President Obama’s rhetoric and life beyond outsourcing

There seems to be widespread angst, especially in India’s business circles, each time President Obama steps up his anti-outsourcing rhetoric. Our software industry was quick to respond, crying foul after President Obama’s state of the union speech in which he said, “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.” Not to be left behind, our politicians joined the chorus of disappointment. “Protectionism ultimately does not help the country that resorts to protectionism,” lectured our Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee.

Firstly, Obama’s anti-outsourcing job campaign was directed mainly towards manufacturing jobs that have migrated to China. While anti-outsourcing legislation might certainly affect India, the impact is likely to be far greater on the manufacturing sector than on IT services. To put things in perspective, let me recount an anecdote. A friend of mine who lives in Michigan said that a man approached him while he was mowing his lawn and asked him if he could work for him as his gardener. My friend agreed, and over time, got to know him better. It turned out that this man was a middle manager at one of the big car companies. He was in his mid-forties, had worked for over twenty years for the same car company, had two school-going kids, and had been out of a job for over six months. He had joined the company fresh out of school and had worked his way up to the middle management level. In other words, he had dedicated the best years of his life to the car manufacturing industry. After over twenty years of serving the company, he was laid off along with several colleagues, and as luck would have it, there were no matching jobs available in the area.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times


Chennai school violence signifies collective failure

The murder of a school teacher in Chennai by a ninth-standard student was shocking and disturbing. According to media reports, the student is supposed to have seen the recent Hindi film, Agneepath. Media reports also suggest that he was from an affluent family and that he was apparently criticized by this teacher for poor performance in school through a written report to his parents.

A number of questions come to mind as you think about the various issues involved. What was the role of the parents in the case of this student? Were they even aware that he was angry, upset and prone to such extreme violence? Did the student confide his plans with any of his friends? Did he have a track record of violent acts in the past? Was he ever counseled about his performance or about his behavior?

Let us assume for a moment that the attack was beyond everyone’s control. But what about the issue of the teacher’s life that was so abruptly snuffed out? This is the most painful part of this episode and unfortunately hardly covered in the media. Consider the sequence of events – In broad daylight, a school kid (not a professional killer) stabs his teacher multiple times; this happens right in the heart of one of India’s leading metros in the middle of a regular school day, with students and school staff going about their daily routines; then the teacher succumbs to the stab wounds and dies.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times