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If you want to do voluntourism, I suggest something different: start a business or help set up an outsourcing center.

You'll definitely have a positive effect on people by teaching them about western business practices. I'm told by my former coworkers that my standard US egalitarianism was quite unusual. By "egalitarianism", I simply mean "I'm CTO, you are a mechanical turk, we can go eat pancakes and you aren't obligated to make me tea". So were my efforts to ensure that everyone was growing in their career. My feminist sensibilities ("so be late, tell your husband to make dinner") were also a bit scandalous [1].

I came back to India a month ago to attend the wedding of someone I worked with, and I was very surprised to hear all that. I don't know whether to be happy (I made things better) or unhappy (because their next job won't be so good) about it.

By building a good business and maybe destroying some bad local ones, you'll do far more good than you will by doing unskilled construction labor. And very importantly, the people who work for you will learn that western style management is a great way to make money.

[1] By US standards I'm one of those evil misogynists who thinks statistical disparities are irrelevant and discrimination is a testable hypothesis and market opportunity. But drop me in India and I'm suddenly a crazy feminist ranting against rape culture (FYI India has one, the US doesn't).




"You'll definitely have a positive effect on people by teaching them about western business practices."

This is the most ethnocentric thing I've read in quite a long time. Much of the world would be better off, in my opinion, having never learned first hand about western business practices. Western business practices have caused a vast amount of destruction in the developing world.


Treating low skill commodity workers as human beings on the same social level as yourself is such a destructive western practice. So is hiring a stranger with a great github rather than your brother in law, hiring a woman if she is the most qualified, etc. Or there is that destructive western practice of managing by output - the boss is working until 8pm but you can go home as soon as you hit your quota.

Blaming westernized companies (by which I mean both western companies and local companies like Reliance/Infosys that try to run things in the modern manner) for the problems of the third world is silly.

All they've done is caused you to learn a little bit about other countries and made you feel guilty that things are a lot worse elsewhere. China would be poor even if your iPhone was proudly made in CA by illegal immigrants (yay for Nationalist Apparel), it would just be easier for you to ignore.


China is the second largest single country economy on earth and growing. They will be completely covered with healthcare in the next 10 years. They are the largest holders of gold on earth, hold the largest amount of debt from the US. They are developing, but as a nation, they are not poor.

> Blaming westernized companies (by which I mean both western companies and local companies like Reliance/Infosys that try to run things in the modern manner) for the problems of the third world is silly.

It is perhaps a bit silly. I mean, there are actual examples of mining rights being held from colonial times, Dutch East India company, Haiti being forced to pay for slaves freedom from rebellion for 140 years etc. and some of those do still have influences, but I don't think they are the primary ones. I don't, however, think all of these values are always exclusively western though. Japan has worker rights, as far as I can tell from a cursory glance on Wikipedia.

Assuming India wants, or needs foreign influence, Japan is just as good a place to get it.


Westernized might have been the wrong word. Perhaps modern would be better. And yes, both India and the us can (and have) adopt some Japanese business practices as well.

And we certainly can learn from India - that's a blog post idea. A bit more emo hipster than what I usually post, but maybe I'll do it anyway.


I hope you learned your lesson about using words to make your point. Next time, try to express yourself in pure telepathy, avoid giving people an opportunity to flame your diction and dismiss your ideas.


Are you seriously using the most westernised Asian country as an example of non western business practices?


Your point still stands, but Singapore is far more western than Japan.


I was just picking a country that seemed to me to be as good a country as any, with their own methods of law, their own values etc. who has remained productive as a nation.

I think I may be learning I might not have the same definition of "western" as some people. I had always imagined Western as referring to Western Europe and the US but now I think there is a colloquial phrasing that uses western as a synonym for modern. If that is the case I think this next century is about to get really confusing...


Western as in "white people showed up and ran everything". (like singapore, or Hong Kong)

Japan before WWII but after the West showed up, based it's whole economy and work system on Germany, after WWII it was essentially run by the US. They are completely "Western" (as in white people) when it comes to their way of business and economy.


I think you need to google salaryman. There is nothing equivalent in any Western country, not in scope, extent, social significance, prevalence. Nothing. It may be unique to Japan. The "Organization Man" was as close as the West ever got and it's been a long time since most professional business people worked like that, if they ever did.


