Why does Corporate America outsource jobs to India? Corporations, anywhere in the world, are not renowned for their philanthropy; so obviously it makes economic sense for them to do so. A man or woman manning a help desk in India would be paid around $300 a month. Even assuming overheads of 100%, the cost to the company would be $600; which is less than his American counterpart would make in a week.
And what does the corporation get for its $600 a month? They get a young man or woman who is, at a minimum, a college graduate. He gets someone who has attended an intensive, four week training session to develop – among other requirements – an “American” accent. He gets someone who clocks in for work at 10 in the night and leaves for home at eight in the morning – six days a week – so that he can be available during daylight hours in the USA – to answer questions and complaints, which sometimes degenerate racial taunts – from disgruntled customers.
For the young men and women – usually straight out of college – who are employed at these “call centres” – as they are called here – the pay is good (by Indian standards), but the work is extremely demanding, both mentally and physically. Physically, they have to reset their body clock; forget about social interaction with “normal” friends – and even their bathroom breaks are regulated and timed (persons with weak bladders need not apply). Mentally, they have to respond to dozens, sometimes over a hundred, calls every night and have their supervisors breathing down their necks. Probably the one thing that takes the most out of them is the necessity to be unfailingly polite to customers who are yelling at them. By now, many Americans are aware that their calls are probably being routed through India and some – if they are not satisfied – they have no hesitation in hurling epithets like “darkie”, “wog” and “bloody Indian” at the person at the other end; who just has to grin and bear it – or risk losing his job. It is hardly surprising, then, that the attrition rate is staggering. Most new employees get burned out within a year.
On the overall outsourcing front, however, things are looking up. It is no longer just the low end jobs that are being outsourced. Medical transcription – where medical test reports are prepared in India and emailed back to doctors in the US – is taking off in a big way. Entire software packages are being created in India for major American corporations. Many of the special effects you see in Hollywood blockbusters are actually created in India. There is even talk about the IRS sending some of your tax returns to India for processing.
There is understandable resentment among some sections of American society that jobs are being snatched from US citizens. True, but – if the world is now a global village, as is being claimed – they should be prepared to compete for jobs with people from other countries; even if it involves a substantial pay cuts. Like I said before, corporations are not charity organizations. They will go wherever they get the best returns.
Finally, all those great discounts on clothes and other goods – not to mention Nike and Reebok – which Americans get at Walmart and department stores are possible only because the goods are manufactured in India, China and other Asian countries. Products made in America would cost five times as much – which wouldn’t go down well with most customers. To quote a corny cliché: you cannot eat your cake and have it too.