Category Archives: India

Indians are used to noise, but do they like it?

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Cultural differences are sometimes hard to define. People resort to very basic statements like, “Easterners are more family oriented,” or “Americans are more independent.” Yes, we know that Indians eat masalas and chutneys while Americans eat more potatoes, meat, and salads. But, what about other environmental issues such as noise?

During my several trips to India I noticed that everywhere I went it was very noisy. Even when I went to places that were famous for being quiet, there were drunk people yelling at 3am! Indian cities are famous for honking sounds, loud vendors, and other unbearable noise pollution.

When I ask the locals what they think about the noise, the standard response is, “Oh, I don’t even notice it.” Even at night in India, security guards rap their sticks against metal objects making a ticking rhythm and once I heard a security guard blowing a whistle at midnight to scare off the bad guys.

When I asked Indians if they prefer quiet and order, most of them said they would, although they are not really bothered by chaos and noise. I, on the other hand am very bothered by noise, disorder, and being pushed by rude people at train (railway) stations!

I noticed that in my apartment complex, there are some noisy children. I did an experiment to see how far noise traveled. I walked away from a volleyball game where everyone was screaming. After I got 100 wide paces which is 300 feet, the noise died down to being almost not detectable, and after 400 feet I couldn’t hear it at all. Interesting.

(1) Cultural differences are hard to define: Masala vs. Hamburgers is one. But, what about noise tolerance?
(2) Noise from children playing travels 300 feet and then becomes virtually undetectable to the human ear.
(3) Although Indians are accustomed to noise and chaos, most claim that they prefer peace & quiet!

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What if classically trained musicians ran IT companies in India?

5 reasons Indians are less stressed than Americans

Why terror doesn’t scare anyone in India

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Israel has been bombarded with attacks on civilians for decades. Their solution is to build a wall. Maybe if they had been a little nicer to the oppressed folks in the occupied territories there would be a nicer way to solve the problem. But, what about India? India never oppressed people from Pakistan. India doesn’t oppress, they just let problems happen to you and ignore you when you complain!

I feared for my life when I boarded a local train in Mumbai. My friend’s father came within an inch of his life on the very same line a year before during a blast that killed dozens. He jumped out of the train while it was moving and suffered only a sprained ankle. The others all died. “It was surreal,” he said. It looked like flowers expanding and slowly going to all parts of the train car, killing people. He felt it was safe to jump and jumped out of the train just in time. God was watching him. It wasn’t his time to die yet.

But, if you ask the average guy on the street what they think you get these answers that indicate they are not afraid.

(1) When it is my time to go, it is my time to go. What can you do?
(2) My life is not that great anyway, so why should I be afraid of dying?
(3) If I die, then I won’t have to deal with my nagging wife anymore.
(4) India has always had blasts. It is just a part of life over here.
(5) We’ll just wait until they run out of bullets, then we’ll have ten babies per family and repopulate however many they kill. We’ll show them in the end!

My commentary for answer #3 is, “I bet you are a member of the henpecked husband association in Mumbai.” His response would be, “Are you kidding, I’m not only a member, I founded that association a few decades ago!”

The reality is that Pakistani extremists think they can scare Indians with terrorism, but Indians are simply not afraid. Their plan didn’t “work” so to speak. But, I’m afraid. So they scared someone! But, honestly, I’m much more afraid of Indian cab drivers than of Pakistani extremists. Indian cab drivers have put my life on the edge hundreds of times already — they are more likely to end my life than anyone else.

What if classically trained musicians ran IT companies in India?

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When you think of refinement, what type of people do you think of? Do you think of Mercedes engineers? Do you think of Samurai? Or, do you think of classically trained musicians? Think about it. If you are in a profession that requires intricacy, refinement, and mastery, a background in classical music would be a huge plus! The irony of what might really would happen would be that the musicians would bang their head against the wall in frustration when the people around them screwed everything up.

I wrote another quick article about how tabla and sitar lessons could help you succeed in business more than anything else. Well, it is true! Classical music teaches refinement, timing, grace, subtlety, and cooperation with others. What other recreation besides ninjitsu can teach you all of that?

