Globalization and the Indian Philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Dr. Ravindra Kumar*

For the last several years we have been witnessing discourses on globalization, global changes and its effect upon individuals, societies and nations. It appears as if globalization is some new phenomenon. Seminars, symposiums and debates are being organized continuously on subjects related to globalization and global changes at various levels all over the world. The effect of globalization on the world at present, and what can be its effect in the future, are the major points of discussions in this context. Individuals are presenting their own viewpoints on these issues, and of course they have the right to do so. But, it would be inappropriate if they, especially the academicians, intellectuals or professors, neglect the reality of the process of globalization and present their views inappropriately, or with a bias. It, thus, becomes essential and appropriate that new dimensions of the process of globalization in relation to its effect upon India and the world are discussed and analyzed. But, at the same time it is also necessary that they are examined and evaluated honestly and sincerely having the inevitability and importance of globalization in the centre. 

Globalization and Global Change

Globalization, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakamin Indian term, is derived from the word Globe –Vishwa. It is proximate to the words Vishwavyapi, Sarvadeshik, Sarvabhaum or universalism, which are broad concepts. Moreover, they deal with the continuing process of the world. By nature, any process is dynamic. In dynamism changes are inevitable. The pages of history before us prove this fact and I do not think the need arises to mention more in this context. Hence, it will not be inappropriate to acknowledge the similarity in purpose between globalization and global changes.

Inevitability of Change

Change is inevitable and is essential at all levels and in all walks of life. It is an endless process. It is continuous and is an eternal law. If not so, life would become static and inactive. Movement of life would discontinue and hence, life would become aimless and meaningless. Hence continuity and changes are necessary. So, if there is a change at global level, there is nothing astonishing or new about it? Similarly, it is also true that changes bear an effect too.

Throughout the ages considerable changes have taken place, some of which though originating in a particular nation cast an everlasting effect worldwide. Mention may be made of the various scientific inventions occurring over a long period of time (between the Sixteenth and the Nineteenth Century AD). We are aware that along with inventions in science, industrialization (in the Eighteenth-Nineteenth Centuries AD) brought about unprecedented changes in social, political and economic sphere all over the world. Despite its many side effects, industrialization, more or less, affected each and everyone in the world. But, was it not a step towards globalization?

Citing two examples of change and its effect, we can bring to mention two extraordinary political events in the Twentieth Century AD:

First, the Communist government, which was formed for the first time under the leadership of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) in Russia, which besides attracting the attention of the world, affected all walks of life –social, political and economic globally. Second, the British Colonialism, which was thrown away under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in India to pave the way for Swarajya –the Self-Rule, and a democratic form of government in 1947 leaving a profound impact on people all over the world.

In brief, we can talk with certainty about the inevitability of change, which is essential at all levels and in all walks of life. It is a rule. Emphasizing on reality of Law of Change, two thousand five hundred years ago Gautama Buddha had said,“Nothing is beyond the process of Law of Change. It is eternal. For, nothing can be the exception to it.”

Development and Dimension

After the security of existence, it is the continuous process of development, which leads man towards achieving his goal in life. In its constant process, development reaches various dimensions, thus, widening the scope of co-operation and collaboration, which has affected the whole scenario today. Now, the world looks like a family. Despite the differences of opinion, diversities of faiths and disparities in methods of working, people all around the world are coming nearer to each other. Distance has become less. Physical distance is replaced by virtual distance now forming a close connectivity of distant people. At this stage, moving forward in unison has become a necessity, hence bringing the ancient Indian slogan “VasudhaivaKutumbakam” to a reality. This process will not stop; it will continue and will cross halts time and again. Despite the momentary obstacles or hindrances, interdependence will increase and co-operation among people will grow.

Moreover, limitations will decrease at all levels and in all walks of life, and boundaries among the nations will diminish. The slogan “the world is but one family”, I repeat, will transform into reality in one way or the other.

India and Global Change

Since ancient times the process of globalization has taken place in India and it is not a new phenomenon. India’s ancient civilization and composite and harmonious culture are living examples of Hindustan’s pace towards the process of globalization and global change. Dravidian-Aryan confluence and later harmony of cultures of Greeks, Kushanas, Shakas, Hunas, Arabs, Turks and Mongols within the Indian culture is a proof of this. It becomes apparent from the fact that centuries ago, India opened door for those who reached its land individually or in caravans with their own beliefs, faiths or tradition from any part of the globe to settle here permanently.

