…when I came to the 24/7 Customer call center in Bangalore to observe hundreds of Indian young people doing service jobs via long distance – answering the phones for U.S. firms, providing technical support for U.S. computer giants or selling credit cards for global banks – I was prepared to denounce the whole thing. “How can it be good for America to have all these Indians doing our white-collar jobs?” I asked 24/7’s founder, S. Nagarajan.
Well, he answered patiently, “look around this office.” All the computers are from Compaq. The basic software is from Microsoft. The phones are from Lucent. The air-conditioning is by Carrier, and even the bottled water is by Coke, because when it comes to drinking water in India, people want a trusted brand. On top of all this, says Mr. Nagarajan, 90 percent of the shares in 24/7 are owned by U.S. investors. This explains why, although the U.S. has lost some service jobs to India, total exports from U.S. companies to India have grown from $2.5 billion in 1990 to $4.1 billion in 2002. What goes around comes around, and also benefits Americans.
Read the whole column.
Addendum: Here is Virginia Postrel’s latest piece on trade.
Second addendum: How about this press release, India awarding a big contract to Hewlett-Packard, thanks to Kevin Bone for the pointer.