Invasion of the "Body Shoppers." (India's Information Technology Industry)

By Chatterjee, Pratap | Multinational Monitor, May 1995 | Go to article overview

Invasion of the "Body Shoppers." (India's Information Technology Industry)


Chatterjee, Pratap, Multinational Monitor


Buy a stack of securities from the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) in Geneva and your purchase will be registered instantly by a computer program designed in the southern Indian city of Madras and delivered to UBS and other banks by satellite.

If you leave UBS and take the Monday afternoon SWISSAIR flight from Geneva to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, chances are that your airline payment transactions and those of fellow travelers will be processed by a software system customized in Bombay, India's financial capital.

If you call home from Jeddah, you will be patched through newly installed AT&T telephone lines by a computer system that was designed in India by Roltas India, a diversified refrigerator manufacturer.

"German auto manufacturers operate factories in the United States, American toy makers rely on Chinese workers and most of the VCRs in our homes come from Japan. So why not develop our software in India?" asks Kurt Johnson, analyst at the International Data Corporation in Framingham, Massachusetts, author of a World Bank study, "Software Integration Services: The Risks and Rewards of Offshore Software Development."

"Body shopping"

Designing software - programs that instruct a computer how to perform tasks such as word processing, number crunching, communications and business transactions - requires three resources: highly trained personnel, computer equipment (or "hardware") and a means to deliver the product to clients. The equipment costs a few thousand dollars and can be set up in a matter of minutes anywhere in the world. A continuous power supply and a dependable telephone line to transmit data to clients are also critical software-production assets. These services can be hard to obtain in India, but have been made available recently to those willing to pay a premium price. Finally, trained personnel are abundant in India. Training institutes such as the National Institute for Information Technology (NIIT) are matriculating more than 100,000 computer programmers each year.

Indian programmers rarely create major cutting-edge commercial software packages. Their typical roles in the global economy include customizing commercially available programs to a particular customer's needs and updating or debugging smaller commercial packages. But while good software engineers can earn $100,000 a year in California, their best and brightest counterparts in India earn $10,000. Less-qualified programmers in India are put to work on the monotonous routine of keying in largely repetitive computer code. In some large programming projects, this code can run millions of lines long, coding that would take a single full-time programmer 100 years to enter.

The origins of India's entry into the information technology race date back to the early 1980s. At that time, a generation of computer professionals that had trained at India's world-class engineering universities traveled abroad in search of jobs because there were few computers, let alone jobs, for professionals with their talent in India. A prominent example was Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, who realized his dream of setting up an international computer company and retiring by age 30. Today, Sun, which he helped create in 1982, is a $5.5 billion company with 13,000 employees.

Around that time, the computer industry made its transition from huge, prohibitively expensive "mainframes" to more affordable computer workstations and personal computers. Meanwhile, the Indian government slashed tariffs on computer imports in 1984 to promote the industry. Khosla's would-be followers started to bring personal computers to India. They quickly realized that Khosla's success could not be duplicated easily but that there were other ways to make money in the computer industry. One of these is to take advantage of the low cost of Indian programmers both in India and by sending them to the United States on work permits, a practice Indian programmers call "body shopping. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Invasion of the "Body Shoppers." (India's Information Technology Industry)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.