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GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

FARMERS:

  • Globalization is likely to have serious implications for Indian agriculture. India signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT] at Maracas in 1994 and became part of the World Trade Organisation [WTO].
  • As part of the GATT agreement developing countries including India are under obligation to introduce reduction in subsidies and keep it to the 10 per cent of farmers’ value output.
  • But cutting down on subsidies does not seem to be practical because of strong resistance of the farmers’ lobby.
  • India together with other countries of the third world has accused the WTO of following discriminatory practices because the developed countries continue to give subsidies while they continue to pressurise the developing countries to cut subsidies.
  • Another GATT— related problem affecting the interest .of the farmers is introduction of patenting in agriculture.
  • A farmer is not automatically permitted to use seeds of the protected varieties which he saved for sowing next crop. He has either to pay compensation for the use of the seeds saved by him or to obtain permission of the breeder.
  • As most of the plant breeders are Multi-National Corporations and their main motive is profit the only option left with the farmers is to buy the seeds again. Farmers in Karnataka had registered their protest against this arrangement by attacking the farm of Car gill seeds, a Multi-National Seed Company.
  • The farmers have been joined by the NGOs in their protest against the seed companies. Liberalising agricultural sector seems to be more contentious.
  • A jump in food prices appears to be an inevitable outcome of liberalisation. This fear has a solid basis. The international prices of food grains are higher than domestic prices.
  • Any rise in food prices would hit the poor hardly.’ This would make the government of the day immensely unpopular and might seriously jeopardise the electoral fortunes of the ruling party.
  • Overall the response of the Rich Farmers Movement towards the New Economic Policy and India joining the WTO has not been undifferentiated. Sharad Joshi an important leader of farmers in the western part of the country has welcomed the new development.
  • He expects opportunities for farmers in the phase of liberalisation. At the same time Mahender Singh Tikait in the north and Nanjundaswamy in the south are apprehensive of negative fallouts of liberalisation on the agricultural sector.
  • Economic reforms in agricultural sector have not met any serious protest because a section of rich farmers is finding new investment opportunities in agro-based industries like sugar, rice mills, food processing, floriculture and horticulture. In the 1990s India has increased its exports of both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.
  • As China has joined the WTO and is deepening its engagement with globalisation the biggest risk for India may be being left behind. GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA
  • It would mean losing out on opportunities offered by globalisation. Some people argue that the farmers’ movements should not oppose globalisation.
  • While it is always good to be watchful against negative fallouts of globalisation at the same time Indian farmers should ensure that they benefit from the opportunities offered by Globalisation.

WORKING CLASSES

  • Globalisation has thrown big challenges before the working class movement. An important part of the globalisation agenda has been privatisation of public sector units in India, which has meant disinvestments from, and privatisation of the public sector enterprises.
  • Among the main planks of the New Economic Policy are closure of sick and loss making public enterprises. Workers have faced the prospect of retrenchment. There have been cases of Voluntary Retirement Schemes [VRS]. Casualisation and contractualisation of workers have been other accompaniments of globalisation.
  • The practice of keeping contract and casual labour in place of regular employees has become widespread. Many people have argued that post-economic reform period has been a period of jobless growth. As part of Stabilisation and Structural Adjustment Programme; number of vacancies has decreased.
  • There has been a marked decline in the growth rate of total employment in the organised sector in the 1990s as compared to 1980s. As part of the New Economic Policy the policy of downsizing has started. This means reducing overheads for cost reduction.
  • Industrial Disputes Act 1947 lays reasonable restrictions on employers intending to undertake retrenchment or closure. This act stipulates that in case of retrenchment or closure due notice will have to be given to the union.
  • In such situation the union and management have to devise ways and means to protect employment of the workers. It is obvious that labour laws regarding job security are being changed on the grounds of economic rationality.  GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA
  • Downsizing in developed countries is less painful because of the fully developed social security system already in place. This unfortunately is not the case in developing countries like India. However, a National Renewal Fund was created to provide social safety net to the labour force rendered jobless as early as in 1992.
  • Liberalisation has also meant relaxation in government control over the private sector as a result of which the bargaining power of labour vis-a-vis capital has come down.
  • There have been strikes by trade unions to protect the interest of workers in State Electricity Boards, ITDC hotels, nationalised banks etc. The introduction of the New Economic Policy has exposed the weaknesses of the working class movement.
  • The response to the anti-labour reform policies cannot be effective because the trade unions are a divided house. Some scholars argue that working class movement should not be opposing privatisation and their focus should be protection of the interest of the workers.
  • Ashutosh Varshney is of the view that it would be easier to launch bigger privatisation programmes, if it is decoupled from large- scale retrenchment.
  • Another cause of rising working class movements have been the increasing education and knowledge about the rights. Workers in Manesar plant knew that they were underpaid as compared to other industrial units.
  • Similarly, increasing role of informal sector has led to reduced wage security and thus creating rising discontent among the workers. Women form the most vulnerable section of workers as coupled with gender discrimination they are at greater risk of exploitation than other social groups.

MIDDLE CLASSES  [GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA]

  • On the job front the complete story is not so dismal because globalisation has also unfolded big opportunities for lots of people, particularly of the upper middle class.
  • This is especially true about people having degrees from the famous IITs and IlMs who are in big demand both in India and the world over.
  • The students from such premier institutions walk away with unheard of pay packets. India churns out more than 70000 computers professional every year in addition to the graduates from the IlTs. The Indian software industry employed nearly 160000 professionals in 1998-99. Indian software industry has earned a worldwide reputation.
  • This feat has been achieved by leveraging India’s highly skilled technical manpower. India has emerged as a powerful player in the world in the IT sector. India’s advance in the IT sector has attracted many American and European companies to locate their back office operations in Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, and Gurgaon etc.
  • The shifting of back office operations of foreign companies has been influenced by many factors like abundant supply of cheap labour, cheap satellite communication and the facility of Internet.
  • While this development has created tremendous job opportunities in India it has been used by foreign companies as a cost cutting arrangement. These back office operations range from billing to payroll handling, airline reservation to answering customer complains.
  • In case of both these kinds of jobs whether in the much famed IT sector or the Call Centres students coming from upper middle class and urban background are more likely to get these jobs.
  • The reservation policy of the government has been in keeping with the idea of social justice. This was found that without reservation people from the disadvantaged section were unable to get jobs.
  • As of now the private companies and the Multi National Corporations do not follow any principle of reservation. Some representatives of disadvantaged sections look at liberalisation as a ploy to deny the disadvantaged strata of society the benefit of reservation.
  • Many Dalit leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan and Social Justice Minister in the UPA government led by Man Mohan Singh, Meira Kumar have appealed for reservation even in the private sector.
  • Some people argue that apart from demanding reservation also in private sector the movement of the disadvantaged section should exert pressure on the government to improve the quality of education in government managed institutions.
  • The people from the disadvantaged sections do not have the means to afford quality education offered at high prices in elite schools meant for the well-off sections of society.
  • Thus the introduction of the new economic policy has marginalised a large section of the population, as they do not have the necessary skills to benefit from the opportunities offered by globalisation.
  • To make the marginalised partners in the bounty offered by globalisation process there is need of big investment in imparting that kind of skills in them that they do not lag behind aspirants from privileged section of society.
  • Dreze and Sen are of the view that there is great opportunity here for channelling political activism in the direction of forcefully demanding expansion of basic education, health care and social security for those who are left out of the system. GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

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