The Truth about India

Article excerpt

Byline: Patrick French

Four stupid misconceptions the west needs to shake.

India is now both rich and poor, and this is the way it is likely to stay. The world's largest economies in the future--India, China, Brazil--will contain large numbers of poor people, as India does today. It also has many super-rich, like Sunil Mittal, who in the 1970s was running a little factory in Punjab making bicycle parts. In 1995 Mittal launched a telecom company, Airtel, which now has 223 million subscribers across 19 countries, giving him an estimated net worth of $8 billion.

India's economic rise is not eating American jobs, as I learned while researching my book. Trade happens in many directions, and the attraction of cheap labor overseas is only part of the story. When Airtel needed to expand fast during the early years of the cell-phone revolution, Mittal realized he would not be able to build infrastructure fast enough to keep up with demand. So he reverse-outsourced, giving work to foreign companies like Nokia, IBM, and Ericsson. …