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We’re living in an era where another one invades a sovereign nation. In this war, the true losers are ordinary people. The reason for writing this blog post is not about describing who is right or wrong. Russian state actions are in NO way justifiable.
With an ongoing pandemic and deteriorating climate status, the last thing we need on this planet is a WAR. War should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, every bullet fired creates butterfly effect on all of us!
Now on to the main topic of this blog. I want to talk about how the Western world has put on sanctions. How much we (India & many other countries) are entrenched into the systems of the western world. Except for a few countries like China and Japan.
After Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the western world has imposed sanctions on the Russian state. Sanctions are like orders that the world has to follow. Sanctions could vary from as simple as travel to as big as banning them from trading with other countries (who might in no way related to conflict).
The US and other western countries have sanctioned several authoritarian states like North Korea, Iran, etc. Sanctions cripple the economies of the respective dictatorial states, eventually weakening the dictator’s grip on everything in the sanctioned state. Although that being said, I don’t think it happens all the time. Sanctions might be counter-intuitive. For example, Sanctions did not fully help stop North Korea and Iran from developing nukes, but I agree it is hard for people to live in those states.
As the western world imposed sanctions, all the Multinational companies doing respective business in Russia exited. Tech giants like Google, Apple, Oracle, Facebook, etc., left the Russian market. The death knell came from VISA & Mastercard, as they stopped processing payments. Ideally, most corps would issue a PR release or discontinue the services momentarily as it concerns their employees. It signals that MNCs are taking sides with their respective governments.
You know, we’re deeply entrenched in this one-way-hole digital landscape. For example, I’m writing this draft on a Notion app (founded by an Indian-American in SFO). I will go on to publish this blog using Firebase ( a product of Google). That’s just me!
Imagine how interconnected the world is now more than ever. Yet, we never look at the nationality of a company offering a digital service. We never think about where the MNC comes from while booking Uber, buying things on Amazon, searching on Google, or even choosing a VISA/Mastercard in banks. It is all about the company which is innovative & offers best customer service.
However, now these MNCs openly support a geopolitical stand, which is not wrong. Still, then, in the long run, if X government doesn’t like what Y government is doing, there is a good chance you will be blocked out of everything from X’s digital landscape. If it happens to be a superpower like the USA, you and your entire country are doomed.
It is the trust that is shackled, which results in every states thinking in their own silos.
In 2022, it is now nearly impossible to make everything on your own. Imagine building something as simple as a nail cutter; you might need multiple things that need to be sourced from other countries.
However, digital goods can be replicated easily. The catch here is the technical brilliance with which the product works. For example, (precisely a non-west digital product example), Tiktok. Tiktok is widely popular globally for its short and viral video format, which attracted a lot of teenage users. Unfortunately, when the TikTok ban was announced due to geopolitical reasons, US companies, with all their technological might, could not offer the most excellent replacement because it is simply not so easy to replace a product.
Similarly, replacing Google, FB, Instagram, or Salesforce out of your business is not easy. However, there are two strategies I think could help build self-reliance for any country.
- To establish, incentivize and encourage home grown tech ecosystem.
- Make sure MNCs working in your country follow the law of the land and data sovereignty regulations. Like making sure, it is not easy to pull the plug and take data.
#1 is a long-term plan; it might take years or maybe decades. #2 looks relatively easy, but you need to have the tremendous political clout to pursue this option.
Also, the state needs to get self-reliant for all things related to governance. It starts from Food to Military equipment.
I don’t know how good and valuable the western sanctions will do on Russia, but one thing for sure is the world is noticing the withdrawal of many MNCs who helped all the while in the connecting world quickly.
I also feel this will divide the world more, as dictators will showcase this as proof to sway people further away from good things, Control the internet, etc.
In the end, I wish peace and dialogue prevail, as we still have only ONE planet 😅