.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

30 September 2003

October Thisaigal is ready on the net. Those of you who can read Tamil, Don't miss Kiruba's hilarious piece written in absolutely lighter vein. It sure had me in splits :-)

23 September 2003

Indian H1B Visas?? !! :-)

You have heard about the Call Centre training. The trainees are trained in various details on foreign countries – the geography, the culture and so on - and often they are taught various regional accents too. So the customer agent taking a call from Italy may talk English with an Italian accent, speaking from India though. OK. Now what if you hire an Italian for the job?

This, if we go by a story in Business World this week, seems to be the emerging trend. BPO operations in India are increasingly employing foreign national working in Indian salaries. And one of the professional interviewed views her Indian experience will add up to her CV. As India emerges as global BPO hub, global BPO professionals are increasingly looking at India as the cutting edge technology destination to hone their skills.

Particularly in Travel industry, the Destination Knowledge seems to be an area where the foreign professionals score over locals. “ What is the difference between Madrid and Barcelona? While going over to either place what should the tourist look for? Nothing like having a homegrown person handling the work. Also, car hire is big business in Europe and fumbling with differences between a coupe and a sports car could well mean loss of a client.”

Well. So in another few years there is going to be a beeline for Indian “ H1B” (??!!) visas at Indian missions abroad?? !!

In the meantime there is another story – not exactly related, but there is a link I want to highlight – in ET today about Chinese learning English. This is a phenomenon I was discussing with some of my friends few years ago. We were talking about how India has an edge in IT over other Asian countries since our facility in English. We were talking about China and Philippines as our rivals trying to catch up fast in capturing the IT global pie. But one stumbling for them was the Language, English being the lingua franca of IT world. At the same time we were discussing also how these countries can easily catch up with learning English and out do us in the race.

Now, this story is an indication of what lies ahead for us in competition for the global IT market.

17 September 2003

OK. the big game has ended. I mean the WTO meet. I had a call from Singapore radio this morning asking my opinion about the outcome. Developed countries see it as Failure and the developing / poor countries see it as success. success or failure, it is all mere terminology in my opinion. I think you can't conclude it in such black and white terms. because the process is an ongoing one, going beyond ministerial meets. May not be able to meet Doha round talks deadline of early 2005, but I am optimistic that a common ground will be met in the following talks - albeit "in camara". meanwhile, if you are in Singapore and interested in listening to my sound bytes, please tune into oli 96.8 at 7.45pm tonight Singapore time. or repeat broadcast at 7.45am tomorrow on 18th, again singapore time. or else, log in to Oli at 96.8 live radio. and give me feedback.

btw, what's your opinion? How do you view the WTO meet outcome? please, do post it in shout out.

15 September 2003

28th Bharatiya Blog Mela is on at this place ,
brought to you by FilterCoffee .
To know more info on Blog Mela please see this post

Filter Coffee - I mean Mahesh - has spent a great deal of his time in creating this BlogMela in innovative way. Do check out. and he says he has time to do anything he wants for next 60 days ! well, I am tempted to host the next blog mela and assign the job to him !! :-)

10 September 2003

Us And Them

The fifth WTO ministerial meet began in Cancun, Mexico yesterday. Focus is on Doha round talks and Singapore issues. While much steam would be exchanged on issues, which are related to trade of commodities and agriculture, I’m concerned that one key issue is getting sidelined.

Man Power Movement.

Although India has assured that it will take up the BPO backlash issue to the forum, one wonders if it would be heard at all in all the din created by the developed countries over the issues, which concern them. Like trade barriers, restriction on manpower movement also spoils the very spirit of Free Trade concept.

On the one hand the developed countries want to sell their products to our country. They want us to remove all trade barriers. So that they can have greater market access for their products. On the other hand, they are erecting all kinds of barriers for our products – namely Manpower.

By selling their products at dirt-cheap prices, they are getting market access here while our desi industries are perishing not able to withstand the onslaught of the foreign arrivals. As industries wind up, unemployment raises. But since we accept the spirit of globalization we take it in our stride and try to look at the positive side of flourishing trade across the globe crossing all barriers. We are willing to compete in the world market. So we accepted the situation of unemployment or local industry perishing and looked for the silver lining.

