Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Globalization is said to create winners and losers. But for every occupation that vanishes, another is born

The Ink Fades on a Profession as India Modernizes Anand Giridharadas International Herald Tribune nytimes.coml: December 26, 2007
In India, the world’s fastest-growing market for cellphones, calling the village or sending a text message has all but supplanted the practice of dictating intimacies to someone else...But this is not the familiar story of the artisan flattened by the new economy, because, it turns out, his family has gained more from that economy than it has lost.
Three of Mr. Sawant’s four children are riding the Indian economic boom, including a daughter, Suchitra, who works at Infosys, the Indian technology giant. In the very years that a telecommunications revolution was squashing her father’s business, it was plugging India into the global networks that would allow her industry to explode. Suchitra now earns $9,000 a year, three times as much as her father did at his peak.
Globalization is said to create winners and losers. For the Sawants, it created both. And that duality reflects the furious pace at which entire professions are being invented and entire professions destroyed in the rush to modernize India.
There is, on one hand, a national quest under way to excise inefficiencies — to cut out middlemen. As go the letter writers, so go bank tellers as India adopts A.T.M.’s, phone-booth operators as cellphones spread, and rural moneylenders as new Western-style supermarket chains start trading directly with farmers.
But for every occupation that vanishes, another is born. There are now mall attendants in a nation that until lately had no malls, McDonald’s cashiers in a country where cows are sacred, and Porsche sales executives in a land where most people still walk. It used to be hard to obtain a computer or telephone line in India; the country now has more software engineers and call-center operators than just about anywhere else...
As Mr. Sawant remembers it, 1995 happened to be the year when everything began to change.
India was emerging at that time from a long spell of economic self-sufficiency and stagnation, in which one had to reserve long-distance telephone calls as if they were tables at a fancy restaurant, days in advance. With the land-line infrastructure so dreary, the mobile phone was greeted with special enthusiasm when it arrived in India in the 1990s. Cellphone companies, seeking to tap a vast market of 1.1 billion Indians, innovated to drop their prices to as low as 1 cent a minute. It did not take long for the personal letter to become obsolete.
Mr. Sawant mourns the demise of the letter culture. After dropping a letter in the box, he used to imagine its winding journey. Someone far away would open what he had written on someone else’s behalf; the reader would savor its kind words or its little secrets, then maybe file it away in a box, and perhaps revisit it weeks later in a burst of nostalgia.
But Mr. Sawant is not bitter. He said he was happy to stay behind if his country advanced. “With mobiles, India wins,” he said. “For other people, it may be difficult. But I’m happy.”
He is happy, of course, because his four children, all of whom he sent to private school using the proceeds from letter writing, have pulled the family into the upper middle class. His son works at a bank; one daughter works as a civil engineer in Denmark; another daughter is studying computers in college; and there is Suchitra, who is currently in New Jersey on assignment for Infosys.

No comments:

Post a Comment