I was (in some ways, I still am) in the midst of a small blogging hiatus forced by a lot of issues when this caught my eye. Saturday being sort of auspicious, I and a couple of friends decided to drive down to the Siva Vishnu Temple in Maryland. And later in the day, we decided to take a small detour on the way back and explore the sights of the Baltimore Inner Harbor along Pratt Street. Stepping out of ESPNZone, we decided to peek into the adjacent Barnes and Noble and get a cappuchino at the Starbucks inside.
Standing in the queue I came upon a copy of the BusinessWeek and instantly picked it up to read while waiting for my cuppa. The special double issue dated August 22nd, but going by the quality of the copy that I got, seems to have already been well thumbed through and in addition to the copy that i chanced upon at the Starbuck counter, the store had just one more copy. But this issue seems to have gone under the radar as far the desi blogosphere is concerned.
As the cover indicates, the issue is all about the rise of India and China with the tagline - What you need to know now. The issue covers a wide range of subjects that are actually quite well known to anyone in tune with the recent business trends. The coverage seems to be from three different levels – a neutral academic’s outlook, a close look from ground zero (in India and China) and at last from the US’s point of view as the “affected party”.
From the desi standpoint, among the major pieces written from China and India, is a success story from Wipro – a feature on how Wipro’s medical claims BPO has adopted the Toyota Production System (complete with flashing lights to warn managers / supervisors of a potential bottleneck) to great success. The description of this system (which has been so successful in manufacturing) adapted to back office operations might sound straight from an Orwellian scenario of indentured labor, but the system is effective and has proven to increase employee morale and esteem significantly. I had heard of such a system in an insurance company’s operation here in the US, but this was an eye opener. Accompanying this story is a slide-show, a look into a particular Wipro BPO’s employee’s daily life.
Rounding out the issue are a pair of articles, one looking at the whole outsourcing issue from the viewpoint of a laid off Maytag factory worker and another outlining what the US needs to do to cope up with the changing landscape.
Overall this double issue is loaded with feel-good stories with a few cautionary tales (like the one about basic education in India). Compelling to say the least, but the horror stories like those of spiking stress levels among the workers in these new age enterprises, seem to have been brushed under the carpet.
I am still not done with all the articles, so I shall end here. You can check out the rest, here.