India companies hiring Americans for call centers

Free market economics has a way of evening things out.  A country with low labor costs can attract lots of employers, who bid up the price of labor.  And as that country prospers, it may start looking for cheaper labor in countries that have high unemployment.  Some of that appears to be happening, as call center companies in India are opening up operations in the United States:

India’s outsourcing giants — faced with rising wages at home — have looked for growth opportunities in the United States. But with Washington crimping visas for visiting Indian workers, some companies such as Aegis are slowly hiring workers in North America, where their largest corporate customers are based. In this evolution, outsourcing has come home.

Capuana, a manager for Aegis in New York, motivates this U.S. office with dress-down days and the prospect that workers could, one day, earn a stint training call center workers in Goa, India. One of his tasks is to staff 176 cubicles, where workers make or take calls for customers of prescription drug plans or Medicare contracts and enter and verify information. The pay runs $12 to $14 an hour, with bonus checks of up to $730 a month.

“Our recruitment model is simple,” says Capuana, who played Division III college football, wears rosary beads on his wrist and has a picture of Jesus above his desk. “I don’t care if you come from Park Avenue or the park bench. If you can do the job, we want you.”

Aegis, a subsidiary of India’s Essar Group, an energy, telecom and metals conglomerate, says it’s pioneering the next generation of outsourcing: putting the work close to its global customers. Its executives call the practice “near-sourcing,” “diverse shoring” and, sometimes, “cross-shoring.”

Madhu Vuppuluri, chief executive and dealmaker for the Americas division of Essar Group, remembers watching outsourcing grow in India in the late 1990s and early 2000s and thinking that the decline of U.S. call centers was overdone. He persuaded the billionaire Ruia brothers, Essar’s Indian owners, to let him make a counterintuitive bet: In 2000, he bid on the bankrupt assets of Telequestion, a 500-person call center in Arlington, Tex., for $2.5 million.

That led to other acquisitions in the United States and abroad. Today, Aegis employs 50,000 of Essar’s 70,000 employees on several continents. About 5,000 people work at nine U.S. call centers. Aegis, which is on the hunt for more acquisitions, has said it aims to triple its U.S. head count, to more than 15,000.

via As Indian companies grow in the U.S., outsourcing comes home – The Washington Post.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://cosmthb.wordpress.com Bob Smith

    Since we loudly condemn out sourcing, shouldn’t we condemn in sourcing too? After all, we do a lot more of that than we do in sourcing. ;-)

  • http://cosmthb.wordpress.com Bob Smith

    Since we loudly condemn out sourcing, shouldn’t we condemn in sourcing too? After all, we do a lot more of that than we do in sourcing. ;-)

  • helen

    Will these companies get royally ripped off before they stop putting their financial information in the hands of people with no company loyalty or bonds?

  • helen

    Will these companies get royally ripped off before they stop putting their financial information in the hands of people with no company loyalty or bonds?

  • Tom Hering

    Do you need to curry favor with these companies to get a job?

  • Tom Hering

    Do you need to curry favor with these companies to get a job?

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: I see what you did there.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: I see what you did there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Perhaps this presages a larger shift, but for now, it appears to be a story about one company, yes?

    … Or, perhaps, a naan-story?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Perhaps this presages a larger shift, but for now, it appears to be a story about one company, yes?

    … Or, perhaps, a naan-story?

  • Cincinnatus

    Until you can come up with a pun for “tandoori,” I am unimpressed.

  • Cincinnatus

    Until you can come up with a pun for “tandoori,” I am unimpressed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Let’s run this into the ground, shall we? “Ghee,” thought Bob, “I’m not making as much at this dal job as I’d hoped. Masala-ry hardly pays the bills. I need samosa-lary. I have a raita a raise! Hopefully the boss’ll unders-tandoori-ven appreciate my boldness in asking. He needs a dosa honesty. And while I’ve got my courage up, I should ask that young lassi out, too. Kebab, let’s do this thing!”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Let’s run this into the ground, shall we? “Ghee,” thought Bob, “I’m not making as much at this dal job as I’d hoped. Masala-ry hardly pays the bills. I need samosa-lary. I have a raita a raise! Hopefully the boss’ll unders-tandoori-ven appreciate my boldness in asking. He needs a dosa honesty. And while I’ve got my courage up, I should ask that young lassi out, too. Kebab, let’s do this thing!”

  • steve

    Wow… it must be Friday.

  • steve

    Wow… it must be Friday.

  • Cincinnatus

    Yeah, that was legendary–and yet extremely painful.

  • Cincinnatus

    Yeah, that was legendary–and yet extremely painful.

  • Joe

    We need a like button on here

  • Joe

    We need a like button on here

  • Tom Hering

    Todd, sounds like one of the perks at the new American call center is an in-house Indian Delhi.

  • Tom Hering

    Todd, sounds like one of the perks at the new American call center is an in-house Indian Delhi.

  • helen

    It sounds like a way for the “internationals” to reduce the American standard of living for the majority while increasing the wealth of the 1%. Eventually there will be riots in India over their income gap grown into chasm, but in this country we have “Homeland Security” and TSA already in place to prevent an uprising of the citizens.
    [The increasing numbers of "undocumented workers" (or "green cards", FTM), can always be shipped out if they are not docile.]
    The plantations had no better system.

    Saturday hangover….

  • helen

    It sounds like a way for the “internationals” to reduce the American standard of living for the majority while increasing the wealth of the 1%. Eventually there will be riots in India over their income gap grown into chasm, but in this country we have “Homeland Security” and TSA already in place to prevent an uprising of the citizens.
    [The increasing numbers of "undocumented workers" (or "green cards", FTM), can always be shipped out if they are not docile.]
    The plantations had no better system.

    Saturday hangover….


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