Nothing equivalent to someone who works for a salary, does overtime, but isn't overly passionate about there life... yep that's unique to japan... what was I thinking.

/s


> China is the second largest single country economy on earth and growing. Having the second largest GDP doesn't mean much if you have more than 10x as many people as number three on the list.


Agreed. But I am talking from a "Wealth of Nations" perspective rather than a per-capita basis. The brand, "China" is not poor and is only getting richer, not saying anything else than that. There are certainly poor people in China and will be for some time to come.


> So is hiring a stranger with a great github rather than your brother in law, hiring a woman if she is the most qualified, etc.

Oh, such wonderful news. So height is not a requirement for positions of power now! Someone should change the wiki page. And well, it might just be sheer coincidence that many big names in India have women CXOs. The western style management has ensured that women in the west are very well empowered to reach positions of power without any gender bias troubling them.


> Treating low skill commodity workers as human beings on the same social level as yourself is such a destructive western practice. So is hiring a stranger with a great github rather than your brother in law, hiring a woman if she is the most qualified, etc. Or there is that destructive western practice of managing by output - the boss is working until 8pm but you can go home as soon as you hit your quota.

I really don't know what to say. If it is your assumption that every firm/organization in India follows nepotism and doesn't value true merit, it would be simply a wrong assumption, IMHO. Aren't we all aware as to how Wall Street or any big business in the West hires? cough "Business Networking" cough I guess a good read in this regard would be 'Liar's Poker' or 'The Big Short' by Michael Lewis. [1] There have been corporations(might not be in the truest sense, but a collective of skilled workers with a common directive nonetheless) in India which have achieved amazing feats in the past. One could even say that few of the harmful practices of the West (reckless crony-capitalism for one, or the practice of prioritizing the aim of maximizing shareholders' investment over general public/social responsibility) was an unknown thing but now, it is gaining good traction in India unfortunately. One might find it surprising that India didn't face a subprime/financial crisis when US was neck deep in it. 'Managing by output' isn't really a copyright of the West. In fact, the concept of measuring butt-in-seat time or shifts was totally alien till folks from the West brought it here. (And later pushed further by Adam Smith's Labour theory) Prior to that, it was pure ownership of a task and responsibility. Kautilya's Arthashastra specifically deals with labour theory and even flexi-time to an extent, by taking into account productivity and quality of throughput and not just rote effort/time spent. [1] The skilled artisans/craftsmen never worked by the clock, and thus were able to achieve great things. For them, it was all art. There wasn't even a clear line between art and sciences, but everything was art, including science/maths/engineering.

Off note, I wonder if the mother of that kid that died in Bhopal on that fateful night might have wondered, how the world would have been now if the white man hadn't embarked on the noble enterprise of burdening himself to civilize the non-white people.

Also, am quite sure that the affluent and middle class folks in the West are terribly happy treating low skill commodity workers (who might be immigrants) as human beings on the same social level as themselves.

I really would want to write a long post. Will certainly do so once time permits.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liar%27s_Poker / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Short [2] http://userwww.sfsu.edu/mbar/ECON605/Arthashastra.pdf


If it is your assumption that every firm/organization in India follows nepotism and doesn't value true merit, it would be simply a wrong assumption...

If you read my post, you'd clearly see that I don't believe every local firm does this: "...I mean both western companies and local companies like Reliance/Infosys..."

My belief, based on my experiences living here, is that this is far more common than in the US, Canada or UK. Admittedly, my experiences are biased - I spend most of my time in bigger cities, and in IT circles. So if you want to claim that your experience disagrees, all we have is our own dueling personal experiences (unless you know where to get data on this). Do you claim I'm wrong on this point?

'Managing by output' isn't really a copyright of the West...

Using the term "western" brought up unnecessary emotional baggage and was not strictly correct. I should have used a different term, perhaps "modern" or "MNC-style" (I think economists have a precise term for it, but I forget what it is).

I have no idea what the relevance of mortgage underwriting standards is, but I think you might be arguing against some claims that I didn't make. I'm not asserting some sort of vague cultural/moral/racial superiority.

