Friday, July 2, 2010

Indian IT Sweatshops Exploiting Cyber Coolies?

India's IT sector business is essentially driven by low-cost call centers, first-line tech support, simple repetitive code writing, and execution of pre-defined test suites. A typical Indian IT worker is increasingly being called a "cyber coolie" or sometimes a "code coolie", the former term having been coined by an astute Indian columnist Praful Bidwai back in 2003.

India has become the world’s top provider of business-process-outsourcing (BPO) call centers, with revenues nearing $50 billion a year by selling cheap back-office services. The call center revenue constitutes the bulk of India's IT exports.

Harish Trivedi of Delhi University has characterized India's call centers as "brutally exploitative" and its employees as "cyber coolies of our global age, working not on sugar plantations but on flickering screens, and lashed into submission through vigilant and punitive monitoring, each slip in accent or lapse in pretence meaning a cut in wages."

An Indian blogger Siddarth Singh says that "one cannot dispute the fact that our IT industry is at best a glorified labor provider, and our feted “IT Giants” have failed to provide even a single proprietary product which could create waves in the global IT industry (perhaps except Finacle, a banking and finance solution by Infosys, and which is used by a number of MNC banks around the globe).

Siddarth asks the question, "So, what does Indian industry actually excel at?" Then he offers the following answer: "Well, we are the leaders in the so called IT Enabled Services, or ITES. These are basically services such as BPOs, call centers, KPOs etc, which extensively use IT to provide backend and customer services to primarily overseas customers. That our ITES industry is hugely dependent on foreign clients is also not a secret anymore, with hardly any Indian company enlisting the services of such companies".

A recent letter from a Bangalore based Indian IT worker addressed to the editors "The Hindu" newspaper read as follows:

This is how people in the West have started referring to people in developing nations. In the old days, of course, we Indians were referred to as "coolies" because we provided cheap labour. Nowadays, we are being called "cyber coolies".

Why? Because most software companies find it cheaper to get their job done in countries like India and other developing nations. There are many people in the U. S. and Britain who raise a hue and cry when jobs get exported to countries like India — especially jobs related to call centres and the software industry.

The fact that they refer to us as coolies shows that they haven't lost their imperialist outlook....


People and the media are often misled by "R&D" in the name of some of the western companies' locations in Bangalore.

In reality, Bangalore appears to be the code coolie capital of the world...it's not about tech, it's about cheap labor performing low-level tasks at rock-bottom wages. It's just cost arbitrage in the service sector.

I have no doubt there are some smart techies in India doing leading edge high-technology work, but these are exceptions. The overwhelming majority of the so-called IT work in India is call centers or low-level routine software tech support, maintenance, testing, etc. which is widely described as code coolie work. It's mostly about cost arbitrage, not advanced tech.



The call center business in India is unregulated by government, exposing workers to working in small spaces for long hours, close monitoring, and harsh working conditions. This is of considerable concern to some of the call center workers in light of the Bhopal tragedy and its aftermath which are symptomatic of how little Indian democracy cares for its people...be they industrial workers or cyber coolies in bondage who are exploited, held back and their lives totally controlled by foreigners under the "high-tech" and "IT" labels.

Even the identities of call center workers are changed in the same way as were those of the African slaves in the West. They are forced to take on western names and put on fake accents to please their customers in the West for a few bucks. The sad part is that, after over 60 years of independence from the British, some of the Indians still crave western approval and boast about the polls showing high approval ratings of India in the US. It shows that Indians' mental slavery after "globalization" is much more powerful than the physical slavery they endured for over a thousand years.

There are reports that some of the cyber coolies of India are beginning to revolt, according to the Times of London. They are creating “e-unions” and are planning to target British and American clients in a campaign to improve their working conditions.

Some of them are now protesting over low pay and aggressive management that will not negotiate with traditional trade unions, according to the Times story.

Instead of appealing to the deaf ears of Indian government or unresponsive managements of Indian-owned BPO firms, their strategy is to approach their British and American clients for support. Those who refuse may face a sabotage campaign by the same workers who have helped cut their costs.

Here is a pre-view of the upcoming NBC serial "Outsourced" about call centers in India selling to Americans:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's IT Industry

Reality Check on Indian IT

ICT: Hope or Hype?

Truth About India's IT Revolution

Education in Pakistan

Musharraf' s Legacy

Quality of Higher Education in India, Pakistan

Pakistan's IT Industry Takes Off

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Software Successes

Pakistan's Industrial Sector

Pakistan's Financial Services Sector

Auto Sector in India and Pakistan

Pakistan Textile Industry Woes

Pakistan Software Houses Association

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

'The overwhelming majority of the so-called IT work in India is call centers or low-level routine software tech support, maintenance, testing, etc. which is widely described as code coolie work. It's mostly about cost arbitrage, not advanced tech.'

umm you don't start as a nation anywhere in any industry doing bleeding edge work you have to start small and move up the value chain.The Japanese cars were low end shoe boxes in the 50s,30 years later they beat GM/Ford in their own backyard.
The kind of work Indian IT is doing has been steadily increasing in complexity as well as revenue/resource.

The thing is you will be hard pressed to find many successful IT product companies outside the US even Germany has just one SAP.

But still there are encouraging signs Finacle of Infosys is just one product,look up TCS's Bancs(Bank of China runs on this),I-flex Revulus/Flexcube,Polaris Bankone,Newgen Omnidocs etc etc
The signs are encouraging roughly 20% of the $70 billion USD revenue is high end projects and products and the share should be around 50% by 2015 so...

Basides lets face it you would love to see Pakistan earning this much money from doing very similar kind of work,BTW are there any major successes in the IT products space from the Pakistani IT industry??

Riaz Haq said...

Indian college grads are lining up for coolie jobs in the Indian Rail system, according to a Times of India report:

Sanap and Kudalkar are among the 1,311 applicants — many of them graduates with additional professional qualifications — vying for 79 jobs that don’t guarantee them any income every day. The applicants have to go through a stringent process before being sent for the final selection.

After finishing a 1,500-metre run in seven minutes, the applicants are sent for a medical screening. ‘‘Half of the applicants turn up for the medical tests and only those who pass that test are eligible for the post,’’ Central Railway PRO Anil K Singh said.

The long list of applications coming from graduates doesn’t come as a surprise to the railways. ‘‘Many of these porters don’t even stick to the rates specified by the union and end up raking in extra money. Moreover, they also get promotions on a regular basis,’’ Singh said. Former railway minister Lalu Prasad had introduced a scheme through which porters could be promoted as railway gangmen. ‘‘Once they get hired as a porter, they can look forward to the job of a gangman. This is the main attraction for all the applicants,’’ added Singh.

As to the code coolie work, Ratan Tata of TCS said yesterday that the focus now "would be to climb the value chain in a bid to differentiate its services from competition."

It's obvious from the statement that Tata knows it. TCS is all low-value coolie work done in its sweatshops....its only differentiation is the lowest possible cost, nothing else.

Anonymous said...

'It's obvious from the statement that Tata knows it. TCS is all low-value coolie work done in its sweatshops....its only differentiation is the lowest possible cost, nothing else'


TCS is a $5 billion/year global top 10 IT services company.How many times of Pakistan's ENTIRE IT industry would that be??
Its also growing at 25% per annum.Must be doing something right.

Most IT outsourcing globally is low end stuff even accenture,EDS etc do plenty of low end work in the US.The high end outsourcing in typically done to captive subsidaries GE Bangalore etc not third party players.

TCS has a suite of products like BANCS core banking systems etc..
This along with the financial services business accounts for around 30% of its revenue.
It executes projects like creating trading platform for stock exchanges Johanesberg Stock exchange and Canadian stock exchange platforms were built by TCS.

So your criticism of TCS being a coolie work company is a bit rich specially given Pakistan's IT industry which is not even able to get much low end work, an average TCS major deal size is $100 million USD.A really big deal would be USD 500 million +.

A typical Pakistani IT deal would be $5 million that too only about 3-4 a year.


Oh and the TATA group,Annual revenue USD 80 billion growing at 20% p.a.This is much bigger than Pakistan's ENTIRE INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT

Riaz Haq said...

