Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I Made an Indian Woman Cry and Promise to Quit her Job in 60 Seconds

"I made an Indian woman cry and promise to quit her job in 60 seconds. You can do it too!"

According to this report in the Times of India, call centre workers in the country are receiving more abusive and racist phone calls in the last few months.

The same report also quotes similar messages calling for a campaign to harass call centre operators in India, to put an end to the offshoring of jobs. Sample a few:

"I've been doing this about 20 minutes a day. It's great fun!"

"I have inside knowledge of call centres, having worked in several. It's crucial that the agents be efficient. Barraging them with 60-second calls will ruin their stats and also lower their morale. Eventually, they'll start thinking 'another damn rude American a******' every time a call comes up. All of this will have a cumulative effect. If 100 people across the US would commit to spending 10 minutes a day, we could cripple them, and bring those jobs back to the US."

What will be the impact of such a campaign by disgruntled Americans? The Internet, for all its strenghths, also allows cowards to start such campaigns and garner support for them -- something that cannot be managed with the same ease in any of the other mediums -- print, radio, or TV.

Will the attacks gather more strength? Will we soon see a cyber campaign targeting other BPO jobs in India? And how will we Indians respond? Call-center workers will probably have to grit their teeth and bear it. However I fear that many of the others partculary those with a presence in software and on the net, might not stay silent. This has the makings of a full blown war in cyberspace.

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