ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Swadeshi Globalisation

ROMESH DIWAN's (February 24) arguments for 'modernisation without westernisation' are based on a series of inconsistencies and misconceptions; (1) Citing the example of the growing numbers of single family households in the US, he concludes "policies targeted purely for economic growth are not only inimical to family stability but are positively destructive of family and community". Rather than addressing the questionable conceptions of 'community' and 'family' or his assumptions of what 'stability' constitutes, I simply point out the fallacy in the causal inference. Not only is it questionable in general, but in the particular case of single family households in the US especially among economically disadvantaged African Americans the absence of the 'father' may have more to do with certain social policies and cultural practices. For example, the amount of social security money received by the 'family' may actually be less if there is an unemployed male also living at home. (2) After claiming that the social ills in the US are a result of "policies targeted purely for economic growth", he suggests following the Japanese, implying that they did not have policies targeted 'purely' for economic growth; this assumption shows an absolute misunderstanding of post-war Japanese history which is in fact an exemplar of rapid state-controlled and directed economic development strategies. Rather than somehow 'leapfrogging' stages in technological development, Japan in fact borrowed heavily from the US, especially in the initial stages of the development of some of its major industries, namely, automobiles (anathema for the author), semiconductors and steel. Even ostensibly desirable social changes such as land reform could arguably be seen as being instigated by the 'west'. Holding up Japan as a 'success' story involves another questionable assumption: that Japanese cultural norms are somehow more desirable (at least compared to the 'west'). Even a simplistic understanding of the role of women in the division of labour (especially in the so-called 'hi-tech' firms) reveals the fallacy of such an assumption. In general, women are basically forced to abandon their careers after they get to a marriageable age: among 'industrialised' countries, Japan has one of the lowest participation rates for women in the professional/managerial labour market.

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