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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

March 16, 2005

Written by C.N.

Racism Directed at Indian Call Centers

More fallout from globalization: the Washington Post has an interesting article about the rash of obscene, hostile, and racist comments that are increasingly directed at call center operators in India. As the article explains,

” ‘You Indians suck!’ an American screamed on the phone,” recalled a soft-spoken Manzoor, 25 [an Indian call center operator]. “He was using a lot of four-letter words, too. He called me names left, right and center.” Call center executives and industry experts say abusive hate calls are commonplace, as resentment swells over the loss of American jobs to India.

According to a survey in November 2004 by an Indian information technology magazine called Dataquest, about 25 percent of call center agents identified such calls as the main reason for workplace stress.

The article later describes some techniques call center operations use to try and “trick” callers that they are located in the U.S., such as advising their operators to keep up on American culture and TV shows, knowing the weather in cities in which they claim to be located, etc. I’m not sure if I would consider trying to trick American callers into believing that you’re located inside the U.S. as an advisable strategy, but it is very unfortunate that so many Indian call center operators have to encounter such racist hostility.

Then again, if we consider how the fundamental nature of capitalism inevitably pits different groups of workers against each other, it makes sense that this kind of thing is so commonplace. In this case, American workers feel economically threatened so they take out their frustrations out on those who they perceive to be “taking away their jobs” and therefore primarily responsible — the Indian operators — instead of at the real causes of their situation — capitalism and the obsessive drive to reduce labor costs and maximize profit.

This is one instance in which the saying is true — don’t blame the player, blame the game.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Racism Directed at Indian Call Centers" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/03/racism-directed-at-indian-call-centers/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=60