“Globalization is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and mutual sharing, and other aspects of culture” (Wikipedia)

SONGSOPTOK:  What are you views about globalization? In the country and the society you live in, is globalization a threat or an opportunity?

ARIN:  I live in New Zealand, the newest country in the world, where people started settling since the early nineteenth century but Maoris arrived here around the first century. For many years, NZ maintained a closed door policy with only Europeans were preferred to arrive and settle here. Since the mid nineties, NZ adopted a more open policy and people from all over the world came and settled in the NZ. So, based on the patterns of migration and recent history, globalization is a matter of life in NZ. At any point, in cities such as Auckland and Christchurch the two main cities in the two main islands of the country), you can mix with Europeans, Asians, Africans from different countries. It is amazing how diverse is a small country such as New Zealand.

Does diversity bring in an outlook of globalization? Indeed it does to some extent. You get to see people and learn to be open to ideas from people who come from other parts of the world. As a result, you too, start feeling that you are part of a wider world. The society starts adjusting to the styles and demands of the new people who bring in ideas and concepts from far and close, and sooner or later, the place you live in, and your outlooks broaden and resembles what would be if you were a world citizen.

This is a natural process that happens as you get to see, and start living with other people, and diversity around you. Is that a threat? If there is a threat, that threat is a perception. That threat is a threat of feeling uncomfortable with hanging out with others who may not be like you, or your immediate family, or friends of like physical or social environment, and who belong to the other. There could be other existential threats as well, as for many white young people, immigrants often take away jobs that they could otherwise engage in. Increased movement of people and exposure to culture can pose other kinds of “threats” as well, in terms of adjustments and maladjustments and need to adjust to a new order in the society. But there are equally, opportunities worth considering.

One of the great opportunities is the opportunity to know the world that is beyond your immediate neighborhood and learning that there is so much similarities across cultures that it defies your perception of the narrowness of life. Beyond knowledge, if you are curious about another part of the world, or if you are interested to travel, it opens up opportunities for you to travel the world as a more knowledgable traveller, perhaps even as a safe traveller. The second opportunity is to learn about cuisines, arts, social structures, that many immigrants and people from other parts of the world bring with them. LIkewise, for an immigrant, it is an opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of the native country they are coming in, and freedom from traditional or one dimensional thinking. So, globalization presents both opportunities and threats, but these are of different natures, and not necessary either/or, but could be “both”.

SONGSOPTOK:  To what extent is the society you live in is globalized? What are the outward manifestations, if any, in the everyday lives of the citizens?

ARIN: I live in a globalised country and a globalised society. I work at a university as a professor of health sciences and in the University of Canterbury, 75% of our faculty members had done their PhDs in a country other than New Zealand. We also have a diverse student and fellow faculty composition, and thus, it is fair to say, that my workplace is diverse and global. I live in a rural county, not far from the main city of Christchurch. While my immediate surroundings are more homogeneous, there are also people who are well travelled, and NZ as a country is well connected with the rest of the world for tourism and commerce. The globe is here. If you consider globalisation as manifestation of how connected you are with the rest of the world, then almost all parts of the world today are to some extent globalised. Our food is sourced from all over the world (the fish comes from East Asia, the rice from India, the wine is from Australia, the tea from Sri Lanka, the coffee from Brazil, meat from Argentina, I could name it).

SONGSOPTOK:  In your opinion, has the process of globalization improved the quality of life in your country? In what way?

ARIN: Yes, of course. By connecting to other countries and increased exchange of goods and ideas, things have become easier to purchase, prices have come down, fostered creativity. As people moved in from other countries in search of work, NZ has gained positively with people being engaged in farm work and elsewhere. More cultural diversity and sensitivity have developed. All of these have reflected in people living richer lives.

SONGSOPTOK:  One of the major effects of globalization is the significant increase in the volume of trade and monetary transactions between the different nations. Do you think that your country has benefited from this? In what way?

ARIN: See above response.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that globalization serve to make the already strong economies even stronger and weaker economies weaker and more dependent? Can you give us a few examples to illustrate your answer?

ARIN: No, it is the other way round. Richer economies have gained, so have the weaker economies. Case in point is India’s engagement with the world and increased income for people engaged in outsourcing business, and increased trade and movement of people.

SONGSOPTOK:  What, according to you, is the role played by the major multinational companies in of globalization? Do you think that the entire process was actually put in motion by the large MNC’s for their personal profits or do you think that there has been a trickle-down effect to the economy of your country?

ARINI do not know enough about this to answer this question.

SONGSOPTOK:  Many economists claim that globalization is a major factor for disseminating knowledge and technology across continents and borders within a very short time. Do you support this view? Has your country benefited from this? Can you give us some examples?

 ARIN:  No comments.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that globalization actually breeds a homogenous culture? What, if any, has been the effect of globalization in the cultural sphere of your country? In your opinion, has it been positive or negative?

ARIN: As the world becomes increasingly connected, certain aspects of that connectivity and bridge building will lead to certain levels of homogeneity of culture and ideas. For instance, tools of networking such as Twitter or Facebook will come to be accepted as media and likewise products such as personal computers, and cellphones and oil companies and personal cosmetic equipments and dress materials become increasingly adopted by people across the world. Food cross borders. Yet, there is diversity. Each part of the world retains its uniqueness in the face of increasing availability of products and tools and ideas that flow across borders.  To that extent, it is not black and white, neither entirely positive, nor entirely negative, but across a continuum. There are some great aspects such as increasing awareness of the other (think of Sushi as a food that brings the awareness of Japanese cuisine and Umami and frees up the world to enjoy which otherwise would be confined to a small part of the world); on the other hand, think of the impact of fast food and instant beverages that lead to a culture of high calorie dietary pattern that lead to toxin consumption that is not wholesome at all and may lead to illnesses.  And anything in between.

SONGSOPTOK:  What, in your opinion, is the impact of globalization on environment? Do you think that the capitalistic growth model used by the large multinationals have a negative effect on the environment? In what way?

ARIN: Environment suffers but that is in spite of globalization and not because of it. Environmental destruction is brought about by corporate greed for profit, globalisation has really nothing to do with it. If anything, it brings to the attention of the global citizens the problem of environmental destruction and therefore helps to create pressure to save the environment.

SONGSOPTOK:  Is it possible to imagine a world today with an alternative mode of production and consumption? Is it at all necessary? If so, will you share your ideas with us? How can we, as ordinary citizens, contribute to such a model?

ARIN: This is not an easy question to answer. One possible way might be to create a community of Interbeings, who will live by the principle that everyone and every object in the world are interconnected. So, strife and isolation and walls and silos have no place in such a world. But that is ideal. There is both a need for globalization and a need for sanity.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)


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