I'm claiming that certain modern business practices are not widely used here, but are common in the west[1]. And I'm claiming India will be a better (i.e. richer, happier) place when it adopts them more widely. This is no different than coming up with a list of plumbing devices and saying that they will benefit India's water supply when they are more commonly used. The only difference between business practices and plumbing devices is that business is a bit more abstract - as a result, I didn't even recognize it until someone carefully explained it to me after the fact.

[1] And I've stated elsewhere that they are not as common as they should be, even in the west. For all Michael O. Church likes to rant about it, VC-istan is a lot better than many other parts of the US.


> I mean both western companies and local companies like Reliance/Infosys...

Just adding another note, on the firms you mentioned.

Reliance, is a known to be a crooked player that uses non-ethical business practices and is a major crony-capitalist player. Modern business practice followed: profit at any cost.

Infosys, on the other hand, isn't ethically/morally corrupt and is actually known for setting standards in corporate governance. But these days, it seems to have lost the game and run into troubles by fanatically adhering to the "maximize shareholder value while minimizing risk" rule. Modern business practice followed: keep shareholders happy no matter what.

Both followed 'modern business practices' too much to the word, or so it seems.


> you'd clearly see that I don't believe every local firm does this

Yes. I clearly see the original comment seems to infer that most of the (or almost every!?) local firms in India does that.

> Do you claim I'm wrong on this point?

To an extent, yes. India and Indian industry/economy is not just IT and not just big cities. There's a lot more to it. I would be most honored if I get a chance to show some of it first hand, if at all our paths cross in life and we get to meet in the real world, outside of these digital confines.

> I'm not asserting some sort of vague cultural/moral/racial superiority.

Pardon me, but the original comment indeed seems to mention that the "western style management and work culture" is morally superior to the local one.

> I'm claiming that certain modern business practices are not widely used here, but are common in the west[1]. And I'm claiming India will be a better (i.e. richer, happier) place when it adopts them more widely.

Yes, agreed. But one can rest assured that better practices are being adopted at a much better pace here, because developing economies are already resource constrained and thus they are forced to come up with best practices to maximize value extraction from a given set of resources. ISRO and recent Mars mission was big news already. I believe business practices always have locality as a dimensional factor associated with them for their applicability and relevance. (HSBC ad about local knowledge comes to my mind)


You're being really uncharitable towards yummyfajitas here. I think if you were to give him the benefit of the doubt rather than trying to take the worst possible interpretation of his words at every turn, you could have a more productive conversation. He didn't respond to you by accusing you of favoring the caste system -- why are you accusing him of, first, racism, then favoring only crony capitalism?

I have several Indian friends who've expressed approximately the sentiments that he did about the average Indian business, specifically very hierarchical management compared to American culture, which is indeed problematic in settings of knowledge workers -- you don't manage them the way you manage an assembly line. Heck, you shouldn't even manage an assembly line that way, the line workers know the equipment better than you do. You can disagree with him and them without accusing people of racism or blaming them for the East India Company.


> accusing him of, first, racism, then favoring only crony capitalism

Well, am quite sure all of us here are quite reasonable folks who do not harbour racist feelings towards another fellow man. The very fact that Yummyfajitas chose to come here and run a company stands testament to the fact that he isn't racist at all and is a very reasonable person. And if I sounded like I was trying to load a bundle of (unreasonable) guilt onto yummyfajitas, I humbly beg for forgiveness.

The only question was about "modern business practices" and "oriental (right word!?)/third world business practices". Even before we discuss this, we might have to consider the concept of success from angles, 'modern' and otherwise. If the definition/concept/understanding of 'success' differs, then most certainly the guidelines to be followed to achieve 'success' would differ, don't they?

Modern economics states "free market", "profit", "shareholder value" and people who pursue these and achieve them are termed successful. These might work for the modern and fully developed societies where 'scarcity' takes a totally different meaning. But these same things will have a totally different impact in third world countries when adopted without changing them to suit the socio-economic needs locally.

Treating low skill commodity workers as human beings on the same social level as yourself is such a good practice.

Yes. Can we summarize this as "do not expect others to be obligated to be subservient to you, irrespective of their designation/background/abilities"? If so, can we extend the same to the context where a developed nation forces a developing nation to sign a treaty (and threatening sanctions if otherwise), expecting the developing nation to act subservient to the powerful one? If this is wrong, then the 'practice' is nothing but 'anything that suits us based on the situation'. (well, this would become a totally different post altogether, let me not digress too further)

> blaming them for the East India Company

Well, that is past. I would not hold accountable/accuse the present day westerners for the Raj and all of our present day miseries here. It would be incredibly foolish of me. At the same time, I would find it difficult to believe the idea that everything that's worked elsewhere will work here as well and bring upliftment and social development. That is all.


