Thursday, August 11, 2005

My Flat World moment

Just finished reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat. Its an absolutely incredible book that demystefies all the confusion about the flat world and all its nitty-gritty forms that affect us in our daily lives.

By now, probably each of us has had a time when it affected us personally. For me it was when we lived in Bristol, RI and had AOL as our internet service provider. The billing and technical departments of AOL were in Hyderabad and each time I called, I got to speak to an Indian voice with an American name. Hesitatingly, the voice used to ask if I was Indian and tell me that they were based in India and how good things were for them to work for a US company but still be based at home.

Being in the US, one usually got to hear only the negative side of outsourcing but Friedman's book talks about the benefits that this business has created in the US economy. Yes, outsourcing has benefited the US economy but its so much more sensational to write about lost jobs and factory closings than new positions. Besides, closings happened in large numbers at a go while openings were taking place at a slower but steady rate.

Fear has been an important factor that the US government has used since 9/11. As Friedman says, rather than erecting walls to keep others out, we need to build on America's strengths and renew and revitalize the American dream. New ideas and new technologies will always provide jobs just as long as you are able to constantly upgrade your skills. Just by being born in America does not guarantee a job anymore. Its back to Darwin and the survival of the fittest.

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