Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The tiger awakes ...

A fantastic article in today's WaPo on the changes in India as outsourcing grows an evolves (Hat-tip to Dogwood for sending this along.) Not just your strangely-accented customer-service guy at Delta anymore!
Beyond the cost advantage, Boccasam values a certain skepticism he finds inherent to Indians.

It doesn't matter if you are buying vegetables or dining at a five-star hotel -- you will always count your change," said Boccasam, who attended the University of Pune and immigrated to the United States in 1988. "That's an auditing function. The guys in India know every scam there is out there."

Even Approva's office decor highlights this quality. A picture on the wall displayed an elderly businessman flanked by two scantily clad women in a casino. "Noticed the 'consulting' invoices Pete's been approving?" it asks. "We will."
Of course, these stories are especially interesting to me, an Indian emigre myself (though nowhere near the IT field, and with no desire to move back and benefit from the boom. Though, it's quite conceivable the Lord might send me that way if this priesthood thing works out ...). Not only that, my my brother works for one of India's largest software consultancies (with clients all over the world -- UK, Malaysia, Taiwan, S. Africa. Not just the US). One of my best friends from college just moved back to Bombay from the US (an increasingly popular trend --- hear some of the audio clips accompanying the article).

Well, I just returned from a visit "home," and every time the changes are striking -- things are more Western in some ways, yet uniquely Indian. There's a palapabe sense of prosperity, and a huge sense of self-confidence in being Indian, and hope for the future. The infrastructure still sucks (especially when compared to China!). Big time. And the politicians -- the less said the better about India's fabled democracy that incorporates feudalism into its embrace so well. The challenge, of course, is going to be to make sure this affects not just the 2% of the population which is currently benefiting from the IT boom, but also the 700 million who make up the "other," rural, agricultural India. If India was a place of stark inequalities, those are just starker now.

Though, it is especially sad that, as the article quotes a student saying, art and history are even more out of fashion in Indian academia than before.

No comments: