Monday, October 09, 2006

I yesterday read a VirSanghvi Oped called The Indians are coming in the Hindustan Times. I don't know if HT archives have permanent links so am copying a part of the article here for my future reference as well as others who read my blog or will be reading this later.

Globalisation: Many Europeans were losing their jobs because Indian companies paid such low salaries, making it easier for multinationals to outsource jobs to India. Wasn’t it legitimate, therefore, for the West to fear India and to take steps to protect itself?
I usually replied by saying that we did not invent globalisation; the West did.
For years now, we have been lectured about the virtues of globalisation. We have been told to drop tariffs and to allow cheaper Western products to flood our marketplaces. When we have responded that this will have disastrous effects for Indian industry and for Indian agriculture, that lakhs of people will lose their livelihoods and hundreds of factories will close down, we have been told not to be so shortsighted. Progress is about economic efficiency. And if Western countries with their economies of scale can produce goods cheaper, then we should welcome this.
When we have complained that the WTO structure seems biased against us and that Western economies use non-tariff barriers to keep out our goods, we have been laughed at and our objections dismissed.
For better or worse, we have grudgingly accepted the mantra of globalisation and have agreed to let our factories close and to let our vanilla farmers go out of business. It has not made us happy but we have finally bought into the capitalist edict that goods must flow freely across borders.
Now, when we have a competitive advantage, when one of our natural resources (educated Indians) is much cheaper than anything in the West, the argument for globalisation has suddenly been turned on its head.
Americans protest that their jobs have been Bangalored; Germans complain about the skills of Indian IT programmers who do their jobs twice as quickly and at half the cost; and Brits abuse our call-centre workers.
So, whatever happened to the argument for globalisation? To all that stuff about economic efficiency being all-important? How come it doesn’t apply to us?
When they asked me in Frankfurt if I thought that the power of India’s educated middle class represented a threat to them, I said, quite honestly, that it did.
And when they asked if they should be frightened, I was as honest.
Be scared, I said, be very scared. The Indians are coming.

And finally: There are two things which I feel similarly with the author. One:I concede, as an Indian who has benefited from the new prosperity, I feel guilty and ashamed each time a farmer commits suicide.

And two: I hope to God, we don’t screw it up this time as we usually manage to do. After so many false starts, India is finally ready for take-off.