Though both the United Nations and India have celebrated fifty years, they have been criticized for failing to translate the stated mandate for the disadvantaged millions. Half a century after Independence, as of now, we have the largest population of poor people in the world, one third of our rural population is below the poverty line and despite the UN agencies’ massive aid projects, the development assistance of the World Bank, bilateral aid, the Center and State governments’ intervention, the gap between the rich and the poor has doubled in the last three decades – fifteen years ago the lowest 20 per cent of global population received 2.5 per cent of global wealth whereas at present, the share has been reduced to less than 1.3 per cent. For example, the 1999 UNDP Human Development Report records that the gap between the rich and the poor among nations as well as within nations has widened. Even the World Bank in its Report for 1999 concedes that raising the GNP is not enough to improve human development, other social measures are needed. The trickle-down theory of economic development cannot bring out the desired results. It has also pointed out that India is ‘a country of stark contrasts and disparities.’ Among the widening contradictions some seem to be glaring. Undoubtedly food grain production has increased fourfold but 653 per cent of children under four remain undernourished; literacy has doubled, yet half the population is illiterate, life expectancy has improved but only 927 females survive for every 1000 males. As we have entered into the twenty-first century, it is imperative on our part to look at the scenario with bare facts and figures.
The problem statement
Does Globalization increase or reduce poverty.
Objective and scope
Poverty in India is widespread with the nation estimated to have a third of the world’s poor. According to a 2005 World Bank estimate, 42% of India’s falls below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day (PPP, in nominal terms Rs. 21.6 a day in urban areas and Rs 14.3 in rural areas); having reduced from 60% in 1980. According to the criterion used by the Planning Commission of India 27.5% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2004-2005, down from 51.3% in 1977-1978, and 36% in 1993-1994
Among the causes ascribed for the high level poverty in India are its history under British rule, large population, and low literacy. Also important is India’s social structure, including the caste system in India, and the role of women in Indian society. Economic growth has in the past been dampened by a dependence upon agriculture, and the economic policies adopted after its independence.
Since the 1950s, the Indian government and non-governmental organizations have initiated several programs to alleviate poverty, including subsidizing food and other necessities, increased access to loans, improving agricultural techniques and price supports, and promoting education and family planning. These measures have helped eliminate famines, cut absolute poverty levels by more than half, and reduced illiteracy and malnutrition.
(I) Defining globalization and poverty (II) Does Globalization reduce poverty, (III) Does Globalization increase poverty, (IV) What are the other reasons contributing to poverty, (V) What role The World Bank, IMF and WTO play in developing countries, (VI) Who benefit the most from globalization.
Defining Globalization and Poverty
“Globalization” has been defined in various dimensions. Among many established definitions, these are some of them. ‘Globalization as internationalization’ in which is viewed “as simply another adjective to describe cross-border relations between countries”; ‘Globalization as liberalization’ which refers to “a process of removing government-imposed restrictions on movements between countries in order to create an ‘open’, ‘borderless’ world economy”.
Defining poverty is controversial. Definition of poverty in developed countries may not be applicable to the one in developing countries. However, United Nations and World Bank define poverty line as living on less than a $1 and $2 a day for low income countries. Sociologists define poverty “a lack of essential items – such as food, clothing, water, and shelter – needed for proper living” .
Since “Globalization and Poverty” is a huge and very broad topic, this short paper is to attempt looking at one of the heated debate questions on whether globalization reduces or increase poverty. Numerous studies on this issue have been carried out. However, the findings are conflicting.
(II) Globalization Reduces Poverty
Neoliberal economists widely believe that globalized trade benefits not only the affluent but also the poor through trade integration. “Neoliberal economic theory–more open economies are more prosperous, economies that liberalize more experience a faster rate of progress” Wade (2004, p-567). The belief is that as countries open up their economy such as by slashing down the trade barriers for instance tariff, custom duty and quotas, price of imported goods will be affordable for the poor; foreign direct investments come in and create jobs in local economy. Consequently, this increases export growth and GDP. Millions of poor people’s living standard improves because of jobs created. China, India and Vietnam are often cited as good examples for success of globalized economy.
