Offshoring letters keep coming in

Letters: Roundup of Reg readers' writings

Letters to letters. We don't like to get too post-modern here at Reg Towers but we've received a fine selection of letters in response to a previous selection of letters we published. Offshoring or outsourcing is something every Reg reader has an opinion on, and we've yet to hear from two readers who agree.

First up we have a calm, detached and worldly view worthy of a Swami from David Evans:

Dear John,

I thought the criticism of your article on offshore job migration was a little on the harsh side, but I think there is a wider context that has not been mentioned either in the article or the published letters.

The average tea worker in Tamil Nadu, India, earns somewhere in the region of $1.50 per day (last I heard). They are paid based on the number of sacks of tea they bring in, and so if they are unable to work due to illness then they don't get paid.

Many of them suffer debilitating back problems as a consequence of the work. The water supplies are not clean, so dysentery and other conditions are common. To buy enough bottled water for one person each day would consume the entire wage packet. In fact, the wages are not enough to subsist on even in India - the workers are forced to borrow money from their employer just to live. They do get a pension, which results in a lump sum at the end of their career (should they make it that far, 'job for life' has several meanings). This works out nicely, as the lump sum is usually enough to pay off the debt, leaving them 'all square' when they retire. Indentured servitude, anyone? Yes please, as long as it's not me.

When I visited a tea field in the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, there was a sign in the factory (I have a photo). It said "Quality is Passport to Prosperity". I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or just vomit. Let's just say I made my choice, and somebody is going to have flavoured tea when they aren't expecting it.

The point is that given the choice between giving a programming job to a tea worker in India, or an unemployed programmer in Conneticut, which would be fairer? We in the USA and Europe have had our turn at the trough, excluding the rest of the world with the excuse that it's 'market forces' at work (which is code for 'greed and fear' any economist will tell you). The revenge that is currently being visited on us in the west is nothing compared to the suffering we have inflicted on India, China or elsewhere (and still do). Being unemployed in Connecticut is still better than being the average employee in India.

Having said that, the tea worker in India is still probably a tea worker, and unnaffected by the influx of hi-tech jobs into cities such as Bangalore. I hope it means an uptick in the overall prosperity for India that will eventually result in a better standard of living for all Indians, but there are over one billion of them, and so it will take time. In the meantime, unemployed US software engineers are always welcome in India. The locals enjoy a good laugh. Well, if you can't laugh, what can you do? That's what I always say.

Kind regards,

David Evans Southampton, UK

More perspective from an anonymous Indian IT student studying in the US:


And in particular, this.

might send your 2 correspondents throught the roof ... :) Of course, quoting Maddox can't be an argument, ever, but the point remains that people getting all het up over their jobs being "stolen" need to get real.

Especially in the high tech sector, outsourcing makes perfect sense, and they know it. Is there even a choice between paying a good engineer upwards of $75k here in the US and paying an equally qualified person $10k-$20k in India? To put that in perspective, while I was in high school in India, my dad was making $2400 a year and we were comfortably upper middle class. Even factoring in inflation since then, companies can afford to pay what are insanely competitive salaries in Asia, which are still a pittance compared to what they'd have to pay here.

Since I'm an Indian studying in the States, I'm probably biased, but I know a bunch of guys who did grad school here and went back home to take up a job. So by outsourcing, you're essentially getting people who were the cream of the crop ... makes sense to me. As for the H-1 jobs, again, people, give the companies a reason to hire you! The H-1 guys didn't get the job because they agreed to minimum wage - they were hired because they were the better option. Tough titty. My 2 cents.

And the final word goes to Andrew Barratt:

Feel it's necessary to defend John's article somewhat.

As for Mr Nodleman's rather feverish rant... Has he not asked himself "WHY am I not getting a job!" A quick search on numerous recruitment sites shows that there are thousands of jobs in the connecticut area.

The question I would ask is has Mr Nodleman been spending any of his unemployed time reading and skilling up on new technologies or simply technologies that are more in demand. I've lost track of the amount of my colleagues that have gone from develeopment contracts to infrastructure to support to whatever... Be Flexible! Read! and stop wasting time multiplying numbers from one state by all states to give some bloated overstated figure that argues your case for being a lasy bastard whilst you are unemployed.

Outsourcing is inevitable... if for no other reason than the people at the top think "mmmm can do the same over there for less" and so do move production / support / call centres. It doesnt necessarily mean its for good. A lot of call centres are now moving back to the UK, because people arnt happy with the level of service. I think the arrogance of Mr McCourtney sums up a lot of American attitude. you seem to think that you are the only part of the world capable of doing anything with intelligence,

I suspect he would be the first to be surprised when he sees that many people don't actually think you Americans are "all that clever". Welcome to global competition, I know several Indian MCADs MCSDs and they are more than competent at their jobs. It matters not where they are but what they can do. High speed networking and good infrastructure deal with the rest. "The idea that they could write software successfully half a world away is laughable"... do you know your industry at all?? I'm laughing at the fact that comment was even made.

Instead of whinging, look at what's in demand in your area and do some reading around that will equip you with the necessaries to get a job.

Staying skilled up is the key to staying in a your job... (as is doing it well, professionally, etc etc)

Thank you for all your emails on this topic, correspondence on this subject is now closed...for now. ®

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