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Chapter 4: The Making of Global World
When we talk of ‘globalisation’ we often refer to an economic system that has emerged since the last 50 years or so. But as you will see in this chapter, the making of the global world has a long history – of trade, of migration, of people in search of work, the movement of capital, and much else.
As we think about the dramatic and visible signs of global interconnectedness in our lives today, we need to understand the phases through which this world in which we live has emerged. All through history, human societies have become steadily more interlinked. From ancient times, travellers, traders, priests and pilgrims travelled vast distances for knowledge, opportunity and spiritual fulfilment, or to escape persecution.
They carried goods, money, values, skills, ideas, inventions, and even germs and diseases. As early as 3000 BCE an active coastal trade linked the Indus valley civilisations with present-day West Asia. For more than a millennia, cowries (the Hindi cowdi or seashells, used as a form of currency) from the Maldives found their way to China and East Africa.
The long-distance spread of disease-carrying germs may be traced as far back as the seventh century. By the thirteenth century it had become an unmistakable link The silk routes are a good example of vibrant pre-modern trade and cultural links between distant parts of the world. The name ‘silk routes’ points to the importance of Westbound Chinese silk cargoes along this route. Historians have identified several silk routes, over land and by sea, knitting together vast regions of Asia, and linking Asia with Europe and northern Africa.
They are known to have existed since before the Christian Era and thrived almost till the fifteenth century. But Chinese pottery also travelled the same route, as did textiles and spices from India and Southeast Asia. In return, precious metals – gold and silver – flowed from Europe to Asia. Trade and cultural exchange always went hand in hand.
Early Christian missionaries almost certainly travelled this route to Asia, as did early Muslim preachers a few centuries later. Much before all this, Buddhism emerged from eastern India and spread in several directions through intersecting points on the silk routes. Food offers many examples of long-distance cultural exchange.
Traders and travellers introduced new crops to the lands they travelled. Even ‘ready’ foodstuff in distant parts of the world might share common origins. Take spaghetti and noodles.
It is believed that noodles travelled west from China to become spaghetti. Or, perhaps Arab traders took pasta to fifth-century Sicily, an island now in Italy. Similar foods were also known in India and Japan, so the truth about their origins may never be known.
Yet such guesswork suggests the possibilities of long-distance cultural contact even in the pre-modern world. Many of our common foods such as potatoes, soya, groundnuts, maize, tomatoes, chillies, sweet potatoes, and so on were not known to our ancestors until about five centuries ago.
These foods were only introduced in Europe and Asia after Christopher Columbus accidentally discovered the vast continent that would later become known as the Americas. (Here we will use ‘America’ to describe North America, South America and the Caribbean.)
In fact, many of our common foods came from America’s original inhabitants – the American Indians. Sometimes the new crops could make the difference between life and death.
Europe’s poor began to eat better and live longer with the introduction of the humble potato. Ireland’s poorest peasants became so dependent on potatoes that when disease destroyed the potato crop in the mid-1840s, hundreds of thousands died of starvation.
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 Social Science Chapter 4 The Making of Global World
1. Give two examples of different types of global exchanges which took place in the seventeenth century, choosing one example from Asia and one from the Americas.
Solution: The following are examples of cross-cultural exchanges from Asia and the Americas:
a. The Silk Route (Asia): The silk routes are a good example of cross-cultural trade and connectivity between distant parts of the world. The name ‘silk routes’ points to the importance of West-bound Chinese silk cargoes along this route.
Trade and cultural exchange always went hand in hand. Early Christian missionaries almost certainly travelled this route to Asia, as did early Muslim preachers a few centuries later.
b. Food from the Americas: The food that is part of our staple diet today like potatoes, soya, groundnuts, maize, tomatoes, chillies, sweet potatoes etc. were not known to our ancestors until the accidental discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus.
These foods only made it to Europe and the rest of the world after this monumental discovery of the new continent.
2. Explain how the global transfer of disease in the pre-modern world helped in the colonisation of the Americas.
Solutions: The global transfer of disease in the pre-modern world helped in the colonization of the Americas. The reason was that the native Americans were not immune to the diseases that the European settlers brought with them. The Europeans were to a certain extent immune to the effects of diseases like smallpox due to centuries of exposure, but the native Americans had no such defence against this disease, as they were isolated from diseases native to the old world.
At times, settlers deliberately practised biological warfare on the natives by giving items laced with smallpox germs as ‘gifts of friendship’. The disease was far more effective in wiping out entire tribes and communities without having to resort to firearms.
NCERT Class 11 Social Science Textbook Chapter 4 With Answer PDF Free Download