Globalization & Effects on Indian Society

Previous Year Questions

  • Critically examine the effects of globalization on the aged population in India. (2013)
  • Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalization on women in India? (2015)
  • To what extent Globalization has influenced the core of cultural diversity in India? Explain. (2016)
  • Globalization is generally said to promote cultural homogenisation but due to these cultural specificities appear to be strengthened in the Indian society.’ Elucidate. (2018)
  • Are we losing our local identity for the global identity? Discuss. (2019)

Globalization as a concept fundamentally deals with flows. These flows could be of various kinds — ideas moving from one part of the world to another, capital shunted between two or more places, commodities being traded across borders, and people moving in search of better livelihoods to different parts of the world. The crucial element is the ‘worldwide interconnectedness’ that is created and sustained as a consequence of these constant flows.

While Globalization is not caused by any single factor, technology remains a critical element. The ability of ideas, capital, commodities and people to move more easily from one part of the world to another has been made possible largely by technological advances. Globalization, however, does not emerge merely because of the availability of improved communications. What is important is for people in different parts of the world to recognise these interconnections with the rest of the world. Currently, we are aware of the fact that events taking place in one part of the world could have an impact on another part of the world.

Culture and Globalization

Interactions between globalization and culture do not seem to be a recent phenomenon. In fact, they constitute, particularly with the influence of globalization on culture, a contention point in the literature as various theoretical standpoints have been developed to examine these interactions. These standpoints will be grouped under three different scenarios and presented in the subsequent sections.

1. Heterogenization scenario:

Heterogenization, which has also been labelled differentiation, relates fundamentally to barriers that prevent flows that would contribute to making cultures look alike. Heterogenization represents a process which leads to a more inwardly appearing world due to the intensification of flows across culture. Hence, local cultures experience continuous transformation and reinvention due to the influence of global factors and forces. It is important to keep sight of the fact that according to this perspective, cultures do not remain unaffected by global flows and globalization in general, but the actual crux of the culture remains intact and unaffected, as has always been with only peripheral surfaces directly impacted.

2. Homogenization scenario:

The homogenization perspective states that increased interconnection between countries and cultures contributes to forming a more homogenous world adopting the Western Euro-American model of social organization and life style. Across different regions and countries in the world, more and more people seem to watch the same entertainment programs, listen to the same music, consume common global brand products and services, and wear the same or similar clothes. These comparable developments in cultural practices are suggestive of the emergence of a “global culture” or “world culture”.

On another note, there are views that the world is presently experiencing Americanization, rather than globalization with the former referring to the global spread of America’s influential dominance and culture through drastic growth of mass communication and penetration of American companies in other countries. As a matter of fact, there seems to be an American hegemony reflected by a domination of the Internet as 85% of web pages originate from the United States and American companies control 75% of the world’s packaged software market. In addition to the latter, there is an American monopoly of the media as seen with popular films, music, and satellite and television stations around the globe. It should be highlighted that the American conception of culture is open and far from the erudite notion of several European countries, for instance. Further, the American way of life does not appear to be elitist and aims at spreading cultural products to the masses which increase economic opportunities. This model is desired by other populations, developed and developing.

Critics of this perspective argue that cultural homogenization is too simplistic as several local cultures have demonstrated their ability to domesticate or resist foreign cultural influences. Therefore, interactions between cultures favour cultural hybridity rather than a monolithic cultural homogenization. In doing so, globalization leads to the creative amalgamations of global and local cultural traits.

3. Hybridization scenario:

The process of trans-local fusion and cultural mixing or hybridization is another model that touches on interactions between globalization and culture. According to the hybridization view, external and internal flows interact to create a unique cultural hybrid that encompasses components of the two.

The main thesis of cultural hybridization is the continuous process of mixing or blending cultures. The latter resulting from the globalization of ends derived out of the integration of both the global and local and of new, distinctive and hybrid cultures which are fundamentally neither global nor local at their core.

