Thursday, April 12, 2007

Facile and Facetious

SAJA is the South Asian Journalists Association. Their forum has a post about the "strange juxtaposition" of a lack of visas here in the U.S. and a lack of qualified applicants in India. The forum moderator Sree Srinavasan, has this ironic closing quip: "Perhaps India can attract the America-trained students - Indian and non-Indian?" (blog post)

I found his smug and detached response quite offensive and posted a comment to that effect. I am cross-posting it here:

I find Sree's closing comment facile and offensively facetious. To suggest that non-Indian workers move to India because that's where the jobs are is to ignore stark realities. Basically, he sees nothing wrong with the idea that American citizens should be reduced to having to leave for "greener" pastures elsewhere, just like citizens of other third-world countries -- the Chinese, the Mexicans and the Indians. Sree, would you be as facetious if it was journalists whose jobs were on the line? and the suggestion was made that journalists -- yes, even academic ones like you -- move to India?

In his suggestion, there is, too, no awareness that Indian society is far from conducive for newcomers to settle in. Water and power shortages, poor public infrastructure, shortage of decent affordable accomodation are but a few challenges that come to mind. After all, if Americans move to India because that's where the jobs are, they would not make expat wages, but simply "prevailing" Indian wages, right?

Outsourcing, per se, is not the problem. Everytime we order pizza and every time we buy online instead of from a brick and mortar store, we outsource a function. But along the way we don't tell the replaced service provider that it is because they are not good enough. And if we outsource, it is sometimes for convenience and sometimes because it is less expensive.

In contrast the entire IT outsourcing debate is marked by conflation of facts and a total lack of integrity by corporations (American and Indian) and their media shills.

- Workers are being brought here or work is being sent to India because they are less expensive. Along the way 30 years of workplace safeguards like equal pay, non-discrimination in terms of gender and age, family-friendly policies are being thrown out the window

- Not all imported workers are the "best and brightest".

- America was able to innovate and compete without massive injections of foreign workers quite nicely. The Internet, telephony, and many innovations do not have the stamp of H-1Bs on them.

- Would you want your kids to have to attend Indian schools? I would not! So let's stop parroting the line that Indian schools are better than American ones. There are certainly problems with American education. But, that is NOT the reason why jobs are going to Indians.

Being pro-outsourcing has nothing to do with being pro or anti India. Being anti-outsourcing has nothing to do with being protectionist or racist.

It is about satya -- that old forgotten Hindu spiritual concept -- Truth!

Indian journalists working in the US have a unique perspective and they even have the platform to shed the light of Truth on this debate. The question is: are they up to the task?

Yes, the Indian journos are no different than the rest of their brethren, even though they have first-hand knowledge of the Indian educational system, living and workplace conditions. It is so much easier to be rah-rah India and thereby earn brownie points among Indians as well as American outsourcing-pushers... which is pretty much everybody.

1 comment:

Info_Tech_Guy said...

Indian IT Woman:

I have put a link to your blog on my site, The Modern Patriot

My email address should be visible there as well.

I hope that you will blog again. Certainly, work can be very time-consuming in the IT profession.