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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 21:25 GMT
India's burgeoning call centres

By Adam Mynott
BBC correspondent in Delhi

The biggest insurance firm in the UK, Norwich Union, has announced it is to cut 2,350 jobs in Britain and export the work to India.

They are the latest in the tens of thousands of British call centre jobs lost to India in the past five years.

Industry experts in India say that more will inevitably follow as employees in Britain find that satellite communication has given British companies access to a highly qualified, motivated and cheap work force.

Switchboard operators
There could be two million Indians in the industry in five years' time
The call centre industry in India is in its infancy, but it is maturing very fast.

Five years ago there were just a handful of offices. There are now more than 300, employing about 180,000 people.

With the industry growing at over 20% a year, it is expected two million Indians will be working in out-sourcing in five years' time.

Thousands of jobs are coming to India from the UK. The reason is simple - India offers a better product and it comes at a fraction of the price.


The work force undercuts the competition in almost every respect.

New recruits have six weeks of training
"I think that basically there are two things that India offers in this industry," says Padmaja Krishnan, director of business development at Xansa, an international business process and IT services company working in India.

"One is the quality of the manpower, the other is the cost-quality advantage."

This is the cream of India's educated work force. Indian call centres recruit only college graduates and competition for jobs is intense.

The recruits have not signed up to sweatshop work - promotion to management comes quickly
New recruits start work after six weeks of training.

They will be paid the equivalent of about $150 (87) a month.

This is less than one-tenth of what a call centre worker in the UK earns, but in India this is good pay - more than a newly qualified doctor earns.

The hours may be long, but the recruits have not signed up to sweatshop work and promotion to management comes quickly.

It is the legacy of spoken English left behind after India gained independence from Britain nearly 50 years ago which also gives India the edge in this globalized jobs' market.

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"The trickle of jobs moving to India is turning into a flood"

Norwich Union jobs move to India
02 Dec 03  |  Business
UK firms size up Indian benefits
02 Dec 03  |  Business
India's rise as a call centre star
02 Dec 03  |  Business
Should British firms move jobs to Asia?
02 Dec 03  |  Have Your Say
Union's anger at BT's India plan
09 Sep 03  |  West Midlands
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25 Jul 03  |  Business
BT opens Indian call centres
07 Mar 03  |  Business

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