Thursday, 18 October 2007

Anyone Ready for Globalization?

A few months ago, when I was preparing to leave the UK for India, I was told by various friends there that things had really changed--India was finally on the move and opportunities were opening up for young people. However, when I get back, what I find is same old, same old, only worse. The Metro might have expanded in scope in Delhi, but the Blueline menace is still prevalent. And, according to CM Sheila Dikshit, phasing out these buses will not be so easy. I agree with her--she will first need to clean up the Delhi State Ministry of Transport--it allegedly receives bribes from all those private operators of Blueline buses--and I will not say how far the chain of corruption is said to extend.

Another sign of little or no change in the Indian marketplace--when I was in the UK, doing a new product development project as part of my MA in Publishing course, I had to research India as a market for books on publishing. I got together a list of institutions that featured Mass Communication courses as part of their offerings (I think there were some ten institutions) and sent off e-mails to their heads of department, registrars and directors. Imagine my surprise when I only received three responses. I assumed this was because I was a student. When I came back and was looking for work, I found that few people were courteous enough to respond to an e-mail asking if they had a suitable employment opportunity in their company. When I mentioned this to a senior person in a media company (I had written to an internationally known publishing house, with which his company has a tie-up) he said that perhaps no suitable positions were available. I told him that I felt the person I had written to should have had the courtesy to respond via e-mail and say so, instead of letting me speculate on the various possibilities. I also informed him that this refusal to be honest said a lot about a company and the people that ran it.

I find this sort of behaviour widely prevalent in India, and it strikes one very strongly when job-hunting. There is an odd refusal to be honest, to get back to people with the bad news. I rarely encountered this behaviour while job-hunting in the UK. I would be informed immediately if my CV was not accepted for a certain post, before or after the interview. I wonder why Indian companies don’t follow this rule. It’s only a question of setting up an appropriate form letter and sending out a bunch of e-mails--most candidates have e-mail addresses. It might give even an unsuccessful candidate a good impression about the company. And keep all CVs received on file for the next six months.

In fact, this tendency that Indians have for not being honest or open is now well-known in the UK. I attended a talk given by an e-publishing consultant to a group of students on the issue of outsourcing work. He spoke of an occasion when he had to deal with an Indian company, which was hired to do some development work. He spoke of how badly they dealt with conveying bad news. Eventually the project had to be completed in the UK. At that time, I was extremely offended by what he said, but now I have to agree with him.

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I work as a freelance editor and writer in New Delhi. 


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