Many Happy Returns
By Josh Quittner/Editor

(Business 2.0) – Senior writer Om Malik hadn't been back to his hometown of New Delhi for seven years when I sent him there to report a story on India. Though he's close to his parents and speaks to his mother every other day--on a voice-over-Internet Vonage phone, as you'd expect from our resident telecom pundit--he decided not to tell them he was coming. For one thing, he didn't want them to feel obliged to pick him up at 3 a.m., when his flight arrived. Instead, he went straight from the airport to his parents' house, unannounced, and started pounding on the door. At last Malik's dad, rousted from a deep sleep, came downstairs and opened the door. He took one look at his son, then closed the door, trudged back upstairs, and returned to bed. As it happened, he believed he had dreamed his prodigal son's return.

Clearly a lot had changed in seven years. For Malik too: He hardly recognized his home country, which is undergoing a boom reminiscent of the 1950s here. And that was precisely the point of dispatching him there.

We've argued in these pages in favor of truly open markets. That means outsourcing is the right of American companies, which owe it to their shareholders and customers to seek efficiencies wherever they can. Capitalism works best unencumbered, after all, and what Malik found bears this out: The same people now employed by U.S. companies in India are spending money on all kinds of goods and services, many of which come from here. In his absence, Malik discovered, a consumer wonderland had sprung up, with American-style malls and American brand-name goods, even plenty of U.S.-made software. "They're more American than Americans," he says. Malik calls it "distributed capitalism"--what outsourcing takes away, global consumerism gives back. In "The New Land of Opportunity" (page 72), he tells you how India's new middle class emerged, and how you can get more than your fair share of its rupees.

Eric Schurenberg, deputy editor of Business 2.0 since June 2002, is also making a dramatic return--to New York, where he was recently named managing editor of his alma mater, Money. I have never been so delighted about something so antithetical to my own best interests. When I was named editor of this magazine, Eric was living in New Jersey. He agreed to move to San Francisco to help reposition Business 2.0, postbubble. Since then, the magazine was gut-renovated, from the logo on the cover to the back page. That would have been laughably impossible without Schurenberg's immense experience, judgment, and skill. Best of luck, pal.