Say it loud - I'm elitist and proud

Saturday, April 26, 2003

ANOTHER FEARLESS SWEATSHOP EXPOSE. Or not. In this week's Sydney Morning Herald TV guide (no link available) Malcolm Knox told us about Thursday's ABC True Stories documentary Diverted to Delhi, about India's booming call centre industry.

How can we have clean hands when our wealth is built on the merciless exploitation of others? If you want to know why people in poor countries want to blow us up, look no further. Depressing, shameful, essential viewing.

Glass of water for Mr Knox, please.

That's not to say parts of it weren't bizarre. Those who wanted to work for an American company, and had to learn to talk American, were lectured to by a Scotsman with a not-very-convincing fake American accent. And they learnt about Australian culture by watching The Castle. An Indian who had lived in Australia told them Australians weren't corrupt, and any corruption there was all the fault of the Chinese and Lebanese. He obviously can't have lived in NSW.

But instead of complaining about western companies exploiting Indians, why not ask why India can produce so many smart, well-educated, hard-working people, and not find better jobs for them? It may have someting to do with the fact - dealt with in Diverted to Delhi - that customer service has until recently not been a way of life in India, where civil service attitudes persist.

One of the things the students had to learn was how to make on-the-spot decisions - instead of having the attitude that, if there isn't a rule for it, it can't be done. If you think Australian banks act like they're doing you a favour, what about the Indian bank that won't accept cash deposits unless they're bundled up properly?