ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670999040
Back in 1993, American Express launched its rupee cards in India. It was an operation similar to those it was running in other countries. Except for the curious fact that while the quality of the operations seemed to be better than elsewhere, the costs were much lower. Certain that something was wrong with the figures, the company’s comptroller visited India, and found that the reports were indeed correct.
That initial discovery would lead, shortly after, to the decision to locate the company’s finance functions for the Asia-Pacific region in India. The centre was set up in the Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area, along Delhi’s busy Mathura Road, a beehive of corporate offices and factories that is still plagued by the standard Indian malaise of power cuts. Setting up the centre was a nightmare, from dealing with babudom to establishing the all-important connectivity, but somewhere along the line things began to come together, and the centre began to efficiently execute processes that were seen as time-consuming and difficult.
The Amex centre, in hindsight, might count as the precursor of the BPO revolution that has spawned close to 400 ITES (IT-enabled services)-BPO units in the country. The sector now employs around 300,000 people ranging from call centre staff selling credit cards to Americans—in an American accent—to analysts preparing research reports for Wall Street investment bankers, and generates an astounding $5 billion (Rs 22,500 crore) in revenue. That figure is slated to quadruple in the next two years, even as, piquantly, it is now people in the West who complain of loss of jobs as companies route work to India.
In The Backroom Brigade: How a Few Intrepid Entrepreneurs Brought the World to India, Seetha, a Delhi-based economic journalist, tells the story of this entire phenomenon--how a group of people combining sophisticated technology with the improvisational skills of a street mechanic changed the way the world looked at India.
The Ground Breakers
The Early Adventurers
The Spunky Start-Ups
The Existential Angst
The Poor Cousins