The beauty of a classical music training during your youth is that you notice things. Your ears are tuned to hear subtle (or not so subtle) differences. You notice how different players on a team hand projects off to each other at the prescribed times — or don’t. If anyone makes an error at any stage, you notice. A classical music background can also be a detriment because you might become overly critical of the clueless morons that surround you which can drive you (and them) absolutely crazy!

If these reasons to engage in classical music are not enough, think of how nice it sounds to listen to Mozart. And besides — many do it for the wine and cheese that follows the performances!

(1) When you think of refinement, what type of people do you think of? Classical musicians?
(2) A classical music background is a detriment because you’ll be overly critical of the uncultured!

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Writing Job Application Bios: The Right Way vs. The Wrong Way

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I see that there are three types of job applicants in India: There are the formal types who write a long bio that includes everything. Their i’s are dotted and their t’s are all crossed. Then, there are those who include some pertinent information, decent grammar, but don’t say that much. Then, there are the broken English types who write one or two lines.

If you are looking for a job, you need to stop saying, “Please give me a chance”. That is verbiage for someone who knows that they don’t deserve the job, but want a chance anyway, because PERHAPS later on they will figure out what they are doing. You are being a liability. If you want a job, be an ASSET, or go back to take more training classes so you will have better skills.

Here are some before and after clips of job application forms that I have seen. The after was written by me.

Before: Dear Sir, i want job doing data etney from home. i want make money on internet
My phhone number 9855555533

After: To whom it may concern at YZX company. My name is Rakesh Subrahmanian. I have six months of data entry experience working at Joe’s Data Entry in Secundrabad, AP, and would love the opportunity to assist you with data related tasks, or anything else that you need accomplished. I am available to start immediately. My related skills include:

Form Filling
Medical Data Entry
Online Forms
Data Cleansing (verification of spelling and formatting of previously filled out entries)
Data Scrubbing
Data Waxing (no such thing — I just added it for comic effect)

I can be reached at (022) 4444-3333


Please notice how the “before” example has “entry” spelled wrong. How on earth can someone possibly even consider hiring you for a meticulous job like data entry or data cleansing when your writing is littered with spelling errors? Your “I” should be capitalized since it is a proper noun. The fact that YOU want to make money is of no concern to the employer — skip that. THEY want to make money, and want you to help them make money. If you are a refined worker who gets a lot of work done, then they can use you to make money. If you are an incompetent slob, then they will lose money on you. Lastly, phone is misspelled, and the phone number is all in a big jumble. Most Indians write their number without hyphens or spaces, however, it is NOT professional and is VERY hard to read. In fact, it is ten times as likely to make an expensive dialing mistake if the number is all jumbled together.

Please note that in the “after” example, the person introduces themselves, and then tells exactly HOW MUCH experience he has and then specifies WHERE he got his experience. Nothing is left to the imagination here. Rakesh never begs for a job, however, he indicates enthusiasm for HELPING someone else with what he knows about, or whatever THEY want. Rakesh is thinking about others, and not about what he personally needs — smart! Then, Rakesh makes a quick list of SPECIFIC types of data related tasks which he is well versed in, and even makes a small joke just to lighten the mood. Be careful with jokes as they can backfire. But, a well placed joke that accompanies some thorough information might make you stand out as an applicant and be remembered. Last, please notice that the phone number is nearly laid out in a very easy to read and professional looking format.

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5 Reasons Indians Are Less Stressed Than Americans

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People in India generally experience less stress than people in the United States. There are five main reasons why this is true.

(1) First of all, Indian culture centers around the family. In India, the divorce rate is negligible, a little over 1%. There is a small percentage of single-parent families due to death caused by accidents or illness, for example, but the extended family is almost always there. The family unit in India provides stability and predictability in everyday life. In the U.S., life often seems to be based on short-term relationships, and the culture supports this; marriages and relationships generally do not necessarily last, and this creates more problems and more stress. The family is still the center of life in India, and although people in the IT sector switch jobs as often as people in America switch girlfriends, the family maintains its stability. The security of having a rock-solid family is a definite plus.

