(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Globalisation Governance and the State Furoquan Ahmad and Akhtar Ali

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Globalisation Governance and the State Furoquan Ahmad and Akhtar Ali


The Most commonly used definitions of globalisation refer to the growing integration of various countries to the world economy. In the opinion of Hirst and Thompson, since the 1990s, globalisation has become “the new grand narrative of the social sciences”. Indeed, the discourse of globalisation has spread beyond the academy; converging with neo-liberal economic policy to shape what George W. Bush called the “new world order”, Globalisation is a multi-dimensional set of economic, political, and cultural conditions constructed in the context of technological change and discursive narrative of power and knowledge. It spans the, increasing internationalization of production, political struggles over the conditions for living in a world where social life is increasingly constructed by a hybridized blend of local and global forces, and changing forms of local and global culture, In a concise definition, which emphasises the common paradigms of globalisation, Thomas Friedman says, “it is the integration of trade, finance and information that is creating a single global market and culture”, Thus, globalisation is a highly differentiated phenomenon involving domains of activity and interaction as diverse as the political, military, economic, cultural, migratory and environmental. The concept of globalisation spans separate yet overlapping, of which each involves different patterns of relations and activities, Ultimately, however, it is spearheaded by multinational financial and industrial conglomerates. The widely discussed globalisation phenomenon fundamentally results from the globalisation of economic life, seen as unfettered capitalism, and driven by market expansion.

Global Actor

During the last decade or so, the liberalisation of national economies, the domination of supranational institutions, the disempowerment of nation states, the prevalence of the system and culture of liberal democracy, as well as-the formation of the consumer culture across the globe have, in many ways, made the whole world more alike. It is argued that the growing impact of globalisation has unquestionably weakened the capacity, or limited the role of the nation state, in managing the public domain.

When the Report the Commission on Global Governance) asks, “who are the global actors?” the right answer is that there are two large categories of primary’ global actors: the nation states on one hand on the other hand the global firms and the global capital markets. But perhaps we may distinguish between these rivals: the global financial markets are more fluid in space and time more detached from locality than large industrial houses: if the choice of financial liberalism is a political one the speculators, more than the industrialists, are the global actors whose actions are freer from government control, and whose power is more devastating. It is true, however, that some industrial companies have indulged as well in financial speculation. Two other categories of global actors are to be considered as well: the international institutions and the global Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) or NGOs networks.

The international institutions, under the umbrella of the United Nations Organisation or otherwise, are supposed to be the regulators of the world order, but here again, they express perceptions, choices, or compromises of the states. All states are not equal, certainly, but they are at least represented in the world system. Different are the large, international organisations, which establish a link between activism of the local people and the strategies, elaborated by the headquarters maintaining a pressure on various decisive issues such as human rights or environment challenges. Therefore, on the whole, the weakening of the states due to globalisation is not such that all national governments find themselves totally devoid of power. According to Huntington’s observation: “States are and will, remain the dominant entities in world affairs. They maintain armies, conduct diplomacy negotiate treaties, fight wars, control international organisations, influence and in considerable measure shape production and commerce”. But Huntington hastens to add, "while states remain the primary actor in the world affairs, they also are suffering losses in sovereignty functions and power. International institutions now assert the right to judge and to constrain what states drain their own territory. Globally there has been a trend for state governments to lose power also through devolution to sub-state, regional, provincial and local entities. State governments have in considerable measure lost the ability to control flows of money in out of their country and are having increasing difficulty controlling the flows of ideas, technology, goods, people.” But whatever the dilemma may be for the World Bank states are the “necessary agents of the globalisation of economy which brings prosperity.”

Globalisation and Changing Governance

Globalisation and governance is a much-talked-about theme today. By governance we mean the processes and institutions, both formal and informal, that guide and restrain the collective activities, of a group. Government is a subset that acts with authority and creates formal obligations, Governance need not necessarily be conducted exclusively by governments and the international organisations to which they delegate authority. Private firms associations of firms, NGOs, and association of NGOs all engage in it, often in association with governmental bodies, to create governance; sometimes without governmental authority.

Unlike the classical approach of welfare state where the state assumed a very dominant role in welfare provision, the challenges of globalisation have urged the modern states to find the new alternatives for governance. The implementation of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the IMF and the World Bank in developing countries has for the most part, resulted in the deterioration of living conditions of the working classes and the poor, and in the increase in absolute poverty, political tensions, conflicts and instability. States and civil societies are undergoing radical changes as oppositional movements attempt to counter forces of globalisation. The civil society comprising various organisations of people, is a result of the inadequacy of even the failure of the state to deliver some public goods and services on a scale required and at reasonable prices. These civil organisations are growing in strength in recent years, especially during the post-reforms period. The downsizing of the government and the withdrawal of the state from certain areas of operation provide space for, and make way to, the civil society. However, experience has it that the growth of civil society need not be in proportion to the space vacated by the state. The civil society had emerged and was growing even while the state was tending to occupy new spaces. What is notable that during the post reforms period the civil society is not only occupying the space vacated by the State but it is also moving into the areas where the state and private sectors are operating.

Question, that arises here is what kind of role can and do civil society organisations play in governance? Lyuba Zarsky has identified six broad functions:

1. Intellectual and visionary: Public policy think tanks, as well as academic and journalistic writers, seek to define development paradigms and objectives and to design and promote policy agenda. This independent source of creative intellectual input and visionary thinking provides an important channel for the development of strategic rather than reactive approaches to development challenges. Such independent public policy think tanks are still rare in some countries in Asia and South East Asia; Such as India and Singapore.

2. Advocacy: Many groups are constituted around specific issues of social concerns such as gender equality, labour rights, indigenous people, environment, public health, consumer rights, resource- dependent communities, etc. These groups, which have mushroomed dramatically in Asia in the last decade, help to bring issues to the public spotlight and to changed social norms.

3. Problem solving: A variety of professional associations, as well as community and advocacy groups, provide technical support and work with governments and businesses to develop solutions to specific environmental and social problems.

4. Service provision: Many NGOs, including religious and social service groups, provide direct services to the poor and other needy groups. Such services go beyond distribution of food and other basic needs to encompass capacity-building “empowerment” activities such as job training, developing community based public goods etc. In this capacity, NGOs often implement policies and programs designed and promoted by government.

5. Critics and watchdogs: NGOs, journalists, and others can serve to monitor the activities of both government and industry there is a substantial evidence that community group pressure is an important determinant of firm-level environmental performance in Asia.

6. Financial support: While it is still relatively young, philanthropy in Asia is growing. Philanthropic foundations and individuals provide resources for independent think tanks and other NGO activities, often stemming from their own visionary leanings and interest in solving problems. Philanthropic foundations also sometimes provide funds for, government and business activity.

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