(III) Globalization Increases Poverty
On the contrary, many economists are unconvinced by the neoliberal economists’ view that globalization reduces poverty. Pilger (2001) in his TV report on Indonesia presents that despite investments from multinational corporations (eg. Nike, Levis, Reebok Classic, Calvin Klein Jeans, Adidas, Gap Inc.), poverty remains unchanged in Indonesia. On average, Indonesian workers are paid only slightly over Rupiah 9,000 (US$1) per day which is just over half of a living wage.
Harrison (2006) finds similar situation in Mexico. Mexico is a member of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in 1993 with Canada, Mexico and USA. If trade integration is to reduce poverty and benefit the poor as neoliberal economists suggest, poverty in Mexico should be declined. But, Harrison (2006, p-7) concludes that “poverty rates in Mexico in the year 2000 were higher than they had been ten years earlier.” This reinforces that neoliberal economists’ view on decline of poverty is unconvinced.
(IV) Other reasons contribute to poverty
Wade (2004, p-571) states that more than 1.2 billion people are still living on less than US$1 a day. The followings are some of the most recognized reasons contribute to poverty: lack of natural resources, natural disaster – long period of draught, corruption and sanctions imposed against specific country.
For example, according to United Nations, Cape Verde is one of the most stable democratic countries in Africa and the government is relatively mild in corruption. It ranks 49 out of 179 in Transparency International’s “2008 Corruption Perceptions Index “. But due to cycles of long-term drought, lack of natural resources, shortage of water supply and lack of foreign investments, the state is still among the poorest nations on earth despite its good governance.
Countries with rich endowment of nature resources also remain in poverty due to wide spread corruption, bad governance, political instability and economic sanctions imposed by powerful countries. For example, my country, Myanmar (Burma) is still among the world’s poorest countries despite rich endowment of natural resources from oil to various gem stones. It is due to political instability, severe corruption, lack of reliable judiciary system, basic infrastructures and economic sanction imposed by The US. Consequently, unemployment rate is remarkably high and chance of economic success for big majority of population is slim unless economic and political reform take place.
(V) Role of World Bank, IMF and WTO on development in poor countries
The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization are widely known as driving forces of trade liberalization. Pilger (2001) interviews several former executive officials of The World Bank and IMF in his TV report on Indonesia. Those officials explain that the roles The World Bank and IMF have played in Indonesia’s economy and various criteria a country to comply with order to get loan from them.
World Bank and IMF are supposedly to help poor countries. In reality, powerful countries use the two institutions as tools to suck up resources from developing countries via multinational corporations, according to the TV report. To get loans from the institutions, a country has to reform its economy which mainly means to open up markets and allow multinational corporations to access to country’s resources and privatize industries. Thus, complying with the criteria implies serving the best interests of multinational corporations.
In addition to opening up markets for multinational corporations, the loans also come with so called ‘technical experts’ or ‘consultants’. So, significant sum of the loans go back to developed countries as salaries of those ‘experts’.
To get loan from the institutions, a country also has to have a good relationship with the US because it controls 16.77% of total votes in IMF and 16.39% of The World Bank’s total vote. For instance, N-Korea and Cuba cannot get loans from the institutions because of sour relationship with The US.
World Trade Organization (WTO) is another driver of trade liberalization. It forces member countries to open up their markets and eliminate trade barriers. New members are also required to fulfill these criteria. Members are required to comply with intellectual property laws which were mainly written by the big corporations.
WTO is widely criticized for being ineffective to protect the interests of developing nations. When trade disputes occur, chance of getting success in legal battle for poor country is very slim even if it has a good ground because the mechanism is so expensive and complicated. Besides, it cannot force developed countries to stop subsidizing agricultural industry because farmers from poor countries are unable to compete with those heavily subsidized farmers in developed countries. Thus, poor countries always have less advantage in global trading system.
(VI) Who benefits the most from globalization?
