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India and Globalisation Barriers Essay


Introduction

This paper is based on the topic of globalisation. It seeks to explore the barriers which inhibit the phase of globalisation. Some of the barriers include the war on terrorism, various pandemics, economic crisis, and cultural differences. The paper is divided into two sections. The first section explores the concept of globalisation and outlines the barriers to globalisation. The second section is a case study of India, which is one of the countries ranked below position 70 in the depth index of globalisation. It is argued that the main barrier which inhibits India’s integration with the rest of the world is its culture. The reason why India’s culture is hard to change or adapt to is the homogeneity of Indians in terms of language, cultural beliefs, traditions, and religion.

The Concept of Globalisation

Globalisation is an attempt to eliminate the differences between people of the world through interaction and communication. Before World Wars, the world was characterised by minimal interaction, communication, and cross-border movements. However, after the World Wars, this situation changed. The changes were mainly triggered by the desire of nations to unite in various spheres of development such as economy, education, employment, environment, and governance (Beck 2000).

The main driving forces of globalisation include the advancement of information and communication technology, improved transport systems, and liberalisation of trade and immigration policies. Globalisation has made it possible for any person to be employed anywhere in the world. Through it also, people can study, marry, and stay in any part of the world irrespective of their cultural orientation (Waters 2001). Globalisation has led to cultural diversity which refers to the static representation of several cultures in a place and at a particular time. Due to globalisation, today’s society is becoming culturally diverse day by day (Chrysanthopoulos 2010).

A good example to illustrate how globalisation has taken effect in the United States (US), which is famous for being the home and destiny of people from various cultural backgrounds. Despite the various cultural backgrounds of many US citizens, it remains to be a leading superpower of the world in many aspects such as science and technology, education, governance, economic stability, military prowess among others (Steger 2010).

This example of the US is an indication that globalisation is capable of making an organisation or a nation to excel in various sectors. The main reason why the US is a preferred destination is that it has liberalised its immigration policies. There are also abundant education and employment opportunities. It also has policies which do not discriminate people based on their culture.

Globalisation Trends

Different scholars have different views regarding the history of globalisation. Some argue that it is a phenomenon which started as early as the time of Greek civilisation while others are of the view that it is a phenomenon which belongs to the modern era. However, what is evident is that from the definition of globalisation, it must have started during the conquest of America by the Europeans. The conquest was triggered by Christopher Columbus’ erroneous discovery of America when he was on a mission to discover Asia (Fiske 2007).

Globalisation, therefore, started early before the industrial revolution of 1600 (Clark 2008). The earliest form of globalisation can be traced back to the Hellenistic Age during which many urban centres came up in Europe, leading to the establishment of popular cities such as Athens, Antioch, and Alexandria. The major characteristic of these cities is that they were a reflection of Greek’s culture and economy (Spielvogel 2010).

Another pointer of the early form of globalisation can be found in the integration of trade between the famous Roman Empire and other empires such as the Han dynasty and the Parthian Empire (Wyborny 2004). This integration led to the establishment of what came to be known as the Silk Road stretching from China to Rome (Wood 2004). This road is known to have intensified trade between nations which had not traded together before. The period before the industrial revolution also witnessed the globalisation of agriculture, in which crops like cotton and sugar started being grown by non-Muslim countries across the globe (Wood 2004).

After the World Wars, a new form of globalisation emerged. This new form of globalisation was characterised by the desire to integrate the world’s social, political, and economic spheres. The leaders of many countries thought that the World Wars were caused by poor integration of the world’s social, economic, and political spheres. Before the World Wars, many countries considered harming others as a strategy of gaining popularity and influence across the globe (Buckman 2004).

With time, the new form of globalisation evolved to the contemporary form of globalisation which is characterised by the liberalisation of trade, the emergence of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and global institutions such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other institutions affiliated to the United Nations. It is also characterised by increased rates of immigration, technology transfer, and the liberalisation of education systems which allow people to study in any part of the world.

