The World is Flat

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman is one of the books that are intended to describe exactly how deeply globalization runs. I finished this book a few weeks back but before shooting off a review, I wanted to wait and watch the latest impact, namely the financial crisis that is trickling down from the US to India and will soon assume the form of a gushing stream before the holes can be checked. Confused? Well, read on.
The author has done extensive research and has based the book on the situation around 2004-05(of course, that was the present then) when the Indian IT sector was going boom boom and the Indian markets were singing Kadam Kadam Badaye jaa and even people who had never invested in stocks all their life were religiously following CNBC and Zee Business and Stock Today and so on and so forth…
The book has been divided into three sections, first where Thomas explains how the world got flat, second where he talks about US and the flat world and third where he talks about the developing countries and the flat world. The author quotes Nilekan, CEO, Infosys as saying ‘The playing field is being levelled’, meaning the world is a completely flat place, thanks to the internet and the connectivity it has provided India with. Thomas talks about all the outsourcing of jobs that have been given to the Indians, primarily IT jobs and mostly for the computer engineers, working at salaries that can be called meagre compared to what the US engineers demand. It initially started with the Y2K movement when all computers had to be reset to accept dates from the twenty first century because they were not originally built to accept those. India with its sheer ready work force at low costs and high connectivity bagged the opportunity. The offshoring movement led to a similar prosperity in China when big US companies looking to cut costs shifted factories, workhouses and manufacturing units to China.
Thomas talks about the success achieved by some of the companies like Wal-Mart, FedEx UPS, Google and TiVo and the role played by the flat world behind their achievements. The way Wal Mart succeeds in providing low cost, high quality products would’ve been absolutely impossible in a world not so flat.
Thomas says In the flat world, one person's economic liberation could be another's unemployment. What has been beneficial for the Indians has been harmful for Americans as they claim their rights to these jobs. I highlight it here because it has been an important issue in the just concluded US elections where Obama has expressed a clear desire to curb outsourcing at the cost of Americans, which is I think bad news for us at present but might actually be able to pave a new path of progress for us after the current financial crisis has been dealt with. Your views on the issue are more than just welcome.
Thomas further provides what he believes are rules for survival and growth in a flat world. He also touches upon the issue of terrorism and its impact on a flat world, how it could prove to be a lot more harmful. He concludes by calling upon the Americans to dream because America has always been a land where dreams come true.
Overall, the book makes a very good read for someone aiming to understand the global position, the global economy and a global coexistence. But the recent happenings may make some of the issues irrelevant for the present world because I think; the world is seeing a totally different side to globalisation today. Where I may not be an expert in economics, I do realise that I don’t need rocket science to recognise the fact that the global crisis does not carry a tag of Made in India, and yet the profound effect that we’ve seen could be just the beginning of the darker side to a flatter world. Thomas stated that people thought the slow down in the late 90s when the IT bubble bust was the end of globalisation whereas it proved to be just the beginning, what remains to be seen is whether this is the end or just another obstacle.
I would appreciate it very very much if somebody who’s more of an expert than I am (actually, I am a newbie) could comment on what they think the present situation holds in store for the future of what seems to be a little disturbed flat world.
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