Sunday, February 17, 2008

My, how those cute little coolies are growing up!

Reuters reports that Chinese subway passengers are angry with an ad that urges them to buy a car. Oddly enough, Reuters posted this news item under their series titled "Oddly enough", usually reserved for quaint or amusing news items, such as botched bank heists by incompetent criminals. I don't see anything odd about the Chinese commuters' reaction - it seems quite serious that ordinary Chinese commuters have a perspective on environmental costs and speak out against the more insane ideas of their business leaders. Perhaps the people at Reuters think that when the little coolies talk like "grown-ups" it's cute. Similar protests by American or European undergraduates would very likely be cast as concern, political precociousness, and environmental responsibility.

I greatly prefer the Chinese commuters' reaction to the giddy, breathless, gasping reactions of middle-class Indians on the launch of Tata's Nano. This was probably more like how the "coolies" are supposed to react - going through the same stages, making the same mistakes, that western consumers have already outgrown, but doing it with great delight, and the delusion of "arriving", while enduring deadlier risks and consequences. Oh, those innocent child-races, they never quite grow up, do they

Tata Group chairman, Ratan Tata, poses in the company's new Nano car during its launch at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi. The car, a hatchback with a 624cc engine, is priced at about 100,000 rupees ($2,500), half that of the current cheapest car in the market. (Reuters Photo, sourced from The Times of India, January 10, 2008)

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