Hybridization in cultural studies has also been associated with the notions of creolization and glocalization. The word “Creole” refers to people of mixed race but it has been extended, among each other, to the creolization of culture. Further, glocalization, which is at the heart of hybridization, refers to the interpretation of the global and local producing unique outcomes in different geographic regions. Glocalization is reflected by the fact that the world is growing pluralistic with individuals and communities becoming innovative agents that have a tremendous power to adapt and innovate within their newly glocalized world.

Homogenization and hybridization are concerned with cultural artefacts rather than with cultural values and underlying philosophical assumptions of a given culture. It is noteworthy to mention that the former does not impact the latter. It seems that the superficial elements of cultures such as clothing, fashion, foods, arts, music, movies and crafts are what gets transferred whereas the deeply embedded components of cultures remain contextually bound and culturally specific. Every culture maintains its cultural particularities while absorbing and interpreting cultural characteristics of other societies with which they are in contact. In fact, cultural exchanges among nations are positive as seen with the influences that global trade transactions have exerted on cultural identities. These transactions are not purely and solely destructive and negative for local cultures, they also bring about more possibilities and opportunities. In this regard, cultures are dynamic rather than static and can incorporate foreign contributions into their components without being necessarily subject to cultural domination.

Interactions between globalization and culture hold considerable implications for both societies and organizations. In this respect, economic globalization may exert an influence in reinforcing the ideology of individualism worldwide. As globalization promotes the flow of cultural practices and norms along with cross-border exchanges of products and goods, both societies and organizations need to understand cultural implications of these flows in hopes for better interaction with other cultures and more efficient management of international organizations. In addition, while resorting to standardized practices across cultures, organizations need to adapt these practices in light of local cultural specificities.

India and Globalization

The impact of Globalization is also not uniform across countries and across different sections of the population within a country. Globalization is an uneven process, with unequal distribution of benefits and losses, both across the countries and within a country across different income groups. Adoption of the LPG reform trinity, and throwing open the economy to internal and international markets have certainly brought about a great deal of change in India. However, although a lot of quantitative data are available, there are a number of reasons why it remains difficult to make conclusive inferences about the overall effect of Globalization on India:

• Because the scope of Globalization is ill-defined, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether or how much change is due to Globalization, and what and how much change took place during the Globalization era.

• On account of the large residue of pre-reform economic policies still in operation, it is almost impossible to separate the effect of Globalization from the effect of other, pre-Globalization, structures and processes.

• Because the LPG-related policy reforms were implemented gradually, rather than with a ‘big bang’, many Globalization initiatives are yet to ‘take off’. Further, the requisite monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are not yet in place for even those policies that are a decade old.

Globalization and Trade economy

1. The Economic Policy of Liberalisation:

The term liberalisation refers to a range of policy decisions that the Indian state took since 1991 to open up the Indian economy to the world market. This marked a break with an earlier stated policy of the government to have a greater control over the economy. Liberalisation of the economy meant the steady removal of the rules that regulated Indian trade and finance regulations. These measures are also described as economic reforms. The basic assumption was that greater integration into the global market would be beneficial to Indian economy. The process of liberalisation also involved the taking of loans from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These loans are given on certain conditions. The government makes commitments to pursue certain kind of economic measures that involve a policy of structural adjustments. These adjustments usually mean cuts in state expenditure on the social sector such as health, education and social security. There is also a greater say by international institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The present form of liberalisation, privatisation and Globalization has come under tough criticism due to the lack of principles of social-justice and sustainable development. The emphasis of the critics of the Globalization is that the welfare measures and policy initiative of the state should protect the vulnerable sections of society from the negative impact of Globalization.

2. The transnational corporations:

Among the many economic factors driving Globalization, the role of transnational corporations (TNCs) is particularly important. TNCs are companies that produce goods or market services in more than one country. These may be relatively small firms with one or two factories outside the country in which they are based. They could also be gigantic international ones whose operations crisscross the globe. They are oriented to the global markets and global profits even if they have a clear national base.

