Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Great Indian Skill Gap... A Reality Check

I am a corporate guy, with experience in teaching MBA classes as well . And I categorically state: there is no skill gap. The only gap is in our approach, at least in the general sense of the term. What is the difference between the 2 statements - Skill Gap and Approach? When you say Gap, the onus is on the student; when you say approach - YOU are the culprit. This is not splitting hairs, this is the core issue.

You say students are not corporate-ready. Fine, Enumerate steps taken by your organisation to tackle this. And please dont list A-lister colleges. Till date, I have not seen a single corporate aligning with universities, If you cant get in, dirty your hands and solve it, stop crying and face the music! Do you seriously expect a greenhorn to come raring out and write perfect code? Do you seriously expect a greenhorn to come out raring and bribe a government babu with impunity? And dont tell me corporates dont bribe, please! Do you seriously expect a new guy fresh out of college to climb on top of distributors who have handled hundreds of such college geniuses? Do you seriously expect a fresh college grad to put in 18-hour workdays? And again, dont tell me we have an 8 hour day!

Further, till date not one single person in my knowledge has specified exactly what a skill gap means in specific deliverable terms. No general statements, please, Identify specific gaps. Cant code? Cant adjust? Cant take pressure? But before you think of this, think of how do you treat your summer trainees? Is there any genuine effort to train them? I have been through it, so I know exactly how much we - aah- train them. Dont make me laugh. How on earth you expect a fresh guy to deliver as much as an experienced guy is beyond me.

The Army spends 2 years training its people - as well as regularly every 2 years. Dad had to attend regular several-month-long trainings, as well as got a 2-year break for further studies.  How much do we invest in training? I have been through - aah - induction programmes, which generally tell me all about the organisation - which a simple google search will reveal - and precisely nothing about how to deliver on my KRAs!!!!! And then we cry - Skill Gap! Wow!

Saying "Skill Gap" and 'Soft Skill" is fine; be specific - identify specific areas, attributes, habits, mannerisms that are, shall we say, desirable. In my reading, no one has, till date. It is a fashionable trend, saying we have a skill gap. And if I am wrong, please give me specifics, not generalities. We sales guys have a habit of dealing in specifics! 

It may sound funny to many people - but, again, my point made above is straightforward: try and identify s-p-e-c-i-f-i-c areas of gaps; and see the problems that emerge as you try to define it. And pray tell me how can a problem be solved if it is not even defined? I have certainly not read any article in main stream business news regarding anything beyond the generic term "skill gap"

For example, you say students cant talk properly? Fine. Why cant they talk? It is all very well to state they cant talk; ever thought about the why? Ever taken the trouble to ask them or their families? Ever thought about how they got here in the first place? And what do you mean they cant talk? They talk well enough in their own circles. So why cant they do so in front of you? What is it in your approach - or his history - that presents a block? Try and go into specifics - then you will see the real problem emerge- which is not repeat not a skill gap. It is something else entirely!

A gap is not in the ether somewhere; also try and relate it to the real world, where education is costly. Also keep in mind the population distribution of the nation; the top 200 cities do not account for more than 5.68% (from memory) of total population. The age group of 18-35 of the top 50 cities is something like 2.57% if memory serves me right. Or is it the general contention that India exists only in the metros????? Try and scale it up on a state-wide scale; let alone a national scale. And keep in mind earning skewness in India, consumption trends and spreads; average cost of a decent college education; as well as attend to why dont all students reach college?

The problem is two-fold; first, corporates prefer people to fit in to a certain stereotype; and woe betide anyone who challenges this. Anyone who does not fit in is left out - regardless of other skills sets he/she may be having. There is little focus on the person, there is no focus on giving something to the employee in terms of training and life skills, there is little focus on attempting to make the employee fit in, there is little focus on re-training line and staff managers to cope with the new challenges being posed - as corporate India enters the smaller towns and villages for its manpower. There is little thought being given to this - that simple fact that the modern serving corporate manager does not have the skill sets to deal with this new set of people, who have different values, attitudes and experiences in life from your top - 50 city metrosexual individual.

