Globalization is the buzzword of today. Economies of the world are being increasingly integrated as new technology and communication has brought people together. We often hear the phrase that the 'world has become a global village' - which itself signifies how much has changed in the world in the past few decades. American businessmen are investing their time in studying the culture of the Middle East, so that they can negotiate with their counterparts in a better way. Young graduates in India are being taught how the Americans roll their R's, so as to make a seamless conversation with their clients in many of the call-centers!
The phenomenon that is globalization, has brought new dimensions to this world, and people are mingling with each other like never before. The social, economic, and political changes that globalization has brought have been accompanied by some challenges. We will not approach its negative effects as a cynic, but as a student or an observer, so that we are free of any kind of prejudice and bias, and understand the topic in a better way.
There are various schools of thought which argue that globalization has led to an increase in activities such as child labor and slavery. In countries with little or no accountability, corporations employing children can work smoothly by bribing the officials, which may result in an increase in illegal activities. Critics opine that globalization has resulted in a fiercely-competitive global market, and unethical practices in business is a by-product of this.
In order to cut down costs, many firms in developed nations have outsourced their manufacturing and white-collar jobs to Third-World countries like India and China, where the cost of labor is low. The most prominent among these have been jobs in the customer service field as many developing nations have a large English-speaking population - ready to work at one-fifth of what someone in developed world may call 'low-pay'. This has caused a lot of resentment among the people of developed countries, and companies have been accused of taking their jobs away. Another problem is that many Americans are not satisfied with the level of customer service that they are subjected to, and this has caused a lot of animosity among people and has added to the dissent that people already have against outsourcing.
Globalization may have inadvertently helped terrorists and criminals. At the heart of globalization is an idea that humans, materials, food etc. be allowed to travel freely across borders, but 9/11 was a ghastly reminder that people with evil intentions can use it as an opportunity and cause damage.
Fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC are spreading fast in the developing world. People are consuming more junk food which has an adverse impact on their health. Apart from the health concerns, there is something else that globalization has been criticized for, and it is the accusation that it has opened floodgates for restaurants and eateries which are insensitive to the religious beliefs of the host nation. For example, a lawsuit had to be filed against McDonalds in India, after it was accused of serving beef in their burgers.
While the rich are getting richer, the poor are struggling for a square meal. If the current Occupy Wall Street protests are a reminder of how angry people are with the current set-up, then those who govern us should take notice, and work towards alleviating poverty. Ideally, globalization should have resulted in creation of wealth and prosperity, but corporate greed and corrupt government has ensured that money is not distributed equally.
Rise in Health Risks
When the first-known case of AIDS came up in America, only few would have traced its origin to Sub-Saharan Africa. Globalization bought people from various countries together, and this is perhaps the reason that a virus from a jungle was transported to almost every country in the world.
Environmental degradation is an issue which has been debated ferociously in various international meetings, and it has to be accepted that globalization is one of the most important factors that has aggravated the situation. The amount of raw materials needed to run industries and factories is taking a toll on the natural reserves of planet earth, and pollution has severely impacted the quality of air that we need so very much for our survival.
It is not only the developed nations that are complaining about its negative effects, people in developing nations - where most of the industries have been set up, have their own set of reasons against globalization. They often complain that their cities have been reduced to garbage-dumps where all the industrial waste is accumulated and pollution levels are sky-high.
Globalization has its own share of kudos and brickbats. We have reached a stage since our evolution that discarding the concept of globalization may not be possible at all, therefore, the strategy should be to find solutions to the threats it poses to us so that we can work towards a better, fulfilling future.