By Vasundhra Krishna

Edited by Namrata Caleb,Senior Editor,The Senior editor,The Indian Economist

Nationalism is the feeling of being associated with a particular nation, its people and it culture. Culture is a way of life; it is a set of beliefs, customs, cuisines, religion, festivals, etc. Nationalism constitutes three major features, national identity—the sense of attachment of individual to a particular nation state, self determination—the right of belonging to a sovereign nation and solidarity—the ties of unification with the other residents of the nation.

Globalization on one hand means integration of the countries of the world i.e. coming together of nations such that it facilitates exchange of goods and services, culture, ideas, technology and employment opportunity in every part of the world.

The concept of the world being a global village has emerged, and its doctrine says that all the cultures of the world are converging into a common culture; the prosperity of a country lies in the collective progress and prosperity of the entire world.

However it is all too altruistic. Though it is true that there are many situations in which the best outcome will emerge only if decisions are taken keeping in mind the need of all the nations but there are also instances in which what is best for the world may not be in alignment with a nation’s interest. Thus we see that in some situations, globalism and nationalism are at loggerheads.

India received a lot of flak for refusing to sign the trade facilitation agreement which was a move to simplify procedures for trade and customs, at the recently concluded WTO conference, which would promote trade in the world that would boost trading nation’s economy, because it was not allowing India to provide food subsidy to the poor of the country. Here is a conflict of globalism and nationalism. Where promoting trade and growth is a common goal for all the countries of the world thus promulgating globalism, providing food is a nationalistic goal for all the developing countries and India in particular.

Another case is of global concerns over CO2 and climate change summits that take place. Rapid industrialization causes CO2 emissions and global warming and industrialization is considered as the key to the development of any country. But there is no definite legally binding framework laid to reduce pollution as developed and developing countries always are in conflict with each other. The developed ones want the developing countries to follow same emission standards as them. To this the developing countries response is that the current polluted state of the environment is because of their process of industrialization, so first they will also attain the same levels of development and only then will they follow similar standards. Until then they should be given concessions. Thus there is clear lack of clarity on the potential clash between national interest and global interest.

Yet another example is of countries that enter other sovereign nations under the garb of globalism, that the world is a global village and every nations problem is their problem which they ought to redress, but in reality they impinge upon the sovereignty of the nations and jeopardize their nationalism

Big powers like the USA and Russia over the years have targeted specific regimes by arming rebel groups with lethal weapons, thereby destabilizing some states and contributing to the rise of dangerous extremists and terrorists. The destabilization of Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, among other states, is a result of such continuing geopolitical games.

Those who play such games assume a moral posture to rationalize their interventionist policies and evade responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Indeed, they paint their interference in the affairs of other sovereign states as aimed at fighting the “bad” guys.

Mr. Obama set out on the mission of regime change in Syria by seizing the opportunity that opened up in 2011, when popular protests broke out in some cities against President Bashar al-Assad’s autocratic rule. The detention and torture of a group of schoolchildren, who had been caught scribbling anti-government graffiti in the city of Deraa, led to protests and demands for political reforms and a series of events that rapidly triggered an armed insurrection with external assistance.

From bases in Turkey and Jordan, the rebels — with the clandestine assistance of the U.S., Britain and France — established a Free Syrian Army, launching attacks on government forces. Washington and its allies simultaneously mounted an intense information war demonising Mr. Assad.

It is clear three years later that their regime-change strategy has backfired: Not only has it failed to oust Mr. Assad, it has turned Syria into a failed state and led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — a brutal, medieval organisation seeking to establish a caliphate across the Middle East and beyond.

Now, consider a different case where a regime-change strategy spearheaded by the U.S., Britain and France succeeded — Libya. The ouster of Col. Muammar Qadhafi’s government through U.S.-led aerial bombardment in 2011, however, ended up fomenting endless conflict, bloodletting and chaos in Libya.

The plain truth is that it is easier for outside forces to topple or undermine a regime than to build stability and security in the targeted country. Such is the United Nations’ marginalisation in international relations that it is becoming irrelevant to the raging conflicts. There are US and a few other countries’ hegemony in almost all international institutions like UN, World Bank and IMF.

Thus the only solution to this could be that the smaller developing countries strengthen themselves and stay united and in cooperation with other developing countries to curtail the growing influence of  global super powers, thus protecting their nationalist interest. Moreover there is hope that the New Bank that is being formed by the BRICS nation will help ameliorate the situation and mitigate the bias exhibited by the World Bank, IMF and its likes.

.The opening of the call centers, the BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing) and multinational companies has created tremendous job opportunities. The booming IT sector has purely emerged out of the economic liberalization which in turn is nothing but the off shoot of globalization. It has created so many job opportunities and raised the standard of living of many people

Developed nations invest their money in developing nations to earn a greater return on their money. Economic liberalization has allowed freer flow of capital; this financial capital comes to the nation in the form of FDIs(Foreign Direct Investment) and FIIs(Foreign Institutional Investment). This however causes the foreign investors to demand more and more control over the rules governing the host countries administration, like reduced government spending on public services and infrastructure, which may not always be helpful to the host nation.  In India we have FDI in retail and defense, and soon we will have it in other sectors too like insurance. Where on one side it brings capital to our country which helps in economic growth, on the flip side, it leads to increased competition for Indian firms who do not have resources at par with the MNCs and thus they find difficult to survive in such a fiercely competitive environment.

Globalization has lead to cultural exchange among the nations. The advocates of globalization say it has helped us to have a peek into other cultures, adopt the better practices they have and shun the irrational ideology that we follow in our indigenous culture and hence develop a scientific temper. While those opposing it say, it has lead to the loss of one’s own unique culture and there is a race to modernize— which is often confused with copying the culture of USA.

Globalization and the nation state are realities that need to be reconciled with each other. Without a reasonable internal capacity which includes economic, political and social strength, no country should attempt to globalize. To attempt to insulate from globalization and go it alone would be a disaster. Equally to do it without having acquired enough internal capacity would also mean surrendering to external forces. UN and all the international organizations like WTO, IBRD, and IMF should be made to serve the entire international community, and not the rich and powerful as is the present system. However, the onus does not completely rest on the external globalizing forces alone. Good governance requires that speedy progress is made adequate for external liberalization. Indian government and the civil society have to find ways how to deal with the globalization.

To conclude, it would be appropriate to say that the conflict between Nationalism and globalism emerges only if domestic capacity to be a full partner in international undertakings is lacking. In such cases, joining the globalized family erodes the nation-states identity and this leads to impoverishment, instability of the weaker states and consequent chauvinism of the economically and politically powerful states.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind