Jobs Jobs and more Jobs!

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Have you ever been put through to customer services and wondered how your call ended up at a call centre in India? The mass transfer of call center jobs from Europe and America to India is indeed increasing by the minute. It has demonstrated lower operational costs for companies and provided employment to thousands of Indians however; thousands are also made jobless in countries such as the UK where British companies choose to relocate their jobs. For instance in 2003, Norwich Union declared a cut of 2,350 jobs in the United Kingdom shifting them to India. As for the Indians who go into call centre employment long hours of poorly paid work in stressful conditions is being questioned with regards to their future. It is being considered a dead end with no capacity for individuals to grow and prosper; identical to the sweatshop scenario except people are working with computers and electronic equipment.

From the year 2000 to 2003 the number of call centres in India rose from 50 to 800 with an estimated 50% reduction in operating costs for MNC’s as compared to Europe and America. According to many, call centres are a form of exploitation where English speaking Indians with an undergraduate degree are trapped in low-value-addition work. A large number or workers suffer from sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and ear infections. Despite India’s English speaking traditions the demand for a neutral global accent is causing Indian workers in the call centre industry to be suffering from a crisis of identity. Primarily, workers in the Indian call centers were trained to speak in specifically British or American accents but a more neutral global accent is being emphasized upon which would allow workers to serve a large range of markets making them more versatile without extra training. This mandate for a globalised accent has led to specialized institutes which generate the neutralization of accents. Many are arguing that such practices are leading to a loss of culture amongst Indians and creating a globalisation booster which only benefits International companies at the expense of culturally displacing its workers.  

Titles are changed as workers replace their Indian names such as Akhil to more Western names such as Sean. Locations are altered as workers are told to proclaim to customers they are calling from California and not India. What an animating paradox of international companies reaping the benefits of low cost labour whilst stripping them off Indian culture and their actual identity. This form of Western imperialism has managed to improve employment statistics in India but failed to recognise the losers who are made jobless in home countries along with no tangible future for Indian call centre workers.

Shaafi Sayed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3292619.stm and http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/feb/09/india-call-centres-accent-neutralisation

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4 thoughts on “Jobs Jobs and more Jobs!

  1. Culture is a big part of identity and rights for every person in the world. It is sad to see this right taken away for the opportunity of economic growth. Other rights as political and social also tend to be neglected for economic growth to be the main principle for development. Several articles and news-posts can prove its failure when operating alone!

    Anette Stepanoski

  2. You are absolutely correct. Economic growth alone has not proven to be sufficient for the development of everyone in fact if we take the examples of China and India the ones who are benefiting from the immense economic prosperity are a tiny minority. I was reading this article which was on child labour in china and it goes on to say how 8 year old children working in hazardous conditions are not suffering instead they are being pulled out of extreme poverty through such jobs! The point neglected is there is no future for these children as their education is being sacrificed for pennies worth impermanent unskilled employment hampering their physical, social and mental development.

    Shaafi Sayed

  3. This is just another form of exploitation by MNCs out of many. People are being stripped of their identities in their own communities for meagre pay in dead end jobs. Basically, those people working in call centres and their culture are being undermined. They stripped of their basic human rights!!! What the MNCs are basically saying to them is that to work for us, you have to become like one of us because we are better than you. What is wrong with being called Akhil, Patel, Sanjay or whatever name one is called? After all, we live in a globalised world. Sadly the Indian have to abide by these rule because of poverty. The question is:
    Why move the job thousand of miles away, denying thousands of English speaking people the opportunity to work in the process, to a foreign country where English is not their native language but expect the employees to sound English with English names??? We all know why, right!!! It’s all about cutting cost, profit, profit and more profit… As always, the only winners here are the MNCs and the losers are the Indian being exploited and the thousands of unemployed people in home countries like UK who could have benefited from working in those call centres.

    Fatou Jallow

  4. I absolutely agree, these problems are identified by many organizations but they are not addressing this issue they are making it worse. Indians have little wage, no benefits, they have unpaid time off, harsh working conditions, poor standards of accommodation. These workers are treated like slaves in ordinary circumstances even when they are involved in a million dollar public relation projects. Workers are deprived from their basic human rights, like in Qatar workers’ passports confiscated, they hove no rights to leave the country and many other issues.

    Madina Orazakynova

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