Second, Yes, there are gaps - but these are primarily socio-economic gaps, gaps of infrastructure, gaps of earning potential of parents, gaps of service delivery in schools, gaps of high fees that are unaffordable, gaps of social status,gaps of inferiority complexes that are rooted in our caste structure etc. You cannot simplify such a massive socio-economic problem as a skill-gap, and set up short-term institutes to bridge it!

These are students who could not get a top-line education in mainstream schools due to personal problems. Therefore, crying about their technical incompetence, or other issues is a pointless exercise. The real problems lie in the massive infrastructural bottlenecks that are facing India – lack of good teachers, lack of good pay for teaching staff, lack of good books in the Vernacular, lack of money for education in better facilities etc. Does this mean that they are to be left out always? Further, does this also mean that all of these are unemployable? They have passed the college exams, and are equipped with the basics. Despite this, the general claim is that 90% of such people are unemployable at any role?

That is why I say get into the specifics - it is only then that you will realise that what you are asking for is first of all impossible in the current set of circumstances, and second, that somewhere along the line you yourself are responsible. It will also lay bare prejudices and misapprehensions - which do exist in any corporate. It will also force you to identify key mission critical areas - because now you can be pinned down to your statements and held responsible - since now you are giving a pinpointed, factual answer supported by facts. And on that, you can be challenged! This will also serve to identify specific shortcomings in students, which can be communicated to colleges.

 It does not require much time to give proper feedback or engage with colleges - but no one does it. This is limited to the IITs and IIMs. Why cant it be taken to other colleges from where campus hiring takes place - and for all domains like Telecom, FMCG etc - as well as for all functions - Sales, Finance etc; AND for all levels - Sales Trainee, Management Trainee, Sales Officer Trainee, Trainees in other domains etc? The current focus is only on IITs, IIMs and other top tier places. There are others towns and cities, and other colleges – which go largely ignored; the manpower from them is not considered worthy of such mundane activities as feedback ad industry-college linkage!.

These problems are not going to go away for decades at least; in the meantime corporates will require manpower. So look internally; identify and re-train your own manpower to deal with these people. Create internal systems that can tackle the shortcomings/ As it is, we dont spend a dime on serious training, Simple fact, whether or not anyone likes it. As I read on Quora once - you can either train and run the risk of ,manpower leaving, which will give you at least some managers who are more capable - or dont train, and run the risk of unskilled managers staying with you.

You wont get the same skill levels everywhere; and the modern manager is simply not emotionally mature enough to handle people from such - aah - "skill gaps"! Because of this, there is a tendency to judge everyone in the same mould, rather than trying to judge the ability to perform after sufficient hand-holding and training. But, for that, you require time, patience, tolerance for other world-views, ability to converse in local tongues, robust internal systems to check abuse and targeting etc. This requires real management – which is diametrically opposite to what most managers do - which is just scream at subordinates, without adding any real value,. Start asking your own people to add some real value - and see this perceived skill gap lessen!

This will also generate a massive goodwill for organizations that do these activities; further, this will strengthen the Industry – College linkages, as well as create a pool of trained manpower. Not only that our nation will also greatly benefit by such an effort.  You can also look at it as a corporate social responsibility initiative – and this one initiative that  will give long term tangible and certain benefits. All it requires is a change in approach; this does not require much expense. The benefits more than compensate the effort required – and this is eminently doable as well. But it does require a very different approach, as well as a different mindset…

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Significance of 1857 in our Independence

1857, The First War Of Independence... what was its true significance and importance in our freedom struggle?

To understand this, we first have to understand the sequence of events leading upto and during 1857...