3. The electronic economy: 

The ‘electronic economy’ is another factor that underpins economic Globalization. Banks, corporations, fund managers and individual investors are able to shift funds internationally with the click of a mouse. This new ability to move ‘electronic money’ instantaneously carries it with great risks however.

4. Knowledge Economy:

In contrast to previous eras, the global economy is no longer primarily agricultural or industrial in its basis. The weightless economy is one in which products have their base in information, as in the case with computer software, media and entertainment products and internet-based services. A knowledge economy is one in which much of the workforce is involved not in the physical production or distribution of material goods, but in their design, development, technology, marketing, sale and servicing.

5. Globalization of finance:

It should also be noted that for the first time, mainly due to the information technology revolution, there has been a Globalization of finance. Globally integrated financial markets undertake billions of dollars’ worth transactions within seconds in the electronic circuits. There is a 24-hour trading in capital and security markets. Cities such as New York, Tokyo and London are the key centres for financial trading.

Openness in Trade policy leads to lower transaction costs, which, along with price equalization has an impact on investment into urban areas. The internationalization of production, finance, banking and services, coupled with cheap labour and advances in telecommunications and information technology, has minimized the importance of boundaries in the decision to locate production plants. Sectors and activities which are less regulated by the State and operate on market principles prosper on achieving economies of scale leading to greater urbanization. In India the rapid expansion of the IT sector is testimony to this fact.

Globalization – boon or bane for developing countries?

With regard to globalization, two major concerns, even termed as fears, have arisen. The first one is that, globalization is a phenomenon that creates a rather unfair and wrong income distribution among countries and even, within them. Additionally, one also fears that globalization lessens a feeling of national freedom and liberty. Because of this, nations find it more and more troublesome to work on the basis of independent domestic rules and regulations.

It is also true that advanced countries have an additional benefit over the rest by at least three centuries. Therefore, despite trade being a very beneficial proposition for all the countries, it is mostly countries that are industrially more advanced that benefit in a largely lucrative manner. This manner involves a longer transition period in terms of adjusting.

Nonetheless, developing countries stand to gain a little differently with regard to international trade. Basically, industrially-advanced countries are slowly weaning off some production functions which can soon be handled by the developing countries.

Secondly, international trade is not any longer dependent on the appropriation of natural resources. The field of information technology has helped to contribute tremendously in human resources and in turn, elevate it to a great level. Today, productive activities are rather ’knowledge-centric‘ and not any longer ‘resource-centric‘. A gap, called the digital divide, has formed between developing and developed countries.

In addition to the possible unfair and illegal distribution of wealth and income across different countries, one has also noticed the fact that the globalization phenomenon has created several huge income chasms between the countries too. At times, a high growth rate could be achieved by an economy at the cost of lesser incomes of people who start becoming useless on account of the progress of information technology. If this happens, a portion of its resources could be allocated into modernization efforts and into reequipping people whose working conditions could be affected on account of the technological upgrade.

The other fear is with regard to autonomy loss when pursuing economic policies. It is not possible for a country to carry out policies that are not in line with global trends, in a highly integrated world economy. As capital and technology are both fluidic, they are bound to chase more beneficial zones. When countries move in closer to one another on a common ground – whether political, social or economic, a bit of sovereignty is sure to be sacrificed. It is therefore of prime important to identify the difficulties of a global economic setup especially at the time of working towards creating domestic policies. Yet, this need not necessarily end in the abandoning of domestic goals.

Furthermore, insecurity and volatility are the other fears associated with globalization. Generally, when nations are strongly inter-connected, even a small issue could give way to a huge problem. It is possible for panic and chaos to start off.

