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A Tale of Two Out Sources


It’s a rare event but Business 2.0 has managed to produce a timely and well-done cover story on India and that country’s changing demographics that steers away from the out-sourcing panic button and speaks sense. Om Malik’s story of how very much his native land has changed – and the charming little bit recounted by editor Josh Quittner about Malik’s father mistaking his son’s middle-of-the-night appearance for a dream – sums up just the right combination of the fantastic and modern that is India today.

It’s a nice counterpoint to Vanessa Hua’s piece in Sunday’s Chronicle about China. Hua isn’t as insightful or as thorough as Malik. It feels like she glosses over the labor problems that exist in Chinese factories and doesn’t quite seem to get her head around the tremendous cultural shifts accompanying China’s hurly-burly industrialization. But Hua, who has had her own personal experience with outsourcing does a nice portrait of San Francisco businessman Hong Mah, who like other local foreign-born businessmen, splits his business between China and San Francisco.
Taken together – along with Katherine Mieszkowski’s sharp pieces earlier this year from India — these stories are very good looks at what globalization means for the county’s immigrants, particularly those from India and China, who can – and do – go back and forth. There are, of course, local implications: for high-tech as well as San Francisco’s financial and banking businesses and the Port of Oakland. The two stories out this week are also are a nice way to get a sense of the very different attitudes the two countries and their two sets of immigrant groups have toward the U.S. and their separate roles in the world. Read both, you’ll see a difference in emphasis that’s due, in large measure, to the existence of a thriving and young Indian middle class – the kids just want to have fun — something still far away in China, saddled with deep and horrible scars of the Cultural Revolution, an aging population and massive displacement. The U.S. – particularly Republican Administrations – like to look at China as Asia. That’s a mistake as the Indians are trying to tell us.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 2:04 PM | Permalink

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