Until we really colonise India, and raise up a European element in the population... Edward Humphreys, Manual of British Government In India, 1857

..May be no dilatoriness on any account in continuing in the country the grand work of making India Christian - Mr Mangles, Chair, EEIC, in the house of Commons, Early 1857

The whole land has been shaken by missions to its innermost centre... the Hindu trembles for his religion, and the Muslim for his... Rev M A Sherring, The Indian Church During The Great Rebellion, 1858

Areas covered by the proclamation of Bahadur Shah Zafar: Taxation (I commit to lower taxes, to preserve the dignity...); Trade and Commerce (Open trade of every article, both by land and water, to all Indian Merchants, access to Capital, lower costs); Public Servants Industry; Personal Freedom... 1857 in India - Mutiny, Or War Of Independence, Ainslee T Embree, 1963

The documented evidence above will suffice for this write-up; it should raise a few pertinent points in the readers' mind: firstly, there was a massive agenda of colonisation, Europeanisation, as well as conversion that was organised right from the top. This existed right from the Early 1830s onwards, and was steadily gathering steam.This was a direct attack on every Indians complete lifestyle, an attempt to change everything. 

This was playing havoc in Indian Society and its framework, assiduously built up over centuries, The point of Muslim Rule does not hold, for the perfectly simple reason that large parts of India were under continuous Hindu or Sikh Rule throughout. The central authority may have been Muslim, but over the years even there an element of Hindu support and power and grown due to adjustments, as the Mughals became Indian. Thus, an equilibrium was reached. 

The disturbance of this equilibrium had far reaching effects -right upto the caste scenario, as previously soft caste distinctions became rigid. This was a direct attack on the complete societal framework. 

This, in combination with the destruction of India's industrial background through various means - like denial of raw material as well as market access in combination with 80% duties, as well as the destruction of Agriculture formed the backdrop for the war. Opium, Indigo replaced food crops, leading to food shortage; Farmers were not paid even for these crops (documented fact), leading to further erosion of sustenance and wealth. Agriculture was not developed, and supported - this combined with land tax of 60 - 90% and refusal to allow farmers to keep a part of their own produce for food and seeds led to famine. 

This is the backdrop - the complete backdrop to the War, which was a planned war, planned in detail. British Strategies were studied in various theatres of War, even the Russians were visited. Fact.. but that is another story, to be taken up in another post. It was not a mutiny; it was a planned and mass-supported effort..., and has been documented as such by several reputable sources

There was massive support to the War, with hundreds of villages, towns and cities rising in en-masse to expel the Brits. The reason was simple - every facet of life in India was under attack - from religion to livelihood, from beliefs to vocations. Everything was under attack. Something had to give, and it did. Big time - and it scared the Brits out of their wits, Had it not been for timely help from some Indian Princes,. it would have been over in 1857 itself... and it scared the the British to the roots of their existence, for perhaps the first time - and the only time before, or since. 

1857 told the Brits that they were not invincible, that they could be conquered - if India ever united again as one. And they were right; when India rose again - the Brits were chucked out - when the entire people and the Armed Forces rose in revolt during the INA trials. 

During quelling the war, the sequence of events hold further hints and learnings for us, which tend to support the belief that 1857 led to 1947; without 1857, 1947 would not have happened. 

First, two dastardly acts - Act No XI (30/5/1857) and Act No XIV (6/6/18557) gave local commissioners to impose the death penalty on all persons - military or not - whether amenable to the articles of war or not. Then came Act XVI which empowered executionary powers to civilian officers, military officers as well as trustworthy people not connected with the Government, In short, a licence to kill. 

A list of persons tried by the commissioner at Allahabad showed that anything from rebellion, to desertion, to possessing money for which  the accused has no explanation - was punished by death. 

Point to be noted - The so-called Cawnpore incident had not yet occurred yet! By the way, an interesting aside - The Great English Army used non-combatants as defensive shields during the seige... their own families! Documented records show officers being reprimanded for wanting to shift families to safety. In the ensuing war, these gallant English soldiers are known to have abandoned their own families to save their own skin - the families were saved by Indians, and initially escorted to safety, and treated with honour - unlike the brits, who used them! And this is despite the massacres of Indians already taking place at the hands of the Brits! THAT is the truth of the so-called Cawnpore incident and its complete picture, True Blue gallantry in classic English style, hiding behind a petticoat to win a war! What awesome bravery, it has to be said!

