28 Nov 2007

the world is (not) flat...

.... and India is not about elephants.

two columnists have appeared time and again to drill their world view into the open spaces between our ears. Thomas Freidman and Shashi Tharoor. While the first has been preaching the world is flat theories for over three years, Mr Tharoor has returned to his favourite topic (India) with a vengence after he lost out for the UN Secretary General post.

Mr. Freidman had crystallized his views on a visit to Shanghai and Bangalore in 2004 and he firmly believes that in today's world everyone has an opportunity to succeed since globalisation has made technology and opportunities available to everyone. This is a silly view. One meeting with INFOSYS will not help you understand what is happening in India. Ten million people in India benefiting from the IT boom does not mean that the rest of the country is flooded with opportunities too. The funny thing is that from 2004 onwards Thomas Freidman has an plan for everything - Middle East, the environment and the US presidential elections. Everything is reduced to globalization and how we are successfully pounding the earth flat.

However he is still not able to explain that after many years of the IT revolution how so many people all over the world still live in poverty and have no access to drinking water. Yes, IT has made it possible to take the chance and transform your life, but large parts of the world lack the the means to do so. So is Friedman talking about the world becoming flat for the elite only? That was always the case - the rich are still getting richer...

Mr. Tharoor defends his views on India but even his defence he is full of cliches. According to him India is an "elephant" transforming into a "tiger. Pleeasee. Can we pass a law against using these terms when we talk about India?

He then goes onto say profound things that add to nothing since we have heard it for many years. Take this sample :

The story of economic transformation is real. The 9.6 percent growth is not to be sneezed at. Over the last 10 years, we have pulled out roughly one percent of our population out of poverty. And that’s also not to be sneezed at: After all, one percent of the Indian population is 10 million people. But it is also true that 260 million people in India live below the poverty line which is being drawn just this side of the funeral pyre. We are talking of a poverty line that is drawing Rs 360 a month. That’s 30 cents, not even a dollar, a day.

Mr. Tharoor of course claims that he is not trying

to be totally comprehensive as the Americans say: “Been there, done that”.... I have attempted to take a serious look into many aspects but not all of 21st century Indian realities

WOW ! I had no clue. But the title of the book proves that he has nothing new to say. I have a piece of advice for Mr. Tharoor. How about not writing about India for a while?

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