Culture has also been globalised through the new media, which constitutes digital communication which enables users to exchange information in an interactive manner and in real-time. Examples include the internet, websites, and social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The new media has revolutionised the way people communicate and share information. For instance, people can exchange photographs, messages, and audio-visual content. These have reduced the social distance between people (Agyemang 2001).

However, the recent trends at the international platform show a threat to globalisation which is majorly based on the intensive campaign by civil society organisations. These civil society organisations have been pushing for an international order where the countries of the world remain sovereign and autonomous in their political, social, and economic development (Scholte 2005). The main argument by the civil society organisations is that globalisation is a tool for the rich nations like the US to propagate their cultural, economic, and political imperialism to the weak nations (Kelsey 2002).

Barriers to Globalisation

Pandemics

The contemporary form of globalisation is characterised by the increased movement of people across the globe for various reasons like employment, education, asylum, and leisure. The increased movement of people is facilitated by the eradication of barriers which restrain the cross-border movement. However, the eradication of the barriers to cross-border movement is not accompanied by the establishment of infrastructure, which ensures the safety of the citizens of different countries. This situation is a leading cause of the spread of deadly pandemics such as swine flu, bird flu, and Ebola (Rodrik 2004).

Recently, the fear of deadly pandemics has been working against globalisation and has forced countries to review their relationship with other countries to ensure that their interaction does not compromise the health and safety of citizens. A good example to illustrate this argument is the refusal by Morocco to host the African cup of nations due to the fear of Ebola. Essentially, football is an aspect of globalisation in the sense that it brings people from different backgrounds together. This refusal by Morocco to host the tournament is equivalent to reversing the gains made in integrating the African people through sports.

Global Financial Crisis

Economic analysts have attributed the 2008 global economic crisis to the extreme integration of the world’s economy. The reliance on the US dollar by many countries led to global inflation which deepened the economic crisis. The crisis was prolonged by the reliance on oil from the Middle East. The political instability of the Middle East witnessed in 2010 led to a scarcity of fuel which made the cost of living to go up in many countries. After the 2008 crisis and the 2010 problems associated with political instability in the Middle East, many countries especially the developing ones have become resistant to the integration of the world’s systems through globalisation which they consider as an enemy of cultural, economic, and political progress (Aswathappa 2010).

In Africa, for example, there have been serious attempts by governments to protect some cultural practices, which have been compromised by the adoption of western culture. The leaders of many African countries strongly believe that the watering down of African culture and values negatively affects the social and economic infrastructure of the African continent. For instance, the Maasai community of Kenya is known for its rich cultural practices, beliefs, and traditions. These have enabled it to remain united and have economic stability. One of the Maasai traditions is pastoralism. This practice is both a source of income and an attraction of tourists. However, there have been some attempts by global initiatives to introduce a modern type of agriculture in Maasailand. The modern type of agriculture advocates for the combination of cattle rearing and growing of food crops. These attempts have been resisted because they are perceived as a threat to the social and economic welfare of the Maasai people.

Global Insecurity

Globalisation has led to the easy movement of people across borders due to international policies which require the abolishment of strict immigration laws which make it hard for people to move from one country to another. The abolishment of strict immigration laws has led to global terrorism, which is orchestrated by religious extremists posing as genuine immigrants. For instance, the September 11 terror attacks on the US are believed to have been planned and executed by illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico. The reason is that the US has liberalised its immigration laws and made it easy for any person to enter the country.

Terrorism has recently become a leading cause of moral panic to the US and its allies, especially after the September 11 terrorism attacks where thousands of American citizens lost their lives (Kevin 2002). Raphael Perl has listed the countries which support terrorism, and they include Libya, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Sudan (Perl 2004). These are the countries which were described by the former US President George W. Bush as “the axis of evil” in that they were not only seen as supporting terrorism but also perpetuating other criminal activities like manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction.

