India Uncut

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

China hits the sari market

The Times of India reports that the Chinese are making a big mark in the manufacturing of saris, with embroidery machines that are far cheaper than previously available European models. These are gradually pushing down the demand for hand embroidery, which is far more time-consuming and less cost effective. Protectionists will, of course, rail at this, and traditionalists will decry the soon-to-be-lost art of hand embroidery. But I'm all for it. Consumers benefit, because embroidered saris are available for much cheaper, Indian manufacturers benefit, and China benefits. And if you're a hand embroiderer, well, no one owes you a living. Go start a blog or something.

Update (April 8): Michael Higgins writes in to object to my last sentence above, and says: "I have to say that if Marie Antoinette were alive today, she couldn't have said it better herself."

Fair point. It was insensitively put, and if you're a hand embroiderer who were offended, I apologise. (And I apologise again for this flippant way of addressing you. And again. And... ) But the sentiment behind it is a valid one.

At the moment, as most of you know, I am a cricket writer. Now, assume cricket as a commercial sport dies in the next few years because of market forces, as is imaginable, if unlikely. Am I to then throw my hands up and say, "No, that is unfair to me, cricket writing is the only skill I possess, I am being robbed of my livelihood, I demand that 300 days of international cricket continue to be played every year"? Well, of course not. That is ludicrous. I will just have to stop whining and figure out something else to do with my life. Why? Because the world does not owe me a living.

That is exactly my point about jobs lost due to technological change or outsourcing or whatever. All of these usually result in a net benefit to economies, but to the fellow who has lost his or her job, it is tough. But in a truly free economy, there is enough opportunity for an enterprising person to find something else to do. Also, redundancies are fairly easy to predict and prepare for, unless one is self-deluded. Or has the terrible attitude that the world owes them a living. Nothing of the sort. If you're useful, you'll be used, and paid for it. If not, you won't. So stop moaning.

In fact, go start a blog or something.
amit varma, 3:38 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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