The future of globalisation
9 Feb 2009, 0157 hrs IST, Alok Sheel ,
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With thirteen letters, is it surprising that globalisation has such a chequered lineage? It has entailed rapid intensification of cross-border
trade, services, and capital flows; greater to and fro movement of people and ideas; enhanced welfare through efficiency gains, greater equity and higher growth even though it may have increased income inequalities and undermined nation states.
Globalisation, however, has also been linked to colonialism, underdevelopment and to external shock, with a crisis in the US housing market threatening to bring down the global economy. How far, and in what directions, will the process go in future?
The emergence of nation states towards the end of the highly localised Middle Ages was critical to modernisation. They facilitated trade and market integration, centralisation and scale economies. The imperial extension of nation states was an important element of the globalisation surge in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century nationalist sentiment fuelled bitter conflict in Europe, as well as the anti-colonial movements that followed.
The post-colonial surge in globalisation from the seventies is led by TNCs (transnational corporations). Their individual assets now exceed the GDP of several countries.
Their objectives are also coming into sharp conflict with those of nation states as they endeavour to disseminate international trade, capital, labour, modern technology, transportation and communication channels seamlessly to every flag on earth. Nation states are recovering lost space in the wake of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis. But these attempts lack conviction and in any case they find it impossible to substantially influence events without greater coordinated action.
Historical trends are rarely linear either in space or time. There are...