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1 Manufacturing leads global growth (Katie Allen in The Guardian) Manufacturers around the world enjoyed a pick-up in activity last month, bolstering hopes the global economy is gathering steam. A raft of surveys suggested production and demand rose in Asia, the US and among Britain’s manufacturers in October, but economists were quick to warn a variety of obstacles risked knocking back the pace of growth.
China, Japan, South Korea and India all reported rising new export orders. Britain enjoyed its fastest growth in overseas demand for its goods for more than two years, and in the US factories escaped the hit from the government shutdown that markets had been expecting. Economists warned that while the world’s largest economy may have got away relatively unscathed from the latest shutdown there were risks ahead.
James Knightley at ING Financial Markets said: “It is clear evidence that the underlying story of … manufacturing … is pretty good right now. Whether this will withstand another round of political wrangling in December and another possible government shutdown in January is a different matter.” Klaus Baader, economist at Societe Generale, commented: “Momentum in the manufacturing sector continued to improve going into the fourth quarter. That said, we believe that the recent strengthening of growth was once again fiscally engineered, and will not be sustainable. Indeed, we expect the Chinese economy to show signs of slowing as soon as the fourth quarter.”
2 The brown and white of Infosys’ visa case (Rafia Zakaria in Dawn) It is easy in Pakistan to be smug about the misfortune of Infosys, a company at the heart of India’s technological success. Indeed, if interpreted on the letters of the law, Infosys was guilty, using one category of transporting alien bodies into America’s haloed soil instead of another and lying in the process to make it all work. A few ethical points can also be marked up on behalf of the fact that the imported workers were paid less than what they would have deserved under the H-1B visa process.
All this is true; and there is the settlement document and the $34 million amount to prove it. A now chastised Infosys that employs 15,000 people in the US is likely to be far more careful in the future. Notwithstanding the many (and far more artful) crimes of corporate America, this brown company will have to prove its ability to follow the visa regimes of a white world.
For countries birthing brilliant brown minds, relying on their brains and merit to participate and get ahead in world of corporate technology, the Infosys settlement is a setback. Corporations are quick to complain about the obstacles to their access to various markets in the developing world, but never a word is said about the global caste system that allows workers with equal merit born in one part of the world to be deemed more deserving of a job than those born in another.
An Indian engineer can be easily thwarted in his ambitions by the lack of a visa, while an American one is deemed deserving of infinite legal protections. A brown company favouring brown workers is deemed discriminatory; the white whistleblower deemed worthy of millions in reparations. The brown workers are all sly and deceptive lawbreakers, guilty of trying to overcome the terrible misfortune of being born with a passport that does not allow them to flit here there and everywhere on the globe. Jack Palmer with his millions is the hero of the story; Infosys is the villain. All of it is yet another example of the global class system of workers, where the white, the western, are ultimately and always the lucky and the deserving — and now also the victims.
3 Dear Ms Malala (Asha Kumar Iyer in Khaleej Times) Dear Ms Malala: At 16, I couldn’t even think of what subject to pursue after school, much less talk about issues of social relevance. We didn’t live in a society as closed as yours; we weren’t impaled by laws, nor was fear a dominant reality of our every-day lives. We lived in a free, democratic environment, yet I didn’t have the perception of the world that you now have.
I wonder if the insight that you now have is inherent or if it grew with you, given the conditions in which you were raised. Perhaps you were endowed with the qualities of a hero, and raised by a family that was open to political and social dialogues. Together, you had the most conducive ground to flourish into a child who thinks like a philosopher and speaks like a reformer. No, I can’t claim to have been brought up differently. We were liberal in our views too, we could discuss society and politics in our home too, yet I wasn’t a Malala. Nor are many other girls of this age. And that’s what makes me admire you so ardently.
When I hear you speak, I wish I could articulate my thoughts with such clarity at this age. I still rehearse my words before I say something important, and often end up saying it wrongly. I wish I knew what I wanted to do with my life at least now. I am still a drifter in life. Your conviction stuns me more than your courage. When I was young, I was courageous too, but I now realise that it was less of bravery and more of brashness that sprung from ignorance so typical of those growing years.
Malala (allow me the endearment), it’s hard to spell what makes me adore you. I assume it is more about what you are, than what you are presently doing. A child, yet not so. An adult, but not entirely so. A champion, but with no trimmings. A hero, but fearful of ghosts. When I read the book, my view of you will get more luminous. But I will always primarily admire you for being a 16-year old that many of us couldn’t be, and one that many out there would like to be. Wishing the best.