Chutney and Sauce

In yet another op-ed piece from Bangalore, Tom Friedman argues that innovation is the secret of America’s sauce which enables it to maintain its lead. Of India he says,

Sure Bangalore has a lot of engineering schools, but the local government is rife with corruption; half the city has no sidewalks; there are constant electricity blackouts; the rivers are choked with pollution; the public school system is dysfunctional; beggars dart in and out of the traffic, which is in constant gridlock; and the whole infrastructure is falling apart. The big high-tech firms here reside on beautiful, walled campuses, because they maintain their own water, electricity and communications systems. They thrive by defying their political-economic environment, not by emerging from it.[Tom Friedman/NYT]

If Bangalore could get there in spite of all that, imagine what it can do if the government cleans up its act. Good, clean chutney can be as good as sauce.

2 thoughts on “Chutney and Sauce”

  1. Amusing, really, the line that Friedman takes. It’s [mostly] true, of course. But innovation also takes place at some of these companies. It’s not the sole preserve of Americans: I’ve read that a number of MNC-research ctrs. based in Blore file quite a few patents in the U.S.

    Morever, the Economist (?) recently reported that some Indian manufacturing firms have become siginificantly more competitive globally. And these sectors are far more reliant on the right sort of political-economical environment. All this is to say that India’s govt. is (slowly) changing, and may well become much less of a hindrance (hell, it might even help!) in the development of India’s economy.

    Friedman’s smug attitude might not be so easily maintained when that happens.

  2. “Friedman’s smug attitude might not be so easily maintained when that happens.2

    I agree with this, and I think the real reason why Bangalore works despite all the problems is the huge labour cost differential.

    Not all the work that people do in the US is innovative either. Anyone like to put a number on the percentage of graduate work in the US that is truly path breaking, and the percentage that is more routine, then we might have a metric to evaluate just how far the arbitrage process has to run.

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