After this episode, war on terrorism became an issue of national and international concern and forced many countries to adjust their national security strategies. For instance, the US shifted its strategy from deterrence to pre-emptiness through coercion of opponents to abandon extremism (Collins 2007).

The September 11 terrorism attacks made the US government scale up its fight against terrorism. As a result, former US President George W. Bush signed the US Patriotic Act into law (Ball 2004). The Act required Americans to sacrifice some of their civil liberties like the right to privacy through internet communication in exchange for protection by the government. The aim was to help the FBI trace and identify any premeditated terrorist attacks and take the necessary measures to protect the citizens. The government considered such a violation as necessary because failure to do so would have caused another round of terrorism attacks. However, it was not easy to balance the protection of citizens from terrorism and respecting their civil liberties.

The negative impact of the US Patriotic Act was that the encroachment of people’s rights and freedoms by the government was subject to abuse. For example, the government intensified the interrogation and screening of Muslim citizens in its efforts to prevent terrorism which amounted to racial discrimination. There was also the issue of the Guantanamo prison in which those suspected to be terrorists were locked up for a long time without trial, which went against the bill of rights of the American constitution and the Geneva convention on human rights. The interception of mails and emails by the FBI and eavesdropping on people’s conversations and especially lawyers and their clients were not only unethical but also amounted to a violation of civil liberties (Robert 2004).

The violation of civil liberties also had a wide range of social, legal, and psychological costs both at the societal, family, and individual levels. The society became polarised due to lack of social cohesion. The lack of social cohesion led to hatred between Muslims and other citizens. Consequently, further divisions emerged instead of unity of purpose, and as a result, families and individuals ended up being traumatised, which made them not to enjoy their life.

The war on terrorism has isolated the US from the Muslim community due to the mistrust between the US government and Muslims. While the US considers all Muslims as potential terrorists, the Muslims consider the US as their worst enemy. The US has lately been working tireless to limit the number of foreigners who acquire its citizenship. It has also been threatening non-citizens with deportation from time to time. One may wonder whether it is the same US which a few years back was known for embracing cultural diversity. All these actions are an indication of a change in perception regarding the importance of cultural integration on the part of the US. As a result, the concept of globalisation has been rendered irrelevant due to the realisation that it has a potential of compromising the security of US citizens (James 2001).

Cultural Differences

Culture constitutes the beliefs, values, and aspirations of people. It varies from one community to another and influences people’s behaviour, perceptions, and socioeconomic characteristics. Different countries have different cultures which greatly influence international business and management for MNCs. In most cases, the culture of a country reflects the culture of organisations to a great extent because the majority of employees for MNCs usually come from the host countries. There is, therefore, the need for MNCs to have a good understanding of the cultures of different countries.

Culture influences various organisational processes, such as management, work ethics, efficiency, and effectiveness. It comprises the things which are cherished by people in a given social setting. It is defined as a people’s way of life and comprises the accepted and patterned behaviour of people over a certain period. It may also refer to a body of common understanding which encompasses values, attitudes, and traditions shared by a group of people through various ways such as language, history, and music.

Even though there are some aspects of culture which are physical like food, clothing, and so forth, many aspects of culture do not exist in a physical form. As a result, culture is largely internalised by individuals. This internalisation of culture makes it hard for people to see things from the perspective of other cultures; in other words, culture is always resistant to change because people are always comfortable with what they know than what is new or strange to them (Quick 2014).

The internalisation of culture also makes it hard for people to adapt to new cultures. When people are transferred to work as expatriates, they usually become disoriented due to the experience brought about by their relocation. This feeling is what is referred to as culture shock. It manifests itself differently in terms of time and intensity among different people, meaning that some people experience the disorientation immediately while others experience it after some time. The same applies to how the individuals adapt to the new culture. Some adapt very easily, others take time to adapt, while others fail to adapt at all, but they stick to their own culture and find means of surviving in the new environment.

