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Globalization Is Second Nature to Indians

May 2005
Globalization Is Second Nature to Indians

During the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, visitors to the Centennial Olympic Park ? the central after-hours gathering place for the Games ? were treated to a potent exhibit on the then fast emerging trend of ?globalization'. The exhibit, called the "Global Village" by the telecommunications giant, AT&T, was a jazzy setup with various illustrations of how technology was bringing the world closer as never before.

Even then globalization was more than a buzzword; it was a paradigm shift whose time had come. Today, almost a decade later, it is revolutionizing life on this planet; so much so that the contrast of scenarios ? such as a South Indian Brahmin based in Bangalore helping an Idaho farmhand with his computer problems ? is simply jarring, to say the least. The Globalist, an online magazine and think tank describes the phenomenon as the "biggest story of our lifetime."

It is therefore particularly invigorating for us that India and the global Indian diaspora is cited by many as the leader in this area. At over 20 million NRIs (Non Resident Indians) and PIOs (People of Indian Origin) worldwide, we are the second largest expatriate population, behind only the Chinese expatriates.

More significantly, Indians seem naturally suited for globalization. Even if one were to discount the giant IT sector that has seen India as both, one of the chief agents and beneficiaries of this phenomenon, there are other key factors that make Indians inherently inclined towards a global village.

To begin with, India is one of the rare countries which boast of a multicultural and multiethnic society ? and a democracy to boot. The country itself is a mini-world. As a result, traits such as tolerance, acceptance, and reaching out are inbuilt to us ? unlike people of homogeneous countries. From the standpoint of a social structure, our reverence towards the family unit, which until recent times, meant the extended "joint family", has rendered us adaptable and open to a communal way of life. Even seemingly minor benefits such as our facility with the English language, translate into a huge advantage, especially when it comes to competing with China, our main competition in global trade.

More intrinsically, our socio-religious heritage defined by ideals such as Vasudaiva Kutumbakam" ("The world is one family") has programmed into us a deep seeded receptivity to globalization. Contrast that to the U.S. which is a key player in this trend primarily because of its role as the largest consumer market of the world. Other than that, a subtle "supremacy complex" as characterized by the neoconservatives can be an impediment to a healthy global exchange. Same goes for British snobbery and French chauvinism. It can be safe to generalize that the Western psyche, though liberal and open minded, is more prone to individualism rather than to group dynamics; and hence not naturally conducive to globalization, which demands osmosis and transfusion.

To the extent that globalization is about more than just trade, India, as pointed out by Parag Khanna in the Cover Story ("Bollystan ? The Global India), is indeed a vital player. Its foot soldiers, all twenty million strong, are making a mark on the political and cultural affairs of the globe with a free-flowing "give and take" as their currency.

- Parthiv N. Parekh

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