Yesterday I wrote a story for Reuters that talked about the challenges ahead for new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Not the public sector cuts he is going to have to make, but some of the changes British people can expect in future in the world around them.
Living within our means is going to be a massive challenge. Middle-class Britain has spent decades analysing their house price increases and judging their personal wealth using this yardstick, it’s hard to imagine people here thinking of a house as just a place to live.
And a bigger challenge will be integrating into the world around. The globalisation focus at this election was actually on immigration and how the general public fears it. Yet ninety per cent of British immigration involves the citizens of other EU states – not countries like India at all. Fringe parties, such as the BNP and UKIP, claimed they could ban even this intra-EU labour movement without considering that most of our exports go into the EU. Stepping away from the community and believing in self-sufficiency is cloud-cuckoo policy making – and the electorate kicked them into touch.
I heard the economist Philippe Legrain speaking at the launch of his new book ‘Aftershock’ on Monday reminding the audience that there are more British people living overseas than foreign-born people living in Britain. I wonder what would happen to their resident visas if the fringe parties had been able to boot out the foreigners?
And yet why am I asking these questions on a blog primarily focused on India? Well, one of the big adjustments we need to make in the UK is to stop considering fast-developing nations such as India, China, and Brazil as threats. Our media is consumed with the fear of jobs vanishing to India and China, yet the British jobs of the future are selling to India and China. That needs investment in deep relationships now to ensure we are locked together for mutual future success.
My one fear is that some in India have not even appreciated their own good fortune. I was at the Nasscom (India’s hi-tech trade association) annual conference in Mumbai last February and I overheard delegates from the Brazilian government inviting senior Nasscom officials to Brazil – asking the Indians to come and see what’s going on in South America so they can work closer together in future.
What was the Indian response? It’s a long way to go. Things are growing again here now so we don’t need to really be exploring these ideas halfway across the world…
Hi-tech services, clean technology, and innovation are all areas where India has a remarkable head start on the rest of the world through the evolution of offshore outsourcing in the technology sector, but will it be Indian hubris that causes this opportunity to be lost?
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’ and ‘Who Moved My Job’ and is a regular blogger focused on globalisation. He is a visiting lecturer at London South Bank University.