The growth rate in the per capita income in some of the developing countries indicates a double figure than that of industrialized countries. There is an increasing trend seen in the aggregate world exports as well as the world output of developing countries. Yet, in absolute terms, there is a wider chasm in the per capita income figures. In case of income distribution within countries, one is unable to make a judgment on whether the major determinant of the deteriorating distribution of income is globalization. To sum up, whether India or any other country, the fact remains that it is not an easy task to trace the fluctuations in the distribution of income and their movement towards globalization.

Globalization and Vulnerable population

  • The spread of modern information technology has been supporting the movements at the local level by providing them opportunities to interact and share their experiences with the marginalised groups in different parts of the world.
  • The global connectedness of local groups, particularly of women and other marginalised sections of society like tribes, landless labourers etc., has led to the creation of a new hope of the widening and strengthening of democracy and democratic culture across the globe.
  • The interaction and network of the human rights groups from local to global level have further enhanced the capacity of human rights groups to put global pressure on the national governments for implementing the human rights laws under their territorial jurisdiction.
  • The emphasis of the national and international governments has been on the deepening of democracy and expansion of the human rights to each and every deprived section of society.
  • The older concept of the national government and political control of the nation is now being transformed into the new concept of human governance, which aims at the inclusion of the deprived sections of the society into the socio-economic and political mainstream of the nations and expansion of the human rights to every citizen.
  • The report of United Nations Development Fund for Women observed that in the past two decades the process of Globalization has contributed to the widening of inequality within and among countries.
  • The use of the capital-intensive techniques and acquiring of the big chunk of the agriculture and forest land under the policy of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in the developing nations have resulted in further marginalisation of tribal, rural and indigenous people along with unskilled labour from the market.

Globalization in short has impacted the Vulnerable communities in every walk of their life. Though mobilisation at a larger level of these communities seem like a reality, it has widened the gap between masses and further marginalised the communities already vulnerable.

Globalization and Indian Family

Globalization is increasingly spreading the dissimilar forms, ideologies, and even practices of different family patterns and lifestyles. It’s a complicated task then to analyze which are beneficial, and which are detrimental changes that are taking place within the family’s context. However, it’s certain that the family institution is under severe impediment and undergoing significant transformation.

Disintegration to Transformation: Indian society is witnessing transformation as never before, where the traditional joint family is virtually disappearing from the urban scene. There is an increased proportion of female-headed households, decline in the average age of household heads, rise in separation and divorce cases. Moreover, higher disagreement and conflicts between wife and husband, parents and children are on the increase. More freedom of marital choice, greater involvement of females in decision making, lack of ties to kinship and the mutual dialogue between parents and grown-up children on familial matters are increasingly observed today.

A. Changing Joint family and Household Dynamics: The traditional joint family system in India has undergone both structural and functional changes, further influencing and transforming households and families in India. The joint family system in India has been disrupted due to several factors. Some of the recent trends observed in family setup are as follows:

(1) The trend of family form is towards a breakaway from the traditional joint family form into nuclear family units.

(2) The small joint family is now the most typical form of family life.

(3) A growing number of people now spend at least part of their lives in single-family units.

 (4) Living in several types of the family during lifetime seems so widespread that we can talk of a cycle of family types as being the normal sequence for city-dwellers.

(5) Distant relatives are less important to the present generation than they were to their parents and grandparents.

(6) City-dweller son has become more spatially separated from all relatives.

Although such scenario remains, globalization has intensified family transformation ushering rapid changes. These realities are more existent and swifter, particularly among the middle classes as the majority of them live away from their families, secondly, in some cases, both son and daughter-in-law are working, due to increasingly joint family structure many of the families are not living together even if they live in the same city.

B. Changing family pattern: From the past two decades, urban society in India is experiencing increased transformation in its family relationships and marriage institution due to the fast growth of the public sector, the entrance of global companies and IT and related industries, resulting in both positive and negative outcomes.

