Term Paper: British Raj

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¶ … British Raj is one of the most poignant historical examples of how geographical and environmental factors impact labor development. In particular, the British annexation of Fiji to a crown colony in 1874 was predicated specifically on the "potential for economic profit," (Blodgett 2011). In order to create a cash crop industry out of the indigenous Fijian sugarcane, the first British governor of Fiji, Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon, "arranged to bring indentured servants to the islands from Britain's largest colony, India, to work on the sugar plantations of the newly established British Colonial Sugar Company," (Blodgett 2011).

As "Themes in History" (2010) points out, "land and the type of work that can be done on it give shape to the labor relationships between people." In Fiji, the land and type of work that could be done on it completely and irreversibly altered the character of Fijian culture. Sugarcane was an indigenous plant on the South Pacific island of Fiji. While sugarcane "would have been part of the native Fijian diet, it is doubtful that the Fijians had been cultivating sugar in large quantities" before the arrival of the British in the nineteenth century (Blodgett 2001). Sugarcane had played a relatively small role in the local culture and economy, whereas sugarcane meant massive cash flows for the British. Therefore, the British colonization of Fiji was directly predicated on the cultivation of sugar in the South Pacific.

It was not just the cultivation of sugarcane on Fiji that would have a transformative effect on Fijian society, though. The British imperialists also controlled the labor relationships on the island and between the island and other parts of the world. In particular, the British needed a massive labor force to grow the amounts of sugar required for global trade: to feed the demand for sugar among the growing number of Europeans who could afford the sweetener. The market in Europe was driving the impetus to plunder land that belonged to others. The Dutch, the Portuguese, and the Spanish colonized lands throughout the planet; it was not just the British. In fact, economic competition stimulated the drive to expand the British Empire. By the nineteenth century, colonization had morphed into imperialism. The drive to colonize places like Fiji was not an attempt to Christianize locals but to exploit their labor and their land.

As if British colonial rule did not already have a tremendous impact on the island of Fiji, the arrival of 60,000 Indians between 1879 and 1960 affected every aspect of Fijian life including the politics, economics, and culture ("India-Fiji Relations" 2011). Currently, 38% of all Fijians are of Indian descent ("India-Fiji Relations" 2011). The introduction of Indians to Fijian society has created considerable domestic turmoil and ethnic conflict and a series of political coups have ensued ("India-Fiji Relations" 2011). As a significant historical event, the British importation of human beings from the Indian subcontinent to the South Pacific island of Fiji permanently altered the development of Fijian culture. The event also impacted the means by which both European and Indian culture became diffused throughout the world.

The British Raj acted with audacity in at least two ways. First, the British Raj during the age of imperialism highlights the issues discussed by Goucher, LeGuin & Walton (1998) in "Commerce and Change: The Creation of a Global Economy and the Expansion of Europe." Competition with Dutch and other European trade powerhouses meant that the British needed to be able to continue acquiring new means of economic development. Access to raw materials like sugarcane was a crucial component of the British economic strategy and foreign policy during the nineteenth century, and colonization of Fiji by Indian indentured servants facilitated this social, cultural, and geographic phenomenon.

Science and technology have been the engines driving economic growth and development throughout human history. Just as advancements in maritime technology plus advancements in sugarcane production processes fostered the booming sugar industry in the nineteenth century, advancements in information technology is promoting economic growth and development in the twenty-first century. As "Themes in History" (2010) points out, "Internet technology has transformed the world in ways that were unimaginable a decade or two ago." Coupled with globalization, information technology is the engine driving economic growth and development. "Information technology makes it possible to tailor production, processing, and delivery everywhere," ("Themes in History" 2010).

A significant historical event in American history that illustrates the ways science and technology have been the engines driving economic growth and development is currently unfolding. That event is known as the new tech bubble. The first tech bubble occurred just prior to the turn of the second millennium. Known as the "dot com boom" because of its direct relationship to startup Internet-related firms, the first tech bubble had a major impact on the American economy in general and that of Silicon Valley in California in particular. An economic recession resulted from the first tech bubble because the Internet-based firms did not actually sell anything of value ("Will the new tech bubble burst?" 2011). Moreover, Internet penetration was relatively low in the 1990s. The social and economic situations have changed since the year 2000. "Back then few people were plugged into the internet; today there are 2 billion netizens, many of them in huge new wired markets such as China," ("The New Tech Bubble" 2011). Even though the first tech bubble did burst, the proliferation of Internet-based businesses has paved the way for a global virtual marketplace. The continuation of the global virtual marketplace proves the point that science and technology are the engines driving economic growth and development. In the United States, the new tech bubble is promising in that it may be replacing heavy industry as a primary source of gross domestic product.

An article in The Economist entitled "The New Tech Bubble" (2011) points out, "some time after the dotcom boom turned into a spectacular bust in 2000, bumper stickers began appearing in Silicon Valley imploring: 'Please God, just one more bubble.'" That wish has apparently been granted, as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have potentially been overvalued. "Facebook is currently worth about $50 billion…that's more than the Gross Domestic Product of Uruguay. Astronomical numbers like that have some investors thinking that the United States could be headed toward another tech bubble," ("Will the new tech bubble burst?" 2011). Yet unlike the firms that went bust in the year 2000, the firms blowing up the new tech bubble such as Facebook and Twitter are actually producing wealth because they tend to have "solid revenue plans," ("The New Tech Bubble" 2011). Therefore, technology and science are changing the ways people create business ideas, market those business ideas, and conduct business. The new tech bubble is more than just facilitating the supply chains of large manufacturing firms. Rather, the new tech bubble represents new technology that is actually creating value and a whole marketplace, where there was none before.

Unfortunately, not all economic booms are mechanisms of positive social and economic change. The Enron scandal "has far-reaching political and financial implications," ("Enron Scandal At-a-Glance" 2002). The Enron scandal was another significant historical event in American history that illustrates the theme that individuals and institutions are mechanisms of social and governmental change. The individuals that comprised the upper echelons of Enron lied, cheated, and stole. Taking advantage of their wealth and positions of social and political power in the United States, the leaders of Enron such as Kenneth Lay, David Duncan, and Andrew Fastow forced civil and criminal investigations that continue to affect legislation related to business and to white-collar crime. Therefore, the Enron scandal is a significant historical event in American history that shows that institutions as well as individuals are mechanisms of social and governmental change. As Kadlec, Baumohl & Kher (2002) point out, because of Enron, major companies are scrutinized more heavily for accounting irregularities. Although corruption has not been rooted out entirely in the United States, Even companies once considered above suspicion are being subjected to increasing scrutiny," (Kadlec et al. 2002).

Revolutions in social, political, and economic institutions have punctuated human history. One global historical event that illustrates the theme of historical systems of power, governance, and authority is the rise and current decline of communism in the Caribbean nation of Cuba. Communism in Cuba has not been the universal demon that the United States has claimed it to be. In fact, Cuba boasts universal literacy and a better teacher to student ratio than schools in the United States have; a lower infant mortality rate than the United States; universal healthcare; and low rates of crime ("Castro's Communist Regime in Cuba" 2006).

However, the communist regime is untenable in the twenty-first century. Although communism has brought many benefits over capitalism to the Cuban people, there are significant drawbacks that highlight the reasons why communism is currently on a decline in Cuba. Cuba is, for one, poor: a "cash-strapped Caribbean island," ("Fidel Castro: Cuba's Communism Not Working" 2010). Political dissidents are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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