Fragmented Responses towards Global Governance: The Indian Context

Date01 March 2017
Published date01 March 2017
AuthorSheila Rai
Subject MatterArticles
Indian Journal of Public
63(1) 63–84
© 2017 IIPA
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0019556117689849
1 Director, Centre for Gandhian Studies, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India.
2 Director, Department of Lifelong Learning, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, India.
Corresponding author:
Sheila Rai, 6, Shivaji Nagar, Civil Lines, Jaipur 302006, Rajasthan, Jaipur, India.
Fragmented Responses
towards Global
Governance: The
Indian Context
Sheila Rai1, 2
The liberalisation dice of the globalisation game has been loaded in favour of
developed countries. The recipe of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)
prescribed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and other international economic institutions has proved detrimental
to developing countries like India where poverty is pervasive and scarcity of basic
amenities crippling.1 The SAP syndrome has manifested in lockouts, industrial
takeovers, closures, massive retrenchments and weakening/diluting of labour laws,
etc. Service sectors such as hospitals and schools have also been adversely affected
under pressures from international donor agencies. The unsavoury social and
economic consequences on the marginal sections have therefore led to a series of
protests and demonstrations. The struggle in all its complexities is both ideological
and practical. Pressure to alter the pace and intensity of liberalisation, and change
‘scorecards’ of growth, security and redistribution have gained momentum. The
propensity of the elite to coalesce with the predominant forces of globalisation and
ignore the basic urges of the masses further adds to the complexities. Evidently,
the cataclysmic change augured by global governance on the society, politics and
economics is multifaceted. The response of the southern states, namely, India,
to this crossfire between the dictates of the global institutions vis-à-vis the
complexities of the protests and demands of the classes and masses has been
critically analysed in this article. The ongoing attempts to assuage the brutal edges
of poverty and provide security and protection are also scrutinised.
SAP, globalisation, liberalisation, India, economic growth
64 Indian Journal of Public Administration 63(1)
Globalisation: Portrayal versus Realities
‘Globalisation’ is a contested concept that refers to sometimes contradictory
social processes. The scale, causation, chronology, impact, trajectories and policy
outcomes can reveal uneven processes, meaning that people living in various
parts of the world are affected very differently by the gigantic transformations of
social structures and cultural zones.
As a ‘strong discourse’—globalisation has become difficult to resist and repel
because it has on its side powerful forces that have already preselected what
counts as ‘real’ and, therefore, shape the world accordingly. The ‘neoliberal’
portrayal of globalisation as some sort of natural force, like the weather or gravity,
tries to convince people that they must adapt to the discipline of the market if
they are to survive and prosper. This claim of inevitability, the ‘TINA’ factor
implies that nothing can be done about the natural movement of the economic
and technological forces; therefore, political groups ought to acquiesce and make
the best of an unalterable situation. Resistance would be unnatural, irrational
and dangerous. This rhetoric of inevitability seeks to construct passive consumer
identities (Steger, 2006, pp. 101–102). But this deterministic language cannot
conceal the existing cognitive dissonance between people’s normative orientation
towards globalisation and their personal experiences in the globalising world.
At the heart of this dominant worldwide project of political economy today,
which we know as neo-liberalism, is an implied doctrine of institutional conver-
gence. The whole world is meant to converge to the same set of best available prac-
tices and institutions, the practices now established in North America and Western
Europe. While globalisation is supposed to imply the expansion and integration of
economies with the global economy and thereby create new possibilities of growth
for the integrating economies, its real effects are not significantly de-linked to the
nature and existing status of economies themselves. History reveals clear discrimi-
natory potential of the First World and Third World economies in their perfor-
mance as global players. The rather chaotic opening of the First World and deregu-
lation of Third World economies has only furthered their exploitation by powerful
global actors, largely from the industrialised part of the world. Instead of decline,
disparities across the world are on an increase in consequence of globalisation-led
strategies of development. In fact, globalisation strategies across the world have
been so designed and so executed with conditionalities reflecting in policy support
itself that they serve the needs and interests of industrialised world while render-
ing the Third World more dependent and therefore more exploited in consequence
of these. Despite the accent of globalisation discourse on integration, in effect its
structures produce processes of exclusion within societies. While elites across the
world are integrated in the processes of globalisation in a gainful manner, non-
elites are either excluded or further marginalised.
Asymmetrical Global Order
The emerging rules of the game of globalisation have proved to be asymmetrical
in terms of construct and inequitable in terms of outcome. While developing
countries account for more than 80 per cent of world population they contribute

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