The Best of Both Worlds

Last week I was sitting in the auditorium of the War Memorial in Indy for the citizenship oath ceremony. All around me were excited faces from countries all over the world. I was wondering why so many people would be so excited to give up their citizenship of their country and then I realized that many of these faces had families that were living here or had spouses that they could only meet for a couple of months every year. Even though I understood their happiness and excitement, I was very confused about how I was feeling. On one hand I was happy that I would finally be able to vote, but on the other hand I was sad to be giving up my Indian citizenship. India. A country that I lived in for the first 10 years of my life. It was and will always be my home.

oath ceremony cartoon for blog

While sitting in that auditorium, I had a flashback to the day when my family moved to the United States. I was only 10 years old at that time and was so excited that I was moving to America. Growing up I had always heard so many wonderful things about America and how it is better than India. However, I think I was most excited that I would be in the same country as Disneyland (I was/still am a weird person who loves anything Disney). Looking back at that day though, I do not think I understood completely what it meant to move to the United States. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to see my cousins, my uncles or my aunts. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to hang out with my friends or have my favorite kind of street food or ride on two-wheelers. I never understood the emotional toll it would take on my parents to move away from their home and make a home in a completely different country.

Disney

11 years later, I am now a United States Citizen. I am actually grateful for the move to the United States. I am got to spend my teenage years growing up in a different culture. It made me realize the importance of being open minded to not only new experiences but also to new people. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to experience two very different cultures. I have now become a bridge of these two cultures in my family. This move also made me realize who I wanted to be as a person. Having experienced the close mindedness of Indians and also the individuality of Americans, I have learned to be open minded but also have my family be a very important part of my life.

 

This move also made me realize what I wanted to do as a career. Being in touch with different kinds of people, I realized during high school that I wanted to do something that helps people live a better life. During the second year of my college career, I knew that I want to go into some kind of a therapy to help people deal with their emotions in a positive way.

India USA

Looking back at the short 22 years that I have been on this planet, I have learned so much from the American culture as well as the Indian culture. I am so thankful that my parents taught me at an early age how to quickly adapt to changes because of which I am where I am today and I think how I think today. During the first year after the move there was always a battle going on in my mind between America and India. However, throughout these years I have learned to bridge that gap and get the best of both worlds.

To Pay or Not to Pay – Overseas Business Ethics and the Reality of Bribery

Bribery

       I recall vividly the global climate of suspense and worry at the end of the Cold War.  Despite being nestled in my high school melodrama in a small Midwestern city, I was nevertheless exposed to terms of “corruption” and “bribery” as it related to the new global business landscape.  Every media type reported on the cost of blue jeans and American music in the new Russia.  When the superpower that was the Soviet Union fell, the creation of new governments and new business opportunities brought the reality of the cost of bribery home.

        The U.S. government had been actively involved in the reduction of foreign corruption in business practices since the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Policies Act of 1977.  This legislation put in punitive measures for companies operating in the United States.  This put US manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace where they were competing with countries and companies without such restrictions.  Even if restrictions were in place, most governments around the world were hard-pressed to enforce them due to the nature of the practice as well as the financial backing of such enforcement.  It became quickly evident that this could only be combated on a global scale, with corporations, governments and civilians working together.

The escalation of the problem following the Cold War finally brought in support from 35 other industrialized nations in 1988 with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention (aka Bribery convention).  This brought many trading nations together for the purpose of transparent evaluations of each other’s policies in regards to business corruption and successfully prosecuting those who do not comply with fair business standards.   This program has been hampered with the problems of the lack of finance, transparency, and political and social climates of participating countries.  Also, China and India are not signatory to the convention, so fall outside of its parameters.  These two economic powerhouses still include opportunities for bribery with officials making lower wages and lax enforcement.

What this means for the average consumer is that the costs associated with bribery and corruption would be considered the cost of goods sold.  Companies that engage in these practices gain an unfair advantage over those who do not.  Certainly not all of the “bad” companies are bringing forth products that are entirely beneficial to society.  I’m certain most will recall the lead paint in Chinese toys attempting to spoil last year’s Christmas season.  As more information becomes readily available for consumers, the good economic citizen would take care in discovering where the goods they are purchasing are coming from.  Is that company one with integrity and a realistic approach to fight corruption?  Is it a company that ships in containers full of “who-knows”?  National security issues aside, you pay for the corrupt practices in every purchase you make whether it is in taxes that go to help ferret it out and prosecute it, or in the bottom line price of that “must-have” toy of the year, imported by the boatload from countries that could care less about it’s safety or what laws are broken to get it there.

by Joe Hemmelgarn, Business Major – IUPUC