The Making of a Global World

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The world today is globalized. All the countries have become so interdependent that no nation today can survive in isolation. The world was not always connected this way. When people began to migrate in search of work or an even better lifestyle, it marked the beginning of the process of globalization. The greatest gift of globalization to mankind is that it has made it easy for us to connect even if we stay in two different countries.

The Making of the Global World : Till the Nineteenth Century

The internet has now helped us all to connect. The internet has connected the world in this millennium. However, have you ever wondered how life was many years ago? All through history, people have been interlinked for various reasons. 

The Pre-Modern World

Before the beginning of the nineteenth century, travellers, traders, scholars had travelled across different continents for gaining knowledge, for collecting religious text, or for various other reasons. The three things that will help us to understand the making of a global world in the pre-Modern era is:

  • Silk Route

  • Food Travels

  • Diseases and Trade

Silk Route

The Silk Route was a historic trade route that stretched from Asia to the Mediterranean traversing China, India, Persia, Arabia, Greece, and Italy. The route was called the silk route due to a large amount of silk trading that used to take place from the second century B.C. until the 14th century A.D.The silk routes are a good example of vibrant pre-modern trade and cultural links between distant parts of the world. These routes were used to trade various types of goods ranging from Chinese pottery, silk, silver etc. Not only did the silk route provide a link between countries for importing and exporting goods but it also became important for the export of art, literature, and philosophies.

Food Travels – Spaghetti and Potato

Food is another way to understand how a  worldwide world existed in pre-modern times since traders or travellers introduced a new food to the place they visited. Indians, five centuries ago, were not aware of potatoes, maize, groundnut, etc. All these food items were only introduced to Europe and Asia after Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas.

Another interesting story is about noodles or Spaghetti. According to many historians, noodles travelled from China to Europe and became spaghetti. However, this points to the very fact that there was an extended cultural contact within the pre-modern world.

Diseases and Trade

European traders in the sixteenth century found a sea-route to Asia and an ocean-route to America.  Countries like Peru and Mexico, in South America, were full of mines with precious metals like silver which helped Europe finance its trade. Portuguese and Spaniards colonized South  America by the mid-sixteenth century.

What was unique in their conquest was that they did not use conventional military weapons; rather they used Biological warfare. Hunger and poverty in the 18th century were so common in the whole of Europe. Diseases like smallpox were widespread too.

The Americans never had strong immunity so when they would go for battles they would carry the germs of such diseases and thus fall sick and also transmit these germs to other Americans.

Until the Mid-eighteenth century, the world's two richest countries were China and India. Asia was the center of trade and commerce for the entire world. However, China slowly reduced its international contacts and retreated into isolation. Also, America was a  rising power. This led to a shift in trade and Europe became the center of world trade.

The Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century, three sorts of flow existed within international economic exchanges. They were:

  • Trade flow

  • Labour flow

  • Capital flow

Formation of the World Economy

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Britain's population began to rise and so was the demand for food grains. This led to an overall increase in the price of food grains. Corn laws that restricted the import of corn into Britain had been abolished due to tremendous pressure from the industrialists and the local people. This encouraged cheaper import of food items, much cheaper than the cost of production within Britain. This led to vast areas of land being left uncultivated and those who were engaged in agriculture, now moved to cities for employment opportunities. Britain at the same time experienced rapid Industrial growth which led to higher income for locals as well as higher consumption of food. Countries like Australia, America, Russia, and Eastern Europe began to grow food items to export them to Britain. However, there was no connectivity to export these goods. Eventually, Britain started to provide capital to these countries and the people from Europe began to migrate to America due to the requirement of high Labour. Products other than food items also began to be produced because of the rising demands in the British Markets.

Significance of Technology

New and Modern Technology was required to transport edible and perishable products from one country to another. There was a need for a faster medium of transportation and also new advancements for the delivery of fresh goods. Technology ensured that the trains were faster, wagons were lighter and ships were larger to accommodate the increasing demands.

Another problem that was being faced was the shipment of meat from America and Australia to Europe. The meat was considered a luxury in Britain. However, live animals were difficult to transport as they took up a lot of space and many also fell ill. The invention of ships with cold storage stepped in to solve this problem. Meat could easily be transported now.

Colonialism in Late Nineteenth Century

A Lot of Colonialism was taking place towards the end of the 19th century. European countries like Britain, France, Portugal were colonizing countries in Africa and Asia for increasing their trade. These countries would provide them with cheap raw material which then would be exported to their native countries and finally, the finished products would have been sold at high prices in these colonized countries.

Indentured Labor Migration from India

Thousands of Indian Labourers migrated to work in Mines, Plantations, and other construction projects. When the cotton industry declined it became difficult for the labourers to meet their expenses. Thus they migrated in search of better living conditions and work. But that was not the case. They were asked to sign a 5-year contract on the completion of which they could return to India and the living conditions were also not what they were told. While some of them escaped into the jungles, a few stayed back and adapted to the new culture leading to a fusion of cultures.

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Indian Trade

Due to the Industrial Revolution, Britain now began to produce cotton which they used to earlier export from India. This led to a decline in the demand for Indian cotton. There has been constant importing and exporting of various goods between India and Britain. But the export of Indian goods to Britain remained extremely low as compared to the British export to India. Thus Britain had a ‘trade surplus’ with India. 

Did You Know?

  • Indentured labour means a bonded labourer who had to work on a contract basis for free for his employer for a certain period because of any unpaid loan or for transportation cost to a job location.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Write a Short Note on the Silk Route.

Answer: The Silk Route was a historic trade route that stretched from Asia to the Mediterranean traversing China, India, Persia, Arabia, Greece, and Italy. The route was called the silk route due to a large amount of silk trading used to take place from the second century B.C. until the 14th century A.D.The silk routes are a good example of vibrant pre-modern trade and cultural links between distant parts of the world.

Q. What was Rinderpest?

Ans. Rinderpest was a cattle plague that had hit Africa in the late 1880s. Rinderpest was a deadly plague that killed over 90% of the cattle within five years.

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