Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The World Is Flat

Though I had this book presented to me over a year ago at a corporate event, I had put it down after 10 pages. Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a lecture by Friedman and this has kindled my interest in the book. However, in the end his 45 minute address was far more interesting than the 450 page book. The book excites the reader for a moment with insights and the next moment frustrates as the narrative loses the focus.

Friedman basically is a cheerleader for globalization. Friedman writes that the world has now entered the era of "Globalization 3.0. The Globalization 1.0, which ran from 1490 until 1800 and was driven by mostly European countries through colonization by force and Globalization 2.0 starting 1900 was led by US multinational companies driven to look abroad for markets and labor. That has ended around 2000, replaced by the individual of every race and country with the aid of global fiber-optic network that has made us all next-door neighbors -- connecting, competing, collaborating.

In particular, Friedman is obsessed with one of the greatest recent economic phenomena- the outsourcing of services and information-technology work to India. However, Friedman over estimates its novelty. Globalization or level playing field ( flat world ) is not new. Manufacturing outsourcing to China, supply chains from diverse countries has been in vogue for the last 2 decades. Like wise the start of Dell from scratch taking on the mighty IBM, or Apple’s i-pod that has swept away all the personal audio players from market have been possible because of the level playing field only. What must have intrigued Friedman to make this journey to India is to understand how can a Jerry Rao, Azim and the like from a Third World country could have been an international success. Friedman has been Foreign affairs columnist of New York Times for long and we can understand the reason for his dismay at suddenly discovering outsourcing to India and China will affect the western economies.

If one can bare with the emphasis on first person ( the “I” in the key board must have worn out) and at times dragging monologue, the book will be lively and provocative to all those who remained locked up in a cup board for the last decade.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum- Film review

The Bourne Ultimatum is the last of the Bourne trilogy by the author Robert Ludlum. The first book Bourne Identity and the second Bourne Supremacy were also best sellers and adapted as films with the same titles.

But this last film of the trilogy directed by Paul Greengrass is the ultimate in film making. The full affect of the film is felt only after coming out of the theatre as throughout the entire near two hours of the film, one's heart throbs in the throat. Even the comfort of an automatic full reclining sofa seat with a liveried waiter at my elbow in one of the most luxurious cinema halls in Melbourne could not stop me from just sitting at the edge of the seat completely gripped unmindful of the luxury pervasive all around. It is a classic film in the action genre and will certainly be regarded as one of the best action films ever produced.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is terrific consumed by his intense desire to find out about those who have turned him into a soul less killer machine. He closes on the Treadstone group with the help of a clue from a journalist. But Bourne encounters hit men who are hell bent on snuffing out any one who comes into contact with him. The action scenes are breath taking and Paul Greengrass uses camera in a very novel way to make the fight sequences chaotic but at the same time giving a feeling to the viewer of being there as a part.

Though the book came out long before the Patriotic Act of the US, the story line jolts us to the stark reality of what happens when a rouge intelligence agency usurps power to order assassinations and sanction torture with no questions asked, all in the garb of protecting its citizens. When the CIA investigator asks the Treadstone director where and when it will end, the director replies, “ when we have won.”
The film ends with the agency being exposed to the Senate.

The film is a masterpiece.