“Most Indian (call center) employees have a six-day, 60-hour week, with 30 minutes each day for lunch and two breaks of 15 minutes each to go to the toilet,” said one of the two Indian union leaders. Many Indian call center workers are recent college graduates, or those who dropped out of school at age 20, drawn by relatively high salaries for younger workers — 15,000 rupees a month, or approximately $318.

“The work intensity is very high,” in Indian call centers, Bhattacharjee said. And overtime pay is infrequent, if paid at all, the union leaders said.

http://www.peoplesworld.org/cwa-and-indian-unions-take-on-call-centers/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Financial Times story about India's code coolies marriage prospects:

Pen-pushers are now outshining technology whizz-kids in India’s arranged marriage market as parents look to pair off their daughters with grooms who have more secure job prospects.

As the global financial crisis bites, public servants with steady employment are back in vogue as the ideal marriage partners, according to matrimonial website operators and matchmakers.
“In the marriage stock market, IT workers and investment bankers are the toxic assets,” said Pratik Kumar, human resources head at Wipro, India’s third-largest IT outsourcing company.

Since the recession, Indian families have been increasingly cautious about marrying their daughters off to overseas Indians because of the bad economy in the west. Now they are becoming wary of their own country’s “techies” and bankers.

“This is the first time we’ve seen a pullback from a steady increase in the acceptance of IT grooms,” said Gaurav Rakshit, business head at matrimony website Shaadi.com, where Indian families shop for spouses for their children.

Shaadi.com reported a 30 per cent shift away from IT grooms towards other industries, particularly civil servants and managers at state-owned companies who have higher job security and recently were awarded a large pay rise.

Top of the scale are civil servants, those from the ultra-elite Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service.

Kavita Reddy, a banker and mother of 26-year-old Bhavna, is one Bangalore parent who is becoming pickier when it comes to finding a life partner for her child. “A steady income leads to a happy life.

“I am not looking for someone from the finance market or the IT sector for my daughter, for obvious reasons. An IAS [officer] is the best. Doctor is the next.”


http://forums.sulekha.com/forums/coffeehouse/code-coolies-the-toxic-assets-in-marriage-market-946649.htm

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f7042236-30fa-11de-8196-00144feabdc0.html
Code coolies - the toxic assets in marriage market

gunam said...

Exploitation is the name of the game. What are the developed world doing to other. In every level it is happening everywhere.

Atleast this gives them a decent job. There is so much unemployment in india, this is a boon. The growth in india is driven by this 50 billion dollar which is going to retail by 40% minimum.

So it is ok as it provide vocation. But the fun is that america wants to compete with these cyber cooly no less than the president obama that he wanta buffalo and not bangalore.

gunam said...

Further i would say that the cyber coolies are to some extent the distributor of wealth in india. Otherwise the labour was treated as bonded labours. Today the labour dignity has started from these industry to other industry as in these industry the labour is everything and the consumer is usa is very finiky. i have the experience of working in a big private sector bank and in IT industry and i would say the IT industry in india is far better off than the others. That brings in the exploitation level in other business.

This 50 billion actually created the demand push for many industries in india which had created the cascading effect of income increase in many sector and also the unorganized labour sector also.

Hope our union leader does not come and kill this market. Sucessfull the trade union killed the cloth mill business in mumbai which never could be revived.

staff themself does not want a union as their pay are higher and they feel that the skill has got mobility once they are experienced.

Anonymous said...

Johann Hari: How Goldman gambled on starvation

Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?






http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html

Anonymous said...

Adoration - Hindu style


THE 'FIELD COMMANDER'

Debabrata Mohanty


Bhubaneswar: Till about two years back, BJP MLA Manoj Pradhan, 37, was just another RSS activist in Kandhamal. He was also a staunch follower of Laxmanananda Saraswati, who was emerging as the leader of the Hindu brigade in the region. Pradhan had his following, but not enough to get him elected to the G Udaygiri Assembly seat, which he contested as an Independent in 2004.

But all this changed on August 23, 2008, when Laxmanananda was killed in his ashram at Jalespeta in Kandhamal. Pradhan transformed himself overnight, taking on a key role in the Kandhamal riots as he incited youths to avenge Laxmanananda’s killing. The mobs would raid Christian households, loot them, and burn their properties.

Earlier this week, a fast track court sentenced Pradhan to seven years rigorous imprisonment in connection with the death of a Dalit Christian during the riots. He was convicted under Sections 147 (rioting) and 326 (causing grievous hurt) of IPC in the case related to the killing of Parikhita Nayak, a Dalit Christian from Budedi village under Raikia police station of Kandhamal, on August 27, 2008.

There are five other cases pending against Pradhan, three of which are related to murder.

A Kondh tribal, Pradhan, who dropped out of school after Class X, is the son of a farmer in Patalisahi village. He fashioned himself as a champion of Hindutva in Raikia, a stronghold of Christian missionaries. “He was hugely popular among Hindus in Raikia. The youth adored him,” says State BJP spokesman Ashok Sahu.

“Without doubt, he was the leader of the 2008 violence,” says Fr Joseph Kalathil of the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Diocese.

But a police official in Kandhamal says Pradhan was more like a “field commander” who carried out other people’s orders effectively.

In March last year, deposing before a riot court in Kandhamal, a girl described how a mob led by Pradhan “cut and burned her father to death”. The girl’s parents and sister had taken refuge in the forest to escape the mob, but they were tracked down.

Soon after the riots, Pradhan was arrested from a lodge in Berhampur town. During the Assembly elections last year, he managed to secure the BJP ticket for the G Udaygiri seat. Despite fighting the elections from behind bars, he successfully polarised the majority Hindu votes in his favour. Pradhan won the seat, getting 43 per cent of the total 9.2 lakh votes, defeating his nearest rival, Ajayanti Pradhan of the Congress, by an overwhelming majority.

Considering his popularity in the region, it does not come as a surprise that BJP leaders are not ready to write him off. Instead, they describe him as a dedicated partyman who has been framed. “The attempt to charge him in the riot cases is most unfortunate,” says Sahu. “We are certainly going to appeal against the order in High Court,” he adds. [IndianExpress.com]

gunam said...

Is it not clear that somebody is getting convicted in india. What are the track records else where is for others to thing about for themself

Data Cruncher said...

there you go again Riaz. Showing your envy and inferiority complex in not so subtle way.

China also has serious problems of sweatshop, in fact far worse. NYT carried a series of article recently when suicides happened in foxconn. I didn't see any article from you.

Latest Business-week has an article about 3Billion dollar Delhi Airport opening next week. It is as good as it can be, after Banagalore and Hyderabad airport. All a result of India having 300 billion dollars reserve , thanks to cyber coolies and pharma coolies (Hyd is referred as pharma capital of india).
All major indian cities is investing in rapid transport and building it too.

And our Pakistan. What do you think the world sees it as?
The world of Shehzad Faisal?

It is high time you write something about how to bring Pak out of mess (which I think is not possible unless the role of religion is reduced to irrelevance), instead of writing about India. Indian is leagues ahead of Pakistan and rightfully so.

Data Cruncher said...

and yesterday's WSJ has an article "India's June auto sales increased by 30.5%". Coolies zindabad.

What is the status of auto industry in Pak? All figures indicate a declining industry since more and more Pakistanis are finding themselves in a position where they can't afford cars.

The trouble with you is that you are blind to such facts and keep living in your fantasy world where Pakistan is as progressing as India is. You see you never show what Pakistan is doing as a measure of progress. All you show is that India is bad, as if that automatically proves Pakistan has achieved something. Grow up.

anoop said...

Riaz,

To your luck I've worked for both a call taking profile(during college days) and have been a code coolie ,as you like to put it(now).

You claim that call centers pay peanuts and work long hours! Nothing can be farther from the truth. When I used to work part time I used to work for 4 or 6 hrs a day. I used to work for 9 hours(8+1 hour break) when I stated full time. They used to pay me handsomely and the time I spent there was great! I miss it.

