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Why We Love to Hate Globalization

Nayan Chanda offers some early instances of globalization in Hong Kong on August 13, 2010. (2 min., 4 sec.)
by wpoon
13 August 2010

KONG, August 13, 2010 - Increased global inter-connectedness is inevitable,
observes Nayan Chanda, author and
Director of Publications at Yale
University. Speaking at
the Asia Society Hong Kong
Center, he explained: "The
process of globalization has shaped our lives, for better or for worse. It can
be slowed and its direction can be changed, but the process is unstoppable."
Chanda demonstrated the unintended consequences that often arose as the result
of increased connectivity, ultimately arguing in favour of the benefits and
opportunities offered by globalization.

Chanda first acknowledged the negative
connotations associated with the term itself: "The word ‘globalization' has
become toxic. It has been ascribed to all the ills of the world. Globalization
is bringing about farmers' debt, industrial decay, workplace unemployment, the
outsourcing of jobs. Globalization is also seen to have brought about human
trafficking and all sorts of other social ills. A lot of protesters believe
globalization means outsourcing, and it is the source of a new verb: ‘I've been

by Chanda as "an enduring trend that reconnects human communities within a
thickening web and with increasing speed, creating in the process a global awareness,"
globalization "began when our ancestors left Africa some 60,000 years ago," and
has continued ever since.

four key drivers behind this process of reconnections between communities,
according to Chanda, were born of human desire "to prosper by ‘truck and trade',
to convert fellow human beings, to explore the unknown, and to dominate others."
In the modern era, a new actor has also emerged—consumers: "Their desire for
good-quality goods at cheap prices has been a major driver for global

the differences between historical experiences of globalization and our current
understanding of the process, Chanda says: "It comes down to the three ‘Vs'.
First is the volume—the volume of
transfer has expanded exponentially." Container ships and the emergence of
modern technology such as fiber-optic cables have rendered geographical
distances "almost theoretical, resulting in a huge transfer of money and skills
across the globe." Another major change has been velocity—that is, the speed with which, for example, disease
outbreaks now travel around the globe. Finally, visibility: "In the past, people just did not know where things
came from. Now things are visible, and that visibility creates more awareness
and more protests."

global financial crisis "brought forward some of the problems globalization has
been creating—the fact that some financial deals on Wall Street affected
lives in far corners of the world shows the reach of globalization, how it is
intimately affecting people all over the world."

concluded by calling on the international community to form a consensus on
global governance. "Governments are kind of helpless in the face of the forces
driving trade and driving connection. The crisis confirmed my belief that true
global coordination to deal with issues that face humanity is an absolute must.
We have to have enough wisdom to push governments to accept some limitations of
sovereignty in order to achieve something that affects the entire world."

Reported by Natali Pearson, Asia Society Hong Kong Center