Thinking out loud

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Indigo Days

It’s not been long since the British left India. Indeed, in terms of the age of a country, it hasn’t been long since the British first came to India. So it is surprising to see how quickly lessons that history teaches us are forgotten. Perhaps that is why history has to repeat itself, and that is exactly what it seems to be doing now.

India had been known for its spices, silks, cotton, sugar and indigo. Indigo was a dye and as everyone who was awake during history classes at school would know, Indigo plantations deplete the soil of nitrates, thus making it unsuitable for cultivation of other crops. The British forced the farmers to grow indigo to cheaply feed their own textile industry back home. The soil would then be incapable of producing anything else but indigo.

The situation is not very different today. It is widely agreed that at one time land was the source of power. Today knowledge is the source of power; and India had plentiful of both, cultivable land and knowledge. When land was the source of power, the British exploited it for their purposes. When knowledge is the source of power, the United States is exploiting it for its purposes. The call-centers of today are not very unlike the indigo plantations of yester-years. They suck in what could have been smart and intelligent people and turn them into brain-dead zombies. Our capabilities as a nation are being put to such menial uses. Thousands of call-center employees leave home at 9 PM to work over-night at these call-centers. They stay awake at night and sleep during the day. This is against nature itself. It affects the health of these people as it affects the health of the nation itself. At one time we produced great mathematicians and great writers. Today people who have the greatest success-rate in telemarketing get promotions. Our standards of performance have been dropped to these levels. And this is done by paying us a pittance as compared to what the same work would have cost them to do at home.

It does not matter what subject you graduated in – you are a good candidate for a call-center job. It is true that these jobs have served us by absorbing a large part of our working population and increasing the per capita income in the country. On the one hand, lakhs and lakhs of jobs are created by these call-centers; on the other hand, core industry like civil/mechanical/chemical engineering complain of a lack of trained personnel willing to work with them. It is this core industry that would build the infrastructure in the country to cope with the future, and yet they don’t have qualified people working for them. This is obviously because the BPO firms pay more than core industry can hope to pay and no student/professional can be blamed for choosing higher paying jobs.

The whole point is that even though we rejoice as disposable incomes rise and consumerism increases, we must really take a long hard look at what we are losing out as a nation in the long run. Its time we realized that it’s the Indigo Days all over again and we must take control before its too late.


  • seems that you have odds are very high against the call centres.
    although i agree with the mentioned downsides of call centre jobs, but still i am in support of it(though myself won't like to join it).regarding core companies on shortage of trained people, it would be very hard in the present time to make the core jobs high paying and attractive.

    By Blogger Subin, at 4:37 AM  

  • I posted my response in my blog... Pls do visit :-)

    By Blogger Sabarish Sasidharan, at 4:04 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger vishnuprasath, at 1:23 AM  

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