My work now is very exciting and I've had the pleasure of observing the kind of technologies Indian companies are working on. Many of the product software life-cycle has moved to India in the past ten years which provide high quality products at a fraction of the rate done in the US or EU. The question now is why not move the tech jobs into India!

There are 2 kinds of services India is known for- low tech and high tech. Both are booming like never before. Infact, there are more opening in the low tech sector than the number of qualified graduates(with good communication skills) that could fill them. Maybe if the visa restrictions are lowered we can invite unemployed Pakistanis to work in these low tech jobs. That atleast will prevent them from turning into Faisal Shahzads.

Data Cruncher said...

Anoop, I recently opened a case with Microsoft for a SQLServer bug. The entire case was handled by India. The quality of support as good as I get here and the bug was hard to reproduce rare bug. Indians are now competing with Americans for 6 figure jobs.

gunam said...

On my personal experience i can mentioned that the indians learnt their business through the bpo and foreign company experience are implementing the same in india. Best example is hdfcbank started by hdfc with ex-ceo of citi singapore. Ten rupees share is rocking at 2000. Premium of hdfcbank is the much higher than the so foreign bank like citi as it has given to the market investment 30% year on year.

I know many of these guys worked in this company has gone all over the world for great salary at senior position.

Indian have done what japanese did to american in production but india has done that in service sector

anoop said...

@Data Cruncher,

That Bug was worked on probably in the Microsoft Building right opposite to where I work which is inside a Huge Tech Park in Bangalore.

@Riaz,

I am happy to tell you that in the past 1 year about 40 jobs have moved from Canada to Bangalore and 55 from Australia to Bangalore(Massive Multi Million dollar account of a major Airline Industry Giant from Australia). I've seen presentations from my seniors who plan to move 50 more jobs based on the same deal. I can promise you that they will move those 50 jobs. I've seen it happening.

Indians are certainly not complaining to be code coolies or whatever. I understand its below the dignity of Pakistanis to do such filthy,disgusting work as working in a BPO/Call Center. They are proud people.

Anonymous said...

Riaz,
I feel sorry, when you try to prove a non existing point.
Given a option you publish it, I would reply in one sentence, digest if you can.

ITS BETTER TO BE CODE COOLIES THAN WAR COOLIES

sukhoi_30MKI said...

I worked for 3 years in IT industry my feeling is that what ever the writer said is exactly true.
I don't think Indian IT industry is high end tech industry it is rather service driven doing low tech coding. Again it depends on the company. The three It giants Infosys, TCS and lastly Wipro are all service based companies which will do the left over works of the off shore industries by hiring graduates.
The infrastructure and the facilities they provide are essential to get the most out of the employees nothing more. I would rather prefer quality work for less hours. I don't think in near future it will change.
But there are companies which are doing high tech projects which are a beacon of hope for India.
Especially Wipro is a worst company of all the three one should regret to join this f*** company. Those guys suck with their f****** policies and with their ***** HRs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting my earlier comment “ITS BETTER TO BE CODE COOLIES….”

Certain jobs mainly sourced to specific skills based on availability and business parameters.
The phenomenon of outsourcing is still evolving, so is the outsourced companies trying to meet the expectations.
The question is not about the “Quality work outsourced” but quality work delivered. There is lot of work and life balance required, this will happen as we get more realistic management of outsourced job.

You cannot crib when you are getting paid. I hope that clears everything.

gunam said...

Hi

Yes with the recession in west and the greed for profit in the mind of big companies in india like tcs, wipro, slowly ites is also becoming an exploitation game.

Further this problem is aggravaated by the following :

1. Reduction in outsourcing opportunity
2. local american ready to work with less salary
3. no. of engineer getting out of the colleges are more
4. many of the people who grew became arrogant and had lost their skills or failed to reskill themself
5. currency arbitrarage is coming down
real estate and associate cost of operations in india has gone up to the sky
6. many mortage companies have got closed who had outsourced large junk of money
7. captive bpo are selling off to india companies to shore up their capital adequacy

There are lot of challenges and the market avaailable for growth is coming and down where as the particpant has increased and many are in the low end work rather than creating niche value added propositions.

chimung said...

I was feeling sad India was not represented at the World Cup in South Africa, until i came upon this.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2002965,00.html

Doesn't sound like Slave/Coolie work to me. Also to occupy pride of place among the signboards at the WC is no mean feat. Satyam must have pipped to the post the likes of IBM and Accenture who have mega budgets for this kind of stuff.

Anonymous said...

yes Mahindra Satyam has bagged the contarct for NBA AND SINGAPORE JUNIOR OLYMPICS.

anoop said...

Yeah. Tech Mahindra held a massive recruitment drive in Bangalore early this year which went on for about 3 months! Thousands attended and hundreds got selected. Traning in Pune for one of my Juniors from school.

Everyone is hiring big nowadays. Especially TCS and Infy has said it'll increase its workforce by 3000k today. Good news all around. Recession has helped India. Now, everyone sees how low the cost of doing business in India is. Thats great news!!

Here, is an interesting read.

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/entry/training-the-secret-of-india

Riaz Haq said...

In Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic rise of China and India, Mr Bardhan says it is not clear whether economic reforms are mainly responsible for the recent high growth in India.

Reforms have made the country's corporate sector more vibrant and competitive. But, he says, most of the Indian economy is not in the corporate sector, which absorbs only 6% of India's labour force. The fast growing info-tech sector - India's pride- employs less than 1% of India's workforce. Services - financial business services and telecommunications where reforms may have made a significant impact - constitute only about a quarter of the total service sector output. "It is yet to be empirically and convincingly demonstrated how the small corporate sector benefiting from reforms pulled up a vast informal sector," says Mr Bardhan.

Globalisation's impact on economies has been a divisive issue with economists. Some say it sharpened inequities and made the poor poorer; others believe it has pulled lots of people out of poverty.

Mr Bardhan isn't very sure about either.

He cites India's national household data, which suggests that poverty did not decline sharply in 1993-2005, when India experienced extensive opening up of its economy. Social indicators like child health remained - and remain - abysmally poor. At the same time, the growth rate in agriculture, where most of the poor work, has declined somewhat in the past decade. This is largely because of the decline of public investment in farm infrastructure and has nothing to do with globalisation, argues the economist.

Globalisation also does not appear to have helped in boosting India's social development indicators, Bardhan suggests. How else can one explain that Gujarat, the country's richest, high-growth, reform-friendly state, has a higher percentage of underweight children than sub-Saharan Africa?

Mr Bardhan suggests China's stunning growth rates (9% on an average) in the early years of liberalisation - 1978 to 1993 - happened because of domestic factors - farms reforms, distribution of land cultivation rights - which raised rural incomes.

Also, contrary to popular perception, China's growth has not been primarily export driven, the book argues. Bardhan shows how domestic investment and consumption have been the main drivers of China's growth. No doubt globalisation and economic reforms have trigged off economic growth but, as Bardhan argues, most of us may have overstated their importance.

Source: Biswas on BBC.com

anoop said...

India's Cyber Coolies are at it again.

DailyTimes,a Paksitani newspaper, says,"It looks like an iPad, only it’s 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touch screen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

If the government can find a manufacturer, the Linux operating system-based computer would be the latest in a string of “world’s cheapest” innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the 100,000 rupee ($2,127) compact Nano car, the 749 rupees ($16) water purifier and the $2,000 open-heart surgery."


It further adds,"
The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too — important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands — though that add-on costs extra. “This is our answer to MIT’s $100 computer,” human resource development minister Kapil Sibal told the Economic Times when he unveiled the device Thursday. In 2005, Nicholas Negroponte — cofounder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab — unveiled a prototype of a $100 laptop for children in the developing world. India rejected that as too expensive and embarked on a multiyear effort to develop a cheaper option of its own. Negroponte’s laptop ended up costing about $200, but in May his nonprofit association, One Laptop Per Child, said it plans to launch a basic tablet computer for $99. Sibal turned to students and professors at India’s elite technical universities to develop the $35 tablet after receiving a “lukewarm” response from private sector players. He hopes to get the cost down to $10 eventually.

