India’s economic rise is not eating American jobs: outsourcing can work in both directions. Trade happens in many directions, and the attraction of cheap labor overseas is only part of the story. When Airtel needed to expand fast during the early years of the cellphone revolution, Mittal realized he would not be able to build infrastructure fast enough to keep up with demand. So he reverse-outsourced, giving work to foreign companies like Nokia, IBM, and Ericsson. So instead of an Indian company “taking” jobs from richer nations, it was creating business for them.
Women in India are usually portrayed as oppressed—and often they are—but in some circumstances can have opportunities that they would not have elsewhere. Although America Ferrera is currently in Kolkata making a film about girls being sold into prostitution, such exploitation exists alongside triumphs for feminism. Leading financial institutions like HSBC, RBS, JPMorgan Chase, ICICI, and UBS are all run by women. Big political names like Sonia Gandhi are not alone. West Bengal, the state in which Kolkata is situated, is ruled by Mamata Banerjee, who recently ousted the longest-serving elected communist government in the world. Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, represents a grassroots revolution: one of nine children, she was raised on the edge of Delhi in a poor family of Dalits, or former “untouchables.” She now rules a state with a population nearly equal to that of Brazil.