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The deity of globalisation

The deity of globalisation

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Published by WorldReport
Review of 'The God market: How globalization is making India more Hindu' by Meera Nanda. Neoliberalism, economic growth and the rise of religiosity in India.
Review of 'The God market: How globalization is making India more Hindu' by Meera Nanda. Neoliberalism, economic growth and the rise of religiosity in India.

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Published by: WorldReport on Apr 24, 2011
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04/04/2014

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44 ISSUE 5 Independent World report
BOOK REVIEW
The deity of Globalisation
Neoliberalism, economic growth and the rise of religiosity in India.
By Joshua F Leach
A
s globalisation brings out thelatent faddishness in everycorner of the society, journalists
and commentators are often the first
to be tugged along in its wake. Take therecent economic growth in India, overwhich every pundit and observer hasbeen crowing for the past two decades.The most reductionist analyses andsuperlative praise have been produced onthe subject, and there is no end in sight.One writer who has refused to join thechorus, however, is Meera Nanda.A well-respected philosopher of science working at the Jawaharlal NehruUniversity, Nanda has made something
of a name for herself as a deflater of 
faddishness. Not only because of itsshallowness, but also because of theevil which it can disguise: the ancientinjustices and prejudices which can liebehind it.
Her first book,
 Prophets facing backward
,was a dissection of the supposedly new,ground-breaking ideas of postmodernism.This complex academic phenomenonstresses the impossibility of discovering asingle
truth
or universal moral standard.Her point in that book was that thefad of postmodernism, fresh though itmay be, is actually lending credence tothe most reactionary, far-right forces inIndia and around the world. From thenotion that there is no truth, after all,Holocaust denial and similar frauds areonly a step away.In
The God market 
, her latest work,Nanda takes aim at another and much
more significant fad: globalisation, which,
it is often claimed, will wash over Indialike a rejuvenating stream. While it mayleave damage and debris in its wake, thestory goes, it will ultimately save Indiafrom its age-old poverty, its
 Hindu rate
of economic growth, and the relics of itspre-modern past.At the heart of the book is an openchallenge to this reading of globalisation.Nanda herself is a globalist andinternationalist – that is not the issue. Shehas nothing whatsoever to say against theshrinking of the world as such.
What she finds distressing, rather, is
the economic ideology of neoliberalism,with its free market gospel and dogmaticopposition to social spending. The
unwarranted conflation of these two ideas
– globalisation and neoliberalism – is oneof the chief objects of her ridicule. Tomake her case, Nanda must argue againsttwo decades of commentary emanatingfrom the West and from India, all of which assumes the inherent goodness of the market mechanism.One of the favourite anecdotes of neoliberal writers on India’s economictransformation, quoted by Nanda,involves a young teenager who is savingup money for
computer school
so that hecan follow the footsteps of the richest manin the world, whom he knows as
 Bilgay
.This story is taken by such writers as sureevidence that the horizons of ordinaryIndians are widening, as are statisticsindicating that poverty in India hasbeen reduced since free market reformswere implemented in the 1990s and thateconomic growth has skyrocketed.The reverse side of all this, asNanda states, is that for every teenagerdreaming of becoming
 Bilgay
there aremillions upon millions who can noteven dream of feeding their families.The Indians being pulled out of povertyover the last years have not entered themiddle class, which makes up a stable
fifth of the population and does not open
its doors to newcomers. Rather, India’sstellar economic growth has been joblessfor most of the population.Those who have left the ranks of the extremely poor have mostly movedinto the teeming
informal sector,
wherethey scratch a living on less than half adollar per day. These people are poorby any human standard, but just well-off enough to pull themselves above the
official poverty line. Indians living in this
horrifying condition make up as muchas 80% of the population, or roughly 836million men, women, and children.Meanwhile, the Indian state has comedown hard in support of the very rich,dispossessing farmers of their land tomake way for large corporations (leadingto unprecedented suicide rates amongthe rural poor), and slashing all social
The God Market
 How globalization is making India more Hindu
By Meera NandaRandom House, 2010

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An interesting book review of "The God market: How globalization is making India more Hindu," by Meera Nanda.
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An interesting book review of "The God market: How globalization is making India more Hindu," by Meera Nanda.
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An interesting book review of "The God market: How globalization is making India more Hindu," by Meera Nanda.

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