Heartburn over BPO jobs 

New Delhi: Fears of joblessness in the US have forced several states to introduce legislation seeking to prevent BPO (business processes outsourcing) jobs being farmed out to companies in other countries. India being a major beneficiary of this system has reasons to worry.

 Opposition to BPO has grown over the last few months as the slowdown in US economy has turned out to be more enduring than was expected. American jobs sourced out to India means fewer jobs for American citizens.

 India earns nearly $ 1.5 billion dollars every year from these jobs and employs 150,000 people in the sector that runs 400 call centres and produces high-quality software. India still remains the main choice for US companies mainly because of considerably lower wages and good quality of work. Much of the quality comes from excellent grasp of English language Indian youngsters working in these countries have got.

 Educated Indians as a whole are known to be better at English language than people from most countries.

 The first organised opposition to BPO jobs farmed out to India came from New Jersey where a bill was introduced in the state Senate seeking to bar such jobs from going abroad. It demanded that at least government contracts funded by US tax payers’ money should not go to places like India while US citizens themselves were losing jobs everyday.

There are chances of such resistance spreading to private US companies as well. Already across the Atlantic the major British trade unions have come together to thwart outsourcing as they expect joblessness to grow because of it.

During his US visit in mid-June India’s commerce minister Arun Jaitley raised the issue with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and other administration leaders. Jaitley later said there was no immediate threat to India’s BPO market as US industrialists themselves had been lobbying to protect it. US companies save $ 20,000 per year on every employee by farming out such jobs to Indian-based companies.

However, we have not heard the last on it as the states of Missouri, Connecticut, Washington and Maryland have prepared bills like New Jersey’s opposing jobs getting farmed out to cheap-labour countries.g

See related story: Growing Paranoia