'Nations and persons', The Hindu, July 4, 2003.
"Globalisation" said the artist "is as old as man". This simple truth appears to have escaped many in a craven approach to a barely two-decade young project of converting the earth's crust into nothing more than a production site. A new globalisation appears willy nilly to have crept upon us. Much is promised on its behalf, good and bad equally. Usually it revolves around the question of whether globalisation is the answer to faster economic growth. It appears to have escaped attention, however, that not all economic concerns are extinguished by reference to an expanding cake, even if it were forthcoming for sure. Even the dismal scientist may be curious as to how the gains from growth are being divvied up. The issue is whether the distribution of outcomes and opportunities accords with our notion of justice.
In the wake of globalisation, we would be after the idea of a global justice. Upon reflection, we would be assailed by the anomaly that justice globally speaking is currently identified with inter-national equity. As Amartya Sen has pointed out, however, they are not the same. As notions these differ both in terms of their constitutive content and in terms of their policy implications. The contrast between global and international equity bring forth two issues. These are the domain of social justice and the concept of a person, the comprehension of both which are now up for negotiation.
As regards the domain of justice, the question is whether justice is to be applied only to individuals within nations with anything of cross-border significance being seen as relations between nations. As regards the concept of the person, we may wish to query whether a person's identity is to be contained by nationality, giving this aspect priority over any other identity that he or she might adopt. What are some of these other identities? Well, these may be based on the person's profession, political beliefs or gender. Are all of these to be resolutely ignored in favour of nationality? Once we acknowledge that individuals have plural affiliations, as Sen terms it, we see that international relations are a hopelessly inadequate basis for arriving at global justice or equity. As citizens of
I now turn to a strictly economic relation and point out that global justice is yet to be achieved, in fact is unattainable, under the new globalisation. I refer to a central relation in economics, that between capital and labour. In attempting to evaluate the extent of justice adhering to the rules governing their interaction in the current world order we are in need of a theory of justice, by which we mean a framework for the resolution of claims. While there are more than one, I am sufficiently persuaded by the Rawlsian notion of 'justice as fairness' to work with it.
It is easy to see that in the current world economic order the rules governing the relation between capital and labour are far from just. Not only is capital mobile across borders but its mobility as foreign direct investment in developing countries is now aggrandised as being central to their development. The latter is controversial, but this need not hold us back at this stage. We only need to remain aware that nothing like a similar freedom operates for labour. Entry restriction is rife with respect to unskilled labour. Compared to the barriers to immigration, capital today is spoilt for choice in terms of geography. The rules governing the movement of capital and labour are therefore asymmetric. This is so despite the case that some economies may be starved of labour resources as much as others need capital. Not just the territories of white colonisation during 19th century but also the economy of the
The asymmetry between the respective rules for capital and labour demonstrates how in a globalising world economy justice means something other than international equity or equity between nations. While the absence of immigration opportunities for Indian labour protects the wage rate of American workers the mobility available to American capital ensures that their employment cannot be guaranteed. When capital moves just across the border to
Many tend to see the restriction on the migration of labour to the
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