Posted April 28, 2008 by

A NOVEL INSIGHT TO OUTSOURCING

Forced vasectomies, salvation from a Beggarmaster and a government that changes the law to legitimize their corruption. These are but a few of the adventures in the intricate novel called “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. The story takes place in Mumbai, India around 1975. The main characters undergo such an oppressive struggle to survive it’s almost unbearable to read. But the book is written so well that it’s worth the heartache. Though it’s been thirteen years since the book was published, it supplies an interesting insight to a current controversy: outsourcing. The United States, Europe and Japan outsource favorable work to India and save big bucks. And technology is only improving the ease of outsourcing, degenerating American jobs. Check out the facts on “Business Process Outsourcing in India” on Wikpedia. The numbers are staggering. And I could understand the temptation to fathom the outsourced workers as the enemy. Before you do, read the book, “A Fine Balance” and get a taste of what life was like in the city that has taken our jobs.
My favorite character in the book was Ishvar. He is a tailor whose father was a leather curer. If you are not familiar with the Caste System in India, it is a BIG DEAL to change your occupation. Moving up in life when you are supposed to be lower than dirt is a hard pill to swallow. When Ishvar’s father decides his sons will learn a different trade to have a chance at a better life, his family is ostracized. Life is so mean to them, you really wish they would just win the Lotto and be done with it. The injustices they endure could only be seen as a million dollar lawsuit in the United States. As I read the book, I asked people who have traveled to India if it was indeed like the book’s description. To which, I was sadly confirmed that yes, it is. Not to say this country doesn’t have it’s share of people overcoming great odds to succeed but they are not exactly replacing educated workers in a different country by the hundreds of thousands now, are they?
Business’ loyalty is to profit. A business in a country that thrives on capitalism is faithful to the consumer. Residing in the country that consumes the product is no guarantee that the company will employ the consumer. Short of saying it’s our own fault, we have to look at the real problem. The consumer wants cheap flip-flops and children’s clothing at Walmart, it will be made in China. The consumer wants 24-Hour assistance to set up a home printer, the calls will be answered in India. We all have to make sacrifices. We all have to make a living. It’s not the workers; it’s the consumer.

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