I think that globalization could as well be called “Americanization.” Too many components that go to make up the modern globalized world are labeled “Invented in America,” from the Internet to the shipping container. Chances are that you have not heard of Malcolm McLean. Yet, his innovation has profoundly shaped the globalized world we live in. A trucker by profession, his insight was that the truck trailer is a container that would reduce the cost of shipping. That was more than 50 years ago.
Yesterday, the use of shipping container celebrated its 50th birthday. The first container ship sailed from Port Newark to Texas on the 26th of April, 1956. As the Spiegel article of Nov 2005 The Box That Makes the World Go Round notes: “More than 3,500 cargo ships are sailing the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans today. They are loaded down with about 15 million containers. Like beads lined up on a necklace, these huge vessels ply their transcontinental routes.”
The world is made up of a few fundamental big ideas. One of the big ideas is “standardization” which manifests itself in a variety of ways, from little standardized bits of interchangeable hardware (such as nuts and bolts which make manufactured goods cheap) to standards such as the Internet Protocol (which makes communications cheap.) Without standardization the world would be a much poorer place. For India’s economic development, India has to adopt standards, if not actually evolve some standards where they don’t exist. The real power of markets depends on standards.