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RE: Thoughts on Outsourcing

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A very well articulated, soft, decent, polite and above all a very comprehensive response. Well done Vishwanath; I am impressed.

Best regards & Happy New Year to all,

Syed Faiz Ahmad; MEngg, M.ASCE
Senior Structural Engineer
Saudi Oger Ltd
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

P.S: NO OFFENCE MEANT, PLEASE!: I made friends with Pascal Strichter a French youngman who was my teacher of French Language, a course that I was doing at Alliance de Francaise at Karachi, Pakistan, way back in 1985. I used to take him around to different places in the city including some restaurants to have him a taste of the local delicacies. As you know it already in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, when you visit a restaurant the first thing that a waiter a does is bring a jug/bottle of water with few tumblers to refreshen the guests. Its a local courtesy generally followed in this part of the world. My friend Pascal was very particular in  NOT drinking water here, even if it were bottled so-called de-ionized water. Even he used to never take ice cubes in water/cold drinks/juices. And, he used to take anti-maleria tablet regularly; probably every day. I was very curious at this behaviour of his, so I once asked him about the same. He said, " I do it as a precaution for I don't want to fall sick here". He then went on further to explain and added, "I visited India last year for one week, and when I returned to France I was in hospital for two weeks". 

So,this is a piece of advice to all & sundries wishing/planning to visit India, in near future, encouraged/motivated by this generous invitation of our friend Vishwanath. 

-----Original Message-----
From: G Vishwanath [mailto:gvshwnth(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2003 1:29 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Thoughts on Outsourcing


Thanks to Dennis, Christopher and Cliff for some
stimulating reading.
Dennis, this is perhaps as long as your post. I don't
know. I haven't counted the words.

Since I read your post in full, I request you to read
mine too.
Others can skip if not interested.

I did not sense anything remotely rascist in your
views.
Hope this reassures you.

I also have no quarrel with those who oppose
outsourcing.
You are adversely affected.
So your fears and plaints are understandable.

I have been quietly following all the posts on this
subject in this list and also on the steel-detail list
where I am a more frequent contributor.

I am not contradicting your views at all.

I only wish to present a viewpoint from the other
side.
This will explain (not justify) why outsourcing is
here to stay and why nothing can be done about it by
individuals like you and me.

Economic and political forces operate at a very high
level and none of us have any control over this.

Something similar to the Industrial Revolution is
taking place now.
I don't know if we are at the beginning, or half way
or at the end.
We will all be forced to move with the times and make
the necessary adjustments in order to survive.
Your Government will not oppose outsourcing.
Frankly it just cannot.
You need the world's market for your products too.
If you put a stop to Indians doing work for USA, India
will put a stop to USA selling its proudcts to us.
We don't have products to sell to you.
We have only our skilled manhours to sell to you.
Coca Cola, Pepsi, MacDonalds, Microsoft, Ford, Boeing,
IBM, HP and  Hollywood will be some of the big names 
affected if the Indian market is denied to them.
All these firms do roaring business in India and no
one is objecting.
None of them sell us anything that is essential to our
needs.
Microsoft at least sells us good software (debatable?)
But Coke and Pepsi sell us junk food.
Your movies are technically excellent and draw huge
crowds in our metroplitan cities but we can live
without them too.

So you have to tolerate this competition in a global
economy.
It is well known that the USA attracts more
immigration than any other country.
Outsourcing of work releases pressure and offers would
be immigrants an alternative. Stay where you are and
earn in dollars. Isn't that better than coming in
droves to USA?

Many of you think that by outsourcing, your business
men are exploiting us and that our centers are sweat
shops.
No, they are not.
The difference in cost of living is drastic.
We get three to four times the money for doing the
same work for Indian projects.
Firms that work for USA offer better salaries than
local firms.
You pay just half your American price for getting the
same  services.

This is such a great  WIN-WIN situation for both
parties that it is impossible to stop it.
Attempting to stop this is akin to defying "economic
laws of gravity".
I do not believe greed is behind this phenomenon.
Even legislation will not work.
It will only drive the business underground and make
criminals out of honest and hard working people.

