Wide Angle -- WINDOW INTO GLOBAL HISTORY

Visit WIDE ANGLE on pbs.org
Video Help Video Bank
Night Transport (1:53) Excerpt from film "1-800-INDIA" September 2005
Thousands of employees must be transported to work and back safely in India's new economy.

Country: India
Related Lesson Plan:
  • Extreme Global Makeover

  • Asia India map

    India
    Download video:
    (PC: right click & select Save Target As) (Mac: hold down CTRL button & click)
    Quicktime (7630k) Realplayer (5130k) Windows Media (4750)

    Guiding Questions
    1. What portion of the employees in the BPO industry are women? How has their employment contributed to business opportunity in the transportation industry?

    2. How does the film clip illustrate a blend of tradition and change?

    Background Essay
    More than half of the employees working in Business Process Outsourcing in India are women, and many of the work shifts occur during nighttime hours. It became apparent that BPO companies would need to assure skittish parents that their daughters would be transported safely to and from the workplace. This created a demand for the safe transportation of thousands of employees, 24 hours a day.

    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:
    In India, women comprise less than 20 percent of the overall workforce, but in the BPO industry, more than half the employees are women.

    Until recently, it was very unusual for women in India to work at night.

    The outsourcing industry had to lobby the Indian government to change labor laws and allow women to work late hours.

    PRAMOD BHASIN:
    Their parents are not going to let them out of the house unless they know that they're being very well looked after. So it was our job to make sure that their parents understood. You know, we'd have guards, we'd have the right transportation, we'd make sure they were dropped home, we'd make sure they were picked up. You pretty much run a mini-township yourself.

    NARRATOR:
    Transporting thousands of employees across the city safely, 24 hours a day, was also a major challenge.

    It was essential for the company's operation -- and had to be built from scratch.

    Gecis now contracts with 25 private transportation companies with access to more than 800 vehicles and 1,100 drivers.

    The biggest of these entrepreneurs in Gurgaon is Satish Sehrawat.

    SATISH SEHRAWAT:
    We have got seven people can sit comfortably here with wonderful AC. We have got a DVD player, and a cable which connects your laptop with the screen.

    PRAMOD BHASIN:
    I still remember him walking into my house, sort of seven or eight years ago and saying, you know, I need a contract and please help me and I really will work with you to build it, and he only had one car.

    NARRATOR:
    Sehrawat now runs a fleet of 178 vehicles and has 250 employees.

    SATISH SEHRAWAT:
    I never thought of it -- that I'll be having this number of cars. This is a dream come true.

    PRAMOD BHASIN:
    He's moved completely from being a small-time operator to really running a fleet operation at this time of massive size.

    Related Links
    Print Classroom Tips