Due to the influence of Modernization and Globalization, there has been a definite change in the family structure and the original structure of family has been undergoing changes. The nuclear Family has become the fashion and is taking the place of the joint family system. In the past, the joint family system was much prevalent in this community. But in the younger generation, the nuclear family system is practiced at a larger scale.

1.Nuclear Families: In contemporary discourses, there has been much discussion about the nuclear family, which consists only of parents and children. However, the nuclear family has a different understanding, as they tend to move away from the joint family and into smaller units, mostly by choice and at times by pressing needs. Conversely, nuclear families in India are not ‘nuclear’ in many ways as seen in the Western world. Indian families have strong family ties with their extended families, such as parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives, although they may be living elsewhere for economic or any other reasons. However, such connected unity has now been split and family life is estranged. For instance, in the daytime, children are increasingly kept in day care centres while their parents are working, and their grandparents are not a part of the family to the same extent as before.

2.One Person Households: One Person Household is on the rise, both in small and big cities and the number of such households is estimated to grow in the next few decades. There are socio-cultural and demographically important social, economic and demographic differences between one-person and multi-person households. Here, elderly females and young migrants who live alone are potential vulnerable groups. Moreover, increasing number of divorcee’s and widows, widower also comprises such OPH households that are becoming a significant reality in urban India.

C. Changes in Family Functions: Functions of the family are changing where the social and cultural function of the family has undergone significant transformation. As the family changes, the functions in regard to marriage rituals, procedures have also seen changes. There has also been a slight change in the attitude of the people of this community regarding widow remarriage and divorce.

Another significant area where we see the transformation is in the sphere of the economy that relates to earning. Today, the economic and financial authority is not constrained in the hands of the family head but has been disseminated among family members who are independent and self-sufficient due to the economic independence, the influence of modern education and impact of information revolution.

D. Gender Relations and Shifting Roles: The family functions are closely related to gender and the current influence of liberalization and globalization are never far from the picture. In the post-liberalization era, the rise of ‘the modern’, ‘new’ Indian woman emerged that symbolizes the synthesis of tradition and modernity within a distinctly Indian national identity. It is not surprising then that gender equations are changing and globalization has altered various perceptions about gender status, role, and privileges, issue of freedom, individuality, the socialization and care of children, the well-being of the elderly, work and family relationship etc.,

E. Restructuring of institute of marriage: In urban scenarios, arranged marriages and love marriages are increasingly deliberated among the progressive, educated and modern middle classes and often presented as contrasting to each other. There is openness as well as the tension between singles and their parents, and the extended family over which kind of marriage should be favoured.

Arranged Marriages Substituted by Love Marriage: Traditionally, the most standard route to marriage was “arranged” marriage by parents with or without the consent of a boy or a girl who would be getting married. Today, it’s changing where for some, ‘arranged marriage’ is a ‘safe’ option as some have become cautious with experience and consider that an arranged marriage is secure where more family members are involved in the decision-making process.

In such context, it is often observed that even professional young men working in Western countries fly to India to get married through the aid of their families. However, this type of marriage and wedding arrangements are going through a transformation, although, traditions, caste affiliations, and religious feelings are well preserved.

Caste and marriage: Caste plays dynamic a role both in arranged and love marriages as one of the recent findings indicates that just over five percent of urban Indians marry outside their caste. Interestingly, this percentage is only marginally higher than in rural India. In modern society and urban spaces, more and more freedom and choices are exercised by the younger generation while parents and society are becoming broadminded sometimes, optimistically, at times, reluctantly.

Technology in Marriage: Furthermore, in life partner search, at times, even parents are participating; Marriage portals are advertised as spaces where individuals, along with their families, search for life partners. In recent times, the traditional marriages have been dominated by web-based marriages.

Cohabitation, Live-in Relationship/Marriage: In contemporary urban India, marriage is going through some significant changes with several unmarried boys and girls preferring a live-in relationship. Few, if not many, are living together and even having children and settling down in family life without proper marriage. This certainly goes against the norm of tradition, custom and moral values established in a traditional Indian family. Conversely, these types of live-in relationships are also witnessing a sharp rise in cases of discord and apprehension.