The cultural differences between people from different countries are always experienced in the workplace. The differences are manifested in terms of how different employees perceive work, its value to them, and how to separate work and personal affairs. While citizens of some countries like the US can separate work with personal affairs, others like the French are not able to do so (Steers, Sánchez-Runde & Nardon 2010).

The cultural differences between countries are a major barrier to globalisation. The reason is that some cultures are complicated and are hard to change. Since culture is part and parcel of individuals, it is not easy to change their behaviour. It is also not easy for someone to fit in the culture of a particular country because some cultures influence personal values, perceptions, and general understanding and interpretation of different aspects of life. For instance, while polygamy is rare in western culture, it is a widely accepted norm in many African countries. Despite the penetration of the western culture in African countries, the practice of polygamy has remained as a norm for a long time. This example shows that there is resistant to the globalisation of family values and structures due to cultural differences.

In the field of management, cultural differences can be a barrier to globalisation. For instance, many organisations in the west are used to having women as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs). However, this practice is rare in many African organisations due to vertical and horizontal segregation of jobs. As a result, women CEOs posted to lead organisations in African countries rarely succeed due to lack of support by the African men who believe that women cannot make good CEOs. These differences, therefore, act as a barrier to the globalisation of management practices (Bhagwati 2004).

India’s Culture and Globalisation

In terms of depth index of globalisation, India was ranked at position 107 in 2013 (Goldstein 2007). The main barrier which inhibits India’s integration with the rest of the world is culture. This barrier is best understood using Hoftedes’s cultural differentiations. According to Hofstede, culture refers to the “collective programming of the mind which distinguishes one group from another”. In his research, Hofstede came up with five dimensions which describe cultures for different countries. These dimensions are most applicable in international business because they describe each country’s five cultural dimensions, thus giving investors an overview of what they should expect when doing business in a particular country.

Hofstede’s Five Cultural Dimensions

Power Distance Index (PDI)

Power is a concept used to refer to the possession of the ability to direct or influence others to behave in a certain manner either through coercion or dialogue. PDI has to do with equality or inequality between people in a country and the extent to which the citizens of a country embrace or fail to embrace such equality or inequality. A high ranking in PDI is characteristic of caste systems where upward social mobility is highly restrained. A low ranking in the same is an indication that there are no inequalities in the distribution of power and wealth in a society and social institutions. It also means that the citizens of that country do not embrace inequality irrespective of their social, economic, and academic status (Luger 2009).

Individualism (IDV)

According to Luger, IDV looks at how the citizens of a country embrace individual or collective success. A high ranking in IDV means that individuality is a norm in that society and that the citizens tend to form very loose interpersonal relationships (Luger 2009). A low ranking in IDV means that society is cohesive, and the citizens value collective success than individual success. This cohesiveness is common in communities which still value extended familial arrangements where almost everything is perceived as a responsibility of all the people (Luger 2009).

Masculinity (MAS)

It looks at how gender differences influence the distribution and control of wealth and power among citizens of a country. It also looks at the extent to which men cherish feminine roles and values as well as how women cherish masculine roles and values. In countries where MAS rankings are high, roles are highly differentiated along gender lines. The reverse is true for countries with a low ranking in MAS, meaning that both men and women have similar roles and values (Luger 2009).

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)

It has to do with the extent to which society embraces ambiguity and uncertainty (Luger 2009). A high ranking in UAI means that clear rules and laws guide the country while a low ranking means that the country is open to new ideas and it embraces diversity. Such a country is also capable of utilising diversity to bring positive change in various sectors such as the economy, education, health, and business (Luger 2009).

Long-term Orientation (LTO)

It has to do with the extent to which society embraces long-term dedication to traditions, forward-thinking, and values (Luger 2009). A high ranking in LTO is an indication that the country considers hard work and traditions as the basis for the establishment of long-term benefits. It also means that an outsider may have difficulties in establishing and stabilising his or her business due to strict adherence to traditions by the people. On the other hand, a low ranking in LTO means that the country does not embrace traditional values which impede change. Such a country is also open to new ideas and innovations which may make it a preferred choice for MNCs (Luger 2009).

