India wiring out: ethnographic reflections from two transnational call centres in India
AbstractThis article examines the increasing presence of North American call centres in Bangalore and Delhi and analyses the ways in which these products of transnationalism have impacted notions of Indian national identity. The analysis is based on primary fieldwork conducted in the summer of 2006, and reflections on Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat, one of the earliest pieces of literature that discussed the call centre phenomenon. The argument presented suggests that the popular notion that India has become an equal global power because of the outsourcing business is flawed; instead, it points out that evident within many pro-globalisation claims is the reproduction of a first/third world hierarchy that works to further oppress the third world worker. I focus on accent training sessions and information gathered from first-hand interviews and observations to suggest that the call centre business has emerged as a convenient way for North American companies to create Indians as subordinate workers, who are expected to exchange physical mobility for the comparatively high economic benefits that the business promises.