There is no doubt that globalized trades/economy benefits all the parties concerned. However, various studies show that advanced countries are benefiting from the trades more than poor countries. Yotpoulos and Romano (2007, P-21) state that free markets and free trade work best if there are supported by extensive institutional structure such as business infrastructures, reliable legal system and political stability. Thus, globalization is more likely to favour the countries which are wealthy and institution rich, at the expense of those that are poor.
On the other hand, developing countries with strong infrastructure base, political stability, dependable legal system and abundant labor forces also benefit from globalization. China, India and Vietnam are often cited as ideal examples. Furthermore, United Nation (2007, P-23) asserts that countries with bargaining strength are more likely to benefit more from bilateral trade agreements and impose more onerous terms on the weaker parties.
“We must ensure that the global market is embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect global social needs, and that all the world’s people share the benefits of globalization.” Kofi Annan .
In short, it is hard to find convincing data to support either globalization reduces or increases poverty. However, it is clear that globalization is more beneficial to developed countries than to developing countries mainly because of wide spread corruption, bad governance, lack of necessary business infrastructures.
Unless world leaders share Kofi Annan’s concern “We must ensure that the global market is embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect global social needs, and that all the world’s people share the benefits of globalization.”, the following remarks are unfortunately likely to continue to be true.
George Monbiot (Environmentalist) summarizes, “Globalization is used to suggest a coming together of people of all races, all countries. It will relieve poverty and distribute wealth. What is actually happening is precisely the opposite. The Poor become markedly poorer and wealthy become staggeringly wealthier.”
United States Space Command (1997, p-6) remarks “The globalization of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.”
Ann Harrison, “GLOBALIZATION AND POVERTY” NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH, Working Paper 12347, Cambridge, 2006. www.nber.org/papers/w12347
John Pilger, “Globalization: New Rulers of the World”, Carlton Production, 2001. (TV report)
Pan A. Yotpoulos and Donato Romano (editors), “The Asymmetries of Globalization”, Routledge, USA
Achievements Towards Wawasan 2020 So Far Economics Essay
The implementation of such a great idea was and is still thought to be impossible by many Malaysians. The skepticism of many was understandable, but, as the saying goes, “Rome was not built in one day”. The initial efforts needed to bring the Wawasan 2020 vision to life had already been started since the early nineties. Many if the challenges set by Tun Dr. Mahathir have seen light in various forms, starting with some of the main challenges, being “Establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one Bangsa Malaysia” and “Establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society”
One Malaysia (1Malaysia) This particular goal is being implemented through the 1Malaysia programme, which is mostly being used as a catalyst for the Wawasan 2020 idea. The 1Malaysia programme was designed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on 16 September 2010, calling for the cabinet, governmental agencies, and civil servants to more strongly emphasize on ethnic harmony, national unity, and efficient governance. An official logo and slogan has been introduced along with the commencement of 1Malaysia concept. The logo is the symbol of ‘1’ which includes the national flag and the word Malaysia. The Malaysian government has spent RM 38 million to promote the 1Malaysia concept in 2010 (Joseph Sipalan, April 2011).
The 1Malaysia Logo
Moreover, the slogans for the 1Malaysia concept have been changing each year. The slogan for the beginning of the promotion campaign for the program, in 2009, was:
” Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan (People First, Performance Now)”
In 2010, it had been changed to:
“Menjana Transformasi (Generating Transformation)”
In 2011, the slogan was:
“Transformasi Berjaya, Rakyat Sejahtera (Transformation Successful, People Prosperous)”
For 2012, the slogan is:
“Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled)”
Many of the other challenges stated by Dr. Mahathir in his Wawasan 2020 concept have been implemented through the 1Malaysia initiative. For example, the 1Clinic programme was implemented under the 1Malaysia initiative and goes in line with one of the challenges set by Dr. Mahathir, being, “Establishing a fully caring society”. 1Malaysia Clinics have been launched in several areas across Malaysia and provide basic medical services for illnesses and injuries such as fever, cough, colds, wounds and cuts, diabetes, and hypertension. Malaysia citizens are charged RM1 for treatment and medication. Non-citizens are charged RM15.
