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March 27, 2004

Outsourcing and Democracy

Thomas Friedman on India:

Few people in India with energy and smarts would think of going into politics. People don't expect or demand much from their representatives and therefore they are not interested in paying them much in taxes, so most local governments are starved of both revenues and talent.
Krishna Prasad, an editor for Outlook magazine and one of the brightest young journalists I met in India, said to me that criminalization and corruption, caste and communal differences have infected Indian politics to such a degree that it attracts all "the wrong kind of people." So India has a virtuous cycle working in economics and a vicious cycle working in politics. "Each time the government tries to put its foot in the door in IT [information technology]," he said, "the IT guys say: `Please stay away. We did this without you. We don't need you now to mess things up.' "
That attitude is not healthy, because you can't have a successful IT industry when every company has to build its own infrastructure. America's greatest competitive advantages are the flexibility of its economy and the quality of its infrastructure, rule of law and regulatory institutions. Knowledge workers are mobile and they like to live in nice, stable places. My hope is that the knowledge workers now spearheading India's economic revolution will feel compelled to spearhead a political revolution.

It will be interesting to see whether the prosperity brought by IT jobs will bring about improvements in goverment in India, or whether the corruption endemic in her government will stifle the IT industry before it gets off the ground. Ramesh Ramanathan, a recently-returned former Citibank executive, is hopeful:

India's independence revolution in 1947 began in urban India and its political reform revolution is also going to begin in urban India — "this time fueled by the forces of globalization," he said to me in his Bangalore office, surrounded by young volunteers. "Globalization is creating the affluent urban Indian who is going to demand more from government and is not going to be content with islands of affluence. [Because] it will be impossible for them to fully take advantage of the opportunities globalization is giving them without airports and roads and sidewalks . . . acceptable in any city in the world. And the only way they are going to get that delivered is if they get engaged in government. We have [in India] a motto: `Elect and forget.' And what we need is to `elect and engage.' "

- Cassandra

March 27, 2004 at 08:00 AM | Permalink


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» Outsourcing (Rebellion within Corporate America) from Thinking Out Loud: Thought Leadership from an Enterprise Architect
To many enterprise architects allow their bosses to let American IT jobs to be destroyed by sending them offshore to places such as India. Maybe they should focus on what works in practice, not on paper...... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 11, 2005 3:15:01 PM


Someone gave me the section of the March 2, 2004 issue of the State Journal-Register, which contains Mr. Friedman's syndicated column... It's right in front of me right now. That column [available here] is also about this issue; Mr. Friedman has been commenting a lot about this lately, as have other columnists and commentators.) I also saw him on television, writing about this issue.

There was a recent entry at the Blogs for Bush site about this; check out our comments discussion there.

Both sides - on the issues of outsourcing and trade - have made strong arguments, and have raised important points. There are conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, on both sides of this debate. This could turn out to be a major issue in the presidential campaign.

I just followed a link to this blog (to this entry by Cassandra) from the trackback listing on this entry of Dr. James Joyner. This blog seems like a good one; keep up the good work here.

Posted by: Aakash at Mar 29, 2004 2:49:08 PM

Thanks Aakash - I'm still catching up after being out of the country, but I'll check out your links :)

Posted by: Cassandra at Apr 3, 2004 2:29:53 PM