United Nations’ Intervention in South Asia 

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Kingsley T. Wickramaratne, a Sri Lanka minister of internal and international commerce and food, stated that “globalization is an irreversible process which is already evolving and rapidly impinging on our everyday life.” Globalization is as a result of worldwide interconnectedness leading to interdependence of economies and societies. Advances in transportation, technology, and communication has increased international trade and cultural diffusion. However, globalization is not a new concept, but it has existed for many centuries with colonization, immigration, and various trade routes such as the Indian Ocean trade and the Atlantic slave trade.

The term globalization is often associated with Westernization as the West plays a dominant role in influencing non-Western societies. Its impact is evident in developing areas such as South Asia in which outsourcing of jobs leads to income inequality as well as shaping their way of life. A critical evaluation of globalization prompts the question – in what ways can the impact of globalization be improved for the socio-economic status of South Asia? Analysis through economic, social and cultural, and legal stances demonstrate that globalization’s impact can be improved through joint intervention of the United Nations with the South Asian regional government. Ultimately, these interventions will preserve the cultural identity of South Asians as well as enhance their standard of living by curtailing income inequality.

From an economic outlook, globalization is widening the economic gap between industrialized and developing nations with how wealth is concentrated in “fifteen countries” whereas “eighty-nine other countries” are poor (Sharma 2004). Advocates of globalization, such as Paul Cantor, Clifton Waller Barrett English Professor at the University of Virginia, claim that Asia experienced economic growth after World War II as a result of the introduction of capitalistic elements that spread from “Japan to China and India” (Cantor 2007). Those who view globalization as a setback assert, however that, it is the reason why “ South Asia has one-fifth of the world’s population” and half of its population living in abject poverty (Ramaswamy 2003).

The basis of that is found in how the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has a lower combined GDP of “less than 2.5% of [the] global GDP”. Sharma Ph.D. argues that this income inequality is due the fact that wealthy nations use financial pressures on poor nations as well as have more access to the “world’s financial resources” thereby allowing them produce superior goods at a lower cost (2004). Thus, explaining why the developed countries have two-thirds of the world’s FDI whereas 49 undeveloped countries have 2%. According in Lee, one potential explanation for this inequality is the ‘vertical trade pattern’ as it causes ‘uneven development in a developing country’ when wealthy countries take over their manufacturing sectors thereby forcing their workers into menial jobs (qtd in Evans et al. and Sullivan). Similarly, Lee states that regression results prove that income inequality is positively correlated with transnational corporations (qtd in Bornschier and Chase-Dunn).

As a result, Wickramaratne, expresses the quandary over global economic relations in which it is difficult to “level the playing field” and “create pragmatic partnerships” in order to shrink the income inequality by resolving underdevelopment and poverty . Furthermore, globalization contributes to financial drawbacks when investors leave as a result of business failures. For example, India Globalization Capital in the cannabis industry now serves a cautionary tale for investors interested in this industry after their rise and fall in stocks. (The Fly 2018). Nobel Laureate and Economics Professor, Michael Spence, offers a valuable point about how international arrangements dealing with the four keys flows of the global economy – “flow of goods, capital, technology, and people” need to be “mutually beneficial” for all parties (Spench 2017).

Although India has a slightly better economy compared to other South Asian countries, however, its economic growth poses problems for the region and the world. Through reforms in infrastructure, openness to foreign investors and international trade, and lowered oil prices India has experienced the highest economic growth among the G20 countries. Nevertheless, these improvements alter the environmental surface as seen with how the Himalayan catchment has been damaged by ‘rapid deforestation’ as India seeks to improve its infrastructure (Matthew 2018).

Thomas Dietz states that environmental change can be prompted when there is human population growth and ‘per capita resource consumption’ (qtd in Myers). On the other hand, Pakistan has failed to improve its macroeconomic environment thereby accounting for their lower economic status. As a result, the regional conflicts stems from environmental degradation and population growth as ‘agricultural setbacks’ result in low crop yields needed to support their growing human population as well as support their agricultural sector. Economist Battista suggests a solution in which South Asia should increase their competitiveness in their labor and financial markets in order to strengthen their economies. According to South Korean diplomat Yoon Je Cho, the global GDP of G7 countries has fallen from half to 40% in the last 10 years. This has allowed the global GDP of BRIC countries to increase from 20% in 2000 to 30% in 2010 with an expected 40% increase by 2020.

He argues that this shift points to the fact that there are inadequate international institutions and governance structures that are capable of handling global economic issues (Cho 2011). The argument that Cho raises relates to how “no single broad type of ownership – government, private, or community – uniformly succeeds or fails to halt major resource deterioration” (Dietz 2015). Considering that coherent governance for globalization is not fully established, the United Nations should form a special council that is tailored to meeting the needs of nations regarding the issues brought by globalization as well as request monthly reports from the affected parties in order to verify if the council’s solutions are effective.

