We live in an era of
globalization. We live in a time when a worker in China buys his groceries from
an American retail store before returning to his factory site to join in the
million others like him in producing buttons for the world- buttons that will
be sewn onto shirts by calloused Bangladeshi hands, shirts that form part of
the fall collection of an Italian brand, which may be worn by a middle aged
business man in the US, quite distressed by the malfunctioning of his latest
Japanese gadget- whose anxieties will soon be quelled via a transatlantic phone
call in a perfect Southern accent by a customer care center employee, sitting
in Bengaluru, India.
It is a remarkable
time to be alive in and a dangerous one too. For in the quest to achieve
greater interconnectedness of markets and greater integration of world
economies, in our effort to inflate the flow of people and capital across
borders- there is an unmistakable sense of deja vu. We have lived these
circumstances in a different time, across different contexts. Taking the clock
back a few decades, we arrive at a period starkly similar to our current times,
the age of colonization.
Though many scholars
place the origins of globalization in modern
times, others trace its
history all the way to the Age of Discovery that witnessed voyages to the New
World by Spanish and
Portuguese explorers. While the term globalization was coined in the 1970s to
refer to a phenomenon of greater global interlinkages, it traces its beginnings
in the 15th century. This period was marked by rapid
colonization-the process of settling among and establishing control among the
indigenous people of a nation. Vast swathes of land in Asia, Africa and
Australia came to be in the political and economic custody of a few European
powers as well as the US. This period was also characterized by ongoing
rivalries among these powers, the creation of global supply chains, an untamed
economic desire for new resources and markets- and in many cases a 'mission to
civilize the natives of the land.
It was only post World
War 2 that erstwhile colonies came to be decolonized, with the colonial powers
relinquishing their economic and political influence over them. This
dismantling of a system built over many years is far from complete. The power
dynamics continue to flourish in newer forms, under a different nomenclature.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, from the vestiges of the old imperialist
structure, a new phenomenon has emerged: globalization. The progeny of
colonization is kindred to its anatomy, almost ensured by genetic inheritance.
Indeed, globalization is the new colonization.
This paper posits that
the phenomenon of globalisation is a present day form of colonisation- its
features, its ideology, its occurrence and its consequences unmistakably
similar. The commonalities are highlighted across different sub headings, ranging
from to ideologies to labor norms, from trade
policies to environmental concerns.
The Age of Colonisation
saw industrializing nations, engaging in the process of colonizing,
influencing, and annexing other parts of the world in order to gain political
power. Set against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, this
remarkable time witnessed a vast surplus of goods being rapidly produced by the
ceaseless machines that the Revolution had brought about. The goods, however,
needed markets to be sold in. Further, to keep the machines and factories
running, more goods would need to be produced. More goods meant more raw
materials being required.
emerged to fulfill these twin needs. Initially approaching countries of Asia
and Africa with an air of commercial activity and with the promise of business,
the colonial powers of Europe soon began the annexation of territories in right
earnest, carving out markets for their home produced goods and ensuring a
steady supply of raw materials for the subsequent batches of these goods to be
produced. From controlling trade, the colonialists came to conquer territory.
At the heart of this global linkage lay the greatest influencer: the profit
The onset of
colonisation in the Age of Discovery coincided with the emergence of
mercantilism, an economic doctrine prevailing from the 16th to
the 18th centuries. This was later in replaced in the mid-18thcentury,
during the Industrial Revolution, by industrial capitalism, with industrialists
replacing merchants, agriculture coming to be mechanized, a factory system of
manufacturing coming into being and a complex division of labor being
The owners of capital-
industrial and plant machinery- came to be known as capitalists and they came
to employ labor in return for wages. The extraction of surplus from labor, the
profits of the capitalist so to speak, became crucial to the existence of
this new regime. Hence, the roots
of colonisation were linked inextricably to the economic maxim of that period.
The puzzle pieces fit well. The super exploitation of the natives in the
colonies provided the raw materials, super profits and fresh capital vital for
industrialization of Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. The furnaces of the
Industrial Revolution sparked off the burning desire to acquire new colonies.
Capitalism stoked these flames.
Several decades later,
the roots of capitalism remain entrenched in our globalized society. The
players have changed in outward appearance but their innate ideologies remain
the same. In place of explorers and imperial conquerors alighting from
ships, the present day colonizers are the multinational
corporations- spreading their reach across vast territories, extending
markets across countries, sourcing raw materials and labor at its cheapest and
outsourcing production to areas with optimal climes and optimal profits.
