Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Advertising and the truth of the matter

I will theorize when I stop laughing:)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And now for something completely different!

Via SAJAforum,

In the Onion, an ad for the Onion book of fake news:

Also follow the debate on SAJAforum.

While the image is interesting to me from a representation and discourse point of view (notice the conflation of religion, technology and disease and deprivation), let me state for the record that I find it spectaculary un-funny.

But coming back to the point, what I am interested in is the work that this image does...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Women in call centers

There has understandably been a large amount of concern expressed over issues of safety for women working in the night shifts in Indian call centers. An article I found on MSN asks How safe are girls on graveyard shifts?

The statistics are telling (so is the title of the article). Three cases of violence that have garnered large amounts of attention in the media.

"November 3 2007: Jyothikumari, a Wipro BPO employee in Pune was raped and murdered by her driver.
December 13 2005: Pratibha Srikantamurthy, a HP Globalsoft employee in Bangalore, was raped and murdered by a person who posed as the cab driver
August 6 2005: A cab driver threw acid on the face of a 22-year old girl working in a Pune BPO when she resisted the advances made by him.
With headlines like these bursting out of our morning newspapers, is it any surprise that parental hearts skip a beat when their daughters board the cab to work on a US or UK shift at the BPO company?

The rest of the article seems to ostensibly lay blame on the inability of the company to check the antecedents of cab drivers and on employees who get "over-friendly" with them. Questions of the structural violence against women in Indian public space and the short arm of law remain hidden.

Also, it is wise to remember that it was only in 2005 on account of the call center industry that the Factories Act of 1948 was amended to provide for protection to women on night shifts. Until then, there had always been women workers in factories and SEZs where it was not required that the organization provide safety measures. Women were always working the night shift, but the amendment was more of a lawful recognition and provision of tantamount rights.

A question of class...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Today, as I did my usual google trawling for call centers and health, I ended up where I didn't think I would.

New HIV/AIDS Threat In India Found Among Youth Working At Call Centers, Researcher Says

Unprotected sex with multiple partners among young staff in India's call centers has emerged as a new HIV/AIDS threat in the country, Suniti Solomon, the researcher who detected the first HIV case in India in 1986, told the International Congress on Infectious Diseases on Saturday, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports.

According to Solomon, such risky behavior among "call center Romeos," who typically work at night to correspond with the daytime working hours of their U.S. and European clients, has become a great concern. Solomon said, "They have all the money. They huddle together in the night. They are young, they are sexually active, so naturally they start." (italics mine)

What do I make of that last sentence? Brings to mind several extremely charged images. The article goes on to state how the fight against HIV/AIDS has been hampered by extreme conservatism, including opposition to male circumcision.

The various interpretations of conservatism. It seems ironic that the very notion of liberalism embedded in the supposedly promiscuous lifestyle of call center workers leads to consequences like AIDS that cannot be combatted on account of male workers' conservatism.

P.S Solomon is further is reported to have said, "You will see call center Romeos are a major high risk for HIV".

The same article is also reproduced on China Daily.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007


why is an article on New Delhi call centre cabs out in Qatar's leading English daily?

The Brits are in town!

As my usual search phrases, "call centre" crawled across Internetia, this is what they came up with:
(The article is from 2004 by the way!)

Indian outsourcer imports Brits

Indian outsourcer GTL is evaluating its local staff by importing British graduates to work as agents at its Pune call centre.

The 10 graduates from Britain will join GTL’s Pune staff of 500 and will work on par with their Indian counterparts at a salary of 150 pounds (US$268) per month and a contract that affords them two months paid leave after ten months of work to travel around India. "The only thing extra that we are providing them is shared accommodation in the city," GTL senior vice-president Pradeep Phadke said.

Phadke told reporters the project was a "bench-marking exercise". "Our main objective is to find out the performance of a British employee vis-a-vis his Indian counterpart, while servicing the same client. We are interested in knowing whether the former is more effective than the Indian in selling the company. Secondly, the aim is to have an informal inter-mingling of the people from both the countries for a better understanding of the cultures, mindsets and accents."