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Gaurav Sabnis, one of my favorite bloggers, proud IIML alumni, shining example of ideals over pecuniary gains, quiz - addict and Pune lover to boot, attacks the "call centres are low end" debate and adds some socio-political texture to the same.

In my opinion, this whole call-centre-bashing exercise is an unconscious expression of the deeprooted prejudices in our collective minds put in place due to the caste system. The whole idea of the caste system was, only a few jobs are respectable. All other jobs, be they menial or trade-related, were secondary. So what a brahmin does was admirable, while what the cunning sahukar or the filthy shudra does, was not.

These very prejudices led to the Indian middle class placing too much emphasis on medicine, bureaucracy, engineering and charterd accountancy as the A-grade professions. This unnatural order was further maintained due to the socialist policies of the state which led to unemployment as well as underemployment. So most people with a "mere" BA or BCom or BSc could not aspire to earn more than 1/4th of what an engineer earns. And no one thought there was anything wrong with that.

With the coming of even slightly free market policies, this changed. Improvements in technology made outsourcing a viable...rather a necessary practice. It started with software projects. Indian engineers through Indian companies worked on foreign projects and got paid good salaries. Everyone applauded. Suddenly "software engineer" or "programmer" were added to the A-grade list. The "brainy" engineers were now doing even better work than the early days.

But then call centers came. Anybody who spoke english, or even showed a willingness to learn could now earn good money. Thousands and lakhs of "lower" graduates, even under-grad students, could just work in a call centre and earn as much money as the software engineers!
A plush restaurant, an expensive discotheque on a weekend, mobile showrooms, car showrooms, apparel showrooms..... all these domains which were earlier restricted only to the engineer-doctor-types or the rich-kids were now invaded by hordes of call centre employees. The "caste system" was breaking down.


Excellent point, and one worth pondering on.

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