Saturday, August 21, 2004

Young Workers Are Changing India (NYT)

In the debates over IT outsourcing that often involve Indian-based firms and workers (see below), it is important to take time to learn about the social processes at work in that nation and the diverse groups of people involved in their uneven geography of capitalism:

In a demographic bubble that is transforming Indian politics and society, 54 percent of India's one billion plus people are now under the age of 25. [...] They are a demographic behemoth but not a monolith. In interviews with 21 Indians under age 25 in modern high technology offices, derelict slums, rural villages and industrial cities across the country, young people expressed a clear split over how India could achieve greatness.

The division reflects the difficult mandate facing the new government, led by the Congress Party. As it pursues continuing growth and globalization, it must balance the rich and the poor, the old and the new.

It must reconcile the division between those who yearn for India's community-oriented quasi-socialist past and those who embrace the capitalist, Americanizing influences now present, between those who believe the profit motive fuels selfishness and greed, and those who believe it most efficiently allocates and expands resources.

Some young Indians are extravagantly successful, linked by technology to a globalizing world. More are poor, isolated from the rest of the world and frustrated by their exclusion from a narrow economic boom.

Read the full article at The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > Young Workers Are Changing India

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Financial Firms Hasten Their Move to Outsourcing (NYT)

According to an article in today's NYT: From 2003 to 2004, Deloitte Research found in a survey of 43 financial institutions in 7 countries, including 13 of the top 25 by market capitalization, financial institutions in North America and Europe increased jobs offshore to an average of 1,500 each from an average of 300. The Deloitte study said that about 80 percent of this went to India.

Why India? Said one analyst, "With its vast English-speaking, technically well-trained labor pool and its low-cost advantages, India is one of the few countries that can handle the level of offshoring that U.S. financial companies want to scale to."

One reason is the cost of living and wage differential between labor here and there: in 2003 the average M.B.A. working in the financial services industry in India, where the cost of living is about 30 percent less than in the United States, earned 14 percent of his American counterpart's wages. Information technology professionals earned 13 percent, while call center workers who provide customer support and telemarketing services earned 7 percent of their American counterparts' salaries.

But labor costs are not the only issue: Global financial institutions are moving work overseas to spread risks and to offer their customers service 24 hours a day.

What do you think? Read the whole article at: The New York Times > Business > World Business > Financial Firms Hasten Their Move to Outsourcing


This is a course weblog for the Fall 2004 seminar on "information technology and information labor" held at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. Students will be invited to participate in posting to this weblog, and comments from the wider Blogger community are invited as well.