Hindi-Chini.. Bhai Bhai…?

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June 16th, 2010 Praveen Bose

When Foxconn’s, the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components worldwide and mainly manufactures on contract to other companies, some bones are falling off the skeletons in the Chinese cupboard. With signs of employee frustration and disgruntlement coming out in the open, the western media has begun to celebrate the beginning of the end of the factory floor of the World.

The spate of suicides, allegedly due to employee frustration and work pressure, is starting to tell on the reasons for the success of the China model. I have seen some China-baiter Indians rubbing their hands in glee. They feel it’s only a matter of time before its India’s turn to dominate the world stage like China is doing today.

Only a couple of summers ago, there were the ‘experts’ who were saying that while China is the factory of the world, India only complements it by being the back-office of the world.

The worker riots are on the rise in China and hundreds of factories are said to have suspended work as a result of the worker unrest. All a result of the long working hours and poor wages. They have no way of venting their ire. The only worker unions are those controlled by the Communist Party. The frustration among workers that had been suppressed… and suppressed over the years is boiling over.
But, has this woken anyone up in India? I doubt. The backoffice of the world could also come to this one day. The BPOs and IT services firms are many a time said to be glorified sweat-shops. The concept of employee rights is often considered anathema. But, all have a facade to show they are great places to work in… and so on…,

While organised unions are frowned upon. But, employees have no one to fight for their rights.
Unions destroyed Bombay’s cloth mills. So, are we set to see an era… perhaps a few summers hence… when the IT/ITeS firms may find itself in the same position that the manufacturing sector in China is in today.

I am keeping my fingers crossed. The Americans are set to face tough times…, of rising cost of manufactured goods and also higher cost of the IT services they require.

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8 Responses to “Hindi-Chini.. Bhai Bhai…?”

  1. Pucca ghati Says:

    Praveen Bose is the pseudonym of Amartya Sen . Mahalanobis copied the Soviet Style Planning model using Harrod Domars LSE rubbish and the Delhi school of economics is so entrenched in the Planning commission and the PMO that we have Manmohan Singh a DSE apparatchik as PM and Montek the Madmax without a job as side kick !and we can’t get rid of either ! With the Italian [word removed — Ed.] at the helm and Rahul’s Venezuelan [words removed] squeeze to follow , Amartya Sen’s gang has covered all bases . Now Amartya Sen wants all Indian jobs NOT in Bengal to go to his beloved China and Bangladesh ! Has he been inside a FOXCONN assembly line or for that matter any of the Pearl Delta sweat shops ? and then has stepped into an Indian Architectural or Technical design office exporting design to the US/EU ? No !! Our set-ups are more luxurious than many offices in the EU and US . Aircon, clean toilets ,ergonomic chairs , Coffee and Tea on tap, Batavada or Sabudana anytime , a proper Thali ( veg mainly) and subsidised transport . Send him to Pakistan or China’s gulag in occupied Tibet .

  2. Carmita Says:

    Are we seeing an attempt by professional trade unionists trying to bring in an adversarial and confrontational environment into the fast growing Indian BPO industry? Having thoroughly destroyed the Indian textile industry everywhere and all manufacturing industries in West Bengal and Kerala in particular through violent agitations, trade unionists are now wanting to destroy India’s service industry! No wonder Bengali and Malayalee trade unionists are at the forefront of this effort! We witness maximum growth in those States of India where trade unions are kept under a tight leash and where the overall public sentiment is NOT viscerally anti entrepreneur as is the case in Kerala and West Bengal. Trade Unions have a vested interest in maintaining an atmosphere vitiated with grievances in a “we versus they” polarized sense. The Indian BPO goes out of its way to include employees in various tiers of decision making and above all treats them as social equals. This is the real reason why trade unions find it impossible to attract any BPO employee into its fold.

  3. ravi Says:

    I agree every tooth and nail with ‘Espad’, BPOs have provided a wonderful earning opportunity to young aspiring indians, who just before a decade found jobs to be highly difficult to get. 10 yrs back a salary of 8-10 k was very decent, today a simple school/college dropout can earn anywhere from 15-30k as a beginner. This has contributed enormously to the self esteem and independency of the new generation vis a vis improving the living standard of Indian middle class………

  4. seve Says:

    It is amusing to read such self indulgence and self parody of the union. In my opinion there is no doubt that
    a militant and a corrosive union power is a disaster for any organisation, be its operational efficacy or its
    ability to generate profitability. Forget India, the recent case in point is the way the B.A. in U.K.is being gradually destroyed by the collective and vested interest of the union.Rowdy and volatile power of the unions
    must be kept at arms length, in any efficient and able organisation. The comparison of China and India, is
    very far fetched. India model is based on vibrant democracy,on the contrary the China model is based on
    autocratic and repressive system. History tells that in the long run democratic model is far superior and successful.

  5. Archana Says:

    The FoxConn story is a pretty sad one but very reflective of what companies anywhere in the world and not just in China would do under the guise of “affordable labour”. Im sure India isn’t any different either and its only a matter of time before sweatshops in India working for multinationals are exposed

  6. Christy Says:

    Typical of Bengalis trying to get a foothold into a sector where the “Unions” are not really a force yet - with shrinking market places in WB & Kerala, no wonder they are looking for greener places to spread their laziness and anti-establishment attitude !!

  7. deep Says:

    The author seems to be a Sinophile (another typical Bong) who’s out to target “China-baiters”!!

    I don’t understand how u can compare menial labour of China to graduate labour in Indian BPOs…who sit in AC offices in front of computers, check their emails daily and chat with their friends online!

  8. Espad Says:

    It is surprising Praveen Bose suspects the Indian IT/ITeS firms to be “glorified” sweat shops where employees are ruthlessly exploited at low wages! Absolutely wrong! The fate of the Indian BPO depends entirely on the quality of service rendered by its employees who face customers all the time - unlike the Chinese workers of Foxconn or Honda whose disgruntlement gets reflected in bad quality that is perceived by the customer with a great lag - though given the Chinese setup where the Communist party controls trade unions and strikes are strictly forbidden, “trouble” makers among workers are quickly isolated and fired.

    In contrast, the Indian BPO is an open organization with constant dialogue between management and workers. Workload, working conditions, etiquette in dealing with customers, salary and incentives are all discussed threadbare and problems are solved in their incipient stage itself rather than being allowed to fester and tell upon customer satisfaction. The absence of trade unions in the BPO industry has not been a deterrent to employees airing their views on any issue and management always listens to their views with care and dispatch.

    Are we seeing an attempt by professional trade unionists trying to bring in an adversarial and confrontational environment into the fast growing Indian BPO industry? Having thoroughly destroyed the Indian textile industry everywhere and all manufacturing industries in West Bengal and Kerala in particular through violent agitations, trade unionists are now wanting to destroy India’s service industry! No wonder Bengali and Malayalee trade unionists are at the forefront of this effort! We witness maximum growth in those States of India where trade unions are kept under a tight leash and where the overall public sentiment is NOT viscerally anti entrepreneur as is the case in Kerala and West Bengal. Trade Unions have a vested interest in maintaining an atmosphere vitiated with grievances in a “we versus they” polarized sense. The Indian BPO goes out of its way to include employees in various tiers of decision making and above all treats them as social equals. This is the real reason why trade unions find it impossible to attract any BPO employee into its fold.

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