India Uncut

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Don't insult BPO workers

I'm a little tired of people equating BPO with the slave trade, and BPO workers with coolies. Take this article, for instance, which cites "the first major study of labour practices in Indian call centres," and compares them with "Roman slave ships." That is a ridiculous analogy, and it insults the people who work in BPO companies, who do so out of their own free will. They are not forced into taking up those jobs, and they do so presumably because they find it better than all the alternatives. They are aware of the working conditions that will be offered to them, and they can check out any time they want. Are these critics implying that BPO workers have made the wrong choices, and that they know better? This kind of condescending, self-righteous mindset is, sadly, rather too prevalent these days.

When I was in college, in the early 1990s, it was unheard of for a graduate to get a job without having any additional qualifications. Today, an English-speaking graduate in any major city of India can easily find employment, contrary to a decade ago. The choices for young people have expanded, and that is a fantastic thing. It is a pity that there are still regressive people around who, instead of wanting to expand those choices further, bemoan the improvements that have taken place. Ivory towers are a perfect environment for self-delusion.

Cross-posted on The Indian Economy Blog.

Update (October 25): Nasscom responds to the survey.
amit varma, 4:10 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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