But more was to come - as entire villages and towns were exterminated... like Jhansi : Again, the massacres started before Kanpur - on the way to Kanpur, in fact. Village after village was raped and razed to the ground, empowered by those 3 acts enacted by the great Parliament of the UK....

Destroyed the village of Goura... CW Moore...

All the villages were burnt... an English officer in Russells' company

Some young boys, who had flaunted rebel colours, were hanged

Certain Guilty villages marked for destruction; all men inhabiting them to be slaughtered; ----- orders to the Army

Finished off in an artistic manner with Mango trees for giblets and elephants for drops... an English - aah - civilised Gentleman

The facts above tell the tale: it was a popular uprising, involving both military as well as mass civilian support. I shall go into greater detail in subsequent posts- or read the references mentioned. The massacre and genocide that cut across all of India between 1857 - 1859 was specifically due to this. The English are on record in innumerable documents, praising these massacres and their salutary impact. 

But coming to the question, 1857 established a few  things to the Brits - one, colonisation of India by the White Man was impossible. Next, it also made clear to them that conversions and religious attacks were also a recipe for certain disaster. And that is why 1857 is the first War of Independence: we protected out way of life, and our society - which is 100% brown and pure. We protected our religion, and our country. Had this not happened, who knows what the future held? Look at other esp African countries...

Next, the wave of massacre and genocide perpetrated by the Civilised British made one thing clear to Indians - armed resistance was futile. It also made clear that the way forward was uniting India; it also made clear that the way forward for the foreseeable future was negotiation... which led to the events leading to the formation of the Congress. {} The intelligentsia were also clear of the role of traitors who supported the British - and understood that it required a different approach. That is why, after 1857, riots and armed uprisings reduced to a substantial extent. In  simple terms, the entire population was bludgeoned into hopeless surrender. This was not a surprise, given that an entire population was subjected to mindless murder and genocide-  those 3 acts of parliament of the Great UK are silent proof of the inhumanity and brutality of the English. 

It also made clear to the English that if India united as one ever again - they would be chucked out. This led to divide and rule, leading to Pakistan...

The First War Of Independence was thus, central to Indian Independence; we won the right to live our own way, and gave our future leaders of 1880-1940s the road to proceed... without it, we would not have been what we are today. 

Let us all join together to thank those heroes who gave their all - everyone, including the massacred civilians. May you rest in peace; India / Bharat / Hindustan owes what it is today to your supreme sacrifice... you gave your todays for your children's today... for that, All India is thankful to you... 

  1. Operation Red Lotus - Parag Tope
  2. India's Independence Struggle - Bipin Chandra Pal et al
  3. Bengal Divided - Sengupta (For divide and rule policy)
  4. The Discovery of India - Jawaharlal Nehru
  5. The Real Story Of The Great Uprising - Vishnu Bhatt Godse Versaikar

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Online and Digital Media - A Different Perspective 1

Online and Digital Media are the flavour of the day, with everyone waxing eloquent about the prospects and opportunities of the said medium. In the Information Technology age that we are living in, it is only to be expected that there would be an exuberance and a dream of high growth and deep penetration of this medium. And, truth be told, the initial figures that are now coming in - and these are initial days, make no mistake - have only underlined the tremendous potential of this nascent industry. 

However, every coin has 2 sides; every situation has multiple perspectives. And remember that the full nature of the industry is not revealed till it enters its fast growth or even mature phase. These are early days for the online medium, and it is going to be an interesting growth phase for it, as it grows and tries to meet the challenges and hurdles that are thrown its way.And, insofar as it has not had to meet any challenges till date, it should be interesting to see how it deals with the first few challenges. But all that and more lies in the distant future, and will come about in the fullness of time. The question is, can we spot any challenges, or differing perspectives, that might throw some light on the days ahead? 