Akin to the trading
companies that had formed in the wake of colonisation, the MNCs - symbols of
our globalized world- invest in production processes abroad, outsource
manufacturing, seek to create monopolies in their product lines and in
many cases ruthlessly replace local production. Like the East India Company
drawing the strength of its trade from Queen Elizabeth's Charter in 1600, the
modern day colonisers extract support from international organizations which
-dominated by erstwhile imperial powers - continue to implement pro imperialist
policies in semi colonies and ex colonies.
have granted a country sovereignty in theory, but not in practice. The
globalized world is one where one's economic policy and politics are directly
affected by outside forces and one's history of being the colonizer or the
colonized determines where one's fate will lie.
Labor and Laws
The story of labor in
the colonial period mimics the circumstances in which workers in today's
globalized world toil. Colonisation and empire building entailed
industrializing nations extracting surpluses from less developing nations and
fashioning a global capitalism that would sustain their own dominance and the
subjugation of their colonies. In Capital, Marx asserted that the
erstwhile colonizers were able to trade their commodities substantially above
their value in a poor region, taking advantage of a region's lower living
standards and reduced labor costs. Such practices, he postulated, led to a 'new
international division of labor', the creation of an interdependent social
formation that maximized the extraction of surplus from 'peripheral regions',
to benefit 'wealthy industrial centers'.
At the center of this
vortex, whirling in the momentum of these intercontinental events was labor-
reduced to indentured employment on plantations, displaced by the coming of
machines and wrecked by the destruction of their traditional livelihoods.
The period of
colonisation witnessed certain political, economic and legal structures that
enabled the institution of indentured labor to flourish. Expansion of
colonisation necessitated the search for a legal framework that would
legitimize the securing of rights and powers from the colonies. By the 19th century,
a new notion of 'differential sovereignty' came to characterize global
doctrines- the imperial powers and their subjects were not alike in their rights,
entitlements and liberties. On one end of the spectrum stood the great colonial
powers of Europe and on the other, the colonies in their political and economic
command. In between these two extremes, lay the suzerains and the protected
states- representing various intermediary stages of sovereignty.
In his paper titled "Cheaper than a Slave: Indentured Labor, Colonialism and Capitalism", Professor
Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law at the Seattle University School of Law
These constructs of modern international
law, assembled against the backdrop of colonialism, sutured the colonized world
with the capitalist world economy on terms that facilitated deployment of
unfree labor from the colonies. Where international law furnished the enabling global
frame, colonial law within the colonies secured the subordination locally."
Given this imbalance
in the power dynamic, there lay a vast gulf between the colonisers and what
they perceived as the 'racial other'. In this context, global laws that emerged
in that period gave aimed to "reduce . . . to civility" those
who had "no skill of submission." and gave validation to using
violence in subjugating the 'natives'. Indentured laborers came to be employed
in plantations and land tenure systems and public works. Working in merciless
working conditions, punished for the smallest of mistakes, humiliated and
imprisoned, these workers came to embody labor contracts that were no less
cruel than slavery. In the 100 years spanning 1834 and 1937, about 30 million indentured
workers left India to work on grow sugar in the Caribbean, to construct
railways in Kenya and mine silver in Bolivia. Only 24 million would return.
The destruction of
traditional livelihoods was another facet of colonial rule, one that affected local
labor in these colonies, deeply. The story of cotton in British India sheds
light on the dispossession of workers from the handlooms industry as a
consequence of India's trade policies bring manipulated by her colonial
masters. From exporting 100 million yards in 1700, India became an exporter of
raw cotton furnishing raw material for British mills, a change that was brought
about by a colonial restructuring of policies and a ban on import of Indian
calico. Millions of jobs in this sector were lost and income inequalities
widened. The tables turned. Britain went on to export cotton textiles to India
and paradoxically, India's came to buy the cloth, shipped from abroad, that it
could have produced at home.
nations of Europe, using their colonies as dumping grounds for their finished
goods, came to threaten local production. The local producers in colonies
struggled to compete with the machine produced goods flooding domestic markets.
As trade barriers came to be maneuvered to suit the interests of the colonial
rulers, the colonized were driven down to states of desperation, unemployment,
persecution and abject poverty. Unable to rival the efficiency of the
Industrial Revolution's machines, human labor in the colonies went one of two ways:
unemployed in the wake of technological displacement or bonded in contracts of
oppression and subjugation.