(2) In addition, people in India live a simple lifestyle. They do not consume as much as Americans, but spend their money on necessities. They typically eat at home, and do not go out or buy luxuries. They may rent a video or two every week, but generally they can live cheaply. Their expenses are low unless they want to have a car or
an apartment or home in an expensive part of town.
Indians typically have fewer bills and a tendency to save rather than spend. This lifestyle may seem boring–but it also contributes less stress for workers.

(3) Most Indians are vegetarians, but those who eat meat eat relatively small quantities compared to their U.S. counterparts. Also, the type of meat is usually chicken and lamb: many people feel that pork and beef cause stress and aggression, and those meats are rarely eaten in India for religious reasons. The cuisine of Christians is an anomaly in India because they consume all meats; Kerala and Goa are states in India that are roughly 80% Christian. Finally, Indians typically use their hands more in eating, and many people claim the food actually tastes better this way, too. In fact, it may be therapeutic to use your hands more, just as many Westerners find that having a picnic or doing gardening by hand is therapeutic. In any case, Indians have a simpler, more stress-free diet than their American counterparts.

(4) Although not all people in India actively practice spirituality, their cultural mindset is spiritual: they have an attitude of surrender towards life. The average Indian has a level of surrender that exceeds even that of the most highly evolved spiritual or religious devotee in America–and surrender is considered to be a key spiritual attribute in Christianity, Islam, and Eastern spirituality. The tragedies of life can be overcome by family, simplicity, and faith. Indians take life as it comes, and misfortune and death are part of life. This attitude of surrender creates less stress in daily life.

Of course, spirituality is based on a belief in a higher power. In India, there are many gods, and it is commonly accepted that belief in a higher power relieves stress. Americans seem to have a much weaker reliance on God in daily life; you may say you believe in God, but if you don’t put your reliance on God moment to moment, you nullify most of the positive effects of your belief. Which god is the best god to pray to in order to relieve stress? Visit you local Hindu temple to find out!

(5) Finally, Indians have lower expectations and a sense of destiny that helps them deal with life. Their idea of karma is less stressful than our Western idea of cause and effect; they believe that karma is pre-set and they do not stress as much about their future. Indians feel they are not in control of their life; Americans tend to feel that their long-term success or failure depends on their actions. Indians generally believe that their destiny has been predetermined–so why worry? They believe they are not in the driver’s seat; Americans tend to push and shove to get into the driver’s seat in life. On the other hand, a complete lack of assertiveness leads to lower productivity in the workforce. There are many who are so complacent that they are little more than human wet noodles (broth not included!)

Final Thought:

What does stress really mean? Another system of thought, Kabbalah, says that stress simply means that a lot of things are happening in a very limited time…and you have to do a lot to get ahead. Not enough stress means you are not doing much with your life…

So how much stress do you really need?

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The snake train revisited: a solution to India’s transport nightmare

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The snake train idea revisited
I had an idea called the snake train idea which I wrote about in another blog entry. It would be a really wide and long train on which you could do activities like web browsing, reading, shopping, drinking coffee, and more. Multi-tasking is the concept behind this snake train, and its interior would be very roomy and comfortable. The snake train would be over a mile long and would never stop. You just jump on and jump off wherever you need to get on or off. The problem is that you would have to dig up the entire metro to build a train like this. But, India is a unique country that is growing much faster than the rest of the world. Their existing metros are suffocating in overpopulation. India could decide to build some new metros with innovative transportation systems. Planned cities! It is much easier to build on virgin territory than to tear up existing structures while disabling local traffic patterns.

A planned city with a unique train system
There are various ways to build innovative transportation systems in a city. The most important thing to remember is that you need to leave a lot of space for innovation. If you plan a city, have arteries that are far wider than you need. That way you can experiment, and adjust to fluctuating populations. You can also tear up an older idea and build a new idea more easily since you have space. Most urban planners do not think that far ahead, but thinking ahead can save you billions!

