Professor Howard Spodek was the featured speaker in a forum on globalization in the city of Ahmedabad sponsored by Temple University.
The city of Ahmedabad, India has experienced an economic growth in recent years, due to the globalization of the economy.
In his lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 10 as part of a program sponsored by the university, Spodek read from the preliminary outline of a book he is writing about the the city of Ahmedabad, India in the 20th century.
The outline covered many topics but economic growth was a major issue. In a series of slides, Spodek displayed evidence of economic globalization in the Indian city. Billboards for compaines such as AT&T, Aquafina and other American consumer products were some of the examples.
When asked if he thought that the introduction of these American products would take away from the Indian culture, he replied, “Chinese food is very popular in the United States. That doesn’t mean that we are Chinese”.
As it turns out, Ahmedabad is home to the only all vegetarian Pizza Hut in the world, a sign that even in American fast food restaurants Indian culture is apparent.
These various industries demanded a moveable workforce and most industry owners no longer see the need for labor unions.
The trends in idustry in this far off city parallel trends in Philadelphia. Both have comparable metropolitan populations, and both once had strong industry ties which have since moved away.
Spodek’s interest in India started as a curiosity about eastern religions. Spodek soon became more interested in the social and economic development of India. Ahmedabad is an important model for the economic development of India, and is quickly becoming a model of market economy.
Although globalization has introduced new opportunities, it also introduces new challenges such as competition on a global scale. These opportunities and challenges exist worldwide in many cities like Admedabad.
Ahmedabad’s current economic situation has changed drastically throughout the 20th century. From 1915 until about 1960, Ahmedabad’s economy was based almost entirely on its textile industry.
In the 1960’s, the textile industry began to collapse due to various social upheavals. A violent period of religious riots between Hindus and Muslims, disputes within the caste system and political corruption ensued.
The 1990’s began an economic renewal. Ahmedabad, once dependent solely on textiles, moved towards a more diverse and balanced economy with industries ranging from soap manufacturing to diamond polishing.
Spodek’s lecture was just an introduction to these topics. He has been studying Indian history since the 1960’s and has been there several times.
He took study leave from Temple and lived in Ahmedabad for two years, from 1997 through 1999, which is when he started to work seriously on his book.
Spodek teaches about Indian History at Temple in History 219: Modern Indian History, which he teaches every year. Temple has courses focused on India in several other university departments including the study of many of its religions in Asian Studies.
The program was sponsored by the Department of Geography and Urban Studies and Department of History.