The search for the
lowest labor costs of production continues with greater vigor in our globalized
world. Countries like India and China, with their burgeoning populations and
low wages, attract MNCs from across the world to establish production centers
in their backyards. High value products to be sold in markets across the globe
are routed through developing nations to exploit the low wages that persist
circumstances that hark back to colonial period, when the 'wealthy industrial
centers', the words of Marx, took advantage of the modest wages in the 'peripheral regions'. In its creation of wage inequalities, in its perpetuation
of inhuman working conditions for labor and in its elimination of social
security benefits through the imposition of a market oriented approach,
globalisation unmistakably resembles colonisation.
Consider the case of
Apple shifting its production lines to Pegatron Shanghai, China in a bid to
suppress labor costs and garner even higher profits. A report by the China
Labor Watch reveals an "average of
60+ working hours per week, 52% of workers completed more than 90 hours of
overtime per month, even working as many as 132 hours of overtime". Such
statistics reveal the sordid side to globalisation. Dormitories crowded with
more than 10 workers living in despicable conditions, subject to resignation
penalties and late attendance fines, working overtime only to supplement
their abysmal base wages stands in stark contrast to Apple's massive profits.
Further, according to the the China Labor Watch report, Apple's huge
profits provide for enough space to improve the conditions of its 1.5 million workers,
across the global supply chain. To quote from the report:
"Bringing worker wage
base in Apple's entire supply chain to parity with basic living cost level
of average urban resident would cost Apple $ 1.9 Billion per quarter,
about 10 percent of Apple's quarterly profits."
Like Apple, the profits of
transnational corporations across the world are based on exploiting the low
costs in developing nations. The suppression of wages in the production units
of an MNC in a developing country fuel the astronomical gains of these new
colonisers. Coupled with the dastardly conditions of work and the complete
neglect of worker benefits, such an global supply chain carries the
explorative gene, passed on from the DNA of colonisation.
In the age of globalisation,
inequalities have risen in developing nations. According to the International
Labor Organization, of the 28 countries for which data is available, 21
experienced increased income inequality from the early 1990s to the
mid-2000s. Further, openness to trade and foreign investment have
increased the relative return to skilled labor and capital, while reducing the
relative return to unskilled labor.
Given that the
developed world has had a head start in the industrialization process, the MNCs
from this part of the world propagate technical change that is often biased
towards highly skilled workers, while eliminating the role of unskilled labor.
In this context, when MNCs transplant their production techniques in developing
nations to reap their cost advantage they end up endangering the employment of
less skilled workers, driving their wages down inorexably. This has reportedly
been the case with tenders to construction companies such as Bechtel whose
labor saving technological change has rendered many workers unemployed in
and the accompanying trade liberalization often hurts the local workers
employed in the sectors directly competing with the foreign goods. In the
absence of credit, information, social networks and governmental support, these
workers in the declining sectors of a developing economy are hurt, unprotected
against the onslaught of foreign trade. The workers supplanted by the machines
or struggling in an economy's import competing sectors, in our globalized
present hurtle towards a destiny similar to the displaced crafts persons and
laborers in our colonial past.
Pranab Bardhan posits that globalisation often leads to the weakening of
unions. He says:
As foreign competition (or even the threat of it) lowers profit margins, the
old rent sharing arrangements between the employers and the employed come under
pressure. Rents decline for both capital and labor, but labor may have to take
a larger cut as internationally less mobile labor faces more mobile capital.
Companies can more credibly threaten substitution of foreign factors of
production including intermediate inputs, for domestic factors. This may lead
to lower wages, and, sometimes more important the increased risk of
In the 1950s, union
membership was about a third of the workforce, however by 1983 the membership
of unions fell to about 20%. Today, the figure stands at 12% of the workforce.
As argued by Annycke, Bonnet, Dasgupta, Figueiredo, Khan, Rosskam and Standing
in the 2004 ILO Economic Security for a Better World, since the 1980s which
marked the onset of globalization- there has been a global decline in
collective voice, particularly as it manifests itself in union membership.
Akin to the colonial
context wherein labor was subjugated with equanimity and rendered voiceless by
the legal and economic matrix of that period, labor in the developing nations
is accorded second class status in the face of neo mercantile gains. As globalization
pushes for a more market oriented policy, social security and welfare
mechanisms in developing countries dissolve, rendering labor powerless.
