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The Value of a Girl (2:50) Excerpt from film "1-800-INDIA" September 2005
Santosh Kohli, a worker in India's BPO industry, comes from a family of modest means.

Country: India
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    Guiding Questions
    1. What traditional viewpoints are recounted in this film clip?

    2. What personal attributes characterize Santosh? How have these attributes assisted her in her choices?

    3. What does Santosh's mother mean when she says, "But I couldn't help her. I had nothing to give her."

    Background Essay
    Santosh Kohli comes from a family of very modest means in India. She is not married, and she lives with her parents, two brothers, and a sister. Although her job gives her financial independence, she is still part of a male-dominated household. With her mother and her younger sister, she is expected to provide and care for her brothers and father.

    A major component of India's rapid economic growth at the turn of the 21st century is its emergence as a leader in the global market for "outsourcing" jobs. Outsourcing refers to a business practice whereby certain business functions are moved "out" of a company and instead are supplied by external businesses. These external suppliers can be in the same country as the head business office, but often they are located in other countries - particularly in countries where labor and real estate is relatively inexpensive. The widespread outsourcing of jobs to less industrialized countries has spurred economic growth in many areas of the world. Starting in the late 20th century, thousands of outsourcing businesses - providing services as varied as customer telephone support, product design, and manufacturing - have expanded across the globe.

    In India, companies that provide services to multinational corporations are commonly referred to as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies. India's past and future are connected by these BPO businesses. India was formerly a British colony, and the colonial legacy of English-speaking education has produced millions of English-speaking Indian workers. These young Indians are now securing BPO jobs and moving into the middle class. And they are changing the face of the country.

    A dramatic and personal film, "1-800-INDIA" explores the experience of young Indian men and women who have been recruited into these new jobs requiring long hours, night shifts, and westernized work habits. The film reveals the human and cultural impact of a sweeping global trend, exploring its effect on Indian family life, on the evolving landscape of Indian cities and towns, and on the aspirations and daily lives of young Indians, especially women, entering the work force.

    "1-800-INDIA" highlights an effect of globalization, illustrating how "factors of production" (the labor and resources needed to produce goods and services) can be dislocated from their intended recipients. In the United States, outsourcing has come under debate, as some Americans have argued that the practice harms the domestic economy by taking jobs away from American workers. There are other criticisms of outsourcing, including complaints that it exploits lower-paid workers and that the quality of service is sometimes poor. On the other hand, there are arguments to be made that outsourcing brings down company costs and thus prices, benefiting everyone. This practice also spurs growth in underdeveloped parts of the world, and can bring fresh talent, insight, and knowledge to a company.

    Transcript
    NARRATOR:
    Still, India has hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty.

    Santosh Kohli comes from a family of very modest means.

    She was brought up in an old part of Delhi, a 45 minute-drive from Gecis.

    She is not married, and she lives with her parents, two brothers, and a sister.

    Although her job gives her financial independence, she is still part of a male-dominated household. With her mother and her younger sister, she is expected to provide and care for her brothers and father.

    SANTOSH:
    This is my father. His name is Gopal Singh.

    This is my mother.

    NARRATOR:
    Kohli's parents came to Delhi from a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas. Kohli, the first child, was born in 1983. In traditional Indian society, a daughter is often seen as a burden to a poor family.

    MOTHER:
    He was very sad when she was born, like he had been shot.

    SANTOSH:
    Yes, when I was born my father had cried a lot.

    He beat his head and cried because he had a daughter.

    NARRATOR:
    Her father worked as a cook for very low pay.

    He saw no value in educating his daughter.

    SANTOSH:
    I used to be jealous that my brothers were enrolled in private schools, while I was sent to a government school, where the fees were much lower.

    He always gave the boys first priority. He would take them to and from school.

    FATHER:
    I used to say, "No need to study more, she should just get married."

    No need to study after 10th grade.

    MOTHER:
    In my heart, I wanted her to study,

    But I couldn't help her. I had nothing to give her.

    NARRATOR:
    Despite her father's opposition, Kohli insisted on continuing her education.

    SANTOSH:
    I told him I had enrolled, and he didn't need to do anything.

    I will do everything myself. That's what I said.

    For a while mum and dad used to argue about how to manage.

    NARRATOR:
    In 2004, she was offered her job at Gecis, which meant working through the night.

    But late night shiftwork with other young men and women was another concern for her parents.

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