The table below shows the ranking of India in terms of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.

Cultural Dimension India World’s Average
Power Distance Index (PDI ) 77% 56.6%
Individualism (IDV) 43% 64%
Masculinity( MAS) 56% 51%
UncertaintyAvoidance Index (UAI) 40% 65%
Long Term Orientation (LTO) 61% 48%

Source: International business centre, 2008. (Link provided at the reference list).

Work Ethics in India

India has three secular public holidays which are observed nationally. During these holidays, all businesses and government offices are not operational. The holidays include January 26 (Republic Day), August 15 (Mahatma Gandhi Birth Day), and October 2 (Independence Day) (India Dept. of Culture 2002).

There are 14 additional holidays for the public in which offices for the central government and banks remain closed.11 of the 14 are compulsory. At the same time, the other three are decided on a state basis and are based on religion (India Dept. of Culture 2002). Each of India’s 29 states has its additional holidays which are marked in different days and months of the year (India Dept. of Culture 2002). Holidays may also be declared by the central government following major events such as strikes, elections, or death of a prominent person. In terms of holidays, therefore, India is very unpredictable. As a result, foreigners must anticipate inconveniences brought about by holidays which are not recognised nationally but by states (India Dept. of Culture 2002).

As per section 54 of the factory Act of 1948, Indian adult workers are supposed to work for a maximum of 9 hours in a day and not more than 48 hours in a week (Sharma 2006). Section 66 of the same Act and section 25 of Karnataka shops and commercial establishment Act of 1961 does not allow women to work from 7 pm to 6 am (Sharma 2006). Indians are poor in time management, and many cases; meetings are postponed, rescheduled or cancelled altogether. Bureaucratic procedures are the order of the day in many organisations (Sharma 2006). The bureaucratic red tape not only interferes with the processing of goods and services but also with organisational efficiency and effectiveness. Many Indians are not happy with the bureaucratic red tape because of the delays and inconveniences it causes to them. Consequently, patience is very crucial for expatriate managers working in India (India business directory, 2011).

The profiling of India in terms of culture, behaviour, and work ethics may be a challenge to an expatriate manager. The holidays and hours of working may be a challenge due to lack of flexibility. For instance, if women are not allowed to work beyond 7 pm, it means that managers may not be able to maximise on human resources at their disposal, which may interfere with both long-term and short-term planning for organisations (India business directory 2011).

The same applies to the holidays, especially those who are not nationally recognised since they may interfere with service delivery, planning, and coordination of organisational activities (Punnett 2013). This culture of poor time management in India may interfere with the ability of foreign managers to succeed because the issue of time management is very central to the success or failure of organisations. Such managers may encounter conflict with employees who are used to poor time management. India’s high ranking in PDI at 77% may make new managers struggle to come to terms with resource distribution, economic growth, and social reality facing them (Aswathappa & Dash 2008).

These characteristics of India’s culture have slowed its integration with the rest of the world. For instance, many people consider the country as unfriendly to foreigners who want to do business. India’s government is either reluctant or unwilling to abolish some of the cultural practices which act as barriers to globalisation majorly due to homogeneity of the people in terms of language, culture, traditions, and religion.

Conclusion

Globalisation has been in existence for a long time and is associated with the integration of countries of the world in many aspects such as culture, education, language, and religion. Even though the advancement of information and communication technology has helped in transforming the world into a global village, globalisation has recently faced various hurdles which have slowed its phase. Some scholars have argued that globalisation is becoming irrelevant in the wake of terrorism, cultural differences, and various pandemics. A case in point is India which ranks at position 107 in the depth index of globalisation. The main barrier to India’s integration with the rest of the world is its culture.

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