There currently are 119 1Malaysia Clinics in Malaysia so far, and the Malaysian Ministry of Health is planning to increase this number to 175 by the end of 2012. (Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, The Star, September 2012)
Malaysian Economics One of the important points in the Wawasan 2020 project is the 7% per annum growth over the 30-year period. If the targeted growth is reached within the planned timeframe, the Malaysian GDP or gross domestic product would increase from RM115 billion in 1990 to RM920 billion by 2020 (“The Way Forward”, Prime Minister’s Office, November 2008), in increase nearly by eight. Alongside, the population is estimated to have a slow increase to around 32 Million at an average of 1.9 percent per annum during the period. This wished-for increase in output and the slower expected growth of the population will result in the per capita income steadily rising from RM 6,180 to RM 26,100 by 2020- ranking Malaysia among one of the high income nations.
But Malaysia still faces many challenges.
In an interview with The star on the 11th August 2008, Dr Mahathir said:
“However, slower economic growth may result in the country not being able to achieve the degree of the vision that was planned. We are not growing like before. We grew at eight percent before and now it is less than seven percentâ€¦if the world economy is not doing well, Malaysia will not do well. “
Malaysia being a trade-dependent nation, this is particularly true, but Dr. Mahathir also said that Malaysia was on the right track towards achieving his vision.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has praised Malaysia for its strategic plan to turn the country into a high-income nation status by 2020, noting that the government is taking the right approach through its Economic Transformation Programme and other reforms (Kamarul Yunus, November 2012)
In 2011, the Malaysian economy grew by 5.1%, but the estimated growth for 2012 is expected to revolve around 4.5%-5%, the growth being weight down by external factors, according the 2012-2013 economic report. Supporting the resilient domestic economy would be the public and private sectors in the midst of the more conducive financial market conditions, stable prices and a favourable labour market, which may point towards better results.
The services sector, the major driver of GDP growth for Malaysia in 2012, is expected to record 5.5% growth. The intermediate services sector – communication and real estate and business services – are expected to grow at a stronger pace of 9.3% and 6.6%. However, finance and insurance and transport are expected to expand slower at 4.2% and 5.2%. Wholesale and retail trade is expected to expand at a moderate pace of 5.7%. This segment accounts of 14.5% of GDP. Significant growth is also expected in construction, manufacturing and exports (The Star-September 28)
Malaysian Incorporated concept. The Malaysia Incorporated concept was first announced by the Prime Minister in 1983 and it represents a new way of approaching the task of national development. Both the public and private sectors adopt the idea that the nation is a corporate or business entity, jointly owned by both sectors and working together in pursuit of a common mission of the nation. To operationalise this concept, several mechanisms were established (epu.gov.my):
Deregulation of cumbersome bureaucratic rules and regulations;
Improving the delivery system;
Institutionalizing the consultative machinery between the private and public sectors;
Establishing smart partnership programmes in nation building efforts between the private and public sectors; and
ICT, Scientific and Technological Progress 4.1 MSC Malaysia MSC Malaysia, formerly known as the Multimedia Super Corridor is a program was officially inaugurated by the 4th Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on 12 February 1996. The founding of the MSC initiative was crucial to accelerate the objectives of Wawasan 2020 and to transform Malaysia into a modern state by the year 2020, with the adoption of a knowledge-based society framework (Jeong, 2007).
The construction of the building began in 1992. It was completed in 1995 and opened to the public the following year.
MSC flagship applications were launched to boost the MSC Malaysia initiatives and to create a multimedia hub for innovative producers and users of multimedia technology. Both local and foreign companies collaborated with various government agencies, departments and ministries to enhance the socio-economic development of Malaysia for the new millennium and drive Malaysia towards the information and knowledge age. The vision and mission of the Multimedia Super Corridor as expressed by Dr Mahathir Mohammad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia at the time (1981-2003), is basically expressed below:
“MSC is paramount to leapfrog (Malaysia) into the 21st century and to achieve Malaysia’s Vision 2020, the MSC was created to endeavour the best environment to harness the full potential of the multimedia without any artificial limits. MSC is a global test bed (hub), where the limits of the possible can be explored, and new ways of living, working, and playing in the new area of the Information Age.” (Ibrahim Ariff