From a social perspective, globalization is reshaping the South Asian society with regard to their cultural identity and leading to homogeneity. The Internet and media play a major role in facilitating cultural diffusion. For example, through the use of media campaigns by MNCs Pakistani people are increasingly consuming fast food from chains such as McDonald, KFC, Pizza Hut.

Pakistan Economic and Social Review cites the Pakistani language – Urdu – is becoming merged with Hindi of which the surveyed respondents acknowledge that cable TV is a major source of Indian culture integration. In an unbiased survey conducted, Pakistani postgraduate students reported that Western pop music is among one of the most popular styles for Pakistani youth. One potential explanation for this is that education fosters this global exchange as the students bring back foreign cultures (2016). This is evident in Arunachal Pradesh in which the younger generation of the Aka tribe favor Hindi because of television’s influence and English as a result of school (Rymer 2012).

The impact of globalization is evinced in how India has had more than 300 languages disappear in the last 60 years (Cooper 2014). For example, Ollari Gadaba is a tribal Dravidian language that is slowly dying (Bapuji 2018). While English, Chinese, and Russian continue to grow as they dominate the business, science, and technology world with how 55% of global websites are in English followed by 6.1% in Russian (Cantor 2018). Despite the fact that Arabic is among the languages declining in business, however, it still remains relevant for the oil business in which its ‘speakers are sought by national intelligence agencies.’ (Cooper 2014). Even though, English, Chinese, and Russian are universal languages in a globalizing world, other languages need to be preserved as well. Thus, making it hard to limit their reach in developing countries as they must learn these languages particularly English for sake of interacting with the global world.

However, the detriments of abandoning native languages include disrupting the transfer of traditional knowledge about “medicinal plants, food cultivation, irrigation techniques, navigation systems, [and] seasonal calendars” (Rymer 2012). Considering that South Asia relies heavily on labor-intensive work such as agriculture, abandoning their language could mean transforming their economy. One way to preserve these native languages include having more web pages featuring text in various native languages and have written documentation as well as requiring bilingualism for employment. Another way is to use community radios that speak in the native languages this way oral traditions can be passed from generation to generation (Bapuji 2018).

In addition, South Asia’s past colonial history was ‘exaggerated by the globalization process’, which has led to ‘structural issues’ with regard to social classes (Matthew 2018). To offer support for this, Zulfiquar et al. presents a study that used the LSDV technique and found that globalization has negative effects on social cohesion. Lack of social cohesion could better explain why economic growth in this region is not as pronounced. Social cohesion correlations with economic growth ‘through reduced transaction costs, facilitating collective action, encouraging capital accumulation, and by maximizing allocative efficiency'(Zulfiquar et al 2018). To facilitate social cohesion, the United Nations and the leaders of the various South Asian countries should create a council on social cohesion that is responsible for developing projects for South Asian citizens that require them to do community work and civic engagement.

From a legal perspective, one of the major problems facing the United Nations in being able to implement policies that regulate the impact of globalization is difficult in achieving policy coherence at national and international levels. In addition to this, international regulations are often ignored by strong companies and nations. Attempts to regulate global trade would affect the ability of companies to compete globally and conflict with international and regional trade as well as investment treaties. Also, closing international trade would cause the prices of tariffs to increase on imported goods. To offer support for this, executives from textile and apparel industries argue that globalization create competition as it yields innovation and improvement of industries (WWD 1995).

This helps countries grow economically as they specialize in what will yield the most profits and creates product diversity for the benefit of consumers in being to get goods faster at a lower cost. With this in mind, a rationale for why powerful nations and companies often ignore these regulations is better understood, however, it should come at the expense of developing nations’ economy and culture. According to the UN’s Human Development Report there are “1 billion people surviving on less than $1 per day” (2008). To resolve this, the United Nations should follow the suggestion of Levi Strauss by rotating people from different parts of the world into new areas for the purpose of giving them a diverse “experience-based approach to [business] management.” By doing this, business leaders will see the importance of following international regulations as well as envision ways to blend their company ethics with local cultures (WWD 1995).

Moreover, UN secretary General Kofi Annan proposed forming a GC that engages the support of corporate assistance to promote the nine UN principles in order to establish standard business management practices (United Nations 2000). To follow-up on the implementation of international regulations by developed countries and companies, the UN should deploy ambassadors to inspect work conditions of multinational companies and issue fines for companies that do not obey these regulations.

The current impacts of globalization on South Asia cannot be ignored. Increasing international trade is raising income inequality globally and regionally as well as transforming the environmental landscape of South Asia.

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United Nations’ Intervention in South Asia . (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/united-nations-intervention-in-south-asia/

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