Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #117: I & I

Now when most folks hear about India, the first thing that comes to their mind are the British Raj stories of Rudyard Kipling, the Taj Mahal, and those absolutely stunning Bollywood actresses.

But there's something else about India that doesn't get as much attention in the western mind. India is probably the world's fastest growing economic superpower.

After achieving being led to independence from the carcass of the British Empire by Ben Kingsley Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 the country followed a quasi-socialistic economic model. This meant a lot of central planning by state bureaucracies, and heavily restricted trade with other nations. And while India did achieve a modicum of self-sufficiency in many areas, an amazing feat for a country hitting a population of around a billion people, it was still plagued by a seemingly crippling poverty afflicting the masses.

Then a major shift began to happen in Indian economics. They realized that true capitalism isn't just about grabbing a piece of the proverbial pie for yourself, it was about making a whole new, bigger, pie with the filling of your choice, and that the key ingredients of this pie were openness, simplicity, education, and infrastructure.

Basically they opened the country up for international trade, made it easier and simpler to start and run a business in the country, and then took the revenues earned from that economic growth and invested it in education, and essential infrastructure. That meant more schools, roads, communications, and utilities.

These investments led to more economic growth, which lead to more investments, and so on, and so on...

Now poverty levels are going down, and while many assume that this growth is from cheap labor factories and call centers, India is carving a niche in what many call "Brain First" industries, like engineering, medicine/pharmaceuticals, high technology, aerospace, and others. And all of this without the easy money of big oil revenues.

This means that India is now a major money-making player in the world economy. And since they are making a lot of that money from doing business with Americans and American companies, they are making a lot of American dollars.

They have to do something with those American dollars, and they believe that the best thing is to stake out a piece in the economic big leagues by investing in American companies, goods, and services. As Ned Beatty's character in the movie
Network likes to say: "It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance..."

Now it's said that the Dreamworks folks are going to run up some debt to pay for the rest of their liberation. But I have another idea.

Try Ireland.

Yep. Ireland, the land that's given the world the Blarney Stone, legions of drunken poets, the ancestors of Alyson Hannigan, and the leggy hoofers of Riverdance is currently the economic engine of Western Europe. They did it by following a similar plan to India's by investing in education and infrastructure while opening up formerly closed markets to trade and investment and simplifying the ways to start and run such investments. Ireland now dominates the pharmaceutical industry as well as carving an ever-growing niche in international finance.

And not only does Ireland have the money to invest in this new venture, there's another, more entertaining reason for the Dreamworks guys to pursue Irish venture capital. They can call the new company:


Get it?

Come one. The two "i"s stand for India and Ireland, while at the same time stand for the Roman numeral two.

Sheesh. Try to put in a little Roman numeral humour, and no one gets it.

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