06. März 13
A Challenging Perspective on Europe
In our visit at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Delhi we enjoyed a series of presentations and discussions on developments in the fields of economics, trade, and sciences, and for the second time in our visit addressed the question where India is headed to in its development of economy and society.
On the one hand there are quite intensive trade relationships with some European countries, with Switzerland ranking 5th and Germany ranking 6th, while the most important business partner for India is China, e.g. in the field of infrastructure for telecommunication. Regarding more encompassing economic relationships, on the other hand, the answer is rather discouraging:
The socio-economic elite of India continues to be mainly oriented towards the United States of America: A high percentage of those who can afford it spend at least parts of their academic studies or professional training at U.S. universities. Quite naturally, the English language makes it much easier for Indians to go to the United States, but what is more unsettling are some aspects which make it decidedly not attractive for Indians to go to Europe: Foremost the perception – built up over a long period of time – that attitudes in many European countries against foreigners make it unpleasant to live there, and that it is difficult to integrate into European countries that do not consider themselves immigration countries.
While in Europe the need for qualified employees has already reached a degree where many companies have difficulties in finding the right people for specific and critical jobs, we have to face the fact that it is not attractive for international talents to apply for jobs in Europe.
How will Germany and Austria alleviate that situation?
It is a long-term undertaking to substantially change the external image of a country, which was built up over long years. And it is even more difficult to change the attitude of a whole population towards more openness and readiness for integrating people from different ethnic and national backgrounds.
How do we get started? Which are the leverages to be applied in the fields of politics and business? When do we change our limiting legislation? For example, considering the recent case in Austria of a highly qualified woman from Columbia who completed two degrees at Austrian Universities and now has difficulties to stay in the country because of rules which are totally counterproductive for keeping such a person in our labor market.
When do we really get started to develop our cultures towards ethnic diversity? What could be our personal contribution to this task?
At the moment Europan countries – including Germany and Austria – seem to be at a serious disadvantage in the „war for talents“ as compared to other regions of the world.