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"If you look at a comparative table of expensive operations, the place to come is India because its comparative advantage is the distinctive 200% to 300% lesser cost in comparison to a similar operation in Western Europe."

Lord William Henry Brett,
Director of International Labour Office for UK

The West will need Indian healthcare professionals, soon

Lord William Henry Brett of Lydd, Director of International Labour Office for the United Kingdom and Ireland was honored with the Amity Golden Award for his special contribution to the cause of globalization at a function organized at Noida, India, campus of Amity University. There, he also spoke at length on globalization and healthcare. Himanshu Kumar Singh of Amity EduMedia attended the function and also interacted with Lord Brett personally on other issues surrounding globalization.

Here are the excerpts:

Role of developing countries

Addressing the gathering, Lord Brett emphasized that globalization would bring solution to the healthcare problems of developed countries as it would make possible movement of expert healthcare professionals from developing countries like India to the Western countries.

“I would just take an example of the United Kingdom. By 2030 we require three million more people to take care of our aging population in Europe and they are not going to be from Europe.”

“Many Europeans have the belief that you extend the European community to take in all the nations east of the gamut. You bring in Poland, Czechoslovakia, eventually Turkey and it will solve your problem. The truth is it won’t. The population is falling quicker in the former Soviet Union and its satellite countries than it is in Western Europe. So needed healthcare, technical staff and professional staff for Europe in 30 years time will have to come from outside Europe like India which has a very distinct comparative advantage. If you look at a comparative table of expensive operations, the place to come is India because its comparative advantage is the distinctive 200% to 300% lesser cost in comparison to a similar operation in Western Europe.

India: A growing power

Lord Brett sees India as a potential economic power of the world. He said, “There are going to be two superpowers in the 21 st century and they are India and China. I have been to both the countries quite extensively but if I have to make my home in a country and have to make a choice between China and India my obvious choice would be India. Your strength is long-term economic growth, your freedom, your democracy, freedom to think at the challenge and immense pain of trade unions going on strikes. It’s a pain to have political problems, it’s a pain to have riots in Parliament, it’s a pain to have newspapers mischievously making charges against individuals and groups. But those are the signs of a free society. China’s major problem is going to be how to run a communist society without communism. It’s like having a religious state without a religion. The problem is that they don’t have free trade unions and workers cannot protest (hence they can guarantee low wages). They don’t have the privilege of questioning governmental policy because there is no free press. They cannot challenge the mistakes of the government because they don’t have democracy. The challenge for China is going to be how to acquire those things in a short given period of time between now and some physical upheaval which will inevitably come if people are kept down artificially by authoritarian regimes.”

Globalization and education

When this scribe fielded a question regarding the impact of globalization on the primary and secondary education in developing countries his reply was succinct yet clear.

“It really is a question of whether globalization has provided the impetus to developing countries for providing free primary education. It has happened, for example, in Kenya. But unfortunately the government in Kenya is not able to provide schools adequate recompensation for abolishing fees and so the schools have to sell books to the parents of the children, which of course is defeating the purpose.”

“So, it’s necessary to think through how this can be achieved and it can happen with the assistance from countries such as United Kingdom and organizations such as the European Union. Also what is important is that the European Union and the United States should open their boundaries to exports from less developing countries and not insist all the time on reciprocity. And this will provide, I think, the ability of those same countries to divert some of their new found wealth to providing primary education.”

On social responsibility of multinationals

“Multinationals have a responsibility both to their country of origin and the countries they are going to. They should be aware of their obligations and that goes far beyond the factory gates. The companies should involve the communities which have hosted it and the communities which they are seeking to serve.”

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