most liberation takes place with the simple fact that what is condemned at home becomes, in a globalised culture, a positive commodity for sale.

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