Economist Guy Standing
highlights the implications of increasingly market regulated economics,
asserting that such an approach has "weakened the defense of
employment security regulations and customary practices preserving job security". This
is reflected in the attempts of transnational firms to easily fire workers or
employ workers with lower livings standards and rights or even search for
cheaper sources of labor overseas.
likeness to colonisation perhaps comes through most starkly in the sweatshops and
factories established by MNCs, in developing countries, to produce clothes and
chocolate and knockoff hand bags for the rest of the world. Severely underpaid,
the workers in these sweat shops live in hovels and are forced to work in
unspeakable circumstances, working on wages as abysmally low as 20 to 24 cents
an hour. Many sweatshops witness regular physical punishment- slappings and
beatings, and force pregnant workers to toil in extremely harsh conditions,
with no promise of rest. Many of these female workers often miscarry due to the
exhaustion that they suffer.
A testimonial by a
42-year-old mother-of-two working for Gap supplier Texport in Bengaluru, which
appeared in a 2012 report in 'The Guardian' underscores the pitiless working
conditions in the sweatshops:
"The targets are too high. They want 150
pieces an hour. When we can't meet the targets, the abuse starts. There is too
much pressure; it is like torture. We can't take breaks or drink water or go to
the toilet. The supervisors are on our backs all the time"
According to a
report released in 2013 by the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights, "Next Collections" workers (in Dhaka, Bangladesh) are forced to toil
14- to 17-plus-hour shifts, seven days a week, routinely putting in workweeks of
over 100 hours." In their complete neglect of basic human rights, these sweat
shops are reminiscent of the brutal circumstances in which indentured laborers
of the colonial period were forced to eke out a living.
sweatshops are notorious for employing child slave labor, in another bid to cut
costs. Working in filthy conditions, subject to the brutality of middlemen and
the sheer indifference of the giant MNCs, the children in these sweatshops are
the victims of globalization's zero sum game. The more the costs of labor are
lowered, the better the balance sheets of the transnational corporations look.
The power dynamic remains unbalanced, tilted to favor the colonisers of today,
the erstwhile imperial powers and their emissaries, the MNCs. Products bundled
into gunny bags, wrapped in tarpaulin and precisely fitted into plastic
boxes await their delivery to the markets and homes of people, rather far
removed from these cruel realities.
entailed the unabashed plunder of natural resources in the colonies by the
imperialists. In colonial India, forests of Sal and Teak trees were
felled to provide timber for ships in the British navy. Acre after acre
of natural vegetation was cleared across acres for the construction of
railways, built primarily for British gain. Two kilometers of railway track
required 900 sleepers, made entirely out of teak, deodar cedar or sal trees.
Alongside the large scale deforestation and destruction of the natural habitat,
there was a mass extermination of India's fauna. Britain's standard bearers
demanded India's trees for their ships and warehouse, and India's animals
as game for their hunts. The colony had no choice but to relent. And indeed no
choice existed for the peasants of Bihar in northern India, forced to grow
indigo on their farms, around 95 percent of which was exported as a dye to
Great Britain- much to the exclusion of all other food crops.
As indigo and other
commercial crops gained dominance, farmers switched from producing staple foods
to cash crops, grain output declined steadily, life expectancy fell and
population growth turned negative in many regions. As a result of the
disarticulation between domestic production and distribution, states Mike
Davis- author of 'Late Victorian Holocausts: El NiÃƒÂ±o Famines and the Making of
the Third World'- "there was no increase in India's per capita
income from 1757 to 1947"
minerals and slave labor, bio fuels and timber for the industrializing
countries of Europe. For instance, in Madagascar in the early 20th century, a
system of forest licenses of the French colonisers contributed
strongly to deforestation. The colonial government had a completely biased
approach to forest rights, depriving local communities of access to these
forests and converting them instead into disciplined plantations. In
addition, in many places the European conquerors introduced cash crops to be
produced by the locals, to be shipped to and sold in Europe's market.
Cocoa on the Ivory Coast, coffee in the Caribbean. These cash crops were
often grown to the neglect of the staple foods, exacerbating the inadequacy of
food and the inequities of the regime.
