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India Grapples with Poisonous Legacy

Friday, November 14, 2008

There is an article in today’s Financial Times (U.K.) about India’s fast growth in industrialization that highlights some of the contradictions of globalization.

Ankleshwar, in India’s western Gujarat state, is listed by the New York-based Blacksmith Institute as one of the most polluted towns on earth. Its 1,700 factories produce dyes, pigments and pharmaceuticals to supply a global market.

The town’s record for pollution is a potent symbol of the price of India’s industrialisation and fast-paced economic growth. Yet the business leaders of Anklesh-war, with the support of the government and international donors, are belatedly trying to clean up their industrial backyard. Non-government organisations and the judiciary have given their consciences a prick, but the carbon credit market is also acting as a financial catalyst for improvement.

When we globalize the world what we are doing is essentially homogenizing the world to Western-European style capitalism in order to further enhance the economies of Europe and America; not necessarily those of the Third World which seem to be essentially secondary to Western interests.

We can see with the the World Bank and the IMF which always have had (and still have) European and American leaders; also, much of the financial backing of the two institutions come from the strongest economies in the world (American and the EU) so it would make sense for the financial backers of those institutions to demand a good return in their money.

This leads to neo-liberal economic policies and neo-liberal benchmarks and conditions that countries must meet in order to get loans for development.  Essentially the countries are opened up and flooded with Western business interests and liquidity that can be taken away quite easily (if there is an economic crissis, for example, business interests can de-invest in Third World countries) [1] and are only there to make a profit and not necessarily to develop the infrastructure of the nation (they are only there to develop it to the point that it will be stable for their profit).

With the rapid growth and heavy industrialization many working class folks, peasants, and poor people are left in the dust and/or are forced to migrate to cities to find jobs in the readjusted market.  What happens a lot is rampant pollution (as in Ankleshwar) and environmental destruction (Philippines), deunionization (Egypt), attacks on workers rights (Colombia), and the undercutting of local farmers (Mexico).  This is due to the fact that Western business interests are only in those areas to develop their capital and to further expand their reach in order to get more and more capital (i.e., money in motion); they are not there to look after the interests of the citizens, workers, and environment of that country: which is kinda what this article shows us; it shows us the realities of globalization.

Deforestation in the Amazon

Deforestation in the Amazon

I’m reminded of Immortal Technique‘s lyric in his recent album The Third World in where he talks about why immigrants are coming to America:

Invasion and rampant monetary inflation,

have brought us to the footsteps of this nation.


  1. Joseph E. Stiglitz talks about this in his book, Globalization and its Discontents.

Image from:
The Sietch Blog


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