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Decolonization and the 21st Century World

1. Why did decolonization take place? How did British and French decolonization differ? Trace the history of the dissolution of the British and the French colonial empires. Increased economic, political and technological integration on an international basis – a process termed globalization – has paved the way for decolonization over a long period of history. The more apparent reasons have been the two world wars which led to the rapid disintegration of the European empires. Resistance to colonialism intensified after the First World War.

The war-weakened tried to renegotiate the terms of the empire. After the Second World War the older forms of empires became infeasible. In some cases decolonization came spontaneously after the war when the imperial powers, depleted of their financial and human resources simply withdrew trying to cut their losses; in other cases well-organized anti-colonial movements forced the imperialists out; and in still other instances the western powers got embroiled in long and violent struggles with rival local powers, European representatives and settlers.

The French experience of decolonization differed in two central aspects from that of the British. First the French tended to hold on to their relationship with the former colonies. This gave rise to what is known as neo-colonialism. They kept on extending support to the local political factions of their choice, and deriving financial benefits from lucrative contracts. Secondly, the French experience of decolonization was bloodier, more difficult and more damaging to their prestige than in the case of the British as proved by the examples of Indochina and Algeria.

The first important British colony to win independence after the Second World War was India. India became independent in 1947 and was divided into the two countries of India and Pakistan. The West African colonies gained independence in the middle of the 1950s. This was followed by Malaya which became Singapore and Malaysia. The Mau Mau rebellion of Kenya forced the British to finally give up the country. In the 1950s Britain began to withdraw from naval and air bases around the world because they were becoming too expensive to maintain.

More than half of the remaining British processions regained their independence in the space of five years in the later half of the decade. Though the British held on to Egypt, it gained its independence in 1952. In Rhodesia thought the white Rhodesians declared independence in 1965, it was only in 1980 that the new state of African-dominated Zimbabwe finally came into existence. In the case of France, Indochina regained independence in 1954 after a long and bloody struggle and was divided into four countries.

Similarly, Algeria followed the same bloody path, and finally became independent on July 1, 1962. 2. What are the greatest problems facing the world at the beginning of the twenty-first Century? The greatest problems facing the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century are degradation of the global environment, population explosion, the possible contradictory effects of new technology and scientific discoveries and the threat of terrorism and new wars. Industry and development has brought about massive damage to the environment.

The atmosphere has been poisoned and the oceans, lakes and rivers have been contaminated by toxic wastes. The construction of a large number of dams has resulted in excessive silting in rivers and the accumulation of nitrates at a rate faster than the surrounding soil can absorb. The pollution level has increased all over the world. Modern technology pollutes the atmosphere with carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide Rapid depletion of the forest cover has resulted accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The depletion of the ozone layer through reaction with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in aerosol sprays and refrigerants could soon expose the inhabitants of the earth to dangerous radiations from the sun. Tempering with the environment by inducing changes in wind patterns has had catastrophic consequences. Transatlantic currents are dumping rich West African topsoil in Brazil gradually turning West Africa into a desert. Unprecedented population growth has been a major area of concern. Population growth is directly linked with environmental degradation and pollution.

Population growth has also been accompanied by vast and rapid urbanization in Latin America, India, china and Southeast Asia. The population of cities such as Tokyo and Calcutta has increased by four to five times in the last four decades. The total population of the earth had crossed the six million mark by 2001, and is increasing at an alarming rate. The fact that the poorest nations are also the most populated is leading to a very unequal distribution of wealth and resources. Though there have been many advances in the scientific and technology front, there are areas of concern in fields such as genetics engineering.

Clones of sheep have already been developed by manipulation of DNA. There is the fear that tampering with the genetics process could lead to unforeseen disasters. Medical science has eradicated many diseases and has been largely successful in lengthening human life. Yet new diseases have made their appearance. The AIDS epidemic threatens to engulf the entire world. Finally, new kinds of wars have also evolved all around the world. Terrorism has raised its ugly head creating new kinds of insecurities and doubts in the human mind. America has launched its Great War against Terrorism.

Terrorism itself is however a subjective concept. The fate of the world hangs on how the leading powers handle the challenges facing the twenty-first century. Short Answers 1. Mohandas Gandhi: Mohandas K Gandhi is the famous Indian nationalist who pursued the path of non-violence in his fight for the independence of India. His methods were non-cooperation and civil disobedience. Gandhi and his fellow nationalist Jawaharlal Nehru steered India towards independence which was finally achieved in 1947. . 2. Bangladesh: The divided countries of India and Pakistan have fought three bloody wars between independence and 1971.

An important outcome of the 1971 war was the formation of the nation of Bangladesh out of the former East Pakistan. India had supported the independence struggle of the province of East Pakistan. 3. Mau Mau: The populist revolt for Kenyan independence by the majority Kikuyu population came to be known as the Mau Mau rebellion. It soon turned bloody with British troops firing freely at targets in rebel occupied areas. Internment camps set up by the security forces turned into centers of atrocities that drew public investigations and condemnations even in Britain.

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