In their "Scramble for Africa" between 1881 and 1914, the European powers met
to conduct the "paper partition" of Africa, dividing up its
lands and its peoples with the precision of a scale. One swipe of ink
across the map and an entire eco system went to an imperialist power. Another
strike through with the ruler and vast grasslands were assigned to another
colonial master. The birthplace of the human race was divided thus, with
straight lines cutting across its rocks and waterfalls. The flora and fauna of
these African colonies came to be sacrificed at the altar of colonisation,
The key players from
the 1914 paper partition of Africa remain unchanged in the present times. Some
of them have not even left Africa. In spite of many African colonies
getting independence in the mid-20th century, for most of them their
sovereignty remains chimerical. Globalisation has attracted newer players to
exploit erstwhile colonies with global dynamos like USA, China, Brazil,
Turkey and Israel competing for Africa's riches. The colonisers of
today repeat the past cycle of exploitation - coltan is mined from the
Democratic Republic of Congo- often using child and slave labor for the
extraction process, vanadium is mined from elsewhere, used for adding strength
to steel and to the pursuits of the new colonisers.
Yet, the people
of these former colonies remain impoverished as were their ancestors in the
colonial period. They continue to mine and plant and harvest, for different
masters under a different regime, driven by a motive that unites two ages:
The present day
plunder of resources involves MNCs entering into contract farming agreements
with farmers in developing countries to grow cash crops that will be exported
to markets around the world. Reminiscent of the colonial masters imposing
specific crop patterns in their colonies, contract farming results in farmers
growing the assigned cash crops, to the exclusion of staples. The legacy of
the indigo plantations of colonial India is carried forth by the
potato farms of Gujarat in the 21st century, churning out raw materials for Mc
Donald's French fries, precluding the usual produce of rice and wheat.
Much of the produce
from contract farming in developing countries is exported to overseas markets,
augmenting the profits of agro processing MNCs while threatening the food security
of the developing nations. Given that the exported produce is grown in place of
a nation's staples and driven by an export oriented strategy, the quantum of
food produced diminishes in proportion. Paradoxically, developing countries are
often driven to import food that they are unable to produce given that its
farmers are producing cash crops for an unknown destination, instead. Once
more the balance of power is tilted in favor of the erstwhile colonialists
while the ex-colonies yield, as they are wont to.
Further, the process
of contract farming involves the MNCs providing seeds, inputs and other
fertilizers to the farmers in developing nations, to aid the production process
of the desired cash crop. While some may sanguinely view this as an equal partnership
between the farmers and the MNC officials, the underbelly of such contracts
reveals more than what meets the eye.
One side of such
contracts- the farmers- lack information regarding present day world prices
and do not possess technical negotiation capacity and the social
capital to seek legal aid, while the other side of such contracts- the MNCs-
remain in a position to exploit these informational and judicial gaps in
developing nations. While many contract farming agreements involve a minimum pre
assigned price of the crop, the lack of effective court systems in developing
nations provides escape routes for many MNCs in paying the farmers their dues.
Further, while the
exports of cash crops produced continue to fill the coffers of these
transnational agro processing companies, the farmers continue to receive a low
price, on the pretext that their crop has a low quality as compared to
international standards. Moreover, while employment in the agricultural
sector of developing countries may have risen, wages have been driven down to
subsistence levels due to the pressures of migration.
In addition, the
inputs provided by the MNCs - chemical fertilizers and genetically
modified seeds produced in labs that are far removed from the farmlands where
they will be ultimately sprayed and sown- are often not compatible with
the soil quality of a given area, leading to degradation of the quality of
land, which is often irreversible.
Consider the case of
Monsanto, a multinational American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology
corporation. Following the Seed Policy being introduced by the World Bank in
1988, the Indian government came to deregulate the seed sector, thus creating
pathways for Monsanto to introduce its Bt technology in cotton seeds. These genetically
modified seeds came to replace the natural seeds that Indian cotton farmers had
used earlier. Within a decade, Monsanto would come to control 95% of India's
cotton seed supply, thus demeaning the seed sovereignty of its farmers.
With cotton being
converted into a monoculture, there was greater vulnerability to pests and crop
failure. Further, Monsanto's monopoly over the genetically modified crop,
policy of collecting royalties on the hybrid seed and the demolition of other
alternatives created a situation of helplessness and agrarian distress in
across these farmlands, leading to a spate of farmer suicides in Maharashtra,
India. Yet again, globalisation creates circumstances for the natural riches of
a land to be defiled by the unmitigated desire to maximize profit.
The case of the
1997 Kuppam Pilot Project in Andhra Pradesh, India characterizes the
unsustainable nature of contract farming. Covering approximately 170 acres of
land, this 964 lakh rupee project aimed at promoting capital intensive
crops based on large scale private corporate investment through contract
farming systems. An independent team of scientists, under the aegis of the
Andhra Pradesh Coalition for Diversity, came up with a report in 2002,
criticizing the project on several grounds.
