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Written By

Hannah Gray


College of Arts, Society and Education

Publish Date

23 June 2020

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A globalised world

Inequalities in societies around the world are creating increasingly worse realities for people in every nation. Dr Narayan Gopalkrishnan gives insight into how closing the inequalities gap must start with addressing the effects of globalisation.

Globalisation is all around us, and it seems to be unstoppable. “Rapid advances in technology and infrastructure are enabling global flows of ideas, finances, media, products and people, and increasing connectivity across a range of stakeholders,” Narayan Gopalkrishnan says.

Modern technology has enabled marginalised groups to present their position on a world stage and to claim the media space they may have been denied earlier. As an example, indigenous peoples across the world are now able to connect with each other. They can work together to demand action on land rights, racism and discrimination.

Globalisation means that the resources, information, and people on the other side of the world are right at our fingertips. We, as a global culture, have never been more connected. We can join together, we can work together, we can benefit from each other in ways never before seen in our history.

Our world now has the ability to know almost anything and have access to almost everything.

At least, that's how it seems.

The dark side of globalisation

However, according to Narayan, there is also a darker side to globalisation.

Globalisation can be detrimental to the principles of social justice, such as the privatisation of public services, the deregulation of the corporate sector, and the lowering of income and corporate taxes that are paid for with cuts to public spending.

The liberalisation of agriculture is a practical example of this. According to Narayan, “It has led to many small farmers having to leave their traditional business, and, in some cases, committing suicide because of their inability to provide for their families.”

Globalisation can also have an effect on public services. “The privatisation of nursing homes, social housing, childcare systems and disability services have had extremely negative impacts, and people are increasingly falling through the gaps or suffering neglect in the process,” Narayan says.

“The privatisation of basic resources such as water and electricity have led to increasing burdens falling on the already stretched incomes of the poorer in society,” he adds. “There are also significant aspects of neoliberal processes that impact adversely on the environment and on existing democratic institutions.”

People living in poverty in India
Handing out bowls of soup to the poor

What we can do to reduce inequality

Narayan, like the United Nations, acknowledges that globalisation does not only have downsides.

“The strengths of other aspects of globalisation – the interconnectedness, the advances of technology, the virtual solidarity and the globalisation of ideas and peoples – all need to be brought to bear on the development of alternative institutional arrangements that will reduce inequality and benefit all people and the environment they live in,” he says.

Those who move to create change can use globalisation by unifying themselves on a global scale. “Working towards a socially just society is a global endeavour,” Narayan says. “It goes beyond the nation-state and brings together all people in a globalised world.”

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Dr Narayan Gopalkrishnan

Senior Lecturer

Narayan Gopalkrishnan is the Course Coordinator of the Bachelor of Social Work course and is a Fellow of the Cairns Institute at JCU. Narayan’s career has spanned three decades in Australia and overseas in universities, NGOs and the private sector. He has lead major development projects and large corporate entities in India and worked in the not-for-profit sector and academia in Australia.

Narayan has a deep passion for social justice and integrated and holistic approaches to human development and participation. He is recognised nationally and internationally and is called upon to give keynote presentations at conferences and events. He has founded organisations, undertaken ground-breaking research, and coordinated and taught courses in several areas of social issues and policy.