June 23, 2008

News & Opinion: Robyn Meredith on NOW... and Other Resources

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:27 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

In our first annual business book awards last year, the prize in the Globalization category went to Robyn Meredith's The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us.
I was a big fan of the book personally, and was pleasantly surprised to see her recently on NOW, a weekly program on PBS. NOW turned to Meredith for her perspective during the episode "India Rising"--their look at the meteoric rise of India (and China) on Friday evening. Some of her thoughts:

The last time we saw such a big transformation was really when the United States itself came onto the global stage.

All of us are going to have to share. There's only so much on the planet... there's only so much energy. We're either going to have to pay a lot more for the privilege of using it, or we're going to have to decrease our use, or both. We're now in a competition, not just for jobs, but also for resources. We've been lucky, but the game's over.

The resources she's talking about aren't just oil and steel and concrete. Now a part of a global supply chain, food availability (and its cost) is also being increasingly affected as people in India and China can afford to eat better, creating more demand for more food--particularly more meat.
Gurchuran Das, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble India and author of India Unbound, was also interviewed for the program. (I haven't read any of his work, but after seeing how insightful and well-spoken he is on these issues, I look forward to it.) Das estimates that 50% of the Indian population will earn enough to be considered middle class by 2020. That's around 580 million people, or roughly twice the size of the entire United States. That's roughly twice the size of the entire United States driving cars, buying microwaves, heating and cooling ever bigger homes, eating better, all the while consuming the resources that those activities entail. And... that's not including China.
Click here to get the video of the program, or here to download the audio.
If you're looking for more on India, check out In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India. It was also a winner in our book awards, getting the nod in the New Perspectives category.
If you'd like another (and alarming) look at the competition for resources, look no further than Richard Behar's epic, six part article for Fast Company on China's expanding influence in Africa.