It is important to recognise that the form and the vector of globalisation is changing. The expression 'deglobalisation' is in vogue, and provides a handy framework to explain outlier events such as the Brexit, rise of Trump and the ascendance of various politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. One way to look at it is compare it with the inflection of 1914, when, after half a century of expansion of global trade and movement of people, globalisation came to a sudden halt and went into a long decline, with the Great War, collapse of the Gold Standard and the general breakdown of the global system. This is the idea that underpin the idea of 'de-globalisation', and many claim that what we see is the beginning of a long process, one that would end in separate countries pursuing policies aimed at national prosperity rather than global connectivity and commerce.
However, this view, and the coining of the expression, betray a kind of historical determinism that we have known to be false, as well as a view centred on the West, which we should have left behind many years ago. The trajectory in the emerging countries is not towards less globalisation, but more. Countries such as China and India, which reaped huge benefits by being integrated to the global value chain, do not want its demise. Besides, the global monetary system, as it exists right now, has effectively created an unrestrained global flow of capital. Britain may have voted for Brexit, but it is still very much welcoming to the citizens of the developing world who stash their wealth in British Real Estate, even if that makes housing unaffordable for its own people. Americans may choose Trump, but even in his infitite wisdom, he would want the rest of the world to keep buying American bonds. And, even if we look at Culture and claim that there is a resurgence of national preferences, we know that there is, in equal measure, a convergence of consumer aspirations, a desire for global identities, tastes, brands and levels of service.
The point, therefore, is to acknowledge that while the shape of the global economy is changing, it is simply not going back in time. The 'de-globalisation' may indeed be experienced in some sectors - the offshore manufacturing may decline with the rise of AI and basic programming jobs may not be as plentiful - but we may not be going back to the closed national systems and autarkies, and global competition is here to stay. Here, we may be looking at a combination of open capital and consumer markets with shorter value chains and more on-demand production, something very unlike what we have seen since 1990s. Instead of history repeating itself, this is likely to be the start of a new historical trend - reversal of the global supply chain but a new world of opportunity for hearts and minds of the global consumer.
It is, in this context, one should think about education. The wave of globalisation of production influenced work and learning in its wake, particularly in countries like India, where the economic activities were transformed by the opportunities and massive influx of process-based and technical jobs. This changed everything, including a shift of perspective from the 90s, when the growing population was seen as a burden, to the talk of 'demographic dividend', population as strength. The new jobs shaped a mass Higher Education system designed for it, crowding out the alternative possibilities and pathways. Despite its pecularities, underfunding and inefficient regulation, the Indian Education system has served its Offshoring industry well, supplying it with thousands of workers uniquely minded to do the routine jobs. That massive infrastructure, with the inflection of globalisation, is suddenly now exposed - it does indeed feel like 'de-globalisation' as jobs are drying up out there - and a new approach is urgently needed to create an education system fit for the emergent new world of jobs.
Surely, thinking in education often changes slowly. In India, despite the close linkage between the expansion of technical jobs and expansion of Engineering seats, the Education sector is not particularly exposed to the labour market trends. One major reason for this is the long tradition of teaching for process jobs in Indian Education: The Education system introduced by the British Raj in the mid-Nineteenth century was meant to create the clerks who will do the grunt work of the empire, a tradition that successfully continued over many generations. This Victorian origin, and the technocratic emphasis that came with the Independence, built a system focused on processes, tasked to prepare students for jobs, but not to sync with changing labour markets and the universe of realtionship-based jobs. And, as the reality knocks, the instinctive reaction is a flight to the past, conversations about facile changes from teaching in English to teaching in vernacular, more skills such as presentation, more technical education - metaphorically, a massive sprucing up of the decks of the Titanic just when the bottoms are falling off!
Depending on which set of figures one believes in, 50% to 70% of the jobs in India, created by the new globalised economy, are at risk. The new Government, elected with the mandate of bringing global manufacturing into India, is a prisoner of its pledge: Its slick marketing of 'Make in India' is out of step with global shifts, and hence, 'de-globalisation', for them, is a handy and vaible political excuse. In any case, with 69,000 people reaching the age of 25 every day, this is a potent destabilising factor, and such pressures should, at least in some quarters of the education community, trigger a rethink.
From that more pragmatic corner, the challenges seem huge but not insurmountable, and not unlike the ones other nations face. Globalisation is shifting from one of production lines to one of consumer aspirations, and next generation of Indian students should learn to win the hearts and minds of the global consumer, including their own. It is now about entrepreneurship, imagination, creativity, realtionships - of bold aspirations to reshape the world rather than merely knowing one's place in it and profiting from it. The starting point in this path is aspiration, one that transforms the mediocre 'Make in India' slogan to a "Made In India' vision, as such globally competitive aspirations will soon be the only game in town.
Unfortunately, much of the recent thinking in Indian Education focuses simply on doing more technology and more skills, being hopelessly caught in the paradigm of the world of 'knowledge workers'. The shift to the world of 'relationship workers', of entrepreneurs and innovators, demand a renewal of basic sciences, greater emphasis on research in all disciplines, greater cultural and social awareness and a reformed technical education system making it wholesome and involved with life.
In all this, the central point will be a timely recognition that the global system is changing, but there is no running away from globalisation. The incidents of last few days, Brexit, attacks in Dhaka and Istanbul (even if one considers Baghdad as a part of an ongoing battle), are not signs of a roll-back of globalisation, but its transformed nature - and indeed, the urgency of being global, because the negative forces will be! The legacy of Victorian Education that underpin education systems, particularly in countries like India, needs a root-and-branch rethink, not because globalisation is over but because it has now matured and stopped being an automatic job-generator. However, in this brave new world, the idea that the educated would inherit the earth still holds; it is only more true now.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen was gui
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was, as
A lot of conversations about Kolkata is about its past; I want to talk about its future. Most conversations about Kolkata is about its decline - its golden moments and how times changed; I want to talk about its rise, how its best may lie ahead and how we can change the times. In place of pessimism, I seek optimism; instead of inertia, I am looking for imagination. It is not about catching up, I am arguing; it is about making a new path altogether. It had, indeed it had, a glorious past: One of the first Asian cities to reach a million population, the Capital of British India, the cradle of an Enlightened Age and a new politics of Cosmopolitanism. And, it had stumbled - losing the hinterland that supplied its Jute factories, overwhelmed by the refugees that came after the partition, devoid of its professional class who chose to emigrate - the City's commercial and professional culture evaporated in a generation, and it transformed into a corrupt and inefficien
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.