Nation States Defined and How They Evolved in a Globalising World

Nation States

  • National sovereignty is the concept of independent nations having an organised government who have the right to make laws and regulations without other nations interfering.
  • National sovereignty states vary in their ethnic, cultural and linguistic unity and this results from the history of population growth, their isolation and the role of migration. If you were to compare two countries, such as Iceland and Singapore, the differences would be a result of variations in national sovereignty.
  • National borders occur due to physical geography and historical development whilst other borders are a result of colonial history which may exclude different ethnic and religious groups from having an input.
  • This can lead to problems of sovereignty and legitimacy, leading to tensions erupting within the nation, which becomes split.
  • India was ruled by the British Empire. One they left, there were overwhelming demands from Muslims to have their own country.
  • Punjab was the agricultural basket of India, suppling the nations crops and food demands. After intense conflict in 1947, Punjab was partitioned; West Punjab became Pakistan.
  • The partition was devastating as riots erupted and widespread looting broke out. Women were kidnapped, raped and battered by Hindus and Muslims alike and trains filled with tortured women and children would arrive between the borders of India and Pakistan daily. There were 600, 000 murders in just 7 days.
  • During rioting, there was mass migration; in three months East Punjab was emptied of all Muslims and West Punjab of all Sikhs and Hindus.
  • India also faced further partitions when Bangladesh was separated from India.
  • There are many contested borders, such as between Ukraine and Russia or India and China, whilst not all nation states are recognised, such as Taiwan. This can stimulate conflict and complicate population movements.


The Role of Nationalism in Developing the Modern World

  • Nationalism is the extreme form of patriotism where one nation feels superior over other countries. 19th century nationalism was vital in the development of empires, such as the Roman Empire, but created a source of conflict as other nations became part of larger empires, the British Raj in India.
  • Since 1945, many new nations emerged as empires disintegrated. Macmillan’s “wind of change” speech was the first sign that the British government accepted that the Empire had collapsed. This speech was paramount in speeding up the process of African independence.
  • Patterns of migration between former colonies and the imperial core country are still evident and important in changing the ethnic composition and cultural heterogeneity of those countries.
  • Amongst its former colonies, the UK is still seen as a strong and powerful nation, with the potential of bettering the lives of migrants.


Globalisation Impacts

  • Globalisation has caused a growth of low-tax state regimes which provide havens for the profits of TNCs and wealthy citizens. This is a classic example of “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.
  • Most governments have accepted the emergence of these tax-havens albeit some NGOs raising objections.
  • Growing global inequalities are threatening to the sustainability of the global economic system which, if not regulated, could collapse entirely. Some governments, such as Ecuador, have thus created alternative models.