04/01/2020, 16.26
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Four million jobs outsourced to India threatened by coronavirus

Western companies have over the years outsourced many activities to Indian companies, especially call centres. In India, many companies remain open despite a government lockdown. India has half of the global outsourcing market, but now some western companies are backsourcing.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The lockdown measures taken by India to fight the COVID-19 virus are threatening India’s outsourcing industry, which employs about four million workers.

In the recent past, Western companies, especially in the United States and Great Britain, have outsourced various services to Indian companies, like call centres. Over time, Indian firms have come to provide customer services, technical assistance to smartphone owners and data management support.

European and US companies that have outsourced activities to India are often banking and financial giants, or companies in the health and telecommunications field. For example, Tata Consultancy Services, India’s leading outsourcing group, has Citibank, a US banking giant, as one of its customers.

With the lockdown in India set to last until 14 April. many Indian workers in firms serving foreign clients want to work from home, but employers have refused, in some cases threatening to fire them.

Many local firms are not prepared for smart working. In order not to lose market share, some remain open despite restrictions, putting their employees’ health at risk since the latter tend to work in close physical proximity.

The Indian government is trying to protect the sector and is encouraging remote work. Before the coronavirus outbreak, India’s unemployment rate was 8 per cent. Now the pandemic could wipe out millions of places.

Outsourcing to India has become a US$ 180 billion industry. According to several research institutes, India represents half of the global outsourcing market, beating competition from China, Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

India’s current situation has prompted some western companies to backsource certain activities from Indian companies. For example, Virgin Media has announced that it will hire 500 people in the UK for call centre services.

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