It was sheer coincidence one evening when i saw a TV interview of Thomas Friedman alongside
the co-founder of Infosys Technologies Nandan Nilkeni. It was then that I heard
about his book and how he got idea of writing it when he was in their premises
in South Indian Garden City of Bangalore.
I first read the book in 2009 and since then it has helped me in two simple
ways. One I am viewing the world as a small global village where things happen
at pace more than anyone of us could gauge or monitor and Two I don’t have to
worry about what to buy as a gift for any of my near ones or dear ones, as I
just have to pick up a latest copy of the book and gift. Since reading it 3
years back, I am not sure how many copies of this book I must have gifted and
how many times I would have recommended it my friends.
The text and ideas of the book spread to more than 650 pages but the message is
simple which is GLOBALISATION and no matter where you stay on the globe you
cannot be immune anymore of what happens elsewhere. It has a simple yet strong
dialogue on changed face of trade and commerce around us.
In one of the chapters the author writes a simple fact about his Dell Note Book
on which he wrote the book. What he actually did was he visited the Dell
Management team near Austin, Texas and requested them to trace for him the
entire global supply chain that assembled the pieces that built the laptop that
wrote the book. And what unveils is 6 pages of details of the entire supply
chain spreading across countries and continents and places from where various
aspects of software and hardware were sourced to built just one laptop. The
author tells the story of his laptop just to highlight the bigger story of
geopolitics in the flat world. He mentions about existence of certain forces
which according to him could reverse or hold back the flattening of the world. He
gives examples of traditional threat, and that is outbreak of a good, old
fashioned, world shaking, economy destroying war. This could be China attacking
Taiwan, or North Korea doing something crazy with their nuclear weapons against
South Korea or Japan, or Israel taking on the challenge of soon to be nuclear
power, Iran, or India and Pakistan finally nuking it out. These and other
geopolitical conflicts could erupt at any time and either slow the flattening or
seriously unflatten it.
Reading the book was a enthralling and stimulating experience. It makes one wonder (just
for an example) how the photo studio round the corner on your street changed
completely in the way the pictures were taken and developed few years back and
how they are being taken and developed now. And all this happened as we all
were busy (sleeping) in our mundane routine things.
I remember one morning in Dubai in the year 2000 and I was amazed to see picture in the front
page of Gulf News (a daily news paper there) carrying a picture of a cell phone
head set which also could take pictures. Now as I sit and appreciate in the
2012 I wonder that the picture of hand set that I saw on front page of a news
daily is perhaps not relevant anymore as the cell phones have changed their
forms and facilities so much that one cannot imagine using something similar
just 10 years back. It has changed generations in just few years and we all
have witnessed this change and used the new technology as it came. But what we
have failed is to appreciate the pace with which things changed in just one
simple cell phone. Now we have new generation of cell phones called smart
phones. The reason I am writing this is coz now I am able to sit back and
appreciate these changes all thanks to my experience of reading “World is Flat”.
Barring a few countries or parts of the world like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran,
North Korea to name a few, rest of the world is indeed flat now and trade and
commerce happen here like they happen in some small village. They collaborate and
work together which I am sure is beneficial in the long run.
I am reading another book called “World is curved” and would like to know thoughts of Mr. Friedman
post the financial crises of late 2008 where in no country in the world was
unaffected. Today when we live in a flat world how could one, as an individual or
as an organisation or as an economy, sustain its existence or stay unaffected
by what happens in other part of the flat world. Today the trade and commerce
between countries and organizations is so intermingled that crises in Euro Zone
effects stock markets in India.
Never the less I would still recommend that we all should read and learn from the book “World
is Flat” as it helps us to see world in different light.