To my mind, the first challenge, or hurdle it will have to find ways to overcome can be from the field of advertising - how it will overcome or re-orient to this challenge when it does come is going to be critical. Currently, as Ms Vanita Kohli-Khandekar pointed out recently in an article India Online - On the go, the revenue from advertising is rising - and rising fast, driven by a combination of growth in the medium along with significant alterations in consumption habits of customers. We shall look at the consumption habits of customers in a later article; let us take a look at the advertising aspect - not from an advertisers' view, but from a customers' viewpoint

I myself am a habitual online consumer in a couple of categories, as well as have a more than peripheral involvement in my professional sphere with a few websites for my range of products, and have thus seen and experienced both sides of the coin. Viewed from my professional standpoint, I cant spot a speck on the online horizon. But the moment I shift my perspective to that of a consumer, everything changes, and questions begin to emerge. Questions which find no ready answer as current industry practices stand. 

On reading the referenced article, something clicked in my mind: and I asked myself a basic question - what advertisments do I recall? I could not recall even a single solitary online advertisment, banner, insert, or pop-up on the first thought; neither could I recall any even after some thought. It was only some 15-20 minutes later, that one came to  mind. In the interim, I could recall several print advertisments, as well as television advertisements - but not one single online advertisement. Critically, I am online for a large part of the day on my laptop, as well as am professionally involved in a small way, as a part of my business targets comprise online revenues and sales. Further, I am an active online consumer. And yet, I could not recall any advertisement. 

What's going on here? Why should this be so? I am exposed to online advertisements - I must be, since I regularly visit TOI, HT, Flipkart, Homeshop18, Amazon, Quora, Blogger, Livemint, Business Standard, Railway Portals,Youtube as well as myriad other assorted sites. And yet, my call is a total of zero. Note that recall after 20 minutes does not count in advertising. In an interesting contrast, I can recall innumerable Television ads (Fill It, Shut It, Forget it -Hero Honda, 20 years ago even; Cadbury girl dancing in the rain; Cadbury adults can have chocolates theme; Idea Ad; Volkswagen Vento and other ads; Mint with the hole - Polo; Amul Theme ad; Britannia Marie... I could go on and on here). I can also recall innumerable print ads - Airtel; Color Plus; Vertu; Complan; LIC etc. I can even recall huge numbers of hoardings without thinking - but not one single online advertisement. 

Even allowing for a bad memory - the inescapable fact is that online medium does not make a lasting impression. It does not enable top-of-the-mind recall; and, far too obviously, it does not even manage to communicate the core message that must be at the heart of each advertisement's strategy. And the point of the bad memory is inadmissible, given my crystal clear recall of ads in other media. Theory tells us that one of the strategies that can be adopted in online media is a call-to-action, wherein a click can take you to your desired site, enabling a purchase decision - if not an actual purchase. Here again, we run into questions: for I further cannot recall any instance of even a single online purchase that has been driven by perchance clicks. 

Admittedly, in this instance, recall is not the right parameter - which is why I state "questions", unlike above, wherein I have made a categorical assertion. That I must have encountered interesting links is a givne; I must also have followed those links. But as a consumer, I have no recollection of it ever creating a lasting impression in my mind. Contrast this with the other media like print and television - even hoardings. For example, Color Plus, I had never consciously seen anyone wearing that brand in my circle, so had no direct contact. And I can recall the powerful impression that back-cover and inside back-cover magazine placements of its advertisments; I can recall the presentation of the products and my drooling and determination to purchase one the ,moment I was earning enough to afford one. 

I can quote other examples; but the question remains the same - even as a call-to-action, online advertisements fail to make the cut in comparison to other media. It does not enable recall, it does not manage to communicate the core message, it does not enable a call-to-action. The reason is simple - in the internet, the control is truly in the mind and hands of the consumer, When I log on to TOI, I know precisely where the first headline comes - my mind automatically focusses my eyes on that approximate location. If you insert an ad while loading, the site helpfully provides a link that bypasses the ad. It you get a pop-up, your mind focusses your primary attention in the "x" mark that will close the ad. In a youtube video, your mind focusses your eyes and attention on the area where "skip video" option shows up...

