Multinationals in India choose political correctness

Summary:The success of Indian IT continues to spark backlash in the developed world. This is one concern multinational corporations (MNCs) may have to live with.

The success of Indian IT continues to spark backlash in the developed world. This is one concern multinational corporations (MNCs) may have to live with. I experienced this recently, when I approached several MNCs for a story on how India is fast emerging as a hub for low-cost development.

The queries were rather simple, intended at finding out what kind of development work actually took place at the R&D centers of these MNCs in India. A majority of the MNCs never got back to me. Most said their key executives (who were authorized to answer these queries) were traveling. Some were more forthright and said they can't reveal such information due to strategic reasons. Yet, others said nothing at all. There was one company that responded quite promptly. But then, it didn't do any development work in India (the company was Acer; it undertakes R&D at its headquarters in Taiwan).

A prominent industry person finally spelt out what I had begun to anticipate. "Large MNCs need to be politically correct. Back home, they have to give the impression that they are outsourcing simple jobs to India and not more high-skill jobs. Otherwise, they could draw more flak," the source said.

For many Indians, this resentment may not be easy to understand. Look at it this way--if the Tata group was to downsize heavily in India, and get all its development and backoffice work done at R&D centers and BPO (business process outsourcing) outfits in other countries, many Indians would be rather agitated and upset.

Then again, it's impossible to suppress the growing prowess of a country--and market size--as large as India (or any other emerging economy for that matter). How long can they ignore media queries? Nothing can stop the inevitable from happening.

Perhaps, there is no easy solution to this particular fallout of globalization.

Topics: India

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