Borderless World

Our earth was made by the almighty ‘a place of equal opportunity for all humankind to inhibit’, but the emergence of diverse civilizations in different parts of the world lead to creation of manmade borders. In the name of protectionism, superiority, cultural differences, resource endowments and various other factors, the world got divided by territorial borders which confined cultural exchanges, trade, knowledge sharing, and human mobility within the fenced region, i.e. country.

But with emanation of various factors like information and technology, and communication, borders are playing a far diminishing role now as compared to the rather restrained earlier decades, and a new borderless economic, political, and social world order is taking shape; where the trend implies the dominance of economic factors over other now-less consequential factors like political, social and cultural.

Borderless World
Globalisation indeed has lead to creation of a world where the economic decisions are made without reference to national borders, where the financial capital, the production activities and even the workers move seeking better opportunities elsewhere in the world as they could in their own country . Here the impact of globalization can be studied in two phases- one that saw the entry of foreign companies into the developing countries, and second phase began with the companies of the developing countries heading to the developed ones. Both the situations created a business environment where the political boundaries of the nations have become irrelevant and the trade could be carried out with ease across the nations.

Political and geographical boundaries are diluting in their importance with the introduction of the technologically-aided global trade of goods and services. With the European Union, NAFTA, Canada-US and other free trade agreements setting flourishing examples with more such to follow, a wave of innovation based flawless international trade is leading the world towards an economic integration where tariffs, quotas and preferences are no more a hindrance.
Marketplace too is becoming common and global. Geographical constraints are no more stopping producers to sell & consumers to buy in far away parts of the world. Idea-based products are moving across the borders from financial services, data processing, and medical information to goods, materials and media. Various MNCs (Multi National Corporations) are spearheading this movement across borders and are aiding use of homogeneous products and services to all populace across the world. Now you need not necessarily be an American to enjoy the Subway culture or a Japanese to be the first to use a latest gadget.

Needless to mention the contribution of internet in creating a more common electronic marketplace, at present 1,966,514,816 people or 28.7% of world population makes use of internet on quotidian basis. And growing at a pace of 444% per decade (approx.), it holds great potential towards further strengthening the global integrated marketplace. With social networking in place, people across the world are closer like never before. Be it standing for common causes, raising funds for social uses, sharing of information and personal views, cultural exchanges, internet has blurred geographical boundaries and the whole world is just a click away.

A new era of sharing of technological know-how and technology transfers across borders is bridging the gap between the developed and the developing countries. It is shaping a new kind of global economy where the use of technology for growth and prosperity is not limited to powerful few but is available to all interested. It is the use of technology only which has made possible advancements in the field of academics and knowledge sharing, where a research made in Europe on tropical diseases is easily and conveniently available for people in Srilanka to cure widespread endemics, or where the systems established in US to prevent manmade disasters and manage natural disasters can be successfully replicated in Brazil with minimal difficulty.

Causes of common concern are forcing countries to forget borders and are making them to work unanimously towards solutions. Some of the instances of this are the convening of countries to assuage the concern of global warming and climate change, and raising a common voice for a weapon-less world through disarmament movement on a global scale. A more noble thought of building a prosperous world for all is overpowering trivial regional & country specific concerns.

Businesses too are exploiting this overwhelming opportunity to no less extent. Activities and functions like human resource management, data management, consultancy, production, acquisition of raw materials and capital goods are being outsourced to various parts of the world, seeking cost reduction and quality enhancement to attain competitive advantage. How does borders matter if you consume a product in America which was manufactured in China with raw materials sourced from Taiwan, researched & developed in Germany, marketed by a company registered in Australia and whose ownership can again be traced back to America? The trend depicts that we are slowly becoming the citizens, producers, consumers, spectators, and broadcasters of a real ‘global borderless world’.

But this is only the half of the story and it cannot be completed if we ignore taking concern of few ground realities. Some of them are easily perceptible, and others camouflaged behind the rather rosy picture of consumption led economic growth.

Hard fact, but the integration of the world has so far been more or less on economic front. Hardly any trend setting a big example in social, political or cultural arena exists which somehow underscore the borderless world phenomenon. Forget about ousting of borders with other nations, there are societies and cultures like in Afghanistan and Iraq which have zero tolerance for many of their own sub-cultures within their respective borders.

No less perceptible is the widening gap between the developed and the underdeveloped parts of the world. There are countries where regions enclosed in their borders are termed as poor and form a considerable part of the global population but still contribute only few percentage points to the global economy. Here we find ourselves between the two worlds, one side of the border constituting the increasingly global economy and the other comprising of institutions and countries which have not yet caught up with the pace. This kind of division by borders of economic restraint and backwardness is even formidable as it leads to unfortunate marginalization of weaker regions.

In the second phase of globalization, the concept of borderless world is receiving setbacks as the developed nations are formulating very strict laws and regulations restricting the entry of the labour force from the developing countries. This setback is further compounded by the protectionist economic policies being followed by USA and its European allies in the post-recession period.

Coming to more real terms, how come the world is borderless when in many cases ‘border disputes’ are the only reasons for countries to come to lethal warfare against each other? The Siachen conflict ongoing since 1984, Cambodian-Thai standoff, Indo-Pakistan war, Indo-Bangladesh war, Sino-Indian skirmish, more recent 2008 Djiboutian-Eritrean border conflict and many more, these battles over undefined borders repeatedly bring down to the earth the aspirations of a united borderless world.

Also, for the world to be a borderless entity, it requires common political or governing agency in place which is accepted by all. But the major systems of `communism, democracy and dictatorship followed presently by different groups and countries in the world, are so contrasting to each other that bringing harmony among them or choosing one from them for all seems no close to reality.

Various other small but significant issues lie. There are countries giving asylum to people or groups of people who are declared as threat by some other country. And there are countries constructing dams over rivers to harness maximum benefit meanwhile endangering rights of the country next in line of the river flow. This all creates intense inter-personal relations between countries, and add to the reasons which make seem the phenomenon of ‘borderless world’ a myth at the present and in the near future.

But as the larger scenario depicts, time is not far away when borders will play an almost negligible role. The time when the difference between developed and underdeveloped world will come to an end, where as a blessing of economic integration all regions of the world will enjoy homogeneous living standards, where global laws will decide on how individual regional governments will behave, where the concern of a global citizenry will be of utmost importance. A time when different religions will develop tolerance and respect for each other, and a common good will take over diplomacy between nations.

And this will occur not for the reason that human conscience will develop and humanity will prevail as the only concern, but for the reason that human being is a selfish creature; and by that time, it will be realised that living harmoniously as a part of the larger whole rather than the divided few, will benefit no one but human only.

Contributed By: Mr. Udit Sharma
Designation: Assistant Professor
Area of Specialization: Marketing and HR.