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Making People Better Off, Since 1991

Making People Better Off, Since 1991

By Sadaf Hussain

I come from a very small town in India, not even sure if they have marked it on the political map. When I moved to Delhi 5 years ago I saw the ‘real world’— fast cars, fancy food, good wine, coffee breweries, big roads, millions of brands and a plethora of choices of products. I was like a small kid standing in front of a candy store and going crazy, wanting to have everything within my reach.

What was the difference between these two places? People are people, there are good and bad people everywhere. So what is the reason that Delhi is better to live in than my home town? Is it lack of access to clean water, is it because people are malnourished, or is it because they have small cars? Or perhaps because people are lazy in my hometown but active in Delhi, or people are less educated.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]In my view,  the reason for the difference is poverty, rest everything is just a symptom. To sum it up – we are marginalised, not globalised.[/su_pullquote]

I remember my father having one green colour Bajaj Scooter and that was his pride. He used to sit on the scooter just like a warrior on his war horse. A warrior primarily for two reasons—first, proud since he was among the few who owned a vehicle when the economy was getting liberalised, but secondly, since there were only a few petrol pumps, you never knew when you would have to get down and push your heavy scooter for miles. I believe growing up this was the best example of globalisation in progress, one where we finally had our own scooter but then just a few petrol pumps to refill the tank.

I remember making international trunk calls and standing in queue to call my uncle in Saudi (of course as a Muslim or South Indian, one family member has to live in Middle East)! Then there was the time when mobile phones had just come out,  and calls used to cost Rs 8 per minute on a device which was just meant to call and do nothing else. Those devices aren’t around anymore, we have fancy phones and tablets, free calling, Skype, WhatsApp, Snapchat and now, apps like Tinder (for all our dating needs). Look at what else we have! We have the Internet, good gyms, airbuses, good hospitals, a better security system, refrigerators, LCD TVs and thousands of channels on them, gas stoves and microwaves, and most importantly we have donuts and burgers. Isn’t that wonderful.

This was my family’s story. You know what led to this? GLOBALISATION. Globalisation is good, moving people out of poverty and misery since 1991 🙂

But this isn’t a new concept, Andre Gunder Frank argued that a form of globalisation has been in existence since the rise of trade links between Sumer and the Indus Valley Civilization in the third millennium B.C. Thomas L. Friedman divides the history of globalisation into three periods: Globalisation 1 (1492–1800), Globalisation 2 (1800–2000) and Globalisation 3 (2000–present). He states that Globalisation 1 involved the globalisation of countries, Globalisation 2 involved the globalisation of companies and Globalisation 3 involves the globalisation of individuals.

We, the people of the Republic of India are living in Globalisation Stage 3, thanks to the IMF and Manmohan Singh, former PM and Finance Minister. He also once said,

 Globalisation could be the answer to many of the world’s seemingly intractable problems. 

Globalisation and free trade gave people more money in their hand, to spend more, to invest more in the things that they always wanted to invest on. Indian per capita income increased from Rs 11,535 in 1991 to Rs 41,129 in 2011 (at constant prices). When we got more money, our country started becoming more literate, from 52.21 percent literacy in 1991 to 74.04 in 2011. The reason for this is not rocket science, but basic logic. People spend money when they have surplus, versus when they have a limited amount in their accounts. International trade has drastically reduced poverty within developing nations and as Tyler Cowen has mentioned it’s Not the Inequality; It’s the Immobility that we should be worried about.

Just take a walk to the narrow lanes of Hauz Rani in New Delhi, you’ll see trends and culture. You’ll see laborers from Bihar, UP and Jharkhand earning more and living in a much better condition than back home. Bangladeshis with fruit stores, Afghanis selling food and breads, Africans cutting hair. Globalisation and free trade isn’t just making rich people rich, it is helping everyone grow, some at a slower pace, others a bit faster. But fair trade is giving everybody a chance to work for their livelihood.

Globalisation in India

One of the many MNC outlets in India | Photo Courtesy:

Put things in perspective, Johan Norberg has said it best in his book In Defense of Global Capitalism “basically, what I believe in is neither capitalism nor globalisation… I believe in man’s capacity for achieving great things and in the combined force resulting from encounters and exchanges. I plead for greater liberty and a more open world… because it provides a setting which liberates individuals and their creativity as no other system can. It spurs the dynamism which has led to human, economic, scientific, and technical advances, and which will continue to do so.”

One should be grateful for the things that we have now. We should thank free trade and free markets for what we have now, rather than complaining and asking for more regulations than what we already have. Of course we have to go miles from here, we have to achieve more, produce more and take everyone out of poverty but we have taken the right step. Let’s not go back. Let’s not argue about globalisation and reducing poverty because as Kofi Annan has said, arguing against globalisation is like arguing against the laws of gravity. 

If now you are still not convinced about globalisation, then you must watch capitalism, this advertisement by DHL Power of Global Trade.

I rest my case. Long live globalisation, free trade and free markets.

This article was originally published in Spontaneous order

Featured Image Source: Kevin Young via Unsplash

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