This article from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by tradergroupe@....
Even with offshoring jobs free trade works. Tariffs and protectionism hurt the people you want to protect the most. When somone imports US dollars they have to export those dollars somewhere.
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Op-Ed Columnist: What Goes Around . . .
February 26, 2004
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
I've been in India for only a few days and I am already
thinking about reincarnation. In my next life, I want to be
Yes, I want to be able to huff and puff about complex
issues - like outsourcing of jobs to India - without any
reference to reality. Unfortunately, in this life, I'm
stuck in the body of a reporter/columnist. So when I came
to the 24/7 Customer call center in Bangalore to observe
hundreds of Indian young people doing service jobs via long
distance - answering the phones for U.S. firms, providing
technical support for U.S. computer giants or selling
credit cards for global banks - I was prepared to denounce
the whole thing. "How can it be good for America to have
all these Indians doing our white-collar jobs?" I asked
24/7's founder, S. Nagarajan.
Well, he answered patiently, "look around this office." All
the computers are from Compaq. The basic software is from
Microsoft. The phones are from Lucent. The air-conditioning
is by Carrier, and even the bottled water is by Coke,
because when it comes to drinking water in India, people
want a trusted brand. On top of all this, says Mr.
Nagarajan, 90 percent of the shares in 24/7 are owned by
U.S. investors. This explains why, although the U.S. has
lost some service jobs to India, total exports from U.S.
companies to India have grown from $2.5 billion in 1990 to
$4.1 billion in 2002. What goes around comes around, and
also benefits Americans.
Consider one of the newest products to be outsourced to
India: animation. Yes, a lot of your Saturday morning
cartoons are drawn by Indian animators like JadooWorks,
founded three years ago here in Bangalore. India, though,
did not take these basic animation jobs from Americans. For
20 years they had been outsourced by U.S. movie companies,
first to Japan and then to the Philippines, Korea, Hong
Kong and Taiwan. The sophisticated, and more lucrative,
preproduction, finishing and marketing of the animated
films, though, always remained in America. Indian animation
companies took the business away from the other Asians by
proving to be more adept at both the hand-drawing of
characters and the digital painting of each frame by
computer - at a lower price.
Indian artists had two advantages, explained Ashish
Kulkarni, C.O.O. of JadooWorks. "They spoke English, so
they could take instruction from the American directors
easily, and they were comfortable doing coloring
digitally." India has an abundance of traditional artists,
who were able to make the transition easily to computerized
digital painting. Most of these artists are the children of
Hindu temple sculptors and painters.
Explained Mr. Kulkarni: "We train them to transform their
traditional skills to animation in a digital format." But
to keep up their traditional Indian painting skills,
JadooWorks has a room set aside - because the two skills
reinforce each other. In short, thanks to globalization, a
whole new generation of Indian traditional artists can keep
up their craft rather than drive taxis to earn a living.
But here's where the story really gets interesting.
JadooWorks has decided to produce its own animated epic
about the childhood of Krishna. To write the script,
though, it wanted the best storyteller it could find and
outsourced the project to an Emmy Award-winning U.S.
animation writer, Jeffrey Scott - for an Indian epic!
"We are also doing all the voices with American actors in
Los Angeles," says Mr. Kulkarni. And the music is being
written in London. JadooWorks also creates computer games
for the global market but outsources all the design
concepts to U.S. and British game designers. All the
computers and animation software at JadooWorks have also
been imported from America (H.P. and I.B.M.) or Canada, and
half the staff walk around in American-branded clothing.
"It's unfair that you want all your products marketed
globally," argues Mr. Kulkarni, "but you don't want any
jobs to go."
He's right. Which is why we must design the right public
policies to keep America competitive in an increasingly
networked world, where every company - Indian or American -
will seek to assemble the best skills from around the
globe. And we must cushion those Americans hurt by the
outsourcing of their jobs. But let's not be stupid and just
start throwing up protectionist walls, in reaction to what
seems to be happening on the surface. Because beneath the
surface, what's going around is also coming around. Even an
Indian cartoon company isn't just taking American jobs,
it's also making them.��