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The Age of Globalisation leading to unprecedented Digital Colonialism- Tanya Mittal

 

 

 

We have entered a new era of globalisation, where the focus has shifted from physical networks of geopolitics to global information networks. With billions connected to the internet worldwide, the breakneck speed of information dissemination has increased than ever before.

 

The use of digital technologies has undoubtedly widened avenues for local businesses to compete in the global economy and for individuals to leverage digital platforms to learn professionally and to build networks. However, while enthusiasts promote this to be the ideal modus operandi for social, economic, and cultural development, the interests of developed, richer nations are often involved.  Currently, financial giants have the maximum interest vested in digital technology, and China is way ahead in using artificial intelligence as an additional tool. However, success is heavily reliant on superior technological know-how, innovation, entrepreneurship drive and the ability to lobby governments for favours, all of which put third world countries at a considerable disadvantage.

 

The concept of ‘globalisation’ was introduced and promoted as something to be welcomed (as, in the longer term, it would lead to an equitable distribution of resources to all countries, the rich and the poor). However, recent experience of how rich countries have been acting reveals a different story. The trade terms set by those in political and economic might, are discriminatory and unfair. China has emerged as the worst offender of all, exploiting the natural resources of the poor countries after offering cash loans that are tempting to the recipients. This, in the name of globalisation, is neo-colonialism. Although colonisation and globalisation sound divergent, owing to the more democratic approach by the latter, however, they have a similar concept. In both scenarios, more robust and weaker forces meet to share resources disproportionately. For instance, the British East India Company, a case of classic colonialism, engaged in colonies adopting free-market capitalism. Most MNCs today are based on the same design of an ecosystem of ‘profit and plunder’.

 

The ‘neo-colonialists, apart from controlling the economy, now also influence the mindset of the masses to promote their products and their sale. They also indirectly and adversely influence the indigenous culture of the poor countries. The online spaces are saturated with western corporate content, with English being the primary language used, side-lining other languages. This poses a dual danger.The new concept of empire is not just based on military power or land acquisition but increasingly now on controlling our minds. Google controls all access to knowledge, Facebook knows our deepest secrets, and companies have stumbled upon a new commodity – personal information. Mapping behaviour, shaping and directing our searches, preferences, and the content we consume through algorithms and centralised internet services outside user control reveal the profoundly exploitative and undemocratic force of ‘surveillance capitalism’. Along with our data, our identities have been framed, dissected, and tossed about.

 

Today, our collective consciousness has been translated into this alternate realm with minimal rules, boundaries, and accountability. In many ways, the future of the world is the future of data. Fighting the current forces is a seemingly arduous task. But we can, and indeed should, use the same digital tools to resist and thwart the designs of these neo-colonialists, sooner the better.

 

 

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