Putting the snake train above or below ground?
I wrote a separate article about the snake train, but there are more ways to explore the idea. A wide and long train like the snake train would need to be either below ground so that traffic could pass above it, on ground with bridges for the cars and trucks to pass over it, or on an elevated rail. Such a heavy train would make it expensive to build an elevated rail for. But, we can consider all of the possibilities. For a train to be comfortable to eat, sleep, browse the web, and drink coffee, it would have to be very level, and not too fast.

Boarding considerations for the snake train…

Boarding the train by jumping on
The point of the snake train is that you can jump on or off anywhere. But, to jump on, the train would have to move relatively slowly. A train moving 5 KM/hour would be easy for a young person to jump on and off of. People in Mumbai jump off trains going much faster than that without too many serious injuries. But, to get where you are going, the train would either have to go faster than that and then slow down from time to time for loading and unloading passengers (remember that the snake doesn’t stop).

Boarding the train with a circular device
Or, you could create a huge circular device that is 400 feet wide that the snake would hug around. You could enter the circle from the center, where it would be moving inches per minute and then move outwards in the circle to board the train. Innovative, but very bizarre. That way the train could move around 15 KM/hour without having boarding issues.

Boarding shuttles
Another way to facilitate boarding which is much more interesting is like how people join spacecraft in orbit. You would have a shuttle bring passengers from stations and while in motion, the shuttle would attach to the long snake train. There are various ways to attach that make sense. You could attach from behind and become yet another car in the huge snake train. You could attach to the front of the snake as well. Since the snake is so long, you might have to wait for a very long time to get to the end of it. A more fun idea is to attach to the side of the train to dedicated boarding portal cars. Passengers in the shuttle could be in a sort of container with chairs. The container could be slowly shifted from the shuttle to the train on rollers. Then the shuttle could disconnect and reconnected to another portal for departing passengers and roll on their pre-filled container filled with human traffic.

The predetermined system
A very interesting way to handle snake train traffic is for each car of the train to detach and go to a particular stop. Imagine that you are going to Gandhi-Nagar in the new city of Thirdrabad in Karnataka (sorry, A.P. already used Secundrabad). Let’s say the snake train is weaving through the city and when it gets near Gandhi-Nagar, the first car detaches and exits from the main rail to stop at its destination. At the next destination JP-Nagar, the next car would detach from the train and go where it was going to go. Meanwhile, another car waiting in JP-Nagar would be waiting to attach to the back of the snake train with fresh human cargo. Interesting system! If you are having coffee on a particular car, you might have to walk through car after car after car to get to the one that detaches to go to your station. Lots of walking, but an interesting system.

The stopping system.
Snake trains aren’t supposed to stop, but they could slow down to a near stop. The problem is that the train is so long, that if it stopped, your part of the train could be a mile from the actual escalator to a ground level exit where you actually want to get off. One solution is similar to the predetermined system. You would see a map of the train, and where each car would be at the various stops along the way. The idea is to keep the train going and not stop much or for long. You could walk through the train for up to a mile to be in exactly the right spot for when it stops. Imagine that you wanted to stop at the mall in the Jangli-Maharaj section of town. Each car would have a map of were they would be at the various stops. You would keep walking through the cars until you got to one that stopped near the mall. Imagine how many calories you could burn just getting around.

Advantages of the snake train
India is so populated, that in places like Mumbai, trains come every several minutes. The trains are overly packed. The only solution to this suffocating problem is to have longer trains, double decker trains, or to build more train lines. It is cheaper to have longer trains, except then you would need longer stations as well. Mumbai didn’t think about that long ago when they build their stations. They didn’t anticipate having 25 million humans crammed into overcrowded slums and apartment buildings. If India plans a new planned city like my fictional Thirdrabad, they should plan for overcrowding and have some good solutions for it. Overcrowding might not happen if good planning happens on a national level, but it is good to prepare for it just in case! If Thirdrabad gets too crowded, my recommendation is to start drilling to build Fourthdrabad. Just a thought! India has plenty of available land in the countryside. Instead of cramming people in coastal cities with no available land, using interior land resources makes sense.

Roomy and smooth
Another advantage of the snake train is that regular trains are crowded and jerky. The snake would have endless interior room. Buses are jerky too with rude drivers. The snake would be smooth and comfortable. The idea behind the snake train is that it would be so wonderful that you would take it even when you didn’t need to go anywhere! Food for thought!