Mamta Varma, a ministry spokeswoman, said falling hardware costs and intelligent design make the price tag plausible. The tablet doesn’t have a hard disk, but instead uses a memory card, much like a mobile phone. The tablet design cuts hardware costs, and the use of open-source software also adds to savings, she said. Varma said several global manufacturers, including at least one from Taiwan, have shown interest in making the low-cost device, but no manufacturing or distribution deals have been finalized. She declined to name any of the companies. India plans to subsidize the cost of the tablet for its students, bringing the purchase price down to around $20. The project is part of an ambitious education technology initiative, which also aims to bring broadband connectivity to India’s 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online. So far nearly 8,500 colleges have been connected and nearly 500 web and video-based courses have been uploaded on YouTube and other portals, the Ministry said."

anoop said...

India's Cyber Coolies are at it again.

DailyTimes,a Paksitani newspaper, says,"It looks like an iPad, only it’s 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touch screen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

If the government can find a manufacturer, the Linux operating system-based computer would be the latest in a string of “world’s cheapest” innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the 100,000 rupee ($2,127) compact Nano car, the 749 rupees ($16) water purifier and the $2,000 open-heart surgery."


It further adds,"
The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too — important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands — though that add-on costs extra. “This is our answer to MIT’s $100 computer,” human resource development minister Kapil Sibal told the Economic Times when he unveiled the device Thursday. In 2005, Nicholas Negroponte — cofounder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab — unveiled a prototype of a $100 laptop for children in the developing world. India rejected that as too expensive and embarked on a multiyear effort to develop a cheaper option of its own. Negroponte’s laptop ended up costing about $200, but in May his nonprofit association, One Laptop Per Child, said it plans to launch a basic tablet computer for $99. Sibal turned to students and professors at India’s elite technical universities to develop the $35 tablet after receiving a “lukewarm” response from private sector players. He hopes to get the cost down to $10 eventually.

Mamta Varma, a ministry spokeswoman, said falling hardware costs and intelligent design make the price tag plausible. The tablet doesn’t have a hard disk, but instead uses a memory card, much like a mobile phone. The tablet design cuts hardware costs, and the use of open-source software also adds to savings, she said. Varma said several global manufacturers, including at least one from Taiwan, have shown interest in making the low-cost device, but no manufacturing or distribution deals have been finalized. She declined to name any of the companies. India plans to subsidize the cost of the tablet for its students, bringing the purchase price down to around $20. The project is part of an ambitious education technology initiative, which also aims to bring broadband connectivity to India’s 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online. So far nearly 8,500 colleges have been connected and nearly 500 web and video-based courses have been uploaded on YouTube and other portals, the Ministry said."

anoop said...

India's Cyber Coolies are at it again.

DailyTimes,a Paksitani newspaper, says,"It looks like an iPad, only it’s 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touch screen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

If the government can find a manufacturer, the Linux operating system-based computer would be the latest in a string of “world’s cheapest” innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the 100,000 rupee ($2,127) compact Nano car, the 749 rupees ($16) water purifier and the $2,000 open-heart surgery."


http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\07\24\story_24-7-2010_pg3_1

Hmm, unveiling a product in response to MIT! Damn the Cyber Coolies. How dare they work at a fraction of the price Americans and the rest of the Developed world do,nevermind converted to Rupees its a handsome amount in India!

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an Indian report about Pakistani hackers attacking India's FBI (called CBI) website:

New Delhi, Dec 6: Exposing India's weakness in information technology, the premier investigative agency, Central Bureau of Investigation has failed to restart its hacked official website even after 48 hours.

The CBI website (http://cbi.nic.in/), which was hacked by Pakistani hackers, remained offline on Monday, Dec 6. The failure indicates the credibility of Indian IT sector, which is considered as one of the leading exporter of 'brainees' to the Western countries.

The official website of CBI was hacked on Friday, Dec 3 night by unknown hackers, who claimed themselves as "Pakistan Cyber Army". The hackers infiltrated to the root level and left a note saying that the attack was a response to the hacking of Pakistan websites by Indian hackers.

The note left by Pakistan hackers read, "This attempt is in response to the Pakistani websites hacked by 'Indian Cyber Army'. We told u before too...we are sleeping but not dead". The note ended with "Pakistan Zindabad."

Later on Saturday, CBI officials released a statement describing that they were working hard to fix he issue and also registered a case under Information Technology Act against 'unknown' hackers.

"A case has been registered in this connection in the cyber crime cell of the CBI and efforts are underway to restore the website with the help of National Informatics Centre and the CBI cyber security experts," the statement said.

Another Indian report raises questions about the vulnerability of outsourced work in India to hacking, and it says: "Once, our national leaders cried for the 'brain drain' happened to India. Even now, US President Barack Obama urging Americans to compete with India 'brainees'. But the hacking of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s website exposed the 'real' credibility of Indian IT power."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on lagging research in India:

DHARWAD: India may not compete with other countries in the field of science and technology (S&T) if our scientists fail to make serious efforts to improve the track record in the field of scientific research and development (R&D), said VTU vice-chancellor H Maheshappa.

Inaugurating a six-day workshop on `Graph algorithms' jointly organized by the department of Computer Science, Karnatak University, and VTU here recently, he said India's track record in the field of scientific R&D has remained insignificant when compared with countries like China. This trend has to be changed if we really wish to emerge as successful competitors and carve a niche for India in the field of S&T, he said.

Pointing out the progress achieved by China in this regard, he said China is far ahead of India in the field of scientific R&D. "While the researchers from China file hundreds of patent applications everyday, India stands not even nearer to China in this respect. He said India has potential, including talented pool of teachers and researchers, state-of-the-art research institutes and financial investment by the government for the promotion of scientific R&D.

Expressing concern over the lack of teachers with research background in technical educational institutes, he said though the state has nearly 200 engineering colleges, the number of teachers with research degrees is minimal. "This scenario has to be changed. VTU has plans to tie up with universities like Karnatak University to assist engineering college teachers on understanding of basic science and research methodology," he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story titled "India Graduates Millions, But Too Few Are Fit to Hire":

BANGALORE, India—Call-center company 24/7 Customer Pvt. Ltd. is desperate to find new recruits who can answer questions by phone and email. It wants to hire 3,000 people this year. Yet in this country of 1.2 billion people, that is beginning to look like an impossible goal.

So few of the high school and college graduates who come through the door can communicate effectively in English, and so many lack a grasp of educational basics such as reading comprehension, that the company can hire just three out of every 100 applicants.

India projects an image of a nation churning out hundreds of thousands of students every year who are well educated, a looming threat to the better-paid middle-class workers of the West. Their abilities in math have been cited by President Barack Obama as a reason why the U.S. is facing competitive challenges.

Yet 24/7 Customer's experience tells a very different story. Its increasing difficulty finding competent employees in India has forced the company to expand its search to the Philippines and Nicaragua. Most of its 8,000 employees are now based outside of India.

In the nation that made offshoring a household word, 24/7 finds itself so short of talent that it is having to offshore.

"With India's population size, it should be so much easier to find employees," says S. Nagarajan, founder of the company. "Instead, we're scouring every nook and cranny."

India's economic expansion was supposed to create opportunities for millions to rise out of poverty, get an education and land good jobs. But as India liberalized its economy starting in 1991 after decades of socialism, it failed to reform its heavily regulated education system.

Business executives say schools are hampered by overbearing bureaucracy and a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension. Government keeps tuition low, which makes schools accessible to more students, but also keeps teacher salaries and budgets low. What's more, say educators and business leaders, the curriculum in most places is outdated and disconnected from the real world.

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys," says Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a recruitment firm that also runs job-training programs for college graduates lacking the skills to land good jobs.

Muddying the picture is that on the surface, India appears to have met the demand for more educated workers with a quantum leap in graduates. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students, nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a trade group.

But 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are unemployable by India's high-growth global industries, including information technology and call centers, according to results from assessment tests administered by the group.

