Sunday, March 09, 2008

Biharis, Muslims Need Not Apply...

In an earlier post - Ekalavya Applies for a Job!! - the issue was about Dalits and Muslims...

...and now, perhaps we need to add Biharis to the list of those discriminated... this time due to educated corporate India's obsession with "Proper English"...

Thanks to Yawar's mail, here are excerpts from the news-item in Mumbai Mirror

    ....Even the HR firm was surprised by the pre-condition set by the BPO. "Though we were surprised, the BPO organisation, Netambit, explained that people from UP and Bihar have a problem with their diction, especially with words like insurance where the ‘sh’ sound is pronounced as ‘s’," said Nadeem Faruqi, director, Connect Global, the HR firm. He was unable to get any logical explanation as to why Muslims were also excluded.

    Uma, the HR head for Netambit, said, "We do not prefer people from UP and Bihar because of their strong mother tongue influence." However, she added that the HR firm was trying to malign them. "It is not at all true that we’ve said they are ineligible. In fact, we also do not prefer candidates from the North-East. Even they have a very strong mother tongue influence."

    But Faruqi was firm. "Why should I want to malign them? For me, this is my business. We have been getting them candidates for the past three months. We have been verbally instructed that they don’t want candidates from UP and Bihar. They also do not want Muslims. I myself am a Muslim, but we didn’t probe much because for us this is business. They are our clients, they have specific needs, we service those needs," he said....

    ...Keith Rowe, director, HR Solutions, another consultancy, confirmed this. He said, "This kind of pre-conditioning exists in both big and small BPOs. We had many clients telling us categorically that they did not want candidates from a particular state, belonging to a particular caste or creed. In fact, this caste system works in another way in this sector. Looks and gender can also be qualifiers or disqualifiers. We also get requests for good looking girls because ‘they add to the glam quotient of the office environment’."

    ...Akhilesh Karn from Bihar, who used to work with GE Money in Gurgaon, had a tough time getting his last job. "Due to our accent, it is very difficult to get a job in a BPO. Because the managers know that we have a tough time getting jobs, at times, they even make us work longer shifts without any overtime," he said.


Coming back to unsolved riddle of "He was unable to get any logical explanation as to why Muslims were also excluded.... may be the reason is:

The "Other" in Modern Indian "Hindu" Psyche....

4 comments:

Abhijit said...

Prof. Madhukar,
Very funny :). I know of very few Indians who do not have a 'mother tongue influence' in their verbal communications. Like every other Delhite, I was exposed to various such influences, and have absorbed some myself (For shame!).

There is no singular American or British accent. There, like here, accents vary from state to state, city to city. It is likely that this BPO provides its employees with 'accent training' to better serve the demands of a certain demographic. The message they are sending out, whether consciously or sub consciously, is that one influence is superior to the other.

I can see why Mr. Faruq thinks it makes perfect business sense. Not because the customer is king, rather, the king is the customer.

Abhijit said...

One small request. Can you please allow comments via OpenID?

gaddeswarup said...

I did not believe it and checked. Here it is:
http://www.mumbaimirror.com/net/mmpaper.aspx?page=article§id=3&contentid=200803072008030703131748825e3ee6d

Madhukar said...

Thanks, Prof Swarup

I had linked the news-article url with the post title itself - but will put the link in the text of the post as well...

yes, in some ways it is unbelievable - but perhaps not entirely, since the roots of discrimination are quite subliminal... :(

@Abhijit,
your point is the exactly what Barkha Dutt had written about Garima's story (quoted in the "proper english" post mentioning in this posting):

"deep down we know that our English is not the English that the West really wants. And so, each time we talk to Britons or Americans, we subtly alter our diction and inflection. When we set up our call centres, we drop the subtlety entirely and start accent classes to teach our young people to abandon the speech patterns of our own society and to migrate to a virtual, linguistic, middle America, where they become impersonators of people they will never meet and never know."

re the OpenID issue,I used to have that, but then started getting a lot of automated spam in comments. So changed it to registration option...