Until a couple of years ago it was easy to ignore the fact that India and China harboured most of the worlds population. It was mentioned during geography class and sometimes it came up in birthday discussions but, we, the developed, rich and arrogant West were not to bothered. These countries were handy for their cheap labour and not much else.
Suddenly however things have changed. China and India are developing their own identity beyond their ancient cultures. They are quickly becoming modern economic super-powers. The difference in culture also makes them difficult economic super powers for us to understand. For instance: India has a vast network of small distribution entities that manage to supply a vast network of shops that supply a vast amount of people. Although super stores are cropping up all over the place in India, much of their produce is still supplied by that local, heavily fragmented supply network. This makes it very difficult for us Westeners to get our foot in the door. Colonisation through economic ways is proving harder than we expected. Oh dear.
And then there is China. The manufacturing state. The place where all our gadgets have been made for donkeys years. Suddenly these gadgets start cropping up in the West in the same guise we’re used to but with different sounding names. Names that have a distinctly Chines ring to them. Can it be that what used to be our big brand gadget makers have gone into business for themselves under their own name? Oh dear… how do we stop that?
The answer is simple I think. We can’t. All we can do is accept that the iPod will have competitors that have surprisingly similar features at a much more affordable price.The name may be a little less snazzy but I wonder how many people are going to care. Especially with a larger than life market in the competitors own back yard.
There is another side effect to the emerging of the formerly hidden populace: we are suddenly aware that all these people need food, water, housing, transport, energy. Oh, boy! Can the world cope?
Again the answer is simple: no it can’t. Not at our current rate of gobbling up Earth’s resources. Not to mention the stuff we put out at the other end of the consumer chain: the waste. If we think that putting out seperate bins for plastic, paper, garden waste and tins is going to safe the world, think again. With every google search you do a veritable blast of energy is used to process your search all over the world. Imagine what will happen if a couple of billion more people come online in a couple of years…
In other words: for the first time ever we, the rich West have to acknowledge the fact that the world has been housing a lot more people than we were willing to admit. And we now have to admit these people to the luxuries we have become used to. Or are we so arrogant that we can say: sorry guys, we’ve been used to this but you can’t have it. Well, we could try. I think I can predict the outcome of that stance though…