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Solutions to India’s transportation problem

Are you tired of outsourcing to India?

How many of your workers speak clear English?

Categories: India | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Are you outsourcing to the UK, Australia, America, Canada, and other English speaking countries? How many staff members does your company have who speak good English? The boss? I thought so. Anyone else? No? You are in trouble. What do you do when you have an inquiry and the boss is not around.

Company 1’s performance (F)

Austalian client: Ring ring….

Employee: Hullo (in a dull and muffled tone)

Australian: Good day mate… How are things going?

Employee: Hmmm? Going? No, I am at work. Manager not here. Call back later.

Australian: Gee, that was very unprofessional and unhelpful how this employee dealt with me. Why am I outsourcing to this company? Probably because the others ones are just as bad!

But, what if your outsourcing company was the one company that had a few workers who could answer the phone and do translations when your clients want to talk to a staff member, or have a question answered? You might gain market share. Imagine the following conversation.

Company 2’s performance (A)

Australian client: ring ring.

Employee: Krishna’s outsourcing service, this is Surya here, may I help you?

Australian: Good day mate… How are things going?

Employee: Things are great mate. How are things down under?

Australian: Wow, you know our slang… Nobody else in India knows this. I’m impressed. I had a question about my SQL server mate. Were you able to assess the server speed?

Employee: Could you tell me which person was responsible for that project?
Australian: Yes, I believe it was Rikesh

Employee: One moment… he is sitting to the right of me… I’ll ask….

(30 seconds later)

Employee: He said that the speed today averaged 10 megabites per nanosecond.

Australian: Wow, that was the quickest answer I have ever gotten. Normally I have to send ten emails, and make five phone calls, be put on hold, disconnected, repeat the process, and then three weeks later after pulling teeth get an answer. With you, all I had to do is make one phone call, ask and in 45 seconds get an answer. Amazing! I’m hiring YOUR company for all of my SQL needs for the rest of my life!

See the difference?

Is your company more like outsourcing company 1 or company 2 — be honest — I can tell if you are stretching the truth!

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Customer Service, What Americans Want

Are callers in India more sincere?

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Are callers at a call center in India more sincere than U.S. call center workers? Many of them are educated, and eager to please. They use false names if their call center asks them to, but many have a positive way of looking at it. “I think people in the U.S. are very busy, and they just want to make sure they get good customer service. If they hear someone with a foreign accent, they are not sure. If they have one problem with a caller from another company, they do not want to hear from another caller in India,” says one call center worker in Delhi. “I do not feel that I am being false. I am being myself, but with a name that people in the U.S. can relate to,” says Robin, whose real name is Lakshmi. “I am sincere about my work, and want to give great customer service.” Robin’s call center in India is one of the very best and most sought-after.

Call center workers at this call center in India are certainly less cynical about their lives than their U.S. counterparts, and they take work seriously. Having worked as a caller for high-end fundraising in the U.S., and having supervised numerous callers recently from time to time, I can tell you that American call center workers after a while will say almost anything to those they are calling. They will be friendly, get the credit card number, then hang up and at break time often complain about the people they called. Those who feel bad about themselves and do not like their jobs are not sincere. For example, they will sound like a Democrat on one call, and talk Republican on another, and generally try to fit in with what the caller chats about just to get along. If someone makes a comment on a presidential candidate, they will agree–not matter what they think–to make people think they are talking to a fellow American with the same values. Many are just so involved in the daily grind that they do not have any hope anymore about the political scene and life in the U.S. in general. Is this any better than using a false name?

However, U.S. callers communicate well. They provide reliable customer service, if that is the kind of call they are making. They are fluent in English, and compared to workers in a call center in India, they create a better impression that a situation will be resolved– whether they believe that or not. If call center workers in India do not know whether the situation will be resolved, they may not say that it will be.

Is this better or worse for the U.S. consumer? Is it bad customer service to be honest?

Maybe yes.

Women programmers in India and the U.S.