Another survey, conducted annually by Pratham, a nongovernmental organization that aims to improve education for the poor, looked at grade-school performance at 13,000 schools across India. It found that about half of the country's fifth graders can't read at a second-grade level.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian IT services company Infosys has come under scrutiny for bringing in low wage Indians on business visas to work on projects to get around limits on numbers of H1-B visa allowed each year, according to NY Times:

Last week, Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, the senior Democrat on the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill that would increase the wages employers would have to pay H-1B workers, in an effort to ensure they do not undercut Americans. The measure is specifically aimed at Indian outsourcing companies. Last year, Congress added an extra $2,000 to the fee for H-1B visas, in another move aimed at the Indian companies.

Yet the criminal investigation is perhaps the most worrisome development for Infosys, which enjoys a reputation as one of India’s best-run and most respected companies. The events began with Mr. Palmer, 43, a project manager from Alabama who was hired by the company in 2008. In a sworn affidavit he submitted to the federal court, Mr. Palmer said his differences with Infosys management began after he was summoned to a meeting in Bangalore in March 2010. Top executives, he said, discussed ways to “creatively” get around H-1B visa limitations “to fulfill the high demand for its customers at lower cost.”

In general, B-1 visas are granted to business visitors coming to the United States for short stays to attend meetings, conferences or training sessions, or to install specialized equipment. Visitors may not be employed for contract work like H-1B workers, nor can they be paid salaries in this country. There is no annual limit on business visitor visas, whereas H-1B visas are restricted to 85,000 a year.

Mr. Palmer said his supervisors asked him to write letters inviting workers to come from India for sales and training meetings, letters he believed were false. “I refused to write the letters,” he said.

After word got out of his refusal, Mr. Palmer said, he was chastised by his managers and began to receive threats by e-mail and telephone. In October, Infosys has confirmed, Mr. Palmer filed a whistle-blower report about B-1 visa holders from India assigned to projects he or others managed. His report said the B-1 visa holders were doing the same tasks as workers on H-1B visas, including writing and testing software code. Mr. Palmer said he personally knew of at least 60 Indian workers doing contract work on B-1 visas.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/22/us/22infosys.html?scp=1&sq=infosys&st=cse

Riaz Haq said...

The jobs stolen by Indian and other foreign IT firms to hire code coolies in their country have cost the US middle class many many trillions of dollars and decimated their std of living in America.

Even Andy Grove, former Intel CEO, believes outsourcing has been a disaster for America:

Such evidence stares at us from the performance of several Asian countries in the past few decades. These countries seem to understand that job creation must be the No. 1 objective of state economic policy. The government plays a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces and organization necessary to achieve this goal. The rapid development of the Asian economies provides numerous illustrations. In a thorough study of the industrial development of East Asia, Robert Wade of the London School of Economics found that these economies turned in precedent-shattering economic performances over the '70s and '80s in large part because of the effective involvement of the government in targeting the growth of manufacturing industries.

And:


However, our pursuit of our individual businesses, which often involves transferring manufacturing and a great deal of engineering out of the country, has hindered our ability to bring innovations to scale at home. Without scaling, we don't just lose jobs -- we lose our hold on new technologies. Losing the ability to scale will ultimately damage our capacity to innovate.


http://www.drudge.com/archive/136003/intel-exec-outsourcing-national-suicide

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian Op Ed on disappearing middle class jobs in America and Europe:

...."Knowledge work", supposedly the west's salvation, is now being exported like manual work. A global mass market in unskilled labour is being quickly succeeded by a market in middle-class work, particularly for industries, such as electronics, in which so much hope of employment opportunities and high wages was invested. As supply increases, employers inevitably go to the cheapest source. A chip designer in India costs 10 times less than a US one. The neoliberals forgot to read (or re-read) Marx. "As capital accumulates the situation of the worker, be his payment high or low, must grow worse."

We are familiar with the outsourcing of routine white-collar "back office" jobs such as data inputting. But now the middle office is going too. Analysing X-rays, drawing up legal contracts, processing tax returns, researching bank clients, and even designing industrial systems are examples of skilled jobs going offshore. Even teaching is not immune: last year a north London primary school hired mathematicians in India to provide one-to-one tutoring over the internet. Microsoft, Siemens, General Motors and Philips are among big firms that now do at least some of their research in China. The pace will quicken. The export of "knowledge work" requires only the transmission of electronic information, not factories and machinery. Alan Blinder, a former vice-chairman of the US Federal Reserve, has estimated that a quarter of all American service sector jobs could go overseas.

Western neoliberal "flat earthers" (after Thomas Friedman's book) believed jobs would migrate overseas in an orderly fashion. Some skilled work might eventually leave but, they argued, it would make space for new industries, requiring yet higher skills and paying better wages. Only highly educated westerners would be capable of the necessary originality and adaptability. Developing countries would obligingly wait for us to innovate in new areas before trying to compete.

But why shouldn't developing countries leapfrog the west? Asia now produces more scientists and engineers than the EU and the US put together. By 2012, on current trends, the Chinese will patent more inventions than any other nation. As a new book – The Global Auction (by sociologists Phillip Brown, Hugh Lauder and David Ashton) – argues, the next generation of innovative companies may not be American or British and, even if they are, they may not employ American or British workers.

It suggests neoliberals made a second, perhaps more important error. They assumed "knowledge work" would always entail the personal autonomy, creativity and job satisfaction to which the middle classes were accustomed. They did not understand that, as the industrial revolution allowed manual work to be routinised, so in the electronic revolution the same fate would overtake many professional jobs. Many "knowledge skills" will go the way of craft skills. They are being chopped up, codified and digitised. Every high street once had bank managers who used their discretion and local knowledge to decide which customers should receive loans. Now software does the job. Human judgment is reduced to a minimum, which explains why loan applicants are often denied because of some tiny, long-forgotten overdue payment.

Brown, Lauder and Ashton call this "digital Taylorism"....

Riaz Haq said...

Is India losing its cost edge? A British co thinks so, according to the BBC:

A telecommunications company is moving one of its call centres from India to Lancashire in a move that is expected to bring 100 jobs to the area.

New Call Telecom transferred its business to Mumbai three years ago, but increased costs has prompted it to move to Burnley.

The move will initially create 25 jobs which over the year will increase to 100, the company said.

Salaries are expected to be around the £14,000 mark.

Chief Executive Nigel Eastwood said: "Employees (in the UK) are loyal, unemployment rates are quite high.

"In contrast, in India jobs are plentiful and we suffer a lot from attrition.

"A similar call centre down the road may offer a more lucrative salary and pull staff away and we need to keep going out there for retraining."
'Pleasant' accent

He added that over the last year he had seen a growing trend in India for prices to increase in real estate, salaries and accommodation.

The price of the Burnley premises, which already have the necessary technology, contributed to the firm's decision to move.

Mr Eastwood said another draw for the company is that the east Lancashire accent is "quite pleasant and easy to understand".

He said: "The average call handling time in the UK should be reduced because people get their point across on the first pass, that makes us more efficient."

The new call centre is planned to be fully operational by mid-August.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-14025904

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a critical analysis of Tom Friedman's "Flat World" on India:

In the first chapter of his bestseller on globalization, The World Is Flat, three-time Pulitzer Prize–winning foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times Thomas Friedman suggests that his repertoire of achievements also includes being heir to Christopher Columbus. According to Friedman, he has followed in the footsteps of the fifteenth-century icon by making an unexpected discovery regarding the shape of the world during an encounter with “people called Indians.”

Friedman’s Indians reside in India proper, of course, not in the Caribbean, and include among their ranks CEO Nandan Nilekani of Infosys Technologies Limited in Bangalore, where Friedman has come in the early twenty-first century to investigate phenomena such as outsourcing and to exult over the globalization-era instructions he receives at the KGA Golf Club downtown: “Aim at either Microsoft or IBM.” Nilekani unwittingly plants the flat-world seed in Friedman’s mind by commenting, in reference to technological advancements enabling other countries to challenge presumed American hegemony in certain business sectors: “Tom, the playing field is being leveled.”

The Columbus-like discovery process culminates with Friedman’s conversion of one of the components of Nilekani’s idiomatic expression into a more convenient synonym: “What Nandan is saying, I thought to myself, is that the playing field is being flattened… Flattened? Flattened? I rolled that word around in my head for a while and then, in the chemical way that these things happen, it just popped out: My God, he’s telling me the world is flat!”

