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Social Change and Development in India

Global interactions or even a global outlook are thus not novel developments unique to the modern period or unique to modern India.

COLONIALISM AND THE GLOBAL CONNECTION

We began our story of social and development in modern India from the colonial period. You will recall from chapter 1 that modern capitalism had a global dimension from its very inception. Colonialism was part of the system that required new sources of capital, raw materials, energy, markets and a global network that sustained it. Often globalisation today identifies large-scale movement of people or migration as a defining feature. You know, however, that perhaps the greatest movement of people was the migration of European people who settled down in the Americas and Australia. You will remember how indentured labourers were taken away in ships from India to work in distant parts of Asia, Africa and Americas. And the slave trade that carted thousands of Africans away to distant shores.

INDEPENDENT INDIA AND THE WORLD

Independent India retained a global outlook. In many senses this was inherited from the Indian nationalist movement. Commitment to liberation struggles throughout the world, solidarity with people from different parts of the world was very much part of this vision. Many Indians travelled overseas for education and work. Migration was an ongoing process. Export and import of raw material, goods and technology was very much part of development since independence. Foreign firms did operate in India. So we need to ask ourselves whether the current process of change is radically different from anything we have seen in the past.

6.2 UNDERSTANDING GLOBALISATION

We have seen that India had significant links with the global world from very early times. We are also aware that western capitalism as it emerged in Europe was both built upon and maintained by global control over resources of other countries as in colonialism. The important question is, however, whether globalisation is just about global interconnections. Or is it about some significant changes in the capitalist system of production and communication, organisation of labour and capital, technological innovations and cultural experiences, ways of governance and social movements? These changes are significant even if some of the patterns were already evident in the early stages of capitalism. Some of the changes such as those flowing from the communication revolution have in a myriad ways transformed the way we work and live.

We seek to spell out some of the distinctive features of globalisation below. As you go through them you will realise why a simple definition of global interconnection does not capture the intensity and complexity of globalisation.

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