Categories: India, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A general trend is that there are more and more women programmers in both India and the U.S., but India is ahead. Women in the U.S. make up less than 20% of all undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Engineering, and women studying IT in India are roughly at the same percentage, but India has doubled the number of women enrolled in IT colleges. What motivates a woman to succeed as a programmer or an engineer?

We’ll let the programmers speak for themselves.

Neeta is a 28-year-old Indian programmer who was offered a job upon graduating from BIRLA Institute, a prestigious IT college. “In India, science is promoted as something that can benefit our culture. Also, the literacy rate has improved from 15% in 1971 to 54% currently. This means that all daughters in upscale or average families are well educated; girls who grow up in respectable families get a lot of encouragement in education and career. It is no longer an idea that women can depend on a man or a marriage for everything,” explains this programmer in India. “My brother is an engineer, and now earns 500,000 rupees a year.” How much is that in U.S. dollars? Almost $10,000.

Says Kamala, another female happily employed as a programmer in India, “Women in India are not seen as unattractive in any way if they are good at math and science. India’s percentage of women undergraduates doubled from 1997 to 2000, and is now 20% of undergraduates. In Kerala, 50% of technical college graduates are women,” notes this Indian programmer. “There is no prejudice against women programmers in India, and in fact, in the South, they are often sought after and even offered more money sometimes than men. Some companies fight to hire women programmers. Also, having a career does not hurt a woman’s chances of marrying, as was previously thought,” smiles this Indian programmer. “Everyone in my family encouraged me to be a programmer, and cheered when I won math and science contests. I started at age 10, which is a great time to start.”

Kerry, a programmer in the U.S., tells us, “My parents sent me to summer camp for computers when I was 12. Throughout high school, I gradually realized there was a career in this. I learned programming here and there in high school, and eventually entered a top U.S. college and majored in Computer Science. This whole time, I kept getting encouragement– from my parents, my family, and my teachers. I think that kept me going. Nothing was ever said to discourage me– but the positives–the encouragement–made me succeed as a programmer.”

Sunita, another Indian programmer who graduated from one of the top 20 IT colleges in India, says that, in addition to encouragement, in India programming is seen as a select profession, not lowly like working in a factory. “It is one of the few respectable professions a woman can go into to earn a good living, help support her family, and do good for the country,” this programmer in India adds.

Sudha, an Indian programmer who graduated with top honors in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a prestigious IT and science-oriented college, believes that “In the U.S., the culture produces a certain image of cute women with glamorous careers. Careers in science don’t seem as appealing, and girls don’t choose women mentors who are in a science field. I had a science teacher who mentored me when I was 10. She told me, ‘Smart women can go far in the IT field. You can start as a programmer and end by having your own huge IT company.’ Women in India aren’t all fooled by this air-head, glamour image of what a woman should be,” says this programmer in India. “In India, if there is a chance to get scholarships and get a good career, we take it, no matter if it seems glamorous or not. By 2002, the percentage of female IT college graduates doubled from what it was 6 years earlier. It is still rising.”

According to one study by the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley, soon the IT workforce in India is expected to be 45% female, and in some IT colleges, 50% of the graduating class are women. There will be a 22% increase in the number of technical jobs in India and the U.S. by 2018. That means we had better start encouraging and rewarding young women for success in the IT field.

How does culture determine what is private or public information?

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Private or Public: What an Indian Manager Will and Won’t Tell You
To any question that did not involve facts and figures, one Indian software company manager recently replied, “That, of course, is personal.” Had I asked him about what size pants he wore, or his address, or his wife’s birth date? No; I was simply asking for a story about his company and the people who are part of its team.

Guarded managers won’t tell you much
Whether you are dealing with a very successful software company in India or an Indian software company that is still small, most managers or CEO’s have a very guarded approach to talking about their company. They will tell you in very general terms how they help U.S. companies succeed, or will give you lots of numbers about how much they helped raise profits (very good!), but even when you explain that you are not asking for specific names of U.S. companies they have done work for, they are still suspicious about being asked for details. In India, it is just not natural to say much about your company’s employees or interactions. That is considered highly personal.