No compelling justification is ever provided for how a war against deterrables will solve the problem of undeterrables who by definition cannot be deterred.

The viability of the new metaphor has already been called into question by Friedman’s assessment two pages prior to the flat-world discovery that the Infosys campus is in fact “a different world,” given that the rest of India is not characterized by things like a “massive resort-size swimming pool” and a “fabulous health club.” No attention is meanwhile paid to the possibility that a normal, round earth—on which all circumferential points are equidistant from the center—might more effectively convey the notion of the global network Friedman maintains is increasingly equalizing human opportunity.

An array of disclaimers and metaphorical qualifications begins to surface around page 536, such that it ultimately appears that the book might have been more appropriately titled The World Is Sometimes Indefinitely Maybe Partially Flat—But Don’t Worry, I Know It’s Not, or perhaps The World Is Flat, Except for the Part That Is Un-Flat and the Twilight Zone Where Half-Flat People Live. As for his announcement that “unlike Columbus, I didn’t stop with India,” Friedman intends this as an affirmation of his continued exploration of various parts of the globe and not as an admission of his continuing tendency to err—which he does first and foremost by incorrectly attributing the discovery that the earth is round to the geographically misguided Italian voyager.

Leaving aside for the moment the blunders that plague Friedman’s writing, the comparison with Columbus is actually quite apt in other ways, as well. For instance, both characters might be accused of transmitting a similar brand of hubris, nurtured by their respective societies, according to which “the Other” is permitted existence only via the discoverer-hero himself. While Columbus is credited with enabling preexisting populations on the American continent to enter the realm of true existence by reporting them to European civilization, Friedman assumes responsibility for the earth’s inhabitants in general without literally having to encounter them.


http://www.guernicamag.com/features/3284/fernandez_12_1_11/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a summary of Call Center bill intriduced in the US Congress, as published by Huffington Post:

Saying they hope to stem the tide of jobs heading overseas, legislators introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday in the House that would punish American corporations for offshoring their telephone call centers, making such companies ineligible for grants or guaranteed loans from the federal government.

Introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), the protectionist legislation would also put some aggressive mandates on call-center operations. Not only would customer service representatives working overseas for U.S. corporations have to disclose their locations upon request, they would also have to offer callers the option of being transferred to call centers back in America.

"Outsourcing is one of the scourges of our economy and one of the reasons we are struggling to knock down the unemployment rate and reduce the number of Americans who are out of work," Bishop said in a conference call with reporters. "We can't prohibit it, but we can certainly discourage it."

Although some call-center jobs have trickled back into the U.S. in recent years, the long-term trend has shown thousands of American-based customer service positions being outsourced to India and the Philippines, where workers come considerably cheaper. The Philippines' call-center industry recently surpassed India's as the largest in the world, according to a report in USA Today.

The call-center bill has strong backing from the Communications Workers of America, a union representing 700,000 workers, more than 150,000 of whom are customer service reps. Ron Collins, CWA's chief of staff, said that Americans have been losing decent-paying call-center jobs so that large corporations can save on labor costs. He praised AT&T for its decision to bring 5,000 customer service jobs back to the U.S. as part of its merger with T-Mobile.

"When I talk about this, I talk about it from experience," said Collins, a former Verizon call-center worker. "This bill is a very important step forward -- for jobs, for workers and for customers."


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/07/overseas-call-centers-outsourcing-bill_n_1135147.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an Asia Times review of a book titled "The Imperial Messenger" criticizing NY Times columnist Tom Friedman's work:

A new book on the influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman sets out to debunk his hawkish, neo-liberal views, accusing him of overt racism, factual errors and skewed judgments on issues ranging from the United States invasion of Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Deconstructing one of the country's highest-paid journalists, Belen Fernandez's The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work presents a comprehensive overview of the man - and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner - she describes as "characterized by reduction of complex international phenomena to simplistic rhetoric and theorems that rarely withstand the test of reality".
-----------
The Imperial Messenger looks at Friedman's obsession with US global dominance, his Orientalism vis-a-vis the Arab/Muslim world, and his special relationship with Israel.
--------------
Fernandez explained that the first chapter, "America", incorporates Friedman's "cheerleading of punitive economic systems at home and abroad" while the "Special Relationship" chapter delves into the inconsistencies of his persona as a serious critic of the Jewish state.

"His criticism, of course, is limited to intermittently encouraging the Israelis to slightly curtail settlements," Fernandez told Inter Press Service (IPS). "Not because he cares about the plight of non-settlers, but because he wants to avoid a situation in which Palestinians demand equal rights in a multiethnic democracy."

As an example, Fernandez cites his advocacy of the war in Iraq "to create a free, open and progressive model in the heart of the Arab/Muslim world to promote the ideas of tolerance, pluralism and democratization".

She says Friedman wrote this after having said in 2002 that "unless the US encourage(s) alternative energies that will slowly bring the price of oil down and force Arab/Muslim countries to open up and adapt to modernity - we can invade Iraq once a week and it's not going to unleash democracy in the Arab world".

In the same year, Friedman classifies the invasion of Iraq as "the most important task worth doing and worth debating", even while admitting that it "would be a huge, long, costly task - if it is doable at all, and I am not embarrassed to say that I don't know if it is".

In the "Arab/Muslim World" chapter, she quotes Friedman as concluding that the "short answer" for why the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in response to 9/11 "is because Pakistan has nukes that we fear and Saudi Arabia has oil that we crave".
------------
After stripping down columns, articles and his books, Fernandez said her perception of Friedman worsened from beginning to end.

"I realized how truly criminal his behavior is, whereas before I had thought of him more as a somewhat amusing purveyor of mixed metaphors who had by accident ascended to the post of New York Times foreign affairs columnist," she told IPS.

"The New York Times is totally complicit in Friedman's crimes, just as it was complicit in selling the whole business of the Iraq war. The degenerate state of the mainstream media, which actively sides with corporate profit over human life, is simply a testament to the importance of alternative media outlets."


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/ML10Dj01.html

Riaz Haq said...

Results of PISA international test released by OECD in Dec, 2011, show that Indian students came in at the bottom of the list along with students from Kyrgyzstan:

Students in Tamil Nadu-India attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that is significantly higher than those for Himachal Pradesh-India and Kyrgyzstan, but lower than all other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 17% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This means that 83% of students in Tamil Nadu-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
Students in the Tamil Nadu-India attained a mean score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale as the same observed in Himachal Pradesh-India, Panama and Peru. This was significantly higher than the mean observed in Kyrgyzstan but lower than those of other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 15% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
Students in Tamil Nadu-India were estimated to have a mean score on the scientific literacy scale, which is below the means of all OECD countries, but significantly above the mean observed in the other Indian state, Himachal Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu-India, 16% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.


http://www.acer.edu.au/media/acer-releases-results-of-pisa-2009-participant-economies/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Russian analyst Anatol Karlin on India's prospects and its comparison with China:

It is not a secret to longtime readers of this blog that I rate India’s prospects far more pessimistically than I do China’s. My main reason is I do not share the delusion that democracy is a panacea and that whatever advantage in this sphere India has is more than outweighed by China’s lead in any number of other areas ranging from infrastructure and fiscal sustainability to child malnutrition and corruption. However, one of the biggest and certainly most critical gaps is in educational attainment, which is the most important component of human capital – the key factor underlying all productivity increases and longterm economic growth. China’s literacy rate is 96%, whereas Indian literacy is still far from universal at just 74%.
-----------
The big problem, until recently, was that there was no internationalized student testing data for either China or India. (There was data for cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, but it was not very useful because they are hardly representative of China). An alternative approach was to compare national IQ’s, in which China usually scored 100-105 and India scored in the low 80′s. But this method has methodological flaws because the IQ tests aren’t consistent across countries. (This, incidentally, also makes this approach a punching bag for PC enforcers who can’t bear to entertain the possibility of differing IQ’s across national and ethnic groups).
--------------
Many Indians like to see themselves as equal competitors to China, and are encouraged in their endeavour by gushing Western editorials and Tom Friedman drones who praise their few islands of programming prowess – in reality, much of which is actually pretty low-level stuff – and widespread knowledge of the English language (which makes India a good destination for call centers but not much else), while ignoring the various aspects of Indian life – the caste system, malnutrition, stupendously bad schools – that are holding them back. The low quality of Indians human capital reveals the “demographic dividend” that India is supposed to enjoy in the coming decades as the wild fantasies of what Sailer rightly calls ”Davos Man craziness at its craziest.” A large cohort of young people is worse than useless when most of them are functionally illiterate and innumerate; instead of fostering well-compensated jobs that drive productivity forwards, they will form reservoirs of poverty and potential instability.

