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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Call centre is 'my dream job'
Richard Bond
BBC Look East Business Correspondent in Bangalore, India

Snehal Sampat
Snehal Sampat earns twice the salary of a teacher in India
At 22, Snehal Sampat has landed her dream job.

She works as a customer adviser in Norwich Union's call centre in Bangalore, southern India.

In Britain such a job would be considered very ordinary. But in India it is a sought-after position.

Ms Sampat said one of the attractions is the salary.

"The pay is absolutely fantastic," she said. "In India, call centres are one of the fastest growing industries. If you perform, you stand to earn a lot of money."

A lot of money by Indian standards, that is. Ms Sampat earns 40 a week. Her equivalent at a British call centre would be on 250.

But in India, 40 is twice what a teacher earns and about the same as a newly qualified doctor.


Ms Sampat and her call centre colleagues, all of whom are graduates, are able to enjoy the fruits of the consumer society - mobile phones, DVDs, western clothes and smart rented flats.

They seek employment with western companies because it's seen as a high prestige job, an important stepping stone in their lives
Norwich Union director John Hodgson
By the end of this year Norwich Union will employ 3,500 people in Bangalore, Delhi and Pune.

"About two million people a year come out of Indian universities and technical colleges," said John Hodgson, the firm's offshoring director.

"Their basic English is at a high level. They seek employment with western companies because it's seen as a high prestige job, an important stepping stone in their lives."


Indian call centres are 40% cheaper to run than British ones and the number of outsourcing staff in the sub-continent is expected to grow tenfold in five years.

It is good news for India, where a third of the population lives in absolute poverty.

"The company is exploring ways of extending its offshoring programme," said Patrick Snowball, chief executive of Norwich Union Insurance.

"As we get to understand how India works we might throw the net wider. By the middle of next year about 30% of Norwich Union Direct will be in India.

"I think that's enough but we don't have other activities out there which we might want to consider."

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