No story on the IT industry is complete without a statutory salute to the “pride and dignity” it has given thousands of youngsters in the country, besides the opportunity it has given hundreds of families to scale up their lives and lifestyles.
The Hindu‘s technology correspondent Anand Parthasarathy doffed his hat in an article in the paper, and Bangalore-based Gopi Rajgopal who has 15 years in the computer industry, two years in a University computer centre and nine in the United States, has responded in an Open Page article:
The author says the computer industry has given our youth “pride and dignity.” Has it? These are individual traits and it is hard to make such a sweeping statement about thousands of people.
However, one counter argument can blow away the author’s claims. A typical call centre job requires its employees to work graveyard hours when the rest of the world is sleeping. Any doctor or website can explain the problems that a person faces when his/her circadian rhythm is disrupted. Problems such as bipolar disorder, cardiovascular problems, and perhaps even cancer, are some of the possible side effects.
Yet the call centre industry continues to extol the virtues of working in such jobs. What can be dignifying about a job which requires our youngsters to take on a false name and speak with a false accent? Isn’t our sense of identity our most important asset?
Secondly, there are various kinds of jobs in the computer industry. They include customer support, back office operations, product sustenance, research and product development. By and large, most jobs are concentrated in the first three areas. Product sustenance involves supporting products that are no longer the latest in their field. Companies in the U.S. and other countries send such jobs to India since they would prefer to have their employees in the “mother country” design and develop new technologies. Not exactly “cutting-edge” work.
Several companies in the service sector, including some of the largest in the field, keep hundreds of their employees “on the bench,” sometimes for months, waiting for new projects. Is this an effective use of their talent? Is this enhancing their pride or dignity?
Read the full article: The other side of the IT boom
While the original article was glossy and extolled the benefits of IT boom, Gopi is no better in his counter-point. He is just at the other end of the spectrum — in denial. He throws a web of generalizations and underlines the occupational hazards to a hyperbole.
Do just call centers force a graveyard shift ? No. And how come he dwells on just IT call centers while totally side-stepping the mainstream IT ? The Yahoos, Googles, INFYs, Wipros etc. There is a ton of research, development and application maintenence-enhancements that are done out of Bangalore ? New areas are opening up as well — I had two friends who came from India to the US, for 3 months, to get a fortune 100 company ISO certified. I can keep going, but suffices to say, much of Gopi’s talk is myopic and, serves his view point only.
Wall street (and it’s counterparts in other countries) is non-discriminating. They understand just one language — that of money ; whatever can be outsourced, is outsourced. While it is true that “core” applications are held back in the mother country, the reason is hardly for what is described. Working in quite a few of the Fortune-25s, in IT and IT-Risk, you realize these “core” applications are antiquated mainframe applications in most shops, not cutting/bleeding edge. While.., it is almost “always” easy to outsource “new” development than transition core-legacy applications.
Fortunately or unfortunately, as an IT Architect – PM , I have to deal with this daily.
About the new found riches and how it affects Bangalore. How would you rather have it Gopi ? youth out of college in an flailing economy with no jobs and pulled to anti-social activities, or, the one with IT boom(with all it’s banes) that gives the youth a chance at some semblance of respectability and financial independence, while they make strides at something more permanent ?
IT boom did change Bangalore, no questions there. But touting IT boom as the only cause for the ills that plague the city, while giving a hall pass to the govt and all other factors equally responsible, is naive and unjust.
Athreya, thanks for bringing some perspective to this.
Like you mentioned one of the reasons new development is often outsourced is because of the lesser risk it poses and due to a significant pool of certified engineers (for a specific technology) available in other countries. This is as opposed to core or legacy systems which are retained in the mother company or only partially outsourced due to security and complexity reasons.
Kayakave Kailasa, Gopi is being smug here.
Adding a yankee twang and getting a christian name is better than sitting at home jobless. I suppose a call center job is as dignified as any other.
I must be the only one here agreeing with Gopi. Asked about his son’s riches as an IT-trained person, a mother who is a relative said, “I would rather have my boy as a sober person working as a clerk in the Accountant Genrtal office which he was a few years ago before he trained in IT. Today, he comes home always drunk and I cannot believe what a person he has become”. There is no research in these IT sweat shops.
Arjuna, Coming home drunk is a sign of the times. Drinking in general has found acceptance in our society over the years and in this post liberalisation consumerist era youngsters find drinking fashionable. In Bangalore it’s probably the IT/ITES economy that has put more money in the pockets of youngsters. In Mumbai and Delhi the growth has been all across. The culprit is market economy and consumerism and not merely IT. It’s another issue that the IT companies are sweatshops.