Friday, October 03, 2008

Destination Bangalore

I was watching a documentary titled Destination Bangalore a few days ago in which the filmmaker John Kerns profiles a diverse group of people in trying to understand the social and cultural impacts of outsourcing. "It features interviews with journalists, sociologists, students, entrepreneurs, political leaders, storeowners and artists in an effort to cast a wide net in search for answers". There is a general lack of cohesion and conclusiveness to his efforts be it by design or by accident. At any rate, as a viewer you don't come away knowing too many answers. That said, there were a few interesting perspectives to be gleaned.

Historian and sociologist Ram Guha explains why an information technology driven economy is marginalizing older family members. Whereas an old farmer used to be well respected and valued in the community for a lifetime of experience in farming, the average IT workers have nothing to learn from parents and grandparents and so they are being increasingly discarded, left behind in old age homes. The wisdom of the elderly is no longer serving them or their progeny as well as it once used to.

Bijayini Satpathy, the renowned Odissi dancer associated with Nrityagram talks about how the the pursuit of the arts is suffering because the dragnet of easy money is luring a complete generation of young people towards call centers and the like. As a result, someone who has the temperament of an artist and could have accomplished a great deal if they had gone that route, is wasting their talent and energy as a call-center worker. It is as much the individual's loss to be the wrong profession as it is society's.

The young entrepreneurs and IT workers featured in the film, repeated the cliches about the optimum blend of eastern and western values and unlimited opportunity that India has to offer today. Unlike Satpathy or Guha they uniformly lacked depth of perspective to make sense of what is happening around them or the vision to see what the future might hold for them.

While it is great that the Indian youth of today is bullish about the country's and their own prospects , that they are willing and able to take risks that would have been unthinkable even one generation ago, it would be heartening to see it tempered by a few reality checks along the way. Clearly, unlike
Sramana Mitra who talks about the death of outsourcing in India they are not expecting the party to end any time soon.

The youth interviewed had precious little to offer by way of
thoughtful consideration of the many challenges in the way of leading a rich and fulfilling life while being part of a system that extracts such a steep price for material success. That should come as no surprise - after all sobriety and full-on partying don't usually go together.

6 comments:

ggop said...

HC,
I agree with the cost advantage going down to 1:3 from 1:6 years ago.
Also in the comments section of her article someone mentioned high quality outsourcing to Europe.

I know someone in an EDA company who chose Eindhoven over India for reasons like - good supply of PhDs and low attrition compared to Bangalore.

People also bristle at talk of slowdown. Case in point :

http://ecophilo.blogspot.com/2008/10/smell-of-something-burning.html

(Sorry dumb with the whole links thing)

oneandonly said...

"Whereas an old farmer used to be well respected and valued in the community for a lifetime of experience in farming, the average IT workers have nothing to learn from parents and grandparents and so they are being increasingly discarded"

This argument makes sense if a lot of farmers' children are switching to IT industry :-), or "farmer" is used as a metaphor here(which I don't think is the case). Elderly may be increasingly discarded, but the reason given is not very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd like to ask Ms. Satpathy why they go away to call centers. Perhaps she could tell us how Nrityagram has been decaying ever since Protime Gauri left...why they make do with dancers hired from Orissa...where are the bright minds who joined Nrityagram and what abyss have they disappeared into? There are times when they have abandoned the place to go on tours as long as seven months. When the Guru is away for seven months, what do the students do? Spend their days taking care of the dogs and farming? No wonder they find the call center a more fruitful destination.

Anonymous said...

oh i meant Protima Gauri*

AMIT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AMIT said...

Very good written on this topic.

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