I saw this documentary (Link via: Scoble) “The other side of outsourcing” for Discovery done by Thomas Friedman (of “The world is flat” fame).

It is a must watch. I will just document/summarize what I saw and what are my reactions to it.

On one hand I was feeling very proud to be a part of a nation that is giving nightmares to the people of the wealthiest and mightiest country. On the second, when the documentary focuses on the other side, the other side that is disturbing, it saddens me. But not before I say to myself, it is all going to change and change has started already.

Let me go in the sequential manner as the documentary. Few minutes into it, I was utterly disappointed. For it seemed to think the outsourcing and BPO is reduced to call centers only. (About this particular topic, I will remind myself again that I have to document my thoughts and to link some really good links I have seen.) BPO is not just that. It sort of highlights the rosy picture of call center as lot of disposable time and lot of disposable money. Even though the other face of it was releaved, it could have been done in a more profound way. Well, there are lot of factors in call centers and no justice could be done in a short documentary.

Also at one point it greatly assumes that outsourcing is causing the westernisation. Agreed that there is money inflow and imitation is easier but the fuss about Valentine day celebration and other minor fears of westernization is not a result of outsourcing. What I mean to say is, outsourcing and westernisation as byproducts of globalisation stand at a same hierarchy, if not anything else but not definitely that latter is the cause of the former. These talk of “valentines day is bad, it is western”, “we gave KS to world but what should remain indoor should remain indoor” are opinions of certain individuals and do not represent the opinion of all. What I fear is that, given the wide audience of the channel/site, Indians will again be stereotyped to certain individual’s thoughts, just as many foriegners even today think India is a land of snakes, elephants and beggars.

Let me not digress and get on with documentary. It revolved around Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore !!) and captured the best and worst of it – but nothing particular to Bengaluru. The observations would apply to any other city as well. TF did an interview with U R Ananthamurthy, but nothing great worth mentioning about it. Then it shows RSS [not syndication, but a group of culture guardians] drills and some interviews with them. One observation is noteworthy – “World has become a market and humans are reduced to consumers.”

I was astonished to know 54% of Indian population is less than 20 years of age. So India’s face tomorrow will be literally the face of today’s youth.

As an example of glocalisation, TF mentions jadooworks. I must confess I came to know about it only now. There as a part of stress handling, employees undergo Yoga everyday. They not only employ artists to do animation on computers but also are preserving cultural heritage by creating an animated series on Krishna. Along with service industries, BPOs etc, these are the companies Americans should be afraid of , as they can steal the work from right under their noses. They can protest and get a bill sanctioned against outsourcing, but how can they stop the creativity and quality provided by companies such as these which are “creating” content as against servicing for them.
You should see the confidence to believe in Rajesh Rao of Dhruva Interactive, a gaming company. He affirmed, what we are seeing is just tip of iceberg and that tomorrow, India is going to be a super power. “We are going to RULE”.

As against the confidence of the hot blood, was the words of wisdom, experience and maturity by Aziz Premji, richest person in India. He declared the truth that we need to co-exist in this global market and that is only helpful to all of us.

Any dignitary visit to Bengaluru wont be completed without visits to two companies that are originally responsible to put India on a world map this faster. Wipro and Infosys. Rightly TF felt the Infy campus looked like a luxurious resort of Caribbean. He has not seen other buildings of Infy yet, like in Mysore etc, and he could take back a list of tourist spots in India to contain visits only to these campuses !

TF briefly spoke to Nandan Nilekani of Infy, Aziz Premji of Wipro and Ramesh Ramanathan of Janagraha.

I did not find the fears of Vimochana valid. They were only emotional and did not have right answers to TF. What villages need is better hygiene, better facilities (health education etc) but not the attitude “that cities are good only because you are used to it, villages will also be good if you get used to this”.

It saddens to see that there exists a completely different world just less than 2 hours journey from Bengaluru. The place which is calm, which does not have basic necessities like running water, health, education. [Quite ironically they have fresh air to breathe as against they do in Bengaluru]. This is not general to any one city. In India (I don’t know outside), there is a great polarisation/concentration at cities. I feel this will be the biggest problem of tomorrow. Unless the wealth, facilities and population does not spread evenly, we can not claim to have developed. Unless that happens, even when we project the glory of cities, at the back of our mind we realise that there is darkness in villages. Unless that happens we can not really smile and say “India is shining.” This is where people like Mohan Bhargav (Swades) can make a difference. So I was totally surprised when the documentary ended with such an example. It gave this entire documentary a great facelift and it answers the apprehensions of the wealth generated not being used properly. It is an initiative by Abraham George who has funded a school Shanti Bhavan out of his savings of working abroad/MNC. The students there are completely at ease with computers. One girl even beat TF in speed and who would mind losing to the children!

The smiles and hopes of these children gave a beautiful look to the entire documentary. Last few scenes just arrest you and you smile back as if you are acknowledging, “Tomorrow is going to be a great and happy day, for you, for me and for the entire world”.

Ps: I have immense respect to all the people whose names I have mentioned, just that I skipped “Mr” everytime.
I apologise for any wrong references/credits.
I am begging time to allow me to read World is flat.

5 thoughts on “Other side of outsourcing

  1. thanks for the link. I watched the documentary and your post echoes my thoughts too. Just by working in a call centre I doubt if people actually leave their traditions as some of the girls pointed out.

    Was very impressed and inspired by Rajesh Rao and Azim.

    "What I fear is that, given the wide audience of the channel/site, Indians will again be stereotyped to certain individual%u2019s thoughts, just as many foriegners even today think India is a land of snakes, elephants and beggars." so very true given the way it was projected.

  2. arunima,
    thanks for visiting 🙂
    Rajesh Rao was too good. I love the way he said "We are going to Roooole". Heard (read in a blog) that 2 whole chapters have been written about him in World is flat…am waiting to read that book.

  3. Yup, as usual we discuss good issues 😉
    Well, as I said in that discussion, I am in the hangover of the documentary and am currently reading World is flat 🙂
    Also, I was surprised to see this piece very same day about exactly what we discussed : NM pans IT critics