CHANGING COMPULSIONS OF LIFE : LOCALISATION VERSUS GLOBALISATION
Saji Kumar Nair
When the globe has shrunk into a village, the virus has its roads wide open to run. When the virus is globalised, human beings have returned to their original confinement, renouncing all luxuries and have run for cover, thanks to the invisible virus particles.
Washington State of the US is nearly 10,000 Kms away from the Covid-19 notorious Chinese city of Wuhan across Pacific Ocean. It was in the third week of January 2020, the US had its first Covid-19 victim, who had flown down from Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease. The Covid-19 later devastated New York, the financial capital of the world. The US paid the heaviest price for the virus.
The United Kingdom (UK) is nearly 6000 Kms and Italy is more than 8600 Kms away from the Covid-19 original source. Both the rich countries have been shattered badly by the pandemic. The winter was chillier for them. The Covid-19 devastated almost all top cities in the world, far off from where it originated. In fact, the pandemic has been well globalised by itself without any policy initiative by anyone. The resultant crisis has also been equally globalised. The virus has reached villages where the drinking water line hasn’t reached. The virus globalisation was broad and deep. While only an extra large business can be a dreamer of globalisation, virus has a free ride on the road of globalisation. Eventually, it also has fiddled with the concept of globalisation. When I remember the term globalisation, it is the speed of the infection that has conquered the globe that comes to my mind. The fanciful term is generally seen to be a comforter of business expansion and for connecting various industries with two ends of the world. Rich men could find new ways to be richer, while poor men got trapped into the fancy of the term. I see globalisation only as the progeny of someone’s dream of wider industrialisation.
As the world talks about globalisation, countries fight for protecting borders, a big paradox. Is this border concept, contrary to what we proudly talk about, only for fighting a war? After all, a war is a two-way business. For some it is for political advantage and for others, it opens business opportunities. Even when the world passed through lock-down, robots, engineers and workers were vigorously active in weapon building factories. But coffee shops were made to down their shutters.
When countries tightly protect their geographies, what does the globalisation mean is parochial, only for business oligarchs to be richer. Worse, some of the so called borders have badly divided ethnic identities, splitting between hostile countries. India is one of the first finest examples. Arabs also have the same pain in West Asia. Apostles of globalisation have never considered the agony of the divided ethnicity. When borders are dawn and the so called comforts of globalisation are enjoyed, we do not try to ascertain the social pains of the divided ethnicity.
In terms of economy, realistically, the globalisation, that is said to have contributed to the growth of GDP of some countries, has never brought any benefit to poor and middle class people of developing countries. Growth in GDP has hardly mattered the underprivileged, but heavily supported many corporations. Business oligarchs’ global dream could be fructified. Along with them, another small portion also may have benefited. But a lion’s portion still suffers. Still we foolishly believe that it has given a greater opportunity to the people who are having bigger ambitions.
Developing countries were keener to globalise their industry with a dream to tap potential available around the globe. While we were heavily engaged in exploring business potentials in the world through the process of globalisation, we overlooked negative aspects of it. Let us not forget, every living being is created with a comfort to live in an environment it is born in. Re-plantation root-canalling is either an experiment or mechanical refitting of the root with the support of inorganic manure. In such cases, quality of life is sacrificed. Globalisation made many regions vulnerable to undesirable changes. As the change is constant, the vulnerability too is so. In the spread of pandemic, we have seen it.
In no civilised country, domestic movements of people and materials between provinces within are never curtailed. The pandemic has seemingly robbed away the freedom and contained living zones. Many locations have been sealed and barricaded to live in isolation. People have rediscovered their geographic borders when they tried to cross over to “other” territories as they routinely used to do. Before the pandemic, no Indian citizen needed any work permission or travel anywhere in India. Many of the metropolitan citizens don’t even know their district borders. Many of them cross the city borders on a daily basis for their livelihood. Until the pandemic, no one was bothered about his or her geographic boundaries. For instance, Kharghar, a part of Navi Mumbai, comes under Panvel Municipality, which only a few Khargharians are aware of until the pandemic had hit divided zones. Many people were thinking that they belonged to Navi Mumbai municipality. In some places, Panchayat wards were fenced and marked “hotspot”, banning entry and exit. In cities, housing colonies were sealed and doors were bolted from inside.
More interestingly, people have become increasingly suspicious about fellow people coming from another location. At good times, people were running across continents for business and money. It is interesting to compare this strange restriction that we face now with the pre-pandemic global mobility that some people used to enjoy having breakfast in Dubai and dinner at Singapore. Worse, to visit one’s old parents staying far away or to return to native place we require a “Pass” and a “quarantine rest”. A lifeless particle called virus held us for a ransom and warned us of greedy globalisation.
Countries after countries had opened markets to all businesses giving huge tax exemptions for boosting their economy. When denizens of the same countries suffered from pandemic, government or corporate giants who gained from globalisation stood unconcerned. Corporates and governments wouldn’t have been so richer without globalisation. The privileged ones wouldn’t have enjoyed the luxury they enjoyed until the pandemic halted it without the benefit of globalisation, a term that fascinated human beings. Villages were made towns as villagers sold their agricultural lands to business tycoons for a dream. Agriculture fields were made townships.
What was a luxury until a decade ago has now become an essential item. Globalisation has changed eating habits, living style and mindset. Rice and roti have been replaced by pizza and noodles. Local touch is replaced by global touch in food, dress and lifestyle. Countries' border limitations did not bother them. Border was only a subject for war.
Today, we need work permission and have travel limitations. That is a wild experience for a metropolitan, who hardly knows municipal borders. Many of them routinely cross the city borders and even move into neighbouring panchayat locations without any barrier for their livelihood. In thriving locations like Navi Mumbai there are residents, who do not know their municipal constitution. The pandemic could “enlighten” them.
People have been happily living on what is available in their location since time immemorial. No life had been perished for want of any of the daily essentials in the past. This truth indicated, human beings could live without globalisation, perhaps even in better condition and fearlessly. Hadn’t human beings run crazy of globalisation, the virus wouldn’t have killed even a single creature outside Wuhan.
Now everyone has closed their borders with a prayer for achieving one goal, a region to live with no fear of the virus. Yet, human beings haven’t closed their nasty works on toxic elements, building bombs to kill enemies. Eagles continue to stare at their prey and for a new run over the carcasses on which the virus had a feast. It is the time for human beings to think about how ludicrous the term globalisation has been for poor souls.