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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Indians In The Race To The Top

Thomas Friedman writes in the context of western European nations rejecting the EU constitution - The dirty little secret is that India is taking work from Europe or America not simply because of low wages. It is also because Indians are ready to work harder and can do anything from answering your phone to designing your next airplane or car. They are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top. Indeed, there is a huge famine breaking out all over India today, an incredible hunger. But it is not for food. It is a hunger for opportunity that has been pent up like volcanic lava under four decades of socialism, and it's now just bursting out with India's young generation.
"India is the oldest civilization, the largest democracy and the youngest population - almost 70 percent is below age 35 and almost 50 percent is 25 and under," said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express. Next to India, Western Europe looks like an assisted-living facility with Turkish nurses. A grass-roots movement is now spreading in India, demanding that English be taught in state schools - where 85 percent of children go - beginning in first grade, not fourth grade. Even the poor have been to the cities enough to know that English is now the key to a tech-sector job, and they want their kids to have those opportunities.
The Indian state of West Bengal has the oldest elected Communist government left in the world today. The Communist government declared information technology work an "essential service," making it illegal for those workers to strike. This is not about wages at all - the whole wage differential thing is going to reduce very quickly. It is about people who have been starving "finally seeing the ability to realize their dreams.

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