Chapter 4 The Making of Global World
Give two examples of different types of global exchanges which took place before the seventeenth century, choosing one example from Asia and one from the Americas.
(i) Exchange of food: Food offers many examples of long-distance cultural exchange. It is believed that ‘noodles’ travelled west from China to become ‘spaghetti’.
(ii) Exchange of germs: The Portuguese and Spanish conquests and colonisation of America were decisively underway by the mid-sixteenth century. The European conquest was not just a result of superior firepower. In fact, the most powerful weapon of the Spanish conquerors was not a conventional military weapon at all. It was the germs such as those of smallpox that they carried on their person. Because of their long isolation, America’s original inhabitants had no immunity against these diseases that came from Europe. Smallpox in particular proved a deadly killer. Once introduced, it spread deep into the continent, ahead even of any European reaching there. It killed and decimated whole communities, paving the way for conquest.
Explain how the global transfer of disease in the pre-modern world helped in the colonisation of the Americas.
The colonisation of the Americas took place in the mid-sixteenth century. It was, however, not due to the superior military strength of the Spanish conquerors. The most powerful weapon of the Spanish conquerors was not a conventional military weapon at all but it was primarily due to the global transfer of disease that helped in the colonisation of the Americas. The Spaniards carried on their person, the germs such as those of smallpox into the Americas. The local inhabitants had no immunity against these diseases due to their long isolation. It resulted in – spread of these diseases in the continent. Smallpox in particular killed and decimated many communities and paved the way for conquest and colonisation of the Americas. It was not a warfare. John Winthorp, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony in New England, wrote in May 1634 that smallpox signalled God’s blessing for the colonists ‘…. the natives …. were near all dead of smallpox, so as the Lord had cleared our title to what we possess.’ Thus it can be said that the guns could be bought or captured and turned against the invaders but not diseases such as smallpox to which the conquerors were mostly immune.
Write a note to explain the effects of the following :
(a) The British government’s decision to abolish the Corn Laws.
(b) The coming of rinderpest to Africa.
(c) The death of men of working-age in Europe because of the World War.
(d) The Great Depression on the Indian economy.
(e) The decision of MNCs to relocate production to Asian countries.
(a) Effects of the British government’s decision to abolish the Corn Laws were as follows :
- Food could be imported into Britain more cheaply than it could be produced within the country. ,
- Vast areas of land were left uncultivated. As a result of it thousands of men and women became unemployed. They shifted to cities and settled there, Many migrated to overseas in search of work.
(b) The coming of rinderpest or cattle plague to’Africa : Rinderpest arrived in Africa in the late 1880s. It was carried by infected cattle imported from British Asia to feed the Italian soldiers invading Eritrea in East Africa. Entering Africa in the east, rinderpest moved west ‘like forest fire’ and reached Africa’s Atlantic coast in 1892.
It had a terrifying impact on people’s livelihood and the local economy as mentioned below :
- On its way it killed 90 per cent of the cattle.
- The loss of cattle destroyed African livelihoods.
- Planters, mine owners and colonial governments monopolised the remaining cattle resources and strengthened their power. They forced the Africans into the labour market.
- Control over the remaining cattle resource enabled European colonisers to conquer and sub-due Africa. The coming of rinderpest shows how in an era of conquest even a disease affecting cattle reshaped the lives and fortunes of thousands of people and their relations with the rest of the world.
(c) The death of men of working age in Europe because of the world war had the
following effects :
- The death and injuries reduced the able-bodied work force in Europe.
- Almost in every family some members had died during the war. Thus, with fewer numbers within the family, household incomes declined after the war.
(d) The effects of the Great Depression on the Indian economy were as given below :
- By the early twentieth century the global economy had become integrated. The crisis in one part of the world quickly affected the other parts affecting lives, economies, and societies. Colonial India had become an exporter of agricultural goods and importer of manufacturers. Thus the depression affected Indian trade badly. The exports and imports decreased to half between 1928 and 1934.
- Prices in India fell sharply. For example, between 1928 and 1934, wheat prices fell by 50 percent.
- The peasants suffered more than the urban people. In spite of the fall in agricultural prices, the government did not reduce the land revenue. Peasants producing for the world market were the worst hit e.g., the collapse of gunny exports led to crash in the price of raw jute to more than 60 percent.
- In general peasants’ indebtedness increased. They used their savings, mortgaged lands, and sold their jewelry and precious metals to meet their expenses.
- India, however, became an exporter of gold. The famous economist John Maynard Keynes thought that Indian gold exports promoted global economic recovery.
In urban India, the condition of people was, however, better because prices had fallen and they with their fixed incomes could purchase more. Industrial investment also increased due to tariff protection to industries under the pressure of the nationalists.
Thus, the Great Depression had affected adversely the rural economy but it was less harmful for urban India.
(e) The decision of MNCs to relocate production to Asian countries had the following effects :
- It stimulated world trade and capital flows.
- Low wages in countries like China had made these countries attractive destinations for investments by foreign MNCs competing to capture world markets. For example, Indian markets are flooded with most of the TVs, mobile phones, and toys that are made in China. This is because of the low-cost structure of the Chinese economy, most importantly its low wages.
- The world’s economic geography has been transformed as countries such as India, China and Brazil have undergone a rapid economic transformation. For example, India has followed policies of liberalisation and globalisation.
Give two examples from history to show the impact of technology on food availability.
The impact of technology on food availability was significant. The railways, steamships, the telegraph were important inventions which transformed the nineteenth-century world as mentioned below :
- Railways, lighter wagons, and larger ships helped move food more cheaply and quickly from faraway farms to final markets.
Earlier in the trade of meat, animals were shipped live from America to Europe and then slaughtered.
This system had drawbacks as mentioned below :
(a) Animals took more space on the ship.
(b) Many died in voyage.
(c) Many fell ill and lost weight.
(d) Many became unfit to eat.
In view of the above meat was expensive luxury beyond the reach of the European poor.
Earlier there was less demand due to high prices. The new technology i.e., refrigerated ships, enabled the transport of perishable foods over long distances because now the animals were slaughtered at the starting point and then transported to other places as frozen meat.
This reduced the price of meat. The poor could also afford meat and add to their diet. Better living conditions promoted social peace within the country and support for imperialism abroad. Thus, technology made the availability of food products possible in different and faraway places.
What is meant by the Bretton Woods Agreement?
The main aim of the post-war international economic system was to preserve economic stability and full employment in the industrial world. The United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held in July 1944 at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire in the USA agreed upon its framework.
The Bretton Woods Conference established the following institutions :
- International Monetary Fund: Its aim was to deal with external surpluses and deficits of its member nations.
- The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or World Bank was set “Up to finance post-war reconstruction.
- The above institutions are known as The Bretton Woods institutions or Bretton Woods twins. The post-war international economic system is also often described as the Bretton Woods system. It was based on fixed exchange rates. National currencies were pegged to the dollar at a fixed exchange rate. The dollar itself was anchored to gold at a fixed price of $ 35 per ounce of gold.
- The decision-making in these institutions is controlled by the western industrial powers. The US has an effective right of veto over key IMF and World Bank decisions.