The reason I keep the Sunday edition of HT is because I do not want to miss Vir Sanghvi’s and Karan Thapar’s columns, and of course the Brunch, that great necessity for a leisurely afternoon siesta. Both Vir and Karan are succinct and mince no words, though I sometimes wonder if Vir has it in his genes to be culinary expert too!
This piece is on Vir’s last Sunday’s article, The Indians Are Coming. It’s about his recent visit to Frankfurt Book Fair and interaction during discussions and interviews. I choose to pick the following excerpt. Enjoy reading (the image below is my addition).
Globalization: This led to a second set of questions. 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 globalization; the West did.
For years now, we have been lectured about the virtues of globalization. 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 globalization 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.
Looking for opportunity
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 globalization 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 globalization? 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.
My 100th post this – a great personal occasion for me. And I’m happy too for this post, apt and timely. May I hope for many hundreds to come as I look ahead! If you, my dear readers, love this blog, why not cheer me up at mahanagar.net at gmail dot com, for no pleasure is as refreshing as hearing from you.