Globalisation or Recolonisation
By Neeraj Jain
Published by ELGAR
Pages 240 Price Rs. 100

Neocolonialism under the garb of globalisation

The amount of popular literature being produced in India on a subject like globalisation is a good measure of the degree to which this subject has started sinking into popular consciousness and the popular dimension the anti-globalisation protests are acquiring in India. This attractively designed book is a useful introductory guide to any budding activist in the student or white-collar movement, or in the NGO sector. Written in a simple and easily understandable language with an overt political edge, it gives a fairly comprehensive idea about the subject and thus makes a valuable contribution to the growing need for popular literature on this issue of topical concern.

In the introduction the author lays down the basic theme of his book: “The harsh reality about globalisation is that it is nothing but ‘recolonisation’ in a new garb. The third world countries are being turned into economic colonies of the developed, or imperialist, countries – the same imperialist powers who had once before directly colonised them. In the name of ‘free market’ and ‘free trade’, multinational corporations and banks of the West are re-entering the third world economies to plunder their wealth and resources. The imperialists are not enforcing this new colonial order by force as they once did in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They don’t need to. The ruling classes of the third world countries themselves are betraying the interests of their people and countries. They are voluntarily handing over control of the economies of their countries to Western corporations and governments and the international financial institutions controlled by them. The third world elites are of course being well rewarded for their treachery: they are getting a share of the imperialist plunder of their own countries.”

In the first chapter, peppered with quotations and lots of data, the author explains the reasons behind the recent phenomenon of globalisation. Here and there complex economic relations are explained in a simple manner so as to enable a beginner to understand things at a conceptual level. In the second section, he explains how India entered the globalisation process in a big way after the 1991 debt crisis. Section three of the first chapter is a concise 11-point summary of economic reforms in India. A subsection deals with Indian experience in export promotion during the reform years which is followed by an analysis of the impact of import liberalisation in chapter two. The next chapter is on FDI where the author resorts to the conventional argument that over a period of time outflows exceed inflows.

Chapter four is a detailed exposition of author’s main argument: the economic colonisation of India. He begins with the sale of India’s productive assets to MNCs, especially in the infrastructure sector, with a case study of the power sector containing a special focus on Enron. There is also a detailed summary of the financial sector reforms. The next section of this chapter analyses how the macro-economic restructuring was designed to maximise the drain of profits and increase incentives to the rich. Next, the impact of reforms on agriculture is traced though it appears somewhat dated and doesn’t fully capture the agrarian crisis that has now exploded. Withdrawal of subsidies to the poor and cutbacks on education and health allocations are well documented. Chapter five is fully devoted to a brief outline on the impact on agriculture and the next chapter deals with the impact on people -- on employment, on unorganised sector, and on poverty.

Chapter seven of the book deals with global finance -- with detailed accounts of Mexican and East Asian crises -- and India’s interface with it. In his enthusiasm in denouncing globalisation as a universal malady, the author takes a too pessimistic view of China. The last chapter is a short roundup of anti-globalisation struggles the world over. It is pity that the book doesn’t make a single mention about the present-day champions of globalisation in India, the BJP. In the absence of this political perspective, the anti-globalisation struggles can hardly acquire the necessary political edge. This book belongs to the genre of propaganda literature and it would not be correct to expect academic rigour and precision in such a work. But considering the propaganda barrage unleashed by the proponents of globalisation, this is but a small counter effort. The author and the publishers deserve kudos for packing so much information in this book being sold at a reasonable price.