HISTORY OF GLOBALIZATION – by Prachi Sardeshmukh

Globalization is an age-old concept and can be defined as the spread of products, technology, information, and jobs across national borders and cultures. In economic terms, it describes an interdependence of nations around the globe fostered through free trade and can be seen as 3 distinctive periods- Globalization of countries, companies and persons. It saw an early onset in 10,000 BCE, in the prehistoric era. The mind of man was simply naïve and focused on the one thing is required in order to survive, i.e. food. It was only after the surplus production of food, did the hunter-gatherer mentality fade away into a more advanced way of living wherein cultivation of crops and breeding of cattle was implemented. It is during this period that man allowed casteism to venture into society and the caste system evolved due to the formation of small settlements.

 

Further on, in the pre modern era from 3500 BCE – 1500 CE, civilizations grew in size and were divided into different classes of people. The art of ‘writing’ came into picture which allowed for the record keeping and accounting of activities that took place which gave an impetus to trade and development. The invention of carts and animal-driven farming methods improved agriculture. Development of roads had begun to take place during this time. In Egypt, engineering, technology, and art were blooming while the Chinese sharpened their skills in Math, Science, and Warfare. Greece saw a rise in art, philosophy and democracy. The Roman Empire had taken over most of Western Europe and made way for trade routes. A significant contribution was done with the development of the Silk Route, all the way from China to Europe which allowed trade to grow and prosper along the entire stretch. Traveling down a long path across China, India, Persia, Arabia, Greece, and Italy, the Silk Route connected Asia to the Mediterranean, which was essential in laying down the foundation to global links. The 7th century BC saw the onset of the Spice Routes along with Islamic merchants. As the Islamic religion spread across nations, so did their trade. The Mediterranean ocean and Indian ocean were dominated by Muslim traders by the 9th Century. The dissemination of religion and cultures across the Silk Road propelled globalization. The Silk Road became a melting pot of all religions intermingled along the way, mainly, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Unfamiliar and precious items such as embellishment and consumption gained popularity in China, India and the Mediterranean. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom were the most common spices in trade. This “spice trade” was the main factor behind the European reach in Southeast Asia which led to the formation of colonial empires. Trading of spices such as   cloves, which were only found in China led to the development of various states on the Indie – Mediterranean route.

 

Followed by this was the Age of Discovery which lasted from the 15th Century to the 18th Century. European explorers started connecting East and West. One of the major breakthroughs was when Columbus accidentally discovered America whilst in pursuit of India. Circumnavigation by Magellan gave access to Spice Islands. Potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, and coffee were introduced in Europe.

The first wave of globalization to hit mankind in its true sense was in the 19th Century. The British Industrial Revolution brought about global trade at such an extensive rate that the global GDP rose from an average of 3% p.a to 14% before World War I. Foreign Direct Investments took a leap. The construction of the Suez Canal allowed to bridge the gap between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. The development of refrigerated cargo allowed for the export of meat. The period that followed the first world war is observed as to when US was struck with The Great Depression. Many countries were affected by this, not only the US, which could only reveal as to how much of the world had already been linked together and how trade worked throughout various countries among different continents.

The second and third wave of globalization was seen when US was hit with the Second Industrial Revolution. In 1989, the Iron Curtain fell which allowed for European unions to establish free trade vehicles. Trade levels rose as The World Trade Organization encouraged its member countries to practice Free Trade Agreements. With the power of the Internet, the whole picture changed and gathered the major boost it needed. People from all over the world were able to reach out to each other with just the click of a button. Along with increased and more feasible transport and travel facilities, it had become easier than ever for countries to reach out to one and other and carry on the necessary imports and exports. With the decreased government tariffs and MNCs looking to expand and set up its business footprint in multiple countries, globalization has been growing by the day.

They say Globalization 4.0 is one of the digital economies wherein one can witness a lot that can happen without the need for physical presence, but just through advanced technology and electronic screens. Trading is just a click of a button away. Globalization has allowed for an epic transformation in the field of health, transportation, communication, production, distribution, and energy. Renewed models of education that are targeted towards teaching workers with new skills are to be implemented. With advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, the next big thing is just around the corner! It is up to the millennials now, as the future of Globalization 4.0 lies in their hands!