What goes up, comes down, what goes around comes around! Newton formalized the law of Gravity, but something a little similar is the unwritten law of Karma, which basically says that wheels of fortune can come a full circle! India actually had the distinction of being the world’s largest economy hundreds of year’s back, as it accounted for almost a third of the world’s GDP.
The goods produced in India had long been exported to far off destinations across the world. Therefore, the concept of globalization is hardly new to India, but as we begin the story in the 1980’s and the 90’s, India’s contribution to the World GDP was less than a 1%, being completely isolated from world markets, completely in contrast to how India was perceived hundreds of years back.
The 80’s and the 90’s were quite the times for reserving your awe towards developed countries like the US, UK or Australia. Your cousins in the US spoke about having Mac computers at home, while you were still hoping that your neighbourhood school got itself a computer. We Indians were happy playing catch up, waiting for the cousins to come and haughtily narrate tales of the West. Hoping for India to be on par with the world was still a dream that was never seeing the light of the day.
In 1991, as India’s economy opened up, brands flocked to India, and soon we had the same brands that some of our cousins used to have in the west, right here in India. Things as simple as having a global chain like Pizza Hut or just having ACT II popcorn in your kitchen meant a lot to your self esteem, eventually trickling down to a globalized world in the late 90’s. The Foreign Direct Investment in India as a percentage of India’s GDP was still low at 0.2% but the ascent towards a “Happy Days Are Here Again” sign had begun in the right earnest.
As a 10 year old kid, I was happy to be watching the highlights of a Zimbabwe vs England World Cup cricket game (1992), on the same day as the match happened. What a Zimbabwean fan or an English cricket fan, used to watch, now I could also watch. The rapid spread of news, fashion and thoughts through media was making me a globalized citizen, even before I knew it. Life could never be better. I felt included, as part of the world.
To add to it, a Bengali girl had been selected Miss Universe, and a Mangalore girl had been selected as Miss World, and a little more importantly for me, India had won the Wills Cricket Cup soon after, capping an excellent 1994. India had arrived for me!
I went out striding a bit more confidently with my bicycle on the road, feeling a sense of accomplishment as I overtook cars with a perceived foreign connection (DCM Daewoo and Cielo). On my way home from school, I used to stop my cycle with a swagger, just to stylishly drink a Fountain Pepsi and be in time to watch Small Wonder on Star Plus. Those very products that were the awe of Indians, when their desi cousins use to come home in the 80’s and 90’s were now, available at our Kirana store or in our living room. We Indians were more than happy to be included as an invitee for western brands to consider India worthy, as we swept past the Y2K bug into the next century.
My worldview of globalization was then largely limited to just cricket and technology, and it just helped that India under Sourav, had begun to form their best team in years. When India beat other countries at cricket, my confidence level seemed to surreptitiously suggest that I was increasingly seeing myself as a global citizen, on par with the world. As much I needed the scores of Mambalam Mosquitoes vs Jolly Rovers in Chennai, I also needed to know if Lancashire could beat Essex at Durham.
My world had expanded through television, through retail and through the Internet (Cricinfo). My life was getting intertwined with those of distant people and places around the world culturally. Western Culture seemed to have diffused to all parts of the world including India, through Television, Internet, newspapers and magazines, and was amply getting reflected in art, sport and pursuits of leisure.
So far so good, India was expanding steadily and the global potpourri mix had a bit of Indian’ness seep in. It was basically a global cocktail, with a drop of Indian Jaljeera in it. To me, it looked like the world around me had compressed and there was an intense thought around the consciousness of the world as a whole. India’s FDI as a percentage of the Indian GDP now stood a 150 basis points higher at 2%, but still well below growing economies like Brazil and China, who have a number of around 5% for FDI flow as a percentage of their respective GDP.