I am reading Tarun Khanna's Billions of Entrepreneurs, a study of the economic opportunity in China and India. Obviously, there are scores of books on the subject. We have seen a massive body of literature on BRICs - about the emerging opportunities in Brazil, Russia, India and China - and of late, on CHINDIA. In fact, these things do get people excited - I have been told by at least two entrepreneurs that they are looking to invest in India after reading Businessweek's compilation of articles on Chindia.
There is indeed a lot of merit in these studies, though the current recession has taken some shine off the emerging economies. Like Tolstoy observed that happy families are like one another, but each unhappy one is unhappy in its own unique way, it is easier to label developed nation economics under one broad study, but the developing nations need a far more nuanced understanding if the economic opportunity is to be fully realized. To this end, Dr. Khanna provides an excellent presentation comparing and contrasting China and India in a McKinsey video interview.
The question, however, remains whether the party is already over as we talk about it. The strains on the Chinese economy is already visible. Indian service sector, particularly Outsourcing, is taking a massive hit, and the white collar job losses are mounting. The governments in both the countries appear somewhat lost, they are more or less waiting for the United States to take the lead in the recovery process, and so far, not done enough to focus on domestic demand generation at all.
Many economists, including Paul Krugman, firmly believes in the continuing US leadership of the world economy. Despite the emergence of Japan in 1980s, the Asian Tigers in 1990s, and Chindia in the new millennium, thinkers like Krugman put their faith on the US providing the key impetus - in terms of innovation and enterprise - to the global economy. On the other hand, scores of others, including Dr' Khanna, see a rise in the relative power of the Asian Giants, even if within a collaborative framework led by the United States. This recession, indeed, is the testing ground for both the views, and also an opportunity to reflect on economic history and draw some lessons.
Lessons, such as ones from the last century, when another industrial superpower emerged, which could match the United States in innovation and entrepreneurship. I am talking about Germany, indeed. We must remember how it all ended - how the creative spirit of entrepreneurial competition soon degenerated in the destruction of political ill-will. And, it all started, if we accept a slightly generalized version of history, with the scramble for oil, and as policy makers started worrying about the sustainability of their national progress as the domestic resources start running out.
Those themes are still very familiar today, and more real. This is where the current competition is very different from the one provided by Japan and Asian tigers. These were small countries with limited population, and their stunning economic achievements were largely based on sophisticated technologies. In fact, their development came hand in hand with a focus on energy efficiency, as Japan particularly was always very aware about its resource constraints. The developments in India and China are far more like Germany, as they follow the path of natural resource-intensive path of development.
Oil prices, at this time, are as low as ever. This may be due to a combination of recessionary pressures, low demand for auto fuel, and a number of other things. It already seems that the last summer's extraordinary high was unusual, driven by strategic reserve building by the United States and some speculative profit taking. But it is also true that the oil prices are unlikely to stay where they are now - as the demand will soon grow and oil is a scarce natural resource. One would expect them to start moving up soon - may be by April - and that is surely going to bite the emerging economies even further, and impact the collective psyche.
I don't think we have politically progressed much though our economic and industrial achievements, over last 50 years or so, are stunning. The world still seems to be driven by nation states, with a bright exception of Europe. The economic nationalism remains the dominant political ideology of international relations. National Self-Interest is still considered a good thing. Spread of democracy, which is essentially a good thing, without the sobering of national sentiments, lead us to an uniquely short term world, right at the threshold of an environmental crunch time when we should be thinking more long term than ever. So, we are exposed to a similar, self-destructive era of economic nationalism and political conflict soon, much like what we did a century ago.
There is also this enduring faith that democracies do not go to war against one another. China isn't a democracy, by the way. But, more than that, we do not have enough history to make such an assertion, and more wars than most, in last two hundred years, were started by the two Anglo-Saxon countries which consider themselves the fountainhead of democracy. Besides, recession makes democracies behave in an unexpected way. I am real worried about the outcome of the forthcoming Indian election, and hope that this will not become one like the watershed German election of 1933. May be not, as the Indian electorate has always behaved in a matured manner, and our economic competitiveness made us stake-holders in the global world. But there is a very real danger, as the recession bites and economic nationalism gains ground - that's exactly where it all started last time.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.