Hi there, I am currently a junoir at the university here, and will be performing a research project in India this summer througth the SPAN organization. Below is a very broad, first attempt at putting my research thesis into words. If you have any Ideas about the topic, or suggested Readings that may help me in anyway prepare for the trip or the project, please let me know, and Thank you- J-bob
Capitalism, Is India Ready?
On 15th of august 1947, India gained its independence from Great Britain. Now, being its own crown jewel, India is the largest democracy in the world. It is difficult to think of India as a democracy when most people, living in the developed world mostly think of its poverty. However, now that India’s presence is growing competitively in the world market, it has been recognized for more than poverty and hunger. The population of India is now made up of educators, businessmen, and politicians, not only poor, hungry families. How has this change occurred?> How has India suddenly gained recognition world wide as a country with growing trade, big business, and a wealth of young, educated men and women?
India, since opening its borders in the 1990s to the global market and free trade, has spawned a new world full of job opportunities to its promising youth. Capitalism and democracy have embedded their roots within India, opening its society to western markets, and western ideas. Unfortunately, I have doubts as to whether India will be able to cope in the long term with both the pros and cons of capitalism and democracy. Can it cope with the individualistic ways of business and life in a world led by the west? Through analyzing the effects of democratization and capitalism on the global world and how it has affected both developed countries, and less developed countries, I predict that democratization and capitalism in India will affect its own developed societies and less developed societies in much the same way. To better explain how democratization and capitalism may affect India, let me first describe what I believe democratization and capitalism are in today’s world.
Democracy, in my opinion, is a form of self government. Through the voice of the people, free elections, freedom of speech and equality among all people, democracy is born. Democracy is a form of government in which the citizens of a state are the voice of the government. Democracy gives a state’s citizens control of their state in a way no other government has been shown to do. It gives a large sense of “freedom” to the citizens of a state and often times, when democracy is instituted within a country or state, capitalism seems to eventually reside within that country or state as well. Capitalism, in my own opinion, is an economic system based on a principle of individualism, and “laissez-faire” government. Economic individualism means that if an individual wants to succeed he/she can, or if an individual wants to start his/her own business, corporation, or organization, he/she can. Capitalism is a system where individuals are free to pursue their own self-interests. The market is a guide, and people have trust in that market to help them succeed. However, what if a society does not trust in the market, or does not hold democratic ideals? Will that society still be able to survive in and cope with the lifestyle that is brought forth with capitalism and democracy?
Through my studies here at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, I have learned about different aspects of Indian society and India’s many social structures. It appears that India is now becoming a divided society within the new capitalist and democratic world within and around it. There exists an old India, rural India, and a new India, urban India. The old India is struggling to maintain strong family values, traditions, and a way of life dependent on those individuals that make up their families, and the new India is breaking away towards new democratic, capitalist ideals of independence, individualism, and a system that promotes the pursuit of ones own self-interest. The new India, urban India, is thriving in the global democratic, capitalist world, creating new jobs, receiving higher education, and creating their own paths to success that may not follow the old India’s rural traditions, family values, family structures, and overall approach to life. I would like to research the way in which both rural and urban societies of India are coping with these new democratic, capitalist ideals through the eyes of India’s women. How are women in India coping with these changes? For example, are those women still residing in rural India being left behind, dormant, with no hope of ever being able to break out of the roles in society that old India has deemed them? Are the women of urban India ready to leave behind their designated roles and pursue their own self-interest in life? Overall, as capitalism and democracy continue to root themselves within urban India, a gap will begin to form and only enlarge itself between the lifestyles and journeys of urban women, and rural women.
I plan to research a gather data that will assist in my understanding of the development of capitalism and democracy in both urban and rural India, as well as the social, economic, and political development of India’s women and their roles within both urban and rural India. Secondly, I hope to draw connections between the development of India’s women societies and the development of democracy and capitalism within these specific societies. Currently, I hypothesize that, due to India’s vast array of religions, languages, and subcultures, democracy and capitalism may adapt much more difficultly within India’s women societies as opposed to women societies within several developed nations. I believe, at this time that rural women societies will struggle a great deal more to adapt and survive in a new capitalist, democratic world, than will the women residing in urban India. I do not feel that the government institutions of India will be able to cope with the effects of capitalism and democratization on its rural societies. The possibility of a severe gap being created within India should be under severs scrutiny when the United States, and other developed nations like it impose democratic and capitalistic institutions on the developing world without taking ground realities into consideration.
My interest in this topic was raised not only by several of my Global Political Economy courses, and U.S. foreign policy courses, but by the fact that the United States now, same as ever, is promoting the introduction of democracy and capitalism in Iraq, as well as other areas of the world. It is important to analyze the possible effects that democracy and capitalism may have not only in the developed world, but also within the less developed world, in societies like India. Being a citizen of the United States, and recognizing the effects that the world powers can have on their surrounding world, I hope to bring to light some of the multiple effects, positive and negative, that ideals of democracy and capitalism can have on societies that may not be ready to understand and implement these same ideals. I feel by researching how democracy and capitalism affect on aspect of Indian society, I will better understand how it may affect the world as a whole outside of the United States.
Through the use of several text books and news or magazine articles focusing on India’s economic and social development, as well as using personal accounts of life and development within India, I plan to define my thesis in a more focused way. However my effort will be to find multiple view points that do not only continue to glorify the effects of capitalism and democracy, but also show the negative effects these institutions may pose
I hope to begin contacting organizations and citizens within India that are involved directly in aiding India’s underdeveloped, rural societies, including groups focused on the study and research of the roles and lives of women within Indian society. Also, Indian women’s, urban or rural or both, opinions of democracy and capitalism, and their opinions of the developing world will aid in my research and overall goal. The completion of this research project as described above, will not only aid in my understanding of political institutions within my own country, the United States, but will also aid in my understanding of those political institutions being promoted it the world today. My findings will contribute to the continuation of my political science education and overall ability to assess the effects of particular economic and political institutions within today’s societies.