India Story: Economists vs. BusinessWeek

I am going through the two most respected business magazines of this week October 4, 2007, one from US and the other from UK.

Economist has a lead article on India, ‘Business and caste in India- With Reservations. It has all that normally pleases journalists from UK, as most of them just can’t forget that their forefathers ruled Indians. However, it contains the way Infosys is helping dalits to improve employability. The exercise is meant to avoid any imposition of reservations of jobs in private sector by the government.

Infosys launched last year a charitable training scheme for dalit university-leavers. In collaboration with the elite Bangalore-based International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Infosys is providing special training to low-caste engineering graduates who have failed to get a job in its industry. The training, which lasts seven months, does not promise employment. But of the 89 who completed the first course in May, all but four have found jobs. Infosys hired 17.

Infosys’s training scheme is a Pygmalion undertaking. Meeting the parents of his dalit students, he saw “almost an anger in their eyes”. For the first month the students were unresponsive. Their English was dismal. Mr Sadagopan felt compelled to introduce lessons in self-presentation, including table manners.

Matters improved. The course was based on Infosys’s 16-week basic training, which 31,000 Indian graduates underwent last year. The low-caste lot scored similar marks and gained confidence. At a bonding session, filled with meditation and dancing, they wrote themselves a slogan: “As good as any, better than many”.

The modernisation of India’s economy has brought more dynamic change. Among educated, urban Indians caste identity is fading. Inter-caste marriages are increasing. According to Jeevansathi.com, a matchmaking (or, as Indians say, “matrimonial”) website, 58% of its online matches involved inter-caste couples.

Business Week has another story ‘Firing Up India’s Factories’ that details how the manufacturing sectors are attracting the multinationals to India.

In the past two years manufacturing has emerged as the country’s new rising star. Industrial production jumped by 12.5% in the year ended in March, the highest rate in years. With its huge market, productive workers, and-finally-a government that is starting to help rather than hinder investment, India is becoming an attractive alternative to China for making everything from sneakers to SUVs. India generates fewer than 1 million new manufacturing jobs annually, but needs to create at least five times that. And to really lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, India, like China, must build up labor-intensive export industries such as textiles, toys, and electronics. Many of the new plants are intended to serve India’s growing market, but they’re also targeting sales overseas. While technology giants build vast outsourcing operations in India, manufacturing investment far outweighs theirs. In the verdant hills near Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, Volkswagen, Hyundai Motor, General Motors, and a joint venture of Fiat and local automaker Tata are all building new factories, for a total investment of $4 billion. Korean steelmaker Posco is planning a $12 billion plant in the eastern state of Orissa, while Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal plans to invest $20 billion in two steel mills in Orissa and neighboring Jharkhand. In March, Hewlett-Packard Co. opened a factory near Delhi, its second Indian operation. And bathtub, sink, and toilet maker Kohler Co. is planning a $200 million plant in Gujarat. All told, 40% of 340 multinationals surveyed by consultant Capgemini plan to establish manufacturing operations in India by 2012.

The content shows the difference of American and British mindsets.

Incredible India cannot only seen in the government sponsored roads shows as one recently organized by India in NewYork. Media is covering India well.

I wish the Indian leftists could also become proactive and allow some process of reforms to continue rather putting brakes everywhere in name of policy or philosophy. That only lengthens the process of brining in prosperity for all.

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