A Varied Collection 2

This is Princeton:

The Social Question

“Change is the only constant”, as someone famously observed, and the world we live in constantly bears testimony to his (or her) wisdom. Globalization and increasingly better communications are helping to bring about a “knowledge revolution”, where ideas are the true currency, and it seems nothing can stop it.

Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Britain, says, “Complaining about globalization is as pointless as trying to turn back the tide.” Companies in the developed world are finding this true: they must “Outsource, or perish”. India is the greatest outsourcing hub in the world today, and millions of Indians have benefited from this wave of globalization. Information Technology is the ”Sunshine Sector” of new India. But some still see a thunderstorm over the horizon.

The simplest of outsourcing businesses, call centers, show the most obvious signs of trouble. Not economically: by any criterion that can be expressed in figures, they are doing just fine. It’s the human side of the question that I am interested in. What a company offers an employee, beyond financial remuneration, is experience. Working at a company should enhance your skills, it should add something to you; most call centers do not do this, which is why attrition has always been a troublesome issue. This is also a problem on a national scale. When nations base their economies almost entirely on such services, they become nothing more than the garages of the world, continuously doing the least knowledge-intensive jobs.

This, however, is a subsidiary problem, and one that will sort itself out given time and a free market. The real problem is less obvious. Due to outlashes in the United States and other countries against companies outsourcing services to the developing world, many call centers require their employees to pretend to be foreigners. While at work, they must undergo a complete transformation, from Tarun to Tom or Aanchal to Alice; they fake accents and memorize slang to deal with customers. Much has been speculated about the possible long-term psychological effects of such a nightly transformation.

The financial benefits of outsourcing for all concerned parties, from the CEO of the western multinational to the coffee shop next to a call center, are undeniable. Nevertheless, if we are to take full advantage of the knowledge economy and all that it offers, these little kinks must be ironed out.

I am deeply concerned by this issue because I am one of those who are set to join this breed of knowledge professionals, from either side of the globe. The problems that I have just discussed are the ones that I will directly come into contact with over the course of my career: not faking identities, I hope, but selling the skeptics on what the New World Order- in capitals, and with no sarcasm- offers us. This may sound clichéd, but our generation is truly at a crossroads in the history of the world, and we must decide if we are to lead the world into a new interconnected future or remain content with our fate. I already have.

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