The Dark Side of Globalisation

Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, China, India, the USA and the European countries, a huge number of nations have indeed benefited hugely from globalisation. The developing economies of India and China found investors overseas who were willing to pump in money into their economies and raise the standard of living of their populations. Poverty has reduced in these two countries at a stellar rate. Moreover, there came Multinational Corporations offering jobs and livelihoods to the Indians and Chinese. It was indeed a two-way street as foreigners made money from their investments as the economies boomed and the corporate found joy in the significant cutting of their labour costs. The Asian Tigers, which is a nickname given to the economies of Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea could now export huge quantities of electronic and other manufacturing goods to the gargantuan consumption engines of the US and European Union. They made money out of selling goods and imported goods. Their economies grew at astounding rates and the Westerners were pleased with the cheaper yet high-quality goods. It is certainly tenable to argue that globalisation has proved to be a boon; however, the other side of globalisation – the dark side, is often neglected and shoved away from the limelight. As the rich countries count their profits and the emerging economies plot their rising growth trends to development, the world’s poorest and most needy still remain where they are, sometimes even worse than they were before.


Myanmar is a striking example of how richer and more powerful countries can exploit the poor via a new form of economic imperialism. In 2007, the Chinese sent teams to Myanmar to look for oil reserves in the resource-rich state of Arakan. This western part of Myanmar stands untouched by development and the people live a backward life, cut off from the rest of the world thanks to the Burmese junta. So, drill towers were erected and they lacerated the earth looking for the black gold. The villagers did not understand anything, perplexed at seeing tall structures that towered over their shanty bamboo huts. Then later that year, the Indians arrived and promised the villagers compensation in exchange for their rice paddy fields. Thus, villagers were stripped of their livelihood in return for a promise, one they aren’t sure will be fulfilled.


In a very controversial deal, South Korea’s iconic corporation, Daewoo leased nearly half of all arable land in the poverty-stricken country of Madagascar. Being a developed nation with limited land resources, South Korea cited food security as the reason. The cost was nothing, no money but only creation of farming jobs for the locals. Understandably, the people of Madagascar stirred a debate regarding if this was a new form of colonialism. This is not an isolated case, Saudi firms have reportedly made plans to grow crops in Sudan and Indonesia. The UAE is considering buying land in Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Kuwait and Qatar are pursuing Cambodian rice fields. The Chinese have made huge investments in African countries like Nigeria. One wonders if this form of exploitation will be more tragic than the imperialism of the bygone centuries. Africa has always been resource rich which is why the Europeans colonised and now it seems like it’s the turn of the Asians to reap profits from Africa.


The G-20 and the G-7 are powerful associations of powerful and advanced nations that plot the course of the entire globe in terms of the economy and geopolitics. I believe that there is an even greater need for other groups, not of the rich and developed, but of the poor and the developing. Countries like Madagascar, Nigeria and Myanmar need to awaken to exploitation and by forming associations with other nations like them, they can safeguard their interests. They need to rally for greater rights to developing nations for they need it the most. If these deals can be between equals, it will benefit both the rich and the poor but at this moment, the fate of the small farmers sees dire. The developed world is already rich; the poor need the fruits of globalisation more. I feel that it is an obligation on the parts of western countries and even more of India and China who benefited from globalisation, to ensure that their investments lead to a better life for the locals and not worsen their already poor conditions. The imperialist powers of yesteryears harmed the economies of Asia and Africa before; it is of utmost importance that the same phenomenon is not repeated by other nations in the modern world.

Sainyam Gautam

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