Instead of buying into their own rhetoric of a “India shining”, Indians would be better served by focusing on the nitty gritty of bringing childhood malnutrition DOWN to Sub-Saharan African levels, achieving the life expectancy of late Maoist China, and moving up at least to the level of a Mexico or Moldova in numeracy and science skills. Because as long as India’s human capital remains at the bottom of the global league tables so will the prosperity of its citizens....


http://www.sublimeoblivion.com/2012/02/04/china-superior-to-india/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about growth of B2B transactions led by tradekey.com in Pakistan:

The global B2B e-commerce transactions have crossed US$ 12.4 trillion milestone in 2012 which was just US$ 3.4 trillion in 2005. If Pakistani businesses explore the online business opportunities, Pakistan has enormous potential to increase its exports many fold within few years.

These views were expressed by Hafiz Saqif, head of global business expansion of TradeKey while addressing the MIT enterprise forum Pakistan, at IBA Campus. TradeKey, a Pakistani B2B online portal which is ranked 3rd largest business to business website in the world, facilitates over US$ 100 million import/export transactions every month through its website.

Tradekey claims that world over the online trade business is touching new heights but Pakistan doesn’t have any substantial share in online trade. Internet is the future of Pakistani economy and if we utilize the full potential of opportunities available on the internet, country can easily accelerate its exports many fold.

The senior TradeKey official emphasized on the need to utilize universities and academia in developing resources that can explore the true strength of online businesses. He also shared the next year plan of TradeKey in reviving Pakistani exports by laying a comprehensive corporate club program that smartly integrate resources from the manufacturing industry and teams them up with universities students having online exposure. This, Tradekey claims, will not only reduce the gap between the industry and the online world but will also develop a pool of skilled resources that can take Pakistani export to the next level.

TradeKey facilitates importers and exporters worldwide by providing them with the opportunity to interact with the businesses of their interest around the world through its website. TradeKey is Pakistan’s first and only Business to Business website and has its major clientele in US and China. Over US$ 100 million buying and selling that takes place through TradeKey website is mainly from US, China and Europe.


http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/04/03/pakistan-crosses-global-b2b-e-commerce-transactions-of-12-4-trillion-in-2012/#.T3o298XnI14

http://www.tradekey.com/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story of dearth of research in India:

NEW DELHI: At a time when India is being looked at as the next big knowledge superpower, this could come as a shocker. Just 3.5% of global research output in 2010 was actually from India. In most disciplines, India's share in global research output was actually much below this overall average count.

Sample this - India's share of world research output in clinical medicine was a meagre 1.9% in 2010, 0.5% in psychiatry, 1.4% in neurosciences, 1.8% in immunology, 2.1% in molecular biology and just 3.5% in environmental research.

In mathematics, India's share of world output stood at around 2% in 2010 while it was 17% for China. In case of materials sciences, India's share of world research stood at 6.4% in 2010 while China's stood at 26% -- a rise from 5% in 1996.

While India's research on physics stood at 4.6% in 2010, China's stood at 19%.

In 2010, India's largest shares of world research output were in chemistry (6.5%), materials science (6.4%), agricultural sciences (6.2%), pharmacology and toxicology (6.1%), microbiology (4.9%), physics (4.6%) and engineering (4.2%).

India is often referred to as the next big place for computer sciences. But the figures on its research is abysmally low. Only 2.4% of global research on computer sciences was from India in 2010 while the world share moved to three emerging research economies - China 15%, Korea 6.3% and Taiwan 5.7%.

India's global share of research in economics stood at 0.7% in 2010 while in social sciences it was worse - 0.6%.

The biggest declines in volume of research between 1981 and 2010 were in plant and animal sciences (-2.2%) and agricultural sciences (-1.6%). The most significant expansions were in pharmacology and toxicology (+4.2%), microbiology (+3.2%) and materials sciences (+3.1%).

These are the findings of the study on India's research output and collaboration conducted by Thomson Reuters and recently submitted to the department of science and technology.

"India has been the sleeping giant of Asia. Research in the university sector, stagnant for at least two decades, is now accelerating but it will be a long haul to restore India as an Asian knowledge hub. Indian higher education is faced with powerful dilemmas and difficult choices - public/private, access/equity, uncertain regulation, different teaching standards and contested research quality," the report said.

According to it, India's share of world output in engineering fell from 4.3% in 1981 to 2.2% by 1995. India later regained its lost share, increasing to 4.25 by 2010. However, even then, India was overtaken by China (16.4%), Korea (5.4%) and Taiwan (4.4%).

India, where agriculture dominates economic standards, had quite a large share in agricultural sciences which averaged 7.45% over the 1981 to 1995 period, well ahead of other emerging research economies. Its share, however, fell to 6.2% in 2010. Even in the field of plant and animal sciences, the global research output fell from 6.1% in 1981 to 3.9% in 2010.

The report said, "India has a long and distinguished history as a country of knowledge, learning and innovation. In the recent past, however, it has failed to realize its undoubted potential as a home for world class research."

It added, "During the 1980s and 90s, the output of India's research was almost static while other countries grew rapidly, particularly in Asia. China expanded with an intensity and drive that led it rapidly to overtake leading European countries in the volume of its research publications. India is just beginning on this gradient."


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-accounts-for-just-3-5-of-global-research-output-Study/articleshow/16551045.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Are robots competing with manufacturing workers at home and abroad? Here's CBS 60 Minutes on it:

-------

Andrew McAfee: Our economy is bigger than it was before the start of the Great Recession. Corporate profits are back. Business investment in hardware and software is back higher than it's ever been. What's not back is the jobs.

Steve Kroft: And you think technology and increased automation is a factor in that?

Erik Brynjolfsson: Absolutely.

The percentage of Americans with jobs is at a 20-year low. Just a few years ago if you traveled by air you would have interacted with a human ticket agent. Today, those jobs are being replaced by robotic kiosks. Bank tellers have given way to ATMs, sales clerks are surrendering to e-commerce and switchboard operators and secretaries to voice recognition technology.

Erik Brynjolfsson: There are lots of examples of routine, middle-skilled jobs that involve relatively structured tasks and those are the jobs that are being eliminated the fastest. Those kinds of jobs are easier for our friends in the artificial intelligence community to design robots to handle them. They could be software robots, they could be physical robots.

Steve Kroft: What is there out there that people would be surprised to learn about? In the robotics area, let's say.

Andrew McAfee: There are heavily automated warehouses where there are either very few or no people around. That absolutely took me by surprise.

It's on display at this huge distribution center in Devens, Mass., where roughly 100 employees work alongside 69 robots that do all the heavy lifting and navigate a warehouse maze the size of two football fields -- moving 10,000 pieces of merchandise a day from storage shelf to shipping point faster and more efficiently than human workers ever could.
..
---------
Erik Brynjolfsson: IBM's deep QA system that plays "Jeopardy," we had a contest here that played against our best MIT students, the best Harvard students we could put it up against. And not surprisingly, Watson won. And it's being used in real practical applications now on Wall Street and in call centers. Siri -- millions of people are using that every day.

Andrew McAfee: The fact that computers can now understand and respond to human speech, the fact that they can actually generate prose of decent quality, they can drive cars, they can win at Jeopardy. We're seeing technology demonstrate skills that it's never, ever done before.
------------
Rodney Brooks: If you're using robots to compete with a simple task that a low-paid worker does in a foreign country you can bring it back here and do that task here.

Steve Kroft: Baxter costs 22 grand?

