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Indian priest highlights destructive role of call centres

A priest in the Indian business hub Mumbai has warned against the social cost to India of western countries including Australia outsourcing their call centre work to contractors in India.

"The lure of money is making youngsters drop out of college to take up call-centre jobs," said parish priest K.T. Emmanuel in a sermon. "They blow money on the latest cars and cell phones, while their middle-class parents struggle to save money."

Reuters reports that Fr Emmanuel's suburban congregation included "scores of 20-somethings who spend their nights fielding calls from the customers of US multinational giants such as General Electric and Time Warner".

"My family life, social life, health ... Everything is screwed up because I work nights," said 21 year old call centre worker Reema. "But the money is so good that I'm willing to compromise."

These Indian "customer relations executives" (CREs) are part of an outsourcing industry expected to employ more than one million people and account for $A35.7 billion in exports by 2008.

Call Centers Fuel Social Change in Traditional India (Reuters 8/6/04)

Call centres or grenades (The Guardian 9/3/04)

10 Jun 2004