New ground on globalisation
P. K. Vasudeva

Globalisation and South Asia Multidimensional Perspectives
by Achin Vanaik
Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, Manohar, New Delhi.
Pages 362. Rs 745

This volume is the outcome of a seminar on Globalisation and South Asia held by the Academy of Third World Studies of Jamia Millia Islamia. Globalisation is often perceived as economic process of global integration, but in the conference, it has been envisaged that globalisation involves not only economics but also society, culture, politics, education, science and so on.

After a set of presentations, a new ground on globalisation has evolved. The papers of various experts have been complied in this volume. These pertain to representations of all social and science disciplines, including economics, social sciences, sociology, international relations and history.

In a chapter on Globalisation and the Indian Economy, Arvind Virmani, Arun Kumar, Sanjaya Baru and Prabhat Patnaik have talked about India's economic response in view of evolution of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the effect of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India. The authors have discussed the issues of threat and power and concluded that links between globalisation and marketisation are important in the current phase of globalisation that means manipulation of markets into social relations.

The chapter says that market is an institution where goods and services are exchanged. "They said the struggle at the WTO was not about high technology but about the terms on which intermediate and low technology would be available to the developing world."

They brought out that the WTO was attempting to enhance the trade of all MNCs through Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Trade Related Investment measures (TRIMS) with a view to letting the developed countries ultimately take control of the entire technology of the world.

In another chapter, Bibek Debroy and Jayati Ghosh have discussed the WTO starting right from GATT and its implications on the developing countries, especially after January 1, 2005, last date for the developing countries to start implementing the WTO recommendations. They have talked abut TRIPS, especially the public health issue, in which they have shown concern that after 2005, life-saving drugs for the diseases like AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and cancer will not be available to the developing countries and least developed countries at affordable rates.

On the globalisation of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, I. Mukherjee, P. Sahadevan, C. P. Chandrasekhar and Abhijit Sen have shown concern about the special and differential treatment (S&DT) meted out to the developing countries by the developed ones, which is part of the objectives of the WTO-to give special and preferential treatment to the poor countries. Their concern for these countries is absolutely worth considering for the developed world. Remedial measures should be taken so that all countries come up to a level playing field.

Praful in Globalisation and Science and Technology has talked about the genetically modified microorganisms (GMO), foods and seeds, which are looked at with great suspicion. The approach relating to naturally occurring microorganisms is still evolving; however, there is much greater certainty in the western world with regard to the GMOs.

The prominent view is that the GMOs are patentable because these are creations of man and cannot be regarded as "pre-existing" matter. He has argued that naturally occurring microorganisms, including genes, gene sequences, cell lines, sub-cellular material, etc., howsoever derived or trivially modified, are excluded from patentability. However, only the GMOs are allowed to be patented, if human intervention and value addition in their creation is substantial and the GMOs involve a novel genetic make-up like Polly and Molly.

In Globalisation in Foreign, Health, Education and Media, Mahesh Rangarajan, Mohan Rao, Krishan Kumar and Harish Kharin have dwelt on the issues pertaining to public health in great detail. The example of Jammu and Kashmir has been quoted, saying that it will not enforce Wild Life Protection Act because it has autonomy. The Head of the State says that if this Act is enforced, its weavers will be out of job. Hence such controversial issues need a deep consideration.

The roles of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been discussed in relation to their support to the developing countries on the health and environment issues. They have all shown concern that after the implementation of the WTO agreements, the cost of medicines, especially that of life-saving drugs will shoot up alarmingly, which is not the objective of the WTO.

After the implementation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the education sector is going to suffer a lot, as the GATS Code IV states that movement of natural persons will create many problems, as the focus of technocrats and educationists will be on settling in the developed countries.

A greater understanding among all 148-member countries is needed to arrive at a consensus. Those who are not aware of the WTO should indeed read this book.