Philobiblon: Reading a globalised world ...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reading a globalised world ...

British Asian men are going to India, marrying women for their dowries, then abandoning them. Or sometimes they are, they say "forced into marriage by their parents" (just how do you do this to a 30-year-old man?), then get cold feet. Either way, it is the women who are left in limbo.

But in China, there are now labour shortages in the South, where skilled workers, particularly young women, are demanding a minimum wage of £50 a month, or more. Interesting that they have the same social pattern as here - no shortage of university educated starter-workers, but a real shortage of technical training. From what I know of Chinese culture - think Confucianism and all that -- the pressure towards book learning and away from anything involving getting your hands dirty is going to be even stronger than in the West. Time to invest in any plumbing that is "plug and play", I think.

I've got a copy of the classic about an English village, Akenfield (almost unavoidable given the number you see in second-hand bookshops), but now there's a sequel. And it actually doesn't sound too bad:

"Steve Coghill, who lectures at nearby Otley Agricultural College, adds to this, pointing out that a lessening emphasis on "production, production" also has its rewards. "We are now seeing a return to managing the land in a more biodiverse way," he says. "We have larger headlands. We have beetle banks that encourage predators to come in and knock out the pests rather than spraying them with phosphorous compounds every 10 minutes. Also new technology like companion planting. These old wives' tales are turning out to be true."

Well there are worse bits too, so for some uncomplicated indulgence, the Guardian news blog ran a "send in your dog pic" competition. I can only imagine they got flooded, but the results are rather good, and showing just how international its audience is becoming, many are from outside the UK.

Finally, back to the Britain of old, Matthew Parris has his usual insightful column, this time taking a fresh look (really!) at the Profumo scandal. (Profumo died this week.) But what really surprised me was this:

“Surely all men patronise whores,” protested a Tory minister, Lord Lambton, as he fell nearly a decade later.

That was 1973 ....
Although it seems from a BBC report that he was a man for whom any excuse would do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that "Confucianism" goes very far to explain these kinds of socio-educational-economic patterns. There's a fascinating blend of consumerism (fueled by modern information technology), family pressures (one-child "emperors"), boom-town opportunism and the sheer impossibility of producing millions of engineers, etc., on short order given the history of China's educational systems.

In Japan there's the "Three-D" jobs -- dirty, dangerous, difficult -- that nobody wants to do anymore (oddly enough, the Japanese terms alliterate as well: kitanai, kiken, kitsui), leading to serious problems in finding replacements for retiring workers; China seems ready to leapfrog that stage entirely....

3/12/2006 08:00:00 am  

Post a comment

<< Home