This is not blindly ethnocentric, it's the OP's thesis based on a feminist critique of the existing business culture in an area OP built a business. His/Her observations were that, for his/her employees, western business culture was potentially an improvement over existing conditions.

OP in particular observes on experiencing lingering caste pressures and strongly misogynistic trends in the expectation of business environments. You're suggesting this is preferable to employee equality and industriousness?


>western business culture was potentially an improvement over existing conditions //

Western business culture is primarily "profit is the end that justifies the means" - exploit any person, resource or environment to their|it's detriment as longer as you make more profit for the owners/shareholders.

Many times I've seen on HN "the purpose of a business is to make profit; stat".

Equality, helping those in poverty, cultural benefit, elimination of crime - none of these are Western business ideals; they're cultural constraints placed on businesses that they do their best to avoid losing profit to.

Now not all businesses are so immoral - but I'd say immorality is indicative of "Western business practices"; they only appear better because of cultural constraint, when those businesses get to exploit people and environments that aren't being monitored and aren't subject to legal protection that's when the abuses of the business ethic rear their head.


>>> Western business culture is primarily "profit is the end that justifies the means"

This is certainly not true as otherwise there weren't as many charitable funds sponsored by businesses and as many publicly useful things done by those.

>>> exploit any person, resource or environment to their|it's detriment

That is not true either, moreover - this is not true even if we accept your previous premise. There's nothing in making profit that mandates that it would be to the detriment of any person, resource or environment. Moreover, not ruining the resource supporting your business is certainly more conductive to the profit than ruining it, since it allows to extract profits for the longer period of time, so even from pure profit-driven approach you are wrong.

>>> Equality, helping those in poverty, cultural benefit, elimination of crime - none of these are Western business ideals; they're cultural constraints placed on businesses

Equality taken as equality of citizens before the law is certainly good for business, since inequality usually means inability to conduct certain profitable deals. E.g. when there were place "for white people only" in US, it meant profitable business involving non-white persons could not be conducted there. Crime is obviously bad for almost every business (maybe excluding security guard and alarm systems business).

>>> Now not all businesses are so immoral - but I'd say immorality is indicative of "Western business practices"

Since western business practices is nothing more but Western people conducting a set of voluntary transactions, you've just called the whole set of Western people inherently immoral. Not only this smacks of racism, it is certainly not matching the observable truth of Western people having a lot of morals guiding them.

>>> when those businesses get to exploit people and environments that aren't being monitored and aren't subject to legal protection that's when the abuses of the business ethic rear their head.

Oh, I see what you mean. Western people are immoral in general, but there is a tiny sliver of them - those that enact and enforce the "legal protection" - i.e. the government - that are the moral backbone of the Western society. As soon as the person joins the government, they become moral, and able to enact the protections derived from their freshly gained morality, and as soon as they leave the governmental aegis, they revert to their natural immoral state and only the "legal protections" keep them from running rampant exploiting people around them.


>you've just called the whole set of Western people inherently immoral. Not only this smacks of racism //

Westerners are descended from all races and creeds, they just happen to be part of a certain geo-political and financial region now.

There is a minute proportion of the population of the "Western World" that has any control over the business process beyond that they're able to leverage by voting with their dollars, through their unions or when voting.

>but there is a tiny sliver of them - those that enact and enforce the "legal protection" //

On the contrary, the established culture - moulded most recently through democratic process - has created an environment that limits the extremes that remain profitable. Most major companies in my Western country will [seemingly have] flout[ed] the law if the fines are sufficiently low; they're limited largely by what is going to be considered reprehensible enough to prevent people buying their goods/services. Directors receive multi-million dollar remuneration packages whilst they employ children and women at extremely low wages and often in situations in which they're effectively captive - we're talking companies like AdidasĀ¹, Unilever, Nestle, those with the most recognised brands.

Many of the members of the controlling sections of Western government demonstrate at times a, shall we say, fluid approach to morality too. They often seem almost equally willing to lie and cheat and exploit the good of others to their own ends without due regard for the effect on the populous or environment.

tl;dr Power is oft to corrupt.

