Tuesday, September 09, 2003

The globalisation buck stops at Bangalore

Or more accurately, falls down a pothole in the middle of the road.

Pro-globalisation proponents’ favourite retort to their opponents is that we are stopping third-world workers from bettering themselves. No doubt they are correct in such a view, at least as a matter of strict economic rationalism. Whatever – I’m no economist.

What I do know – or at least intuit – however, is that capital’s supposed free mobility to find optimal (= ever-cheaper) sources of labour is fatally without baggage. That is, the “race to the bottom” can only work when it brings its own infrastructure – which of course, it generally doesn’t, because it can’t (or can’t efficiently):

Though most companies have their own generators to keep operating during power outages, buying and fueling them eat into profits.

Bangalore’s most telling irony is that the 21st century’s much-vaunted frictionless flows of capital are not only disappearing into a black hole because global capital's "hand luggage only" policy left no room for the commons. The supercilious, self-serving, and shirking all else bureaucrat surely should have been “first against the wall” when the globalisation revolution began in the late 1970s. Instead, these “me first, and everyone else can get fucked” human-potholes have proved amazingly resilient:

“You have pockets of excellence where infrastructure is very good," said Vivek Kulkarni, a senior bureaucrat in Karnataka's Information Technology Department. "When prosperity increases, these facilities will expand." As for electricity reliability, Kulkarni said: "Power problems affect the common people. Technology companies make their own arrangements, so their business is not affected."

You heard it, globalisers – you make your own arrangements. And now it’s official.

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