What is the connection between India and the following companies?
BEA , MicroStrategy, Business Objects, Netegrity Inc., FAST, Oracle, FileNet, SAP, HP, Siemens, IBM, Sterling Commerce, Informatica, Sun Microsystems, Interwoven, TIBCO Software Inc., Mantas, Wavecom, Microsoft are only a few of the great IT corporations that work with the Indian Infosys.
In less than three years, 25% of world workers will be Indian. Half the world’s outsourced IT services come from India, amounting to a $47 billion dollar industry (Infosys provides $9 billion of it, and I used it as an example), in the mean time, 40% of the world’s poor people live there…
One billion Indians live in India. If all that $47 billions record revenue from the IT outsourcing business would be shared to them, only $47 per year would be anyone share. Only there aren’t enough money to please them all. But that’s private revenue. How much is the tax for $47 billions? Not even $10 billions. And do you think the poor has any of it? India is the first world’s largest arms importer (successfully bypassing South Korea or Australia), it is very well prepared against its enemies, like Turkey is. You see, one doesn’t have to be a NATO member to buy arms and prepare itself to war, as an idiot.
On my first trip to India, more than fifteen years ago, I was stepping over people in Bombay. Now it is called Mumbai and it seems to be a little bit cleaner. I don’t really know. It wasn’t expensive then, the prices were closer to their value and I have never felt cheated by anyone. I have “rented” a taxi driver for me alone, not per trip, but for me. What I’m going to tell you now, is part of a story about the times when I worked as a ship engineer and I was in India embarked on a cargo ship with major problems. It was so old, I was amazed how the insurance company still allowed this vessel to sail.
I had to change a sort of a gasket at the steering gear. It was hot there and hotter outside up. Ravi waited at the cockpit. I allowed him to come up on deck after he cheered from outside. Some Oxygen bottles came and there were already some Indian helpers mingling with other people and our personnel. I asked him if he can bring me some drinks. He told me that he’ll do that only accompanying me. I asked him what was his charge and he told me that it was $10.
“Do you mind if you wait me a little, what’s your name?”
“You can call me Daniel, Ravi.”
“Ok, Sir, … Daniel bhai“.
It was a very hot day in Bombay, sometimes in Mai, 1995. Ravi waits and waits, and eventually he saw me I haven’t finished in the steering room, but he disappeared without notice. I felt guilty because I thought I kept him there without paying anything in advance, and he went to push some more wages. after eventually finishing, I took a shower and went out. We weren’t close to the gate, it took me 20 minutes to reach it. There was Ravi, running to the entrance, sweaty and dirty on his uniform, as if he was working to an oily machinery, like me, earlier.
I smiled. I had only two tenners and a few hundreds. I worked my pocket over a ten and handed it to Ravi.
“Daniel bhai, why are you paying? I left you working and now, you came to the gate on foot. I can’t!”
“I kept you from your work, I have to pay”, I said. “Where’s your car, and how much are you going to charge me to go to a liquor store and back, and we’ll see later what we’ll do”.
The story continues much more than that, I went in a lot of places that night, some of them incredibly sordid, and some of them quite exceedingly luxurious. It was dark enough to not see how sordid was the sordid, but the smell is unforgettable.
Ravi was so impressed that he wanted to guide me for free. He left me once in the car, a very old Fiat, I think, absolutely blunt, to go to change three hundred dollars. He told me that he can obtain a better rate especially the amount was greater than one hundred and the banknote of a hundred as well. You think I hesitated? Not a fraction. After twenty minutes, seeing that Ravi wasn’t coming, I looked at the car better. With $300 I could buy six old Lada cars in a better state, in Klaipeda, a port in Lithuania. He came back, of course with a very nice money brick in his pocket, I wandered how can I move around with that amount? I was Rs. 3,000 shorter to a lakh, in banknotes of Rs.100. I haven’t told him my concerns. But he was afraid I would leave with the car. His employer, would have charged him $3,000 for it, in case of damage or theft. I felt I was living in a surrealist telenovela. A house in Bombay, not quite in the slums, would cost around $5,000. That jalopy couldn’t be worth more than fifty.
I regret I don’t have my own pictures anymore, but what I saw left a deep print on my soul. I met not only Ravi, but a seer, I saw the real face of poverty, I found almost everything I could want, especially any book ever written in English and a lot of VHS cassettes with my favorite films. They were so nice people. Ravi acted really humiliated when I wanted to give him $50 as a bonus the moment my ship left, four days later. But I knew he really needed the money and I have insisted.
Paul Theroux quoted an Indian professor at Rajahstan University in one of his books:
“The average Indian knows very little about his religion, or India, or anything else. Some are ignorant of the most simple things, such as Hindu concepts or history. […] They don’t like to appear ignorant before the Westerner, but most Indians don’t know anymore about their temples and writing and what-not than the tourists – many know a lot less”.
They have their asses, too. Who cares? Sometimes Paul Theroux seems arrogant. I know he isn’t, he is turned off by arrogance in others.
Indians… They’re fantastic! The biggest democracy in the world. The real face of democracy with the armpits unshaved…
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