--

1 -- example, http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalcompanyratings/adidase..., Adidas's employment practices are illegal in Bangladesh imagine how out of sync with the moral mores of USA they are.


Am very sure the above comment would get downvoted. Well, the West is always right, cause they have got the money!


In my anecdotal experience, western business practices have also caused a vast amount of destruction in the west.

Western government practices haven't been all that constructive, either.

About the only ideas I think the west should be exporting to the developing world are a general intolerance for corruption and graft, and its engineering standards for multi-story human-occupied buildings.


> But drop me in India and I'm suddenly a crazy feminist ranting against rape culture (FYI India has one, the US doesn't).

So none of those men in US jails and prisons are being raped?

You should enjoy another country without imposing your values on them, it is OK for you to like or love your way of life, you are absolutely allowed to be proud, and so are they. What is not in good taste is assuming your way is always better, assuming they can't solve problems in time as your country has or assuming you or they are their country or responsible for where your/their country currently is economically. When it comes to human rights however, I'm on the same page as you I think, impose away.

I don't eat dogs, some cultures do. I eat beef, some cultures don't. Some eat pork, some don't. Are any of those really ethically wrong, or do we just have different cultures with different reference points? Isn't having different cultures and methods in the world a good thing? You can't always be right, and when you aren't, you might be glad there is another model that exists somewhere in the world. A cultural hedge, if you will.

I look forward to the rise of India in the future, I am sure in time, we will be stealing ideas from there, but perhaps I'm just being naive.


On the topic of men in prison, the US does indeed have a rape culture. I thought it was clear from context that I'm using the term the way western feminists do, but I guess I should have been explicit.

Of the specific business practices I suggested, which one do you believe is not a good way to make money?

I'm not sure why you use the term "impose". I'm a guy with a laptop, I have no power to impose anything on anyone.

The only value I've ever imposed on anyone is my opposition to eve teasing. I'm hoping political correctness hasn't gone crazy enough to consider that one culturally insensitive, but who knows?


> On the topic of men in prison, the US does indeed have a rape culture. I thought it was clear from context that I'm using the term the way western feminists do, but I guess I should have been explicit.

I am afraid it wasn't clear. I do not have all the same cultural references and opinions you do. I saw the phrase "the US does not have a rape culture" and I thought, that sounded a little finger pointy. That's all, I suppose that drives an urge in me to point the finger back. Glass houses and all that. I can agree with some of what you say, especially when you said you meant "modern", not "western" as I think we have different definitions for the latter.

Perhaps my opinion is driven from a colonial history of my country and your country has less of that. Anyway, I have a feeling if we went further down this rabbit hole we would end up seeing eye to eye on many things, I'll draw this one up to a simple cultural misunderstanding, not of you in India, but of you and I. So with that, I won't take up any more of your time.


The usual feminist meaning of "rape culture" these days doesn't include prison rape (at least not when it's happening to men). Indeed, I've seen people labelled as anti-feminists and misogynists for suggesting it does. It usually though not always encompasses prison rape jokes because those are considered to harm women, but not the rape itself.

From a modern feminist perspective, billboards of scantily-clad women have more to do with rape than men being non-consensually forced into sex.


I don't know a single feminist who doesn't consider prison rape, regardless of the gender of the assailant and victim, to be horrific.

Indeed, many discussions of rape culture do expressly talk about prison rape, and the notion of sexualized violence as a means of punishment.


Well done you, for bringing your values to your culturally inferior employees, and teaching them the ways of "western style management".


It wasn't on purpose. I didn't even realize it until a few weeks ago when I was explicitly told this. At the time, the only distinction I was making was between valley and wall st culture.

(Im from ny, and my partner was a banker, so from my perspective that was the important distinction.)


A part of my mind says this comment is sarcastic. If that is the case, well, I guess us culturally inferior workers should be thankful that someone took the burden of teaching us the ways of western style management and enlightening us.


> If you want to do voluntourism, I suggest something different: start a business ... You'll definitely have a positive effect on people by teaching them about western business practices.

Yeah right. Unfortunately, it might have been too much of positivity for this kid from Bhopal (http://media2.intoday.in/indiatoday/images/Photo_gallery/060...) to handle.




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