According to a report
published in December 2003 by the Hindu Business Line:
"Deep ploughing, with or without turning
the soil, was practiced before every cropping. Large amounts of expensive agro
chemicals, both pesticides and weedicides, were applied for every crop. These
tend to leave considerable residues in the soil, raising serious environmental
concerns. No organic manures were applied. The irrigation system involved rapid
depletion of groundwater with no provision for its recharge, or for any other
rainwater harvesting measures. The social impact of the project has been
adverse. First, farmers tilling their lands have been driven out from their
profession and only some are able to work as hired laborers on the
demonstration farm. The benefit of subsidiary occupations like dairying with
the use of crop residues, which is a by-product of mixed farming, has been
lost. Indeed, farmers who have tried to use some of the by-products for
fodder, such as the leaves of cauliflower plants, have been punished, and there
is strict policing of the laborers to prevent such "theft" from their won lands. Food grain production has almost ceased in the
project area. Only vegetables and other similar crops are being cultivated. This
will adversely affect food grain supply to the people living in the
area. The result is that the dependence of the local people on the market,
which, in turn, is controlled by the corporate bodies, is total."
Contract farming in
our globalized world is the present day avatar of an unequal relationship that
existed centuries back. This inequity is exemplified in the cocoa
plantations of the Ivory Coast, producing cocoa for European chocolate
companies, where the bruised shoulders of child workers, employed as
slave labor, carry six kilograms of the produce daily. This imbalance is
embodied by the 'banana republics' of the world, remaining dependent upon the
mass exports of a breakfast fruit for the dining tables of the
West- countries that are run by state capitalism, that are marked by
the large scale exploitation of plantation agriculture and which remain servile
in the face of the controllers of commerce, the MNCS.
The impact of
environmental degradation on account of globalisation is felt more strongly by
the poor in developing nations. Trade liberalization, a major facet of
globalisation, hurts the poor through the over exploitation of fragile
environmental resources- groundwater, fisheries, forests and pastures- on which
the daily livelihoods of the rural poor particularly depend. The vast scale of
environmental degradation is reminiscent of the colonial period, when the
imperialists ruthlessly sanctioned deforestation destroyed a colony's
natural riches in aid of their own gain.
In his paper "The
Global Economy and the Poor", economist Pranab Bardhan argues:
"One reason why land intensive crops may
lead to the overuse of land and the depletion of natural vegetation (or that
expansion of the agricultural frontier in general leads to agriculture) is the
lack of well-defined property rights or lack of their enforcement on public or
communal land. In such cases, the private cost of expanding production is less
that the social cost, and there is overuse and degradation of environmental
resources. If the country exports such resource intensive products, foreign
trade may make this missal location worse."
The vestiges of our
colonial past manifest themselves in the form of ex colonies incessantly
supplying their lands and their waterways, their forests and their minerals to
inflate the bottom line of trading companies and
transnational corporations, the present day colonisers. Globalisation
comes to resemble colonisation in its validation of contracts that debase local
ecosystems in developing nations, that dictate cropping patterns and remove
the local farmer's freedom to choose, that disrespect
native knowledge bases. In its narrow aim to only maximize corporate
profit while disregarding the interests of the ultimate producers of
crops and the original custodians of natural resources, globalisation
is the new colonisation.
The story that
began with a European fleet of ships arriving on the shores of
Africa, Asia and South America some centuries back, comes full circle with in
our present times. It is a story of deep inequalities, of gross injustices and
ceaseless exploitation, with the benefits accruing to only one set of
Globalisation is the
newest edition of the colonisation story, the exploitation of the
past extant in the exploitation of the present. This paper highlights some
broad trends in both the contexts, focusing on the uncanny resemblance in the
zeitgeist of the two ages. From the cotton farms of India,
defiled by the experience of contract farming, to the
garment workshops in Bangladesh, marked by incessant cruelties and a
complete neglect of human rights, from the cocoa plantations on the Ivory
Coast- thriving on child slave labor- to the electronics factories in China,
paying only a minuscule portion of its profits to its million workers- globalisation
and colonisation are eerily similar.
The story that began
many centuries ago when a fleet of ships set sail from Europe, continues
to affect our destinies in the present. We are the inheritors of colonization's
legacy. And sadly, the victims of it too.