But, you know, the thing is that it’s a good example of what’s going on. The call center is surely creating jobs for a whole lot of people in India. But it comes as part of a package, and that package, while it gives sort of an English-speaking middle or lower middle class young person a job for a while, they can never last, because it’s such a hard job. It actually is also part of the corporate culture, which is taking away land and resources and water from millions of rural people. But you’re giving the more vocal and the better off anyway — the people who speak even a little bit of English are the better off among the millions of people in India. So, to give these people jobs, you’re taking away the livelihoods of millions of others, and this is what globalization does.
-Arundhati Roy on Call Centres of India in this interview
I guess she touched this issue quite superficially. She missed quite more deep problems about the effects of call centers.
India is a huge country. It can be developed as a self sustaining economy. We can’t be a service country. A service economy can be conceivable for small sized countries. For example, economy of swiss mainly depends on baking services and tourism. I feel that service is highly unstable model for big countries like India. It has to develop base infrastructure to run itself. For that, We need a whole range of industry. So, we need people with skills to run this industry.
Call centers are producing a large number of jobs. These jobs are done by semi skilled workers. Recruits for these jabs are fresh grads to retired people without pension. These jobs are attracting a mass of youth who wants to start making money as soon as possible. Mostly this army of young people have migrated from smaller cities of India. They come to big cities for college studies but soon they end up doing call center jobs to raise money for themselves. The evolving culture among them is very characteristic. Most part of their income goes in buying fashion needs. For example, They buy best model of Mobile phone. They buy hottest brand of shirts. They make enough money to support this kind of life but they don’t have enough money to build long term infrastructure for their family.
On the other side, they don’t learn any complicated useful skills by doing call center jobs. This creates a mass of semi skilled people who don’t want to gain any complicated skills which needs study and a difficult job profile. This chunk of youth in future will not be able to support progress of country in stable direction. Many of them are actually studying skill creating courses along with their jobs, but this desire to spend time in understanding the content of their subject goes down as they start making money with call center jobs. They also observe that even if they put effort to be skilled, they will see not much rise in their pay slip. This scenario destroys any motivation of learning complicated skills.
I am an engineer and i know many engineers. I have found that India is producing a large number of engineers. Most of them have no desire to learn engineering. This is not a new thing . It was the case even before the call center culture. Now, it is getting worse. Many engineers are passing out without writing a single word of program. They just want a enough paying job. It might be a good approach for an individual but as a country we are producing a large mass of skill tagged but unskilled youth.
Somehow and someway we have to break this cycle?