Frankly, I am one of those overseas chaps who have
benefited from this phenomenon of outsourcing.
Before outsourcing became common, I spent 26 years
working for a Govt owned Consulting Organisation in
India as structural engineer.
I had tremendous job satisfaction but I did not earn
as much as less meritorious friends did in other
fields. I just made enough to lead an average middle
class Indian's life and was contented with my lot.

In Dec 2000, I was approached by a software company to
give up my job as Deputy General Manager and head of
the steel structural section of MECON (A government of
India Undertaking and an ISO 9001 certified company)
and team up with them.
This software company was one of the early birds and
had made receiving outsourced work from USA it's main
line of business.

They were already well established in two other lines
of business and had plans to start a third, viz Steel
detailing.

They were looking for someone like me to set up the
division, and run it. 
At 52, I found I had reached the end of the road in
MECON Ltd, the Government owned organisation where I
was working.
I had outgrown analyis and design which I had enjoyed
for so many years.
I was left doing only administrative and man
management work for a salary which was a pittance
compared to what the outside world was willing to pay
for a person of my knowledge and abilities.
Job security which was one of the issues that kept me
in Govt service all the while was a fading attraction.
At 52, I was haunted by the spectre of retirement
looming large over the horizon.(58 is the legal age of
retirement) I had not yet met all my family
committments and was not prepared for the rigors of
old age with a modest bank balance. I was feeling
financially insecure.
Job satisfaction too had vanished.
I did not fancy man-management and administrative work
for the rest of my career. The salary was not worth
the pains.
Besides at senior positions in Government
organisations, one gets sucked into the whirlpool of
office politics which I abhorred.

The timing was right.
I made my move.
I accepted this offer and entered the world of steel
detaling for US fabricators.
I did not have to know steel detailing at all.
I only had to mobilize a team get them trained and
manage them.
My credentials as a structural engineer helped.
It took us some time to adjust and it was great fun
while it lasted.
My reasons for leaving them are not relevant to this
discussion and I will not talk about that here.
I had worked  for this company for 2 1/2 years and
then moved out to be a free lance consultant and
advisor to another group that is in the same line of
business (viz steel detailing for US fabricators)
This group was one of the early birds who had located
and taken advantage of a great opportunity (in fact,
unless I am mistaken, they are the earliest birds in
Bangalore at least)
I have no regrets.
I now make twice of what the Govt was paying me.
I can work as long as I want, whenever I want, and I
am now leading a life style that I could only dream
about some years ago.
I am now an advisor and consultant and work only in
the evenings and late nights (to match the hours of
work at USA) 
I am free from administrative and managment
responsibilities.
Commercial and marketing problems are also handled by
our sponsors in USA.

I am just one example.
There will be several more all over the country and in
other countries too.

Too much water has already flowed down the Mississippi
since this started and the current is unstoppable.

My advice to those affected is to some how adjust to
the reality and prepare for the future.
How?
Frankly I have no idea.
I can only sympathize.
If it happened to me, I too would not know how to
handle it.

Dennis stated that the affected may be forced to move
out and wondered if India would accept immigrants.
Why not?
We send out so many Indians to USA.
With what face can our Government oppose the entry of
Americans who wish to make India their home?
Many of you already have enough money to retire and
live comfortablly here.
You need a total income of about Rs 20,000 a month for
a couple with two childrn to live a decent middle
class life in Bangalore.
That's just 425 US dollars per month.
A decent flat can be leased for anywhere between $100
to $200 a month
A loaf of bread costs justs 20 cents
A litre of milk can be had for 25 cents.
A visit to a doctor for a routine cold cough or
indigestion (a good doctor) will cost you just 2
dollars for consultation and medicines.
I could go on and on.
As regards accepting a white man, this country was
home to English men for over 200 years.
They ruled us.
As long as you don't wish to come here as rulers, you
will be welcome.
This country is an even  greater melting pot than the
USA.
India is home to at least 18 officially recognized
major languages, at least 5 major religions, and
several races. Hardly anyone in India is racially
pure.
We are hopelessly mixed up.

A few white skinned people will add a dash of "color"
to our brown human landscape.
Welcome to India!

G Vishwanath
Bangalore, India


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