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Globalisation and Social Change

It is obvious that globalisation is of great social significance. But as you saw its impact on different sections of society is very different. There are, therefore, sharply divided views about the impact of globalisation regarding its effect. Some believe that it is necessary to herald a better world. Others fear that the impact of globalisation on different sections of people is vastly different. They argue that while many in the more privileged section may benefit, the condition of a large section of the already excluded population worsens. There are yet others who argue that globalisation is not a new development at all. In the next two sections we look at these issues. We find out a bit more about the kind of global inter-connections that India had in the past. We also examine whether indeed globalisation has some distinctive features and if so what is it.

6.1 ARE GLOBAL INTERCONNECTIONS NEW TO WORLD AND TO INDIA

If globalisation is about global interconnections we can ask whether this is really a new phenomenon. Was India or the different parts of the world not interacting with each other in earlier times?

THE EARLY YEARS

India was not isolated from the world even two thousand years ago. We have read in our history textbooks about the famous Silk route, which centuries ago connected India to the great civilisations, which existed in China, Persia, Egypt and Rome. We also know that through out India’s long past, people from different parts came here, sometimes as traders, sometimes as conquerors, sometimes as migrants in search of new lands and settled down here. In remote Indian villages often people ‘recall’ a time when their ancestors lived elsewhere, from where they came and settled down where they now live.

BOX 6.1 It is interesting to note that the greatest grammarian in Sanskrit namely Panini, who systematised and transformed Sanskrit grammar and phonetics around the fourth century BCE, was of Afghan origin. …The seventh-century Chinese scholar Yi Jing learned his Sanskrit in Java (in the city of Shri Vijaya) on his way from China to India. The influence of interactions is well reflected in languages and vocabularies throughout Asia from Thailand to Malaya to Indo-China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea and Japan. … We can find a warning against isolationism in a parable about a well-frog- the ‘kupamanduka’- that persistently recurs in several old Sanskrit texts…The kupamanduka is a frog that lives its whole life within a well, knows nothing else, and is suspicious of everything outside it. It talks to no one, and argues with no one on anything. It merely harbours the deepest suspicion of the outside world. The scientific, cultural and economic history of the world would have been very limited indeed had we lived like well-frogs. (Sen 2005: 84-86)

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