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India to march ahead in flat world

Countries like India will march ahead without regard to geography or distance in the web-enabled global playfield.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 13:00 IST

Countries like India will march ahead without regard to geography or distance in the web-enabled global playfield, says award-winning author Thomas Friedman, also an influential columnist of The New York Times.

The playing field is being levelled and globalisation has gone into an overdrive. And in this flat world, "globalisation of local" would be the next influential trend, says the author of the bestseller "The World Is Flat".

"Globalisation of the local will be an influential trend where every individual will be able to take their local knowledge and globalise it," Friedman, who has won the Pulitzer prize three times and was here to attend an IT seminar,said in an interview.

"Brands like McDonald's and Gap will be there but they are going to meet a very different kind of force coming their way. There will be much more interaction between the two."

Things are already moving fast towards globalisation of local, thanks to technology companies like Internet search engine Google Inc that provides services in 132 languages, including four Chinese dialects.

"Think about what they mean for the preservation of language, for preservation of text, for the ability of people to tell their stories. It's going to be phenomenal," explains Friedman.

The author, who will unveil the continuation of "The World is Flat" in April, says if one is able to use Google in every Indian language then it would have a huge impact on globalisation and preservation of text and artefacts.

Known for his strong views about the opportunities that flattening of the world will bring to China and India, the two most populous countries in the world, Friedman says the developed economies need to gear up for competition.

"When I was growing up, my parents told me, 'Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.' I tell my daughters, "Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job,'" he adds.

"They (Indian technology professionals) not only do jobs cheaper, they do it better, something that Indians should be proud of.

"If you come from a highly developed economy, it's a shock if you discover someone in Costa Rica can do it better, or someone in Burma can do it better, or someone in India can do it better."

Friedman, however, bemoaned the Chinese authorities' decision to ask Google to block politically sensitive terms on its new China site in return for tapping the market even as the world is becoming tiny due to technology proliferation.

"I think it's unfortunate that the company has gone along with it. But it's most unfortunate for China," he said.

"If I were a Chinese doctorate student at the university of Minnesota and I had two job offers - one with Cisco to work in Palo Alto and one to work in Shanghai. And I take up the paper and see that my government is banning search at certain point. I think I will be tempted to take that Cisco job offer.

"There are many choices now; the world is flat."

On the emerging trend of blogging in the Internet space and its impact on the conventional media in a globalised world, Friedman said: "I love blogs. But I don't want to get news from people in their pyjamas in the morning.

"It's an open source of untreated, unfiltered information. So, I would rather get my news treated and filtered by people who have some standard and cultural ethics and who don't tell me what happened in India today in their pyjamas.

"I don't think the world of blogging is going to replace quality journalism in a flat world."

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 13:00 IST