Which brings me to the core point of my article - why, then, should I, as a practising business manager, recommend anything more than a peripheral presence on the internet in terms of advertising?  Clicks do not translate into business; in advertising, the core mission is 2-fold: always and everytime. First, enabling brand recall - top-of-mind recall; and second, communicate the message. The message can be just brand recall, or product features, or call-to-action (Sales Promos), or anything. But the message has to get through. If the ad fails to do either, what am I getting out of it? So what if the cost-per-impression is the lowest in online advertisements - which it decidedly is? Far too obviously, interaction with the customer through other media is of a much higher quality; money spent there is seemingly much more effective...

Feel free to answer my questions raised here; these are those that have occurred to me in the daily grind of doing business...  In the next article in this series, we shall take a look at consumption habits, and at the awesome and brutal power of this little understood medium, a power that I have felt, a potential to get into the gut of existing business models and rip them apart from within... the first tremors of which are already being noticed by the sales teams and the channel...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Post Colonial Hangover 3: The Modern World

This is the 3rd and concluding part of the series on Colonialism in the Modern World. The previous part can be found here :

The age of Empires was over; the age of colonial style exploitation was over; the age of plunder and loot was over; the age of easy money was over; the age of forcible subjugation of Asia by Europe and America was over. The 50s marked the beginning of an era wherein all nations were viewed as equal; wherein all people were one and equal; wherein each nation could survive and grow basis its own economic, political and social policies and experiments, with the better nation winning out in the end. This is best symbolised in that iconic Hindi Song Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein, Kal Ki Baat Puraani; Naye Daur Mein Likhenge Mil Kar Nayi Kahaani, Hum Hindustani! / Aaj Puraani Raahon Ko Hum Chhod Chuke Hain, Aaj Puraani Zanjeeron Ko Tod Chuke Hain... Nayaa Daur Hai Nayi Umangein, Ab Hai Nayi Jawaani (Let history be; it is an old, old story... we Indians will script a new history for the coming generations... / We have broken the chains binding us, we have changed the path... it is a new era, with new desires and dreams... It is a new youth for us Indians!)

67 years have passed since 1947, and, as we saw in my last post - we have achieved a lot, and we have gained a tremendous amount of lost ground. In some ways, we have managed to fulfil the promise contained in the song of the 60s mentioned above. In more than a few ways, we have indeed scripted a new and proud history for our children. But take a look at the second line contained in the song... indeed, a new era with countless new desires and dreams with a motivation to excel.This gives us, theoretically, a limitless horizon to excel and grow... with one caveat. And that is that there are no chains binding us... 

The concept of a free world implies no intervention, and freedom to implement ones own socio-politico-economic policies without undue pressure from external vested interests, a world where each nationality can implement its own policies basis its own internal processes and procedures for doing so - be they democratic, or be they autarchic in nature. Or, in other words, a Utopia, a never-never land - as any economist or business person will readily testify. While lobbying friendly interests in the host country can and is an acceptable strategy, the modern post-colonial world goes far, far beyond mere lobbying. 

State Intervention is and has been the mainstay of economic and political growth in the post-colonial world; be it arm-twisting developing countries in Farm Subsidies in bilateral and multilateral talks, or the creation of an uneven playing field in the name of protectionism - even by developed countries. You cant wish it away... examples are a dime a dozen. In the past 12 months alone, we can spot pressure tactics aplenty that go far beyond "lobyying" or influencing: opposition to the 30% clause in FDI, Farm Subsidies, Pharmaceutical generics and the battles over it, US business houses  and vested interests getting together to calcuate "losses on account of Indian Policies", Nuclear Liability clause etc. Subtle and not-so-subtle pressure tactics are the mainstay of the day, and are pretty much standard. 

