Globalization awaits its ‘New Normal’

9 months ago 52


While the internet is flooded with op-eds speculating the gradual plummeting of globalisation as covid-19 becomes the new normal, it becomes imperative to dig deeper into the layers of globalisation as a world phenomenon. The globalised world of the 21st century needs a restructuring on fresh lines. The incessant accusations on the pandemic for being the major reason behind the decline of the globalised world order fall flat if we try to venture into the diversity of the factors that make this world a global place.

If globalization means coming together as one interconnected world, dependent on the lines of David Ricardo’s idea of ‘comparative advantage’, then the possibilities and the bottlenecks caused by the Ricardian theory must be explored further. The comparative-advantage agenda is ostensible in the years of practice of hiring young third world graduates as employees while the larger share of profits rests with the big ventures born and brought up in the developed cocoons of self-interest. A world order considerably aligned towards the developed economies, relegating the developing world to being a mere outsourcing hotspot for cheap and inexpensive labour, needs to be refashioned. 

In the current global scenario, the race for specialisation in terms of skills and labour value has led to the slumping of versatile approach at work. It has shackled the human resource within the confines of demand-based skills, largely creating a relationship of labour supplier and hirer between the developing and developed economies. Thus, the current debate on the demise of globalisation has to be replaced with one that focuses on changing the nature of the contemporary world order. Worldwide lockdown provides an opportunity to the developing economies to redefine the global system and reposition themselves in the global nexus.

What we need to understand is that the idea of the slow death of globalisation is being manufactured by the first world since past many years and the current pandemic helps in expediating this process further. As Martin Wolf, a British journalist, states in one of his columns, that an anti-globalisation wave has hit the world due to the ‘exhaustion of new markets to exploit’, it becomes a peremptory duty to look into the chasms created between the world powers due to the systematic exploitation under the garb of free trade. The developed economies face a huge limbo as they struggle to choose between either paving a way to outsource services at cheaper rates or cater to the demands of the guild of local unskilled and semi-skilled workers running out of jobs. After years of exhaustion in relentless profit mongering the companies have reached a dead-end at many levels. The world trade has gradually flattened for many developed economies and the unemployed in these countries have raised a clear voice: ‘return our jobs’. Thus, it is not the globalisation that faces jeopardy but the nations that have already hit the global trade plateau.

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Pandemic and the succeeding lockdown, if utilized for the reconstruction of the world order, can gradually pave a path to an interconnected world beyond the dynamics of profit and loss. This sense of connectedness between the individuals and communities across borders and cultures can help foster a deeper understanding of a globalized village. This association and coming together of the world have the potential of creating active spaces for collaborative innovation and direct dialogue. Thus, globalization is here to stay but only if molded into a more inclusive and secularised form. This new sense of connectivity will foster ties at an individual level thereby leading to radical individuation. The new world order expects us to rethink the illiberal comparative advantage that we have been trying to seek for a very long time. 

It is a propitious time for the developing economies to wind themselves and write innovations on their home ground, creating not only jobs but rather an identity of their own. Seeing the world locked down with less cross border trade at the physical level, it is high time that the nations start capitalising upon ideas born out of collaborative efforts and utilise them locally to create a balance between globalisation and localisation. For many years the social fabric of developing economies has suffered because of the trade compromises made at the international front. This gradual relegation of the labour-intensive sector has created a chasm between global and local levels, creating minimal room for extensive dialogue and understanding between the two.

From protesters in Seattle demanding democratisation of the world trade in 1999 to protectionist policies taking the centre stage in the developed world now, the world has come a long way. Shunning globalisation was neither an answer to the rising discontent amongst the anti-globalization parties in early 20th century nor is it an answer to the current incessant attempts of the developed economies to create a closed world order. Understanding failures of globalization in safeguarding the democratic and secular fabric is an indispensable need of the day. The ambiguous guidelines issued by the World Trade Organisation under the ‘Special and Differential treatment provisions’ for the developing economies and the hostility of the developed world towards the cultural ethos of the third-world nations must be perused time and again. Globalisation is a fluid phenomenon and the struggling economies must capitalise its versatility to redefine the current norms.

The new globalization or neo-globalization should be gilded with the idea of secular humanism creating extensive space for the dialogue from the third-world. It will not only open room for more innovation but also for introspection on ways to compensate for the opportunities lost in the past. Thus, globalization is here to stay but the impetus to create a democratic world order awaits its right vanguards. 


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