Friday, September 02, 2005

Some thoughts..

Looking at 18th century India, I think it's fairly obvious that it was a land waiting to be colonized. I am not going to delve into all the details, but I have to say that I am glad that we were colonized by the British and not the French or the Dutch. I don't want to kick up a storm like our Prime Minister did in Oxford but let me tell you this: if you can understand what I am trying to say, consider yourself lucky.

I spent a disastrous 45 minutes today talking to people based in Taiwan (and I actually spoke to people who were in charge of handling American clients). By the end of it, I was desperate to have a conversation in English, the way I know it. Finally, I ended up talking about the weather with a very cute Bangalooru chick at work (why the weather? Good question!)

Now, don't get me wrong, my definition of proficiency is not the ability to use words like Schadenfreude effortlessly in a sentence but knowing the language well enough to be able to sell an idea (if you have one). I have new found respect for people who go to a totally different country, without knowing the language, sweat it out and survive.

That said, the beauty of India is that you can move from one part of the country to another and yet have the same problem!
This generation is seeing first hand, how hard 'nation building' is. I don't know whether the Americans are giving it their all but its painfully clear that its going to take a long time for Iraq to settle down.But its important to realize that no nation is built in 5 years. Its going to take time and its going to be interesting to see what happens post 2008.

I don't understand the liberals really. The way the Iraqi politicians were attacked for delaying the constitution was surprising. This is not some half baked UN resolution, this is the bloody constitution. The most important document in any nation. It looks like everything is being rushed just to make the US look good and this does not bode well for Iraq or for the middle east.

Why am I bringing this up? Just to make the point that, making democracy work is not easy. Case in point- Pakistan, a nation that was created for uniting people on the basis of religion has been a democracy for less than half its life.

Yet, we are.

Surely, 58 years on, this remains India's greatest achievement. The fact that we are united inspite of all our differences. This is largely due to people like Nehru and Patel. Yet, we have morons out there who criticize them.

Their point of view is that 58 years on, 400 million people still live under the poverty line. Yes, Nehru could have done better. But its only partly his fault. It's easy to blame the dead. The fault also lies with people like you and me. Somehow, I get the feeling, we just don't do enough.


Blogger Anjana said...

Is it the beauty or the curse of India that the concept of a single national language hasn't got hold yet? It really is remarkable that Chinese and Japanese and others succeed at all with what seems like the huge handicap of having no English. And btw, this post could probably have been split into two parts, and each dwelt on in greater detail!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Sharad said...

Well Anjana, I think for Japan and China it's both export-led growth, so I don't think language would play that much of a role. Until 91 India's exports weren't that great anyway, and once we opened up, we had exports in services with this whole IT thing , and i think that's where our whole english language thing comes up. You don't see call centers in China !


Prashant sir, there is this really interesting paper I heard about - some famous economist guys wrote it- aobut how whether you are rich or poor today depends on who you were colonised by - the Brits or the Spanish. And it takes into accoutn things like language, the interest the colonisers took in the natives, political systems. For example, the British left behind a lot of democracies, but if you look at most of Latin America, the country is usually run by one powerful president (on the lines of the Spanish King).

And so economic growth as a function of political system, administration, infrastructure, etc etc would definitely depend on a country's history. Interesting research, but it's a little controversial :P

11:36 AM  
Blogger P said...

I was wondering, how those people could sell their products to say the Americans. But hey, the fact that they are staying put in the business shows they are doing things right :)

11:58 AM  
Blogger P said...

dude, that makes so much sense da. Its true, coming to think of it. Do send it over sometime! :)

11:59 AM  
Blogger Sharad said...

How they're selling their stuff to the Americans ?

= americans have money , and they have weak currencies. At least china does. And Japan has awesome products, technological advantage ( and I read somewhere that to let postwar Japan grow, Americans had relaxed tariffs on Japanese imports alone - some people think it's guilt after the bomb and all).
And then Japanese cars and stuff really made it big in the US in the 70s because everyone wanted fuel efficient cars when oil prices skyrocketed. So i guess that's it !

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this comments section is dead.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Kirthi said...

"we just don't do enough"
And what do u plan to do?

8:24 PM  
Blogger akshay said...

calling up taiwan huh? The orientals are the worst.. I have call up OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and unfortunately for us they always turn out to be chinese/japs/koreans or even israelis! Just fot that I've got a printout of the http://en.NATO Phonetic Alphabet pinned up in my cubicle as reference.

8:46 PM  
Blogger akshay said...

sorry about the typo on the URL...

8:47 PM  
Blogger FBCAP said...

great Post!!!

yeah, nehru is a good guy.

thats all i can add to a convo on Nehru or economics.

9:49 PM  
Blogger P said...

Kirthi: Honestly, I dont know. But, will work on it.

FBCAP: I was thinking about what you said one day on the bus about Nehru and I think its bloody true da! Look at the crap thats coming up! Read latest issue of India Today.

10:27 AM  
Blogger P said...


My first interview was with a OEM in UK. I just couldnt understand his email address and so I asked him to spell it out.

Ben was his name and he goes..B for!

Thats when i knew I had to learn the code :P

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what happened to ur sidebar?

7:52 AM  
Blogger Kirthi said...

Hey you got tagged the moment u saw my blog where are the 55 words?

11:09 AM  

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