In America, personal & company details are more public
In the U.S., every rising star, political figure, business person, and software engineer may be found on google at some point in time. The U.S. is a country that is obsessed with the personal lives of almost everyone, and this curiosity has been fanned and inflated by the Internet with the ability to publish and find information so easily. However, looking at the positives, we are open to a wide variety of people and we try to find those who think as we do when we want to do business. This is the main reason we are asking for stories about companies in the first place. The thousands of people who read our blog want to find a like-minded company to do business with. Maybe they are wondering about all the things they read on the Web, and they want to reassure themselves that people in India have lives just like theirs…or in some ways like theirs.

However, intimate details should be private
The intimate details of employees’ lives are, and should be, private. We are not in favor of talking about marriages, children, or any of the silly gossip that movie stars are involved in on the Web. However, if you really have a great team, your Indian software company should be able to tell us, for example, that they all went to the mountains together, or play volleyball together, or eat out together while planning new work strategies. We wonder: do the software companies in India not really know about their employees? Are their employees so uninteresting that they have no salient characteristics? If you have a great team, isn’t it made up of interesting individuals with individual talents beyond what they do at your company?

Snip-its about each employee make us want to call
Maybe Americans are too used to the idea of a software engineer who is also a classical pianist, or a manager who also has a PhD in Philosophy or Comparative Religions, or knows several languages and is a world traveler. We are used to this. Yes, we are spoiled. We are also used to company websites that show pictures of team members and give little biographies about these individuals’ personal interests–besides work. Why? It makes them well-rounded and intriguing, and makes us want to help them earn their salaries. It convinces us to give the company a call.

Despite cultural differences, there are great people overseas
But it is also part of our love of democracy that we believe that at Indian software companies there are also programmers and engineers who do amazing things and have amazing personal stories to tell. We would not have this website if we didn’t believe these kind of people exist in other countries. We believe that there must be some very special Indian programmers or software engineers helping companies in India grow. We are not asking for their names, but we are interested in stories about software companies in India and the outstanding teams that make them work.

India is more focused on work and less on frills
Or maybe in India, people just work. Many of these individuals just work and take care of their families. If they are lucky, they also have some time for spiritual or religious practice as well. Maybe they do not have the luxury of reading a lot, or taking extra courses or degrees, or playing sports or music. Maybe they just work, and they don’t feel at ease to have any personal time or interests. And maybe our wide variety of interests has dissipated our focus on work. Perhaps they, in India, are the lucky ones.

Feeling safe discussing more details
I guess, in the end, many software companies in India feel that giving out any information on interesting employees or teams might tempt some employees to seek more money or other jobs, and it is best to leave things as they are. We still are hoping to hear from a growing Indian software company that values its employees and feels safe enough to discuss some of their valuable skills and attitudes that make them who they are.

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Are you tired of outsourcing to India?

Categories: India, Semi-Popular | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Are you tired of the nonsense?
Anyone who has outsourced to India knows of what I speak… the little tricks, the negligence, the hour padding, the stubbornness, the poor communication habits, and the disinclination to plan for the future and not having any concept of timeliness whatsoever? Me too. India is the king of BPO outsourcing, at least for small and medium companies. So, what are your other more favorable options for fulfilling your outsourcing needs.

You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.
If you deal with Indian BPO outsourcing companies, you will find many distinct cultural behavioral patterns that repeat themselves. Some of these behaviors are very pleasant while others will drive you crazy! If you are lucky, you will link up with one of India’s many responsible people. The problem is that there are also many negligent and crooked people mixed in with the great people that doing business with new companies (or existing companies who hire new staff regularly) can be very unpredictable. Each country has their own unique cultural makeup. Some are more concerned with accuracy, and others stress social skills. If you are tired of doing business with India — try some other countries and compare. But, remember, no matter WHERE you do business, make sure you are working with good people.

