Extending the effects of the Bangalore bug

A few months back, Ravikiran had written about what he called the “Bangalore bug”. He said that due to the outsourcing revolution, most of our best web designers and engineers end up serving foreign markets which offer better margins, and thus Indian websites are the scum, as is software designed for India.

I think it is much deeper than this. Check out this article by Janmejaya Sinha about cashing Travellers Cheques. If any of you have tried to get some work done at an Airtel or Vodafone service center or call center, you’d have noticed that most people manning this are fairly incompetent. It’s likely that you would go through the same experience at the Big Bazaars and Food Worlds. You must have also definitely noticed this in college – in terms of your teachers there.

What the “bangalore bug” has done is much more than what Ravikiran had talked about. It has diverted the reasonably smart people who might have gone into banking, or teaching, or become shopkeepers, and has made them switch to IT or other services which can generate export revenue. The “export industry” pays reasonably well so jobs which had been respectable half a generation ago are not so respectable any more. And the quality of service that we get has gone down drastically.

Thinking about it, there’s nothing much we can do about it. We can’t stop exporting becasue that destroys the quality of goods we consume here (actually this has been implemented in the case of some foodgrains). The only way smarter people will come into the service industry which serves local markets is if this industry pays as well as the export jobs that they’re currently doing. And for this to happen, service fees have to go up significantly. And i’m not so sure too many people are willing to pay too much more just for the sake of superior service.

11 thoughts on “Extending the effects of the Bangalore bug”

  1. Point is even in the IT export services, this incongruity exists between the MNCs and the Indian Cos.

    The standard of new recruits is greatly on the decline for the Indian honchos, as they seem to grapple with the leftovers, after the Multinationals have poached the cream.

      1. yes, the service exports.

        Salary, plus the brand value of being associated with a multinational. (At the entry stage, people dont analyse their options based on criteria other than renumeration and reputation. Starry eyed.. Sigh!)

  2. Very strong point. I wonder when and what price level people will start to tire of the uncertainty that is rife in almost any service available here.

    1. for some reason, as of now, i’m not too optimistic about this. i don’t see this shift to quality happening soon. the reason, I believe, is that people don’t usually fully consider the “cost of headache” in their calculations

  3. Are you trying to say that the service rendered at Airtel, Vodafone, Food World or the 6 banks in the article are all a function that is directly proportional to the excess intelligence of the clerk or the teller. Why would the same companies then shell out astronomical sums to recruit from the best b-schools to lay down the processes?

    I don’t deny the validity of your example with respect to teachers. However to claim that with a burgeoning population we can’t produce cashiers and clerks despite researched recruitment policies and training, unless we cut down on exports, is stretching it a bit.

    1. i’m not talking about “excess intelligence”. i’m talking about “basic intelligence”.

      yes – i agree that one way that these companies try to install proper processes is to mask the incompetence of their employees.

      however, as it stands now it seems like most employees are not even following the recommended process properly.

  4. This was my initial hypothesis sometime back.

    But for call centers I now have a different point of view.
    For call centers the main problem / limiting factor is not so much the IQ of the people answering the phones but the amount of power to take decisions that they are given.

    The sucky call centers are the ones where the guys answering the call do not have the power / are too scared to resolve it favorably. IQ/ competence is only a secondary factor (I feel)

    1. not only call centers. this is also a major problem with organized retail.

      it’s some kind of a “second order” problem. first, you put in processes because you think your guys are dumb. and because of these rigid processes and dumb people, the situation only gets worse.

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