Most critically, the controlling powers in the post-colonial world remain the same colonial powers - USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan etc. That is where the wealth resides; that is where the power resides, almost as a direct consequence. And what of Asia, and especially India? Relatively, it finds itself in the same position: although we may dream of a world where all are equal, this is not going to come about any time soon. We may feel pride of our achievements, and rightfully feel we have earned the world's respect (which we have, in more ways than one); yet, when you put the entire socio-economic picture together, the conclusion is inescapable: we are the outsiders, from their perspective;  a mere market of 1.25 Billion People. 67 years later, this fundamental fact has remained unaltered: then, we were a huge resource base to be looted... now, we are a huge market to be tapped into. Witness the various utterances, policy measures and objections from the USA. Nothing has changed for us. Time we woke up to this reality. 

While the balance of power has shifted from UK to its son, the USA (The USA is essentially of British history, isnt it?); the same buccaneering spirit portrayed by the Europeans in the colonial era is in evidence, wherever you look at it. They call it their version of "free market". Strange, methought a free market meant I could make my own policies, without serious repercussions and threats in totally unconnected areas, without being hit under the belt?  This new, free world is a world where an economic folly and criminal stupidity in the west (remember subprime?) can impact lives 5000 kilometres away, of people who have nothing to so with the original event. This new, free world is a world where these innocent people have no recourse to any options, and have to simple wait out the bad times, till the global atmosphere improves. 

There is nothing wrong with a globalised world; India thrived on free trade for over 4 millennia. But it takes on an entirely different hue altogether when a state, or a set of states, gang up on another, deny access to capital and/or technology on frankly flimsy grounds. It becomes a buccaneering loot when you fight the ability of the state to provide for its own people as it may impact your profit lines. And that is precisely what the entire Farm Subsidy, Green House Gases, Pharmaceutical drug battles are all about. There are other examples, but these 3 would suffice. In each case, the richer states, instead of sacrificing for the other, poorer states - and trying to find a solution, are instead re-packaging business as "aid", and negotiating a heavy (at times) toll  in return - which may vary from market access, to lower duties, to preferential access etc. 

These richer states would do well to remember that they became rich on the back of the plunder and loot from Asian countries and Africa. Without the resources, the loot and the plunder, and the manpower (Africa) The much-touted West would not have been even a shadow of its current self. But the moment you raise this point, people of all hues cry blue murder, and say be practical! It is acceptable for these gentlemen (and ladies) if the very same colonial powers push frankly unfriendly terms on their negotiating partners, to the damage of their own countries. But no, dont mention the C-word! It would serve us well to remember the extent to which the West puts pressure - in the Aircraft deal, there were quick calls in the Media for suspension of aid; so much so that it required as acerbic reply and rejoinder from the Indian Government! 

Which brings me to the central point of my 3 articles: nothing has changed. The Post-Colonial World is still, fundamentally, and at a very basic level, colonial in nature. The power still vests in the colonial powers, who use it to the maximum extent that they can. This extends to Business as well as Security and Political matters, as shown in the support to Pakistan because of its so-called strategic utility, and never mind the damage you are doing to India, On another plane, you are talking to the very same India for greater market access, friendlier terms etc... amazing double speak! This is evident in the racialism that is still extant and prevalent across the West, as demonstrated by racial attacks on Indians in Australia and The UK. This is evident in any number of other examples that are exposed to us through our news; racism is alive and well in the west. As I said, nothing - absolutely nothing - has changed. 

The only change is that there is now a softer form of colonialism in prevalence, where the West can rule without sending a soldier, and without looting, allowing their conscience to breathe free. For true equality, for true freedom, it requires the Asian Powers of India, China and Japan to stand proud, tall, and confident with a comparable Military, Economic and Political Clout. Then and only then can a truly balanced world come about. Then and only then can the ghosts of colonialism be laid to rest, and forgiven, forgotten and buried. Not before...