Sunshine came through sunrise industries like IT and ITES, where our people got jobs in new kinds of areas like Call centers and BPO. What if old economy jobs are disappearing? We have new knowledge economy jobs. So, unemployment scenario would get equalized, we thought.

But no. We have the knife hanging overhead again. Now it is the turn of the first world to turn protectionist. They want to protect their Manpower resources from the onslaught of manpower import from the developing countries. So they have begun to say no to immigrant professionals and in order to curb business going to developing countries, are bringing in legislation on BPO and call centers.

Latest in these series of attacks is the attack on telemarketing business being shifted to India. There is a new legislation in the US, wherein telemarketing calls are banned to the numbers registered under “No call” registry. It is an offence to do telemarketing to these numbers. But according to a recent news item, canvassing calls made for political campaigns to garner votes, don’t come into this category. And it seems the opposition is picking up momentum among bloggers.

Why? Because the US Presidential elections are due in 2004 and it appears moves were on to give the job of telecanvassing for Bush to a Call center in India! Now you know why the American Bloggers are aghast.

In short, they will neither allow us to protect our industry. Nor will they let us export our only major resource, which has impeccable quality – Manpower.

They want to protect their workforce. Fine. But so do we.

They want a market for their products here and across the globe. Fine. But we want a job market for our workforce – here, and across the globe as well. The game is even, isn’t it? This way, no advantage to any one. It is only deuce all the way.

I am a strong proponent of globalization – I mean the spirit of globalization and fair play. But if other members advocate lopsided policies, could our Indian negotiators at WTO, hold fort and get us a fair deal? I, for one, would watch the on goings keenly.

I hope this posting is read by at least few of the irate US bloggers venting out their angst against India on the BPO issue. So, dear desi bloggers, please keep linking this post :-) and let the blog chain reach the other side.

05 September 2003

Swanky New Departure Terminal for forighn bound paasengers at Chennai Airport.

Looks great and absolutely on par with international standards. Having got used to seeing the worst maintained Delhi International airport, Chennai's Terminal gives me a great feeling. The visitors lounge is not cardoned off somewhere far from the passengers checkin counters. Passengers and visitors can stay in decent communication even after checkin. ( not like in Delhi, where you frantically wave through the glass windows, to your relative/friend standing nearly a kilometer away inside the passneger lounge. And every area is clearly marked. No confusion - despite peaktime crowd. And what's more, an exclusive toilet for disabled - with sliding doors. - but the lift to the viewers gallery is not working :-) btw, why am I increasingly looking for disabled friendly features? sign of my aging? oh, no ! :-)

04 September 2003

Last week, Hasan Suroor, Hindu’s correspondent in London, had discussed in his dispatch for Edit page, about the flexibility of English language. Citing a case of a cartoon in Times, where a school boy flaunts his exam result card and says, “ I done good in English”, Hasan argues that the reason for the decline in the language is the extreme flexibility of the language in accommodating all kinds of regional flavours. “English has become a victim of its own success”, Hasan points out.

Well. it is an interesting topic for a debate. How much a language can accommodate itself to modification, crossing the barriers of socio- geographic terrains? There are people, like Hasan, who fear that the language loses its original spirit when it gets adulterated too much with local flavours. So much so that English spoken in one region may not be understood in another region – both may be English though.

In a way I agree with that point of Hasan. That too much “adulteration” –( btw, can anyone suggest a better word? The word sounds too “criminal” J -) can disfigure the language. But then I also believe that language essentially is a tool to communicate. So how much elasticity should be there to accommodate regional adaptations? What determines the flexibility? If a language is too rigid, I feel it would not grow. English has proved that how much a language could grow by adapting all kinds of regional words.

OK. “I done good in English” might sound jarring to puritans. But the boy has effectively communicated his emotions. It is indeed more important.

However there can be a solution to remain grammatically correct and be effectively communicative too. Just train the kids to make good English – or for that matter any language - a habit. So that even in emotional outbursts, “the Queen’s English” or the grammatically correct language spills out.

P.S: This posting may not be in perfect English. But then, you know that I am taking all liberties with the languageJ

Btw, talking about language, check out my interview with Muthu Nedumaran of Murasu Anjal.