Rodney Brooks: Yep.

Steve Kroft: How long does he last?

Rodney Brooks: It lasts three years.

Steve Kroft: Three years?

Rodney Brooks: So you can think that as 6,500 hours.

Steve Kroft: I think it works out to about $3.40 an hour?

Rodney Brooks: About that yeah.

Steve Kroft: $3.40, that's probably the wages of the Chinese worker, right?

Rodney Brooks: It's just about right there now....



http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57563618/are-robots-hurting-job-growth/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NPR report on the abuse of H1b visas:

If you scroll through the government's visa data, you notice something surprising. The biggest employer of foreign tech workers is not Microsoft — not by a long shot. Nor is it Google, Facebook or any other name-brand tech company. The biggest users of H-1Bs are consulting companies, or as Ron Hira calls them, "offshore-outsourcing firms."

"The top 10 recipients in [the] last fiscal year were all offshore-outsourcers. And they got 40,000 of the 85,000 visas — which is astonishing," he says.

Hira's a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He's also the son of Indian immigrants and has a personal interest in questions of labor flow across borders.

For the past decade, he's been studying how consulting firms use temporary work visas to help American companies cut costs. He says they use the visas to supply cheaper workers here, but also to smooth the transfer of American jobs to information-technology centers overseas.

"What these firms have done is exploit the loopholes in the H-1B program to bring in on-site workers to learn the jobs [of] the Americans to then ship it back offshore," he says. "And also to bring in on-site workers who are cheaper on the H-1B and undercut American workers right here."

The biggest user of H-1B last year was Cognizant, a firm based in New Jersey. The company got 9,000 new visas. Following close behind were Infosys, Wipro and Tata ‑‑ all Indian firms. They're not household names, but they loom large in tech places like the Seattle suburbs.

Cutting Costs

Rennie Sawade, a software designer with 30 years of experience, grew up in Michigan — watching the decline of the auto industry. And so, he went into computers in search of a more secure career. But that's not how it turned out.

"Basically, what I see is, it's happening all over again," Sawade says.

Programmers like him tend to be freelancers, or contract workers, and the big consulting firms are the competition. Sawade remembers when he almost landed a plum job at Microsoft.

"I remember having phone interviews and talking with the manager, having him sound really excited about my experience and he was going to bring me in to meet the team," Sawade recalls.

And then: nothing. He called his own placement agency to find out what happened.

"And that's when they told me, 'Oh, they hired somebody from Tata Consultancy.' And they actually told me on the phone, the woman I was talking to said her jaw just dropped when they found out how little Microsoft was paying this person from Tata Consultancy to do this job," he says.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/04/03/176134694/Whos-Hiring-H1-B-Visa-Workers-Its-Not-Who-You-Might-Think

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Thane Richard, a Brown University student who did a semester abroad at St. Stephens College in India:

“Wait, what?! You are studying here for three years just so you can go do it again for four more years?” I could not grasp the logic of this. What changed my understanding was when I started taking classes at St. Stephen’s College. Except for one, they were horrible.
This was not an isolated incident — all my fellow exchange students concurred that the academics were a joke compared to what we were used to back home. In one economic history class the professor would enter the room, take attendance, open his notebook, and begin reading. He would read his notes word for word while we, his students, copied these notes word for word until the bell sounded. Next class he would find the spot where the bell had interrupted him, like a storyteller reading to children and trying to recall where he had last put down the story. He would even pause slightly at the end of a long sentence to give us enough time to finish writing before he moved on. And this was only when he decided to show up — many times I arrived on campus to find class abruptly cancelled. Classmates exchanged cell phone numbers and created phone trees just to circulate word of a cancelled class. I got a text almost daily about one of my classes. My foreigner peers had many similar experiences.
---------------
To pause for a moment, here is the problem with me talking about this topic: right now many Indians reading this are starting to feel defensive. “Nationalist” is a term I have heard as a self-description as they defend Mother India from the bigoted, criticising foreigner. They focus on me rather than the problem. I have had people unfriend me on Facebook and walk out on meals because I politely expressed an opinion on politics or history that went against the publicly consented “Indian opinion.” For a nation that prides itself on the 17 languages printed on its currency, I am greeted with remarkable intolerance. Even after living in India for close to three years, attending an Indian college, working for an Indian company, founding an Indian company, paying taxes in India, and making India my home, I am not Indian enough to speak my mind. But in a nation that rivals all others in the breadth of its human diversity, who is Indian enough? Because if loyalty and a feeling of patriotism were the barometers for “Indianness,” rather than skin colour or a government document, then I would easily be a dual U.S.-Indian citizen. This Indian defensiveness is false nationalism. It is not a stance that cares about India, it is one that cares about what others think of India, which is not nationalism. That is narcissism.
My voice should be drowned out by the millions around me who are disappointed with how they have been short-changed by the Indian government — their government. Education is one of the most poignant examples of this and serves as great dinner conversation amongst the elite:
“The Indian education system is lost in the past and failing India.” Everyone at the table nods, mumbles their concurrence, and cites the most recent Economist article or Pricewaterhouse Cooper study on the matter in order to masquerade as informed....


http://www.thehindu.com/features/education/college-and-university/an-indian-education/article4683622.ece

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian story on US penalizing Infosys for violating visa restrictions:

Infosys Ltd said on Wednesday it has reached a $34m settlement with US authorities in a case involving the widespread practice by Indian firms of flying workers to client sites in the United States on temporary visas.

The fine, which the US Department of Justice said is the largest in a case of its kind, comes as US lawmakers consider legislation that would make it more difficult and costly for Indian IT firms to send workers to the United States on temporary, restricted visas.

"Infosys denies and disputes any claims of systemic visa fraud, misuse of visas for competitive advantage or immigration abuse. Those claims are untrue and are assertions that remain unproven," Infosys said in a statement.

"There were no criminal charges or court rulings against the company. Furthermore, there are no limitations on the company's eligibility for federal contracts or access to US visa programs as a result of the settlement," it said.

Infosys, India's second-largest IT services exporter, employs roughly 15,000 people in the United States. As of March 31, about 10,800 of those were on H-1B visas, which allow an employee to stay and work in the United States up to six years, and 1,600 were on temporary L-1 visas, a company filing said.

The US investigation focused on the use of B-1 business visas and I-9 forms, Infosys has said. I-9 forms verify the identity of employees and their authorisation to work in the United States. A person on a B-1 visa in the United States can participate in meetings but is not allowed to work.

"It is likely to add more fuel to the ongoing debate around visa reforms," Chirajeet Sengupta, practice director in Mumbai at Everest Group, which advises clients on technology vendors, said on Tuesday after reports that a settlement was imminent.

"These reforms, if executed, have the potential to impact Indian service providers' landed resource model that is largely driven by access to H-1B visas in large numbers," he said.

In its statement, Infosys said only 0.02% of the days that Infosys staff worked on US projects last year were performed by people on B-1 visas.

"The Company's use of B-1 visas was for legitimate business purposes and not in any way intended to circumvent the requirements of the H-1B program," the Bangalore-based company said.

Infosys has secured roughly one B-1 visa for every 10 H-1B visas, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be identified.

US authorities have been looking into Infosys' use of visas since 2011. Earlier this month, Infosys set aside a reserve of $35m, including legal fees, as it worked towards a resolution of the US investigation.

The case is "an important event in the annals of Indian IT industry," Sundararaman Viswanathan, a consultant in Bangalore with Zinnov, which advises US corporations on sending outsourcing work to India, said ahead of the settlement.

"This is a common issue amongst all the Indian service providers – just that Infosys had to deal with it," he said.

"Though the Indian service providers do not intend to flout the visa regulations, there was definitely a lack of regard for certain norms and procedures. This will be fixed. There will be an increase in onsite hiring," he said.


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/30/infosys-34m-settlement-us-department-justice-visa

peterparker said...

until and unless IT will not be used for domestic work , the IT sector of India will remain service based. The off shoring and outsourcing will be the name of the business. One of the factor which is now worrying Indian software engineers is that indian IT firms will recruit the labor from the country which provides low cost labor, philipines,egypt etc.