Besides short-lived marriages, divorces are substantially increasing, family conflicts and relationship issues have taken disheartened bent. Besides, attitudinal changes, dilapidation of traditional value system, customs, mannerism, that are now overtaken by global values, culture, and tendencies. Further, the female participation ratio in various professions is positively increasing, especially in IT, outsourcing, call centers, banking, finance and related industries. Besides, the proportion of dual-earning couples (DEC) is also substantially growing. It has enormously altered the traditional and functional role of women, family planning while distressing the family dynamics and affecting children and elderly at home.

F. Detrimental Effects on the Family: The significance of the family lies in bringing up the child to a full adult in a loving and healthy family atmosphere. The virtual death of the joint family deprives children of the comforting intimacy and character-building proximity of an elder other than the parent. Parental influence, while indispensable, has certain limitations. As a result, externalities – school, street, playground, peer pressure – are playing greater roles in personality development. Substance abuse among Indian children is growing at a much alarming rate.

Furthermore, the work and economy related challenges further add to such difficulties. For many families, their lives have been made more difficult due to rising prices, inflation, increasing debt, increasing competition for jobs and housing, and a marked decline in overall living standards.

Moreover, although the middle-class women have positively benefited by the neoliberal policies and globalization, they tend to face numerous work-related predicaments and difficulties that in due course affects them as well their immediate family.

Besides that, various social and print media, and journal reports indicate that women in the workplace usually face mental stress, sexual annoyance, discriminatory practices, safety and security issues. Coincidently, the Indian family and society, slowly but steadily, has begun to recognize women in a different perspective.

Although globalization ushered several positive changes, it is also proved to be a threat to the Indian family patterns and functions, values such as the concept of marriage as a divine covenant, parental responsibility and relationship and other such social morals and values. It is also affecting the time-proven socio-cultural norms, family traditions, and values that are slowly displaced and disoriented.

The contemporary globalization along with liberalization and urbanization, are steering the family transformation. Indian family is grappling to preserve the whole traditional collective in the modern scenario. However, the essential characteristic of conventional family value system is still existent.

Globalization and Women

  • The promises and the efforts of global governance are aimed to improve the condition of women across the globe. There is an emerging trend of linking women rights with human rights, which demands equal and universal rights of women across the globe.
  • A unique mechanism for the development and empowerment of women at the international level came into existence in the United Nations Organisation (UNO) and Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of the status of women.
  • The development of information technology that connected feminist movements across the globe has been viewed as a new hope for the development of socio-economic and political rights of women across the globe.
  • The development of industry and trade in the developing countries is also viewed as a positive development for women employment; the global industry is finding women as suitable employees.
  • The free-flow of knowledge and information is also considered as a positive development to enhance the education and skills of women. They provide the new horizons of knowledge and information to the women, which were lacking earlier.
  • Globalization enhances the exploitation of women as privatisation and liberalisation are solely guided by the principle of maximisation of profit.
  • The other observation is that the employment of women will be a double burden as social conservatism and patriarchal division of labour will force the women living in developing societies to do the house-hold chores along with their jobs.
  • The number of under/unpaid women workers has increased because of privatisation of economy and withering away of the welfare policies by the state in the developing countries.
  • On the one hand the global investment, technology and the free-flow of knowledge has been helping the rich, educated and skilled women to enhance their skills and income; on the other, it has marginalised the poor women from the economic realm.

Thus, the global flow of capital, technology and knowledge is also viewed as a double edged-sword. As the vast majority of poor women lack the technical skills to work in the modern industry.

The most shocking are the acts of female foeticide and honour killing of the young women, even after much exposure to other cultures. The acceptance of the western culture and modern-education by the Indian society seems to be of selective nature and dual -hearted, which may have different interpretation for the male and female.