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The Entity that is Globalization


Abhiroop Sarkar

IN DEFENSE OF GLOBALIZATION
By Jagdish Bhagwati
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 320, Rs. 250.00

GLOBALIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT: A HANDBOOK OF NEW PERSPECTIVES
Edited by Ashwini Deshpande
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007, pp. xvii 301, Rs. 695.00

GLOBALIZATION AND THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY IN INDIA
Edited by Bhupinder Brar, Ashutosh Kumar and Ronki Ram
Pearson Longman, Delhi, 2008, pp. viii 312, Rs. 595.00

SUSTAINABILITY OF NGOS AND GLOBALIZATION
By N. Ravichandran
Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2007, pp. 270, Rs. 575.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 12 December 2008

Globalization is often described by its proponents as the abolition of restrictions, destruction of boundaries and extinction of walls, economic, social and cultural, which come in the way of human development. The predominant force behind this destruction, creative destruction if you may, is pecuniary. No one can deny that globalization has opened up immense profit opportunities for corporate houses, middlemen and the dexterous professional alike. But there are champions of globalization who would like to have us believe that it has opened up new possibilities even for the less privileged. Jagdish Bhagwati, the front ranking trade theorist and a missionary of sorts, is certainly one of these diehard globalizers.   Jagdish Bhagwati’s mission is to spread free trade all around the globe. He has written widely in pursuit of this mission and his book In Defense of Globalization is the latest addition to the list. Heretics, who are doubt-ful about the virtues of globalization, range from emotionally charged NGOs and passionate journalists to analytical minds of the highest order like Paul Samuelson or Joseph Stiglitz who are certainly among the main architects of modern economic theory. Bhagwati has addressed the concerns of each in turn and depending on the adversary, the subtlety and sophistication of his argument has changed.   Doubts against globalization are varied. Globalization is suspected to increase poverty and inequality. It is believed to encourage child labour and offences against women. It is held to pollute the environment and destroy indigenous culture. It is also thought to give rise to uncertainty and fluctuations in the life of ordinary citizens. Bhagwati has dealt with each of these allegations separately and squarely, and often with unquestionable cleverness.   Even critics of globalization admit that opening up of the economy to international market forces enhances the rate of growth. However, they are doubtful that everyone would be in a position to take advantage of the new opportunities thrown up by the global market. This might require some minimum skills and education, which the people in a poor country might lack. If so, then globalization is likely to keep the condition of the poor unchanged while improving that of the affluent, thereby increasing inequality. Market forces might even worsen the condition of the poor in various ways. Two examples would illustrate the point. The first is that of immiserization due to one’s own growth. Consider Bangladesh which exports a lot of jute. ...


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