This week I am attending SIME 07 a conference hosted by my friend Ola Ahlvarsson. I just saw the IPTV Clips that SIME is putting together before the conference at SIME TV. In it there´s a clip from an Indian guy,  Mahesh who asks a simple question. How are 9 million million lazy Swedes going to compete with over a billion Indians and their 100% English trained college graduates?

The whole clip is meant to be funny but the question is reasonable. I will try to give my answer.

Some countries developed ahead of others. The first country to develop and become a global power in recent times was the UK, followed by the US. The US and the UK will probably be followed by China in the next 25 years and India in the next 50. But having said this most people around the world do not care as much as to who has the most power as a country but care more how they live themselves as individuals in that country. And the world is very unevenly divided more along classes than along nations. Think about this: 2% of the people of the planet own half of all planetary wealth.  This uneven distribution of wealth is true in Sweden as well as in India. Sweden, as socialist as it seems also has some insanely rich people like Ikea´s owner Ingvar Kamprad the richest person in Europe and fourth richest in the world. Considering the fact that I am in that lucky or oportunistic 2% I probably sound absurdly Marxist in saying that class matters more than nationality when it gets to competitiveness but this is true. Except that class membership is still somewhat of a merito but in some way or another all countries that develops successfully seem to develop in the same way. They globalize, compete and grow very fast until they reach a glass ceiling on the average GDP per person, after that the race is a class race and not a national race. So my answer to Mahesh would be, worry less about your nationality and more about whether you, personally, will be able to become an entrepreneur and join the 2%, wherever you are.

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Juergen on November 13, 2007  · 

Great post, Martin! I think the level of innovation is not determined by a large crowd of people but rather the social economic system which creates the culture for innovation and development, like your example, the UK.

Would you personally belong to the 2% wealthiest people, if you had stayed in Argentina? Hard to say, but there are more opportunities in the US and Europe, including Sweden, than for the majority of the Indian population today. Does the high hanging carrot really have to belong to the 2%?

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Martin on November 13, 2007  · 

Hi Martin,

Thanks for your reply! I personally think that the people (the rich & the poor) form the nation & the nation’s progress on the whole helps or hinders your growth as an entrepreneur. Hence the class that makes up the rich guys I feel is a small by-product of the nation ( the people & the socio economic system). If for instance the Tata’s or Reliance (Indian giants) did not have the work force & the tax rules that India provided them, they would have been lost among the millions of others. And the same probably with IKEA.

In that light, Sweden as a country is wonderful & so is India – but when you compare the attitude towards work & life as such – I think I can stick out my neck and say the average Indian middle class can be pushed further than an average Swede & it was unfortunate that history (along with other factors) acted as a bad motorist in my country’s case thereby confining the people & the strengths as such. However the socio-economic system that you mentioned is brewing right under the ground in India and this for sure has to be multiplied with 1.1B people to understand the true power of this system.

And I would love to be in that 2% of the class that you mentioned but again that depends on not just my attitude but the attitude of the people who are along with me on that journey which I think depends on the place as well.

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Mahesh on November 13, 2007  · 

I just realized that I used Martin’s name instead of mine in the previous comment posted by me. Apologies for that.


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neoyorquina on November 13, 2007  · 

Yeah, for a moment I was wondering if Martin had invested in a new technology that channels the thoughts of other people. 🙂 Thanks for the clarification under your real name. 😀

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