Where is the back office?
For programming, there are many outsourcing arrangements between Western countries and popular outsourcing destinations (India, Russia, Belarus, Romania, China, the Philippines, etc.) Finding these companies is no easy task. Looking around on the internet, it is not always easy to see where people are REALLY doing business. Their mailing address on their contact us page and their evasive back office’s location are typically two completely different things. The only real way to make heads or tails of the marketplace is to call local programming companies and ask where their network is (and hope you get a straight answer). However time-consuming, you can learn a lot. Visiting a company in person will tell you if there is a company to begin with (or if you are hiring someone who works out of their bedroom and uses irresponsible freelancers he barely knows).

Even if you bombed in Bombay, you can manage in Manila!
For call center work, there are zillions of call centers in the Philippines. But, finding them is no walk in the park. There are call centers you can find on the internet in the Philippines. However, those are not always the highest end companies that exist. You would have an easier time reaching the DMV by phone than being able to talk to an actual manager at some of these call centers. Most successful offshore companies have a sister company in America, England, or some other Western country. You might have better luck scouring the American market to see who is networking with the Philippines.

East meets West: Goals versus Family
American culture is more goal-oriented while Indian culture is more family-oriented. Americans are often very picky about deadlines. Indians are used to routine and unpredictable electrical outages, floods, riots, strikes, and other types of delays and seem immune to missing deadlines. On a brighter note, Indian companies are generally better staffed, and can give you more hours of work per week, even if their work is not quite as efficient as you hope. Additionally, if you visit India, you will find that although their phone etiquette is atrocious, they are very gracious and hospitable in person.

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Penalizing people for following the rules

Categories: India, Motivation | Tagged | Leave a comment

India is a country that penalizes many for following rules.
It seems that the minute you leave Mumbai, no rick shaw driver will follow any rules. Meters are systematically broken or tampered with, prices never reflect the real amount of labor involved. Drivers claim that there is no return trip when in fact there might be a trip going partially in the direction back to wherever he wants to go, etc. Why does this problem exist?

Forcing people into poverty
It seems that the local governments in India want to force rick shaw drivers into such a state of poverty that they wouldn’t even be able to afford any type of food or gas. The published rates for rick shaw fares are pathetically low in many parts of India (Chennai especially a few years ago at rps6 per km). The governments don’t seem to understand that the price of labor and petrol are not going down as a general rule. Fares need to be a lot higher, otherwise people will be forced to break the rules.

The result of this oppression
The result of this unfair system is that the local governments who set rick shaw fares are never fair to the drivers. And the drivers seem to cheat about what they charge more than half the time just to make a living. This creates a greater problem to society. People feel they need to cheat to get ahead, due to the system — and this can effect people in all industries.

The police are also underpaid
The situation is the same with the police who are paid some miserable salary. They get most of their income from bribes, rather than from the government. Police do as much of their job as they like, and effective people will not want to be police, since they get paid only pennies. Police are forced to cheat, just to survive. Once again, this forcing people to cheat just to eat custom causes horrific damage to the culture and society. People should be rewarded for being honest and fair.

The damage has creeped its way into outsourcing as well.
There are many in outsourcing who just lie and cheat. In the long run those get fired, and the useful people get ahead. But, in a society that penalizes people for being honest and following rules, what do you expect?

India should tax more & pay better salaries
I suggest that India tax their citizens more, and pay top dollar to the police, government workers, and other public employees. However, I also suggest that they get rid of any type of JOB SECURITY. People in India like government jobs because they feel they have financial security for life, even if they laze around. I suggest that people get paid for what they accomplish, and that they get paid well. That way, the best and brightest in India will be competing for government jobs, and the country would by default function much more smoothly as a result.

Smart kids go into tech, not government
The reality in India is that the smart young people almost always go into the tech industry, and many produce economic miracles. You will see multi-million dollar buildings, and then the roads immediately in front of them will be falling apart before your very eyes, and traffic jams due to a lack of effective government planning, will prevent these millionaires from driving to their homes. If the genious millionares in Banjara Hills were offered more money to work for the government than they are to do programming, then they would figure out a way for India to not have any more traffic jams, and then we would all be happy!

The solution = more competition for government jobs
The solution — more taxes, higher salaries for government jobs, and more competition for state jobs, and jobs awarded to people who have a good track record, and seniority and political connections should count for nothing… I’m not being realistic, but my ideas will produce results!