Sunday, March 07, 2004

One more time: (inspired by this TF column)
March 7, 2004

There Is No Secret Sauce

I am delighted to write to you today as the new foreign-affairs columnist for the New York Times . My name is Tam Veeraraghavan.

Ah, you say, you've never heard of Tam Veeraraghavan, but the name sounds vaguely Indian. Well, I am an Indian. I live in Bangalore. And I'm now the pundit you read in this newspaper.

Now some of you might think that I'm an example of how outsourcing is hurting American workers. Well let me introduce you to Yamini Narayanan, an Indian-born 35-year-old with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma. She recently moved back to Bangalore with her husband to be closer to family. When I asked her how she felt about the outsourcing of jobs to India, she responded with a revealing story:

"I just read about a guy in America who lost his job to India and he made a T-shirt that said, `I lost my job as the New York Times foreign-affairs columnist to India and all I got was this T-shirt.' And he made all kinds of money. Five dollars here, ten dollars there. But it was nothing like his former salary at the Times. "Only in America, she said, shaking her head, would someone be foolish enough to think that anecdotal stories of success could be applied to everyone. And that, she insisted, was the reason America might not fear outsourcing to India: America has more deluded columnists than any other country."



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"There is a reason Americans shouldn't worry, said Mrs. Narayanan. "America allows you to explore your mind," she said. "And now that you've taken over Tom Friedman's job, he'll be spending plenty of time exploring that vacant universe.Although what good it will do, remains to be seen."

In the coming weeks, I'll be telling you why we shouldn't, in Tom Friedman's words, "protect ... the 1 percent of jobs that might be outsourced." They are merely knowedge-based jobs that people have spent a lifetime learning how to do. But now America is poised to triumph in the non-knowledge-based economy. That should translate into big savings for parents who won't need to send their children to college. And if they don't like it, they can hope for a better deal when they get reincarnated in the next life.
Mr. Veeraraghavan joined The Times last week after submitting his resume from an Internet cafe and curry shop. His latest book, "I'll Be Driving Your Lexus and You'll be Planting Olive Trees" (2003), won the 2003 Overseas Press Club award for best in-your-face book on foreign trade and has been published in 20 languages.


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