Monday, September 17, 2007


George P. Alexander, Diversity and India

Continuing the dialog with George Alexander who is a software developer in India...

George, I am going on the attack but not for the reason you may initially assume. I don't like India because they are adopting more of a Western mindset. Us men are immoral, power hungry inhumane savages who only care about making money and almost never take a pause to think about the human condition. Within India, women are the moral fiber which makes India a rich cultural treasure chest. Women are modest in their behavior and don't dress like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, the divorce rate is incredibly low whereas in America there are more folks who have been divorced than who stay married. Some aspects of Indias culture towards the treatment of women are horrific such as burning women to avoid dowry but other aspects are Godly across all religions practiced there. As you participate in a larger global ecosystem, I would love to see India bloggers encourage their fellow countrymen to remain open minded but not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Can we agree that if folks are doing this on their free time that their employee isn't involved and therefore Infosys isn't participating in the larger community? Can we acknowledge that training, creating solutions and consulting says that they use open source but don't contribute to it? Can we acknowledge that if they are using open source in an RND way but this RND stays private that it is not open source?

My question wasn't about training as I know this occurs. My question was specifically about books. Awhile back, I blogged that a friend of mines who went to India mentioned that none of the folks he met had any recent books on their desks. He also mentioned that many of the books that were there were bootlegged copies that were printed on rice-like paper. The conversation came up in the context that we were both book authors and did notice that not only our respective statements from various publishers showed that book sales in China were order of magnitudes higher when compared to India but couldn't find any book author that have contradicting royalty statements. One take is that Indian outsourcing firms don't buy books for individuals and only their libraries. Another take is that they don't buy books at all and leave it to the individuals to acquire at the cheapest way. Another take still is that folks simply rely on google to find their information. I would hate to think that as a client if I outsourced production support activities that folks didn't have readily accessible information and had to rely on google for the answers.

I wonder if you have ever noted that I have encouraged this behavior for American businesses as well? Have you ever thought about the consumer perspective of outsourcing? The usual pattern is that when an American company outsources work to India, they tend to at many levels cripple the level of access afforded to them in the name of security. If you acknowledge that a pattern frequently found is that offshore folks don't have the same levels of access as onshore folks then you must equally acknowledge that the ability to serve the consumer in many circumstances may also be affected. While the tactic I suggest harms the innocent call center workers who are simply attempting to earn a living, it does have a trickle down effect to the bottom line of evil corporations that don't treat their customers as being important.

I bet you don't also know that harrassment and complaining can be a good thing in terms of customer service as well? If you voice your opinion loud enough, many companies will buy you off by sending you coupons, free merchandise and so on. In other situations, complaining also works to a consumers advantage. For example, if you have a Sprint cell phone and want to cancel service yet your two year contract isn't up, the best way to get out of it is to not pay for termination charges that can be as high as $175 but to start complaining. Sprint tracks the number of calls that each customer makes to their call center and determines which are the most expensive customers and fires them.

I am happy to note that George knows that I am not anti-outsourcing in general and in fact believe that it makes sense in some situations. I would be curious to know though if he has any thoughts as to why I may have certain beliefs. What do others think my perspective is on India? Maybe this is an opportunity for him to ask me questions?

I do thank George for helping me see things through his lens. Part of being diverse has nothing to do with what race, religion, ethnic origin or gender one is but the ability to be savage in the pursuit of understanding others. I still have one other question that I didn't ask that is related to charity. One observation I have is that folks in India IT outsourcing firms expect their employer to handle charity and eschew direct participation / conversation about this. I understand time constraints but is this the right mindset that employees should have? If not, what would it take to get India based bloggers to talk about charity within their own blogs and to help spread the wealth?

I will be in India speaking at a conference in February and would love to network with fellow Indian bloggers and look forward to having many face to face conversations. Hopefully, we can dig deeper into the meaning of from incite comes insight and not think of it as request/response but an ongoing dialog where one truly wants to understand another's culture.

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