Monday, August 22, 2005

One way - globalization

There has been a flurry of writings in the blogosphere on how capitalism has not helped some segments of society. One, that part is true. Second, it needs more time (how much more? perhaps a generation, perhaps two) to roll back the effects of about 40 odd years of failed socialism and then some. In the meantime hasnt our population burgeoned? Has corruption reduced one bit?

Despite all that haven't we made progress in the world? True it is a certain segment of people who are at the forefront of getting the benefits out of it (and I mean the educated class), but thats just the start. By no means are the benefits restricted to the educated class. The trickle down theory is at work and working well.

If the 80s was likened to a traffic jam, then the liberalization of the 90s is a green signal. Those who are ahead will move ahead first. Therefore the educated will move ahead first. Slowly but surely, these benefits will pass on to the less privileged classes (and I mean in terms of education). But thats not a rule, like it is never a rule in Indian traffic, anybody can move ahead. There can be enterprising drivers who earn more than techies and own 5 cars (I know some of them myself). There can be enterprising car wash boys ( a set of underprivileged students who clean cars before they leave for college) who earn about 5000 rupees per month. Apart from them globalization has thrown open the doors to a huge segment of society which is not educated. Maids, gardeners, drivers, cooks (see the number of Oriyas in Bangalore who cook at techies houses), caterers and many others. To the thousands of graduates employed in call centers, think of where they would be without globalization? At the end of a long line in an employment exchange at best. Is that what we want?

Consider again, what is the alternative? Should Globalization be rolled back in favour of our licence raj? Should people here sit and envy the lifestyles of those abroad (today most of the tech guys enjoy a lifestyle comparable to what they would enjoy abroad and probably better because of maids, drivers, washermen and other cheap services)? Should India to go back to 5 year plans? Hindu rate of growth? Behemoth PSU's?

India is progressing. Argue as much as you like, real poverty has declined ever since liberalization happened. Private enterprise has shot up and Indian industry is making strides the world over. A lot of it is being passed onto the villages by these companies. Indians are generating more wealth, with the high end guys making as much money in India as they would earning in dollars in the US. With wealth comes a desire to live a better life (translate that to malls, multiplexes, housing complexes) and why not?

Lets not lament about the benefits not being passed onto some section(s) sitting in front of an unlimited broadband computer in an airconditioned home and hence argue for the reversal of globalization and liberalization.

Instead if we tried to upgrade the skills of these guys, we would be better off, India would be better off. They themselves will do it in any case. Todays drivers and maids (my maids grand daughter studies in an English medium school in Krishnagiri in TN) will educate their offspring. Todays call center graduates will pass on the benefits of higher education to their children, like our parents (mostly less qualified than us) passed on to us.

Over a generation or two, if this can be sustained, India will really progress with, without or inspite of our politicians. Rolling back globalization, will only roll back our progress.

3 comments:

phucker said...

You'vew just acquired a new fan. My favourite line:


Lets not lament about the benefits not being passed onto some section(s) sitting in front of an unlimited broadband computer in an airconditioned home and hence argue for the reversal of globalization and liberalization.


Hear Hear!

phucker said...

Just a small note however:

Consider again, what is the alternative? Should Globalization be rolled back in favour of our licence raj?

We have to be careful here about creating an either-or situation where there might not be one. While I believe that the economic reforms are The Only Way, it's possible there is some (scoff) other middle way, or some "kinder-gentler" way that I, and other people, choose not to see.

So stating the license raj as the only alternative might just get you branded a free-market fundamentalist, which, like me, might not bother you...

Neelakantan said...

The capitalism we have implemented is some sort of a half baked approach in itself. Our currency is still not convertible, substantial foodgrains are still under government control among other things. The way back from this low level of capitalism, is nothing but licence raj!