Right from the era of Indus Valley Civilization India has been into trade with almost all countries of South and Southeast Asia, besides having business with countries like Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Greece. Since ancient times, along with Vedic philosophy–Hinduism and Buddhism, other Indian schools of thought have been drawing the attention of people around the world. They reached many countries and became the part of life of many in the world. Similarly, teachings of almost all major religious communities of the world also reached India from time-to-time and became indivisible part of life of its people. As known to all, people like Huien Tsang, I-Tsing, Fah-Hian and Meghasthenes reached India in ancient times to study the life of Indians and to explore its different schools of thought. They visited many places of the country, gained knowledge and after reaching back to their respective countries carried the message home to work for co-operation and collaboration between their compatriots and India.

In short, the history of India proves that since ancient times it has been in the forefront in the process of globalization in all its aspects of unification. Furthermore, India itself has been guiding the process of change as a part of cultural and social growth and evolution. The general approach of Indians or the nature of its culture is absolutely evolutionary. Leaving impression of their characteristics on others, and learning from the characteristics of others without any prejudice has been the main quality of Indians. Hence, if twenty-five percent of total graduates (more than ten thousand in number) after completing their studies in the four major Indian IITs (Kharagpur, Mumbai, Chennai and Kanpur) on the strength of their capability and intellect succeed in making place for themselves every year in a country like the United States, there is nothing surprising in it. Moreover, if India after the United States and the United Kingdom becomes the third choice for the investor NRIs and if Indian cinema, life and philosophy play the vital role in the world affairs, it is not surprising.

Change and Side Effects

This process of development affects peoples positively and negatively, both. Moreover, when change is major, its impact is major too; hence, the nature of impact becomes important in this context. With the unprecedented progress in science, the upshots of industrialization had been the root causes of colonialism and imperialism, which were responsible once for political and economic slavery of the majority of the people of the world. They were also responsible for people’s backwardness in socio-cultural spheres. Later, they paved the way for competition among nations ultimately resulting in the two World Wars (between 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 respectively). Moreover, we are witness to the current prevailing situation of continuously warring countries. Despite passing through the process of unprecedented development and awakening among the people, the world has prepared its path for its own destruction. It is really a dreadful situation for all.

India’s Responsibility

India has always played an important role in the process of globalization. It has added dimensions to this process from time-to-time. Hence, India’s importance in the current global changes is worth mentioning. Its responsibility lies in moving towards the right direction and becoming welfaristic. Furthermore, India is the biggest democracy of the world and is a country of diversities. It has presented unique example of amalgamation of diversities before the world. From economic point of view too, it is an emerging super power. Its annual economic growth rate is above seven percent. It is a ray of hope not only for poor or developing nations, but also the developed countries of the world as it is working as a bridge between the two. Moreover, due to its constantly increasing strength and development in the field of science and communication technology, India has emerged as a leading political power at the global level. Being a responsible nation India has her say in the international affairs too. In this situation, it is appropriate that India watch the whole process of globalization minutely so that a situation like that of colonialism or imperialism does not emerge again, and this process and global changes prove welfaristic for all, and particularly for those who are still deprived of their rights.

Today the situation of the world is such that either all can proceed forward towards prosperity, as there is no other alternative left, or they be ready for complete destruction. In this regard, I reiterate, India with its lessons from its past, can contribute tremendously following the policy of non-aggression and non-expansionism.

India has the capability of achieving this. Along with resolving its internal problems and simultaneously marching together with other nations of the world in larger interest of common men and their welfare, India with the feeling of responsibility must take a lead in this direction by bringing the world together in pursuit of peace and prosperity.

*A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.

One Comment

  1. It’s an excellent article in present scenario for unity and integrity of aur beloved india
    People must learn from the world how they are adjusting from different casts and creed for the sake of development of their country
    As Obama’s father was not an American but for the interest of the country Intelligent people elected him the president and many indian origins are elected in different political post In different countries
    Patience and tolerance is a must in the Interest of Any country
    Jai Hind

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