Sunday, April 27,
Globalisation, a western imposition?
Gobble-isation: The Arab Experience
by Ash Narain Roy. Konarak Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi. Pages 189. Rs
issues over the past decade or two, have generated such animated if
heated debates as globalisation with its ardent protagonists and
equally staunch antagonists in formidable battle array. Public
platforms, the Press, electronic media—you name it—no
opportunity has been missed, no holds barred. However, no broad
consensus has emerged on the issue and the jury is still out.
globalisation is a response to the challenge of the global village.
As the world economy becomes more integrated and nations
increasingly inter-dependent, globalisation becomes compulsive. A
world with a progressive removal of barriers to trade, investment
and movement of capital across national boundaries is inevitably
drawn closer together. And a phenomenal advance in information
technology, movement of people—and ideas, helps. How does one halt
its march? Stay its sweep?
The net gains are
immense. By integrating economy, culture and governance,
globalisation offers unprecedented opportunities for human advance
for many; with market forces holding sway, it promotes economic
efficiency, generates growth, and multiplies profits. The flip side
though is not attractive. For such vital issues as equity, human
security, poverty eradication get short shrift. And there are not a
few who are directly affected. For large parts of Africa, Latin
America, above all Asia, globalisation spells a grim present—and a
The focus of the slim
volume under review is the Arab world, sprawling over a large part
of West Asia and a sizeable chunk of North Africa. Familiar names
spring to mind: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Syria,
Jordan and Lebanon. With a singular lack of liberal democratic
culture, the regimes here are, for most part, regressive. In the
event, the Arabs' distrust and hostility towards the West is
reinforced by the fear that globalisation is a Western imposition,
and would, therefore, necessarily spell disruption and disaster.
The overall picture is
sombre registering the Arab world's "low scoreboard" on
democratic institutions and "overwhelmingly negative"
perspective on globalisation. Mercifully, there is one bright patch.
And that is Kuwait—"Best house in bad neighbourhood". To
be sure, "Kuwait as a model" looms large on the horizon
with almost a third of the book devoted to this "most modern,
liberal and onward-looking country." Whose "pluralism and
openness" to the world and the "enlightened
leadership" and "political pragmatism" of whose Emir
show "a new vision" that is "worth emulating."
The study rests on an
impressive array of periodical literature drawn mostly from the
Western media with a smattering of Arab writers and commentators
thrown in. Unfortunately, however, there is a glut, which militates
against the flow of the narrative. Author of an earlier work The
Third World in the Age of Globalisation: Requiem or New Agenda?, Ash
Narian Roy holds a PhD degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University.