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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Many Worlds?

During his recent visit to India, President Obama focussed on what the New York Times calls "tangible goodies: for example contracts". Indeed, the US President signed a number of agreements for sales of U.S. products, widely discussed as tools that will "create fifty thousand jobs (according to a more sanguine source, seventy-five thousand jobs) in the U.S. The largest item in the deal is for a contingent of C-17 military transport planes, perhaps bridging the time until the new, joint Russo-Indian transport plane project (slated for 2018) "takes off," so to speak. The C-17 deal alone is estimated to "create" 22,160 jobs. It is difficult to escape the feeling that the more reassuring talk about India's permanent seat in the UN Security Council is part of some kind of a quid pro quo arrangement. (Keep in mind that the European Union, with a population less then half of India's, has two, and slated to have a third, seat in the Security Council. For more about how they do it and how they get away with it, see, among other things, Chapter 4 my book :-)))

But let's think about this model of job creation for a second.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14.2 million people were unemployed in the United States in October 2010. That is approximately 189 times more than the seventy-five thousand jobs that are ostensibly "created" by the additional trade (using the most optimistic figure).

With a population of approximately 1.2 billion, India constitutes just under 18% of the world population. Putting the two figures together, it would take THIRTY-FOUR WORLDS to put all currently unemployed US residents to work.

Perhaps we'd do well to remember a remark by Gandhi, one of President Obama's most favored Indians, about how it took the whole of India to make tiny Britain into what it was; how many worlds would it take to do the same for the USA?

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cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta