Call Center Services, Outsourcing Services, Outsourcing Projects
Hi all, Chanced upon this article written by Shashi Tharoor for TOI... (it's an old article but i guess it still holds some relevance !) "It has become fashionable of late, amongst our bien-pensant classes, to sneer at the success of India's business process outsourcing industry the call centres and the like which have become the visible face of globalisation in our formerly protectionist land. Some 700,000 Indians work in the BPO business, which contributes an estimated $17 billion to the burgeoning Indian economy.
The call centre has become the symbol of India's newly globalised workforce: while traditional India sleeps, a dynamic young cohort of highly skilled, articulate professionals works through the night, functioning on US time under made-up American aliases, pretending familiarity with a culture and climate they've never actually experienced, earning salaries that were undreamt of by their elders (but a fraction of what an American would make) and enjoying a lifestyle that's a cocktail of premature affluence and ersatz westernisation transplanted to an Indian setting.
It's been a major breakthrough for India and Indians, one that Anglophone countries in Africa, like Ghana and Kenya, are striving to emulate. But many in India see the call centres as soul-destroying sweatshops soaking up the talents and energies of young Indians who could and should be doing better for themselves and their country.
Chetan Bhagat's bestseller One Night @ the Call Center, for instance, inveighs against young Indians wasting their time catering to the unreasonable and petty demands of American customers customers so stupid, in Bhagat's telling, that an instructor teaches call centre trainees the formula, '10=35': "Remember, a 35-year-old American's brain and IQ is the same as a 10-year-old Indian's."
As one of Bhagat's protagonists puts it in the novel's climactic scene: "an entire generation up all night, providing crutches for the white morons to run their lives... while bad bosses and stupid Americans suck the lifeblood out of our country's most productive generation." One elitist friend of mine put it even more pithily: "all we're doing is providing coolie labour carrying the excess baggage of globalisation that's too clunky for the West to bother to lift."
It's a harsh judgment, one that's genuinely unfair to the talent, dedication and creativity of the young people who make the call centres work. But it's also out of date. If what India is doing is providing coolie labour, then today the coolies are scheduling the trains.
The evidence is striking. The business processes that are being outsourced are no longer just the airline reservations or customer billing or even minor technical trouble-shooting that earlier made up the bulk of the call centres' work.
Today, Indians are reading MRIs for American hospitals, running consulting services for global US firms, handling actuarial work for British insurance companies, analysing US and European company stocks for Western institutional investors and writing software that will prevent Boeing and Airbus planes from colliding in mid-air. Hardly menial tasks.
And there's more. When the US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly discovered a molecule recently that it needed to shepherd through extensive clinical research and human trials before it could be placed on the market, it gave the task to an Indian firm, Nicholas Piramal.
Anand Giridharadas, who reported this in the New York Times, added that Infosys is designing part of the wing of the Airbus A380, Tata Consultancy Services is building the software for the cockpits and a third Indian firm is designing the plane's doors.
This is not just back office work: it's the sort of fundamental responsibility that Western firms traditionally carried out in their national HQs, on the assumption that that was the only way they could guarantee quality. Today, they see India as a country that can provide the same quality and a lot cheaper.
The employment figures of multinational corporations in India tell their own story. By December this year, Accenture should have more employees in India than in the US, its headquarters. In the last 15 years, IBM has increased its Indian workforce by 52,000 while reducing its American employees by 31,000. When Citigroup recently announced major job cuts in the US, its 22,000 Indian staff were unaffected, and if anything are likely to increase.
The proportion of these companies' workforces in India as a percentage of their global labour pool is going up steadily. As technology advances, there's almost no limit to the kind of work that can be outsourced, and India is in the prime position to pick up the offerings. Today, as long as you have the fibre-optic cables and the bandwidth to communicate with the other side of the globe, geography is merely a circumstance, not a determining factor.
This is a welcome development, but we shouldn't be content with it. The next stage must be for Indians to develop such services for our own market. Doing outsourced work for the US and Europe is all very well, but there's a lot more we could be doing for India and Indians too.
The skills we are able to market for foreign employers can also be turned towards improving the prospects of our fellow citizens finding solutions for the problems of Indians and not just Americans or Brits. Perhaps the next level of outsourcing will come when smart scientists in Bangalore farm out processes to young engineers in Dharwar to cater to the needs of consumers in Hubli. "
Source : http://www.shashitharoor.com/articles/toi/coolies.php
By Shashi Tharoor
Weekly Column "Shashi on Sunday" in "The Times of India"
April 15, 2007