Monday, August 15, 2005

TSC(?): The Flattening of India...?

My post today comes after a long time... I was looking for an occasion to blog... anyway, lets get straight to the point:

I spent my summer holidays in the city of Bangalore, the place us Indians like to call our very own Silicon Valley. I had gone there to do a month long industrial internship... in a robotics company! [Not too many people I know, outside the IITs that is, choose to do things like a summer internship or summer project - Personally, I'd *highly* recommend an internship or at least industrial training to anyone who is *sincerely* technically inclined; But, I also wouldn?t recommend an internship to certain other types ... but that's for another blog entry some other time]

Thomas Friedman wrote a lot about B?lore (or so I?ve heard) in his new book ?The World is Flat? and in his newspaper column around the time of the summer break: about how the outsourcing boom is allowing other (non developed-world) economies to make a jumpstart, about how jobs can now be done by a professional sitting anywhere in the world, how such advantages are being exploited by big MNCs to reduce their costs and most importantly: what it is doing to the places where this work is going.

Well, sometime before I left I also came across a certain blog post by Gaurav Sabnis... (read the full post at the link at the bottom) It was about a conversation he had with his taxi-driver whilst travelling somewhere in Mumbai. The taxi-driver told him that he had big dreams for his daughter - he wanted her to become a computer professional later in life - and told Gaurav that his daughter was preparing for a certain computer certification exam (CCNA). He hoped to raise the money for her whatever came - for his daughter was going to make their family proud some day...

Would she, rather could she? She really could:

On reaching B'lore I received an unpleasant shock that my pre-planned accommodation arrangement was not available due to misc. reasons and I had to look for a place to stay for a month... Initially I was completely stumped, and didn?t know what to do, but soon I was pretty amazed to discover that a major portion of the working populace of B'lore actually lived out of their suitcases - in hostels and PGs (paying guest accommodations). It's almost a culture there - people from all over the state and even from other states come down there to work and make a living.

Well, so I stayed in a PG accomodation - like a tramp, according to me - in a room with four beds and three other people. My room was dynamic ? people were coming and leaving all the time ? there were other rooms in that building where people had been residing for longer spans of time (6 months, a year etc..) ? but I had been given that room because I was there for (relatively) a short stay (a month).

Jobs in B?lore are available aplenty - There were instances of people entering my PG, without a job, just passed out of a degree or diploma course, coming in with little bag and baggage, no relatives in the town, just a few phone numbers gathered from the local classifieds magazine and some books. And then leaving by the end of two weeks or so with about 3-4 jobs in hand ? spoilt for choice! All IT jobs, mind you!

I?m losing track of what I wanted to say ?.
Yup, so the average profile of one of these people I?ve been referring to would go something like: South Indian male; age 22-30; state bd. education till std. x.; xyz unheard of university; NIIT course in IT or [whatever?s] course in embedded systems ?. end result: employable by B?lore!

There?s a veritable revolution going on over there: there is work for everyone in IT who?s ready to work hard AND it pays well? Well, If all goes the way it?s going, even if I.T. doesn?t make the whole world flat, if the outsourcing boom holds on long enough, it?ll have flattened quite a bit of India. Can you imagine what a six-figure packet could do to a person (and his family) from a rural Indian background ? Or for that taxi-driver?s daughter ? It?s incredible?

But all?s not well in Bangalore: the newspapers reflect a general anxiety in native minds about having so many outsiders around. And I?d agree in some ways: if there are so many jobs going to outsiders, then all that?s left for native Bangloreans is to do the outsiders? dishes... One wonders where all this work is coming from, and if it?ll last, or are we just looking at another bubble waiting to burst ? ?.There?s a growing disparity amongst the IT-employed and the others in cities like B?lore. Incredibly enough, I?ve seen more poverty there than to believe that we?re really getting flatter?.

Sorry for having digressed from the theme so many times?.. it happens when you don?t blog regularly :-)

Readers might want to refer to the full post of
Gaurav Sabnis' article :

and if you have'nt heard of Thomas Friedman (pity on you..) then: OR

No comments: