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The High-Tech Jobs That Created India's Gilded Generation Are Disappearing (washingtonpost.com) 165

An anonymous reader shares a report: Information technology services account for 9.5 percent of the India's gross domestic product, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), but now, after decades of boom, the future of the industry seems precarious. Since May, workers' groups have reported unusually numerous layoffs. The Forum for IT Employees (FITE) estimates that 60,000 workers have lost their jobs in the past few months (syndicated source). "Employees are being rated as poor performers so companies can get rid of them," said FITE's Chennai coordinator, Vinod A.J. IT companies and some government officials say the numbers have been exaggerated, but industry experts say the country's digital wunderkinds have much to fear. "For the first time, companies are touching middle management," said Kris Lakshmikanth, chief of a recruitment firm called Head Hunters India. Bias against Indians abroad is also compounding workers' fears of layoffs and downsizing at home. President Trump has stoked anxiety among Indian techies, who make up the majority of applicants for the H-1B visa program for highly skilled foreign workers. Trump has talked about sharply restricting H-1Bs, and this year the number of applications dropped a staggering 16 percent as companies prepared for Trump's immigration cutbacks. Instead, Indian outsourcing companies such as Infosys started recruiting Americans, bowing to Trump's calls for "America First." On Monday, India's Prime Minister Modi will meet Trump to talk about trade, visas and climate issues.
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The High-Tech Jobs That Created India's Gilded Generation Are Disappearing

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  • by parallel_prankster ( 1455313 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:04PM (#54691839)

    I see this everywhere - its the Cloud. Companies are not investing so much in maintaining their own IT systems now. They are using a bunch of features provided in the cloud. So mostly, there is no need for so many Indian IT firms. The few ones that are still running are just getting bigger because they are getting more business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Technical progress. We can do X with fewer people now. A few things can happen.

      In one case, we can do more X. People buy more services that require X. This means we still need those people, and they output more. Car manufacturers move car features down through their models as they become cheaper, and the various income levels buy a model that fits their desire to spend. We're still using the labor, just for other things. This is a complex example of consumer buying power creating demand for a new p

      • You point out a big difference between companies in the days of buggy whips and companies of today. Most companies of old would strive to do more X for the same price because their economies were growing rapidly. Fast-forward to today, and most companies choose to do the same amount of X for a cheaper price, which is very bad for the American worker.
        • Companies don't choose to do anything of the sort. If you're building hard drives, you can sell 4TB drives when they're as cheap to produce as 2TB drives used to be--because people want to buy them. If you put out $100 4TB drives and people buy 2TB drives for $50 instead, well... then you're making 2TB drives.

          This isn't a trickle-down economy. You don't go out, start a business, and push your success out to the masses by creating jobs and shoving products down peoples's throats. We have a demand econo

    • Real reason behind the decline in Indian IT jobs is because of the way they are operating - leeching away good paying jobs from other countries

      Leeching is never a good way to survive, as the leeches have to find a host to attach to and leech

      Instead of developing that own IT fields, like USA did, like Europe followed afterwards, like what happened in Singapore or Korea or Japan or even in China - those countries did all kinds of incubators helping creative youngsters to further develop their ideas into
  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:04PM (#54691843)

    Anybody know any recruiters working for Tata/Infosys etc? Post 'em (Company name, city and recruiter name), so nobody else wastes their time.

  • by Njorthbiatr ( 3776975 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:04PM (#54691849)

    I can also create oxymorons.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:08PM (#54691889)

    Indian outsourcing companies such as Infosys started recruiting Americans, bowing to Trump's calls for "America First."

    So Trump's idea is working as intended. America for Americans!!!1*

    * the last sentence is supposed to be sarcastic.

    • Re:Victory! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2017 @01:28PM (#54692607)

      Indian outsourcing companies such as Infosys started recruiting Americans, bowing to Trump's calls for "America First."

      So Trump's idea is working as intended. America for Americans!!!1*

      * the last sentence is supposed to be sarcastic.

      India works for their own citizens. China works for their own citizens. Germany works for their own citizens. France works for their own citizens.

      Why is it such an evil thing for the US to work for their citizens?

      Why must the US give all away no matter the circumstance or reason, sell out their own people, while others do the opposite and are applauded for it?

      • Re:Victory! (Score:4, Funny)

        by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @01:48PM (#54692797)

        I said sarcastic, not evil or even bad. It's just that when you see these kinds of posts they're usually driven by lunatics.

        I'm not a lunatic, just a moran.

      • Re:Victory! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @02:01PM (#54692909)

        Why is it such an evil thing for the US to work for their citizens?

        Those of us who oppose Trumpism don't believe he is "working for American citizens". We believe his policies are harming America.

        • Those of us who oppose Trumpism don't believe he is "working for American citizens".

          Of course he is.

          I don't see the word "all" or even "most" in there.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The point of visas is to get high skilled workers INTO the country. It isn't to "help" another country. It's too increase your skilled labor pool.

        That's why there is usually a salary requirement way above national mean.

        One problem with that idea is that a person working for 60k in Peoria is going to be a higher skill level than a person working for 60k in Silicon Valley.

        That last part can be easily solved, but bureaucrats have a hard time with mathy things.

      • I wouldn't say the governments of China and especially India work for their citizens generally. Those governments work for themselves and for a selection of industries within their borders. So, much the same as the United States. Focusing on industry can, incidentally, provide benefits for the citizenry as well - at least in the stage of development that India is in. (That strategy loses steam as industry becomes decoupled from the citizenry through automation.)

        Of course, cultivating industry also has to b
      • Why must the US give all away no matter the circumstance or reason

        This being a bit anecdotal but US citizens seem to be a lot more adverse to price elevation than a lot of other countries I know of. Talk about raising the minimum wage and people flip out over the idea that their cheese in the grocery store might start costing $0.08 more. So employing an US worker means at some point cost will go up. Yes, there's an overall economic good being done, but for some reason people focus in on that cost going up part the most.

        Or you sometimes get the person who understands al

      • France works for their own citizens.

        Considering the count of industrial jewels the french government allowed to be sold to foreign companies, this one is not obvious.

      • It's not a zero-sum game. When super productive people come to the US they can increase job opportunities for those around them. Look at this list of nobel laureates from the US [wikipedia.org] many of them were not born in the US. You can't convince me that most of them they aren't making those around them better off than they otherwise would have been.

        In the other extreme in the Mariel boat lift about 125,000 workers were added to Florida in a very short time. These folks wee not H-1Bs, they were citizens because of the

  • Is there any professional industry as unstable as IT? Some don't exist anymore but are there any super unstable ones?
    • by gmack ( 197796 )
      Try retail sales, it's far worse.
      • Professional...not (starter/dead ender) jobs.

        • seriously-- retail jobs used to be stable as a career tho not as a job at a particular place for over three decades.

          But lately, they are being killed by online sales. We have 5 to 6 million people and three of our malls have died. The only two doing really well have luxury high rise condos built in to them and sell upscale goods.

          The big box stores are increasingly empty.

          That's a lot of jobs which no longer exist and those average folks don't have money to buy products as a result.

          And that means the corpor

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      It feels like the whole economy is kind of transforming simultaneously faster than most of its participants can adapt to it.

      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @01:14PM (#54692483) Homepage Journal

        It's not, not yet. It can, and it has--the Great Depression and the Industrial Revolution had pretty bad immediate effects--but for now, it's just economy.

        Technical progress always means reducing labor required to accomplish an output. That means lay-offs, transitional unemployment, and so forth. People can get quite vocal about little things.

        Think about it this way: 2-3 sports players die every year from a minor flaw in the human cardiovascular system. A college hockey player or a high school baseball player will take a puck or ball to the chest, and his heart will stop--permanently. Every heartbeat requires an ion channel reset; it takes 30mS, and a low-energy impact to the heart during this window puts the heart into permanent fibrillation. A heart rate of 120 means you're vulnerable to this for 60mS of every second.

        Imagine if that made CNN and Fox News.

        There would be a 10-year holy war about how we need to abolish all high school sports involving any sort of possible impact. Every few months, we'd re-kindle it by bringing a new face into the death-by-hockey-puck dialogue.

        We do this with businesses. We lay off people constantly. The economy is growing, the number of jobs is increasing, and we point at the constant stream of thousands of lay-offs in the midst of millions of new jobs and loudly proclaim that our economy is dying. A lack of apoptosis is called cancer.

        Mind you, we've got another recession coming up in a few months. We really will get a new unemployment spike then; that's going to happen. Different problem.

        • why not ask what could be done to prevent them?

          Also, if instead of 2-3 deaths out of 6 billion it was 2-3 deaths on a 20 man team I think we'd do something. That's the kind of numbers the industrial revolution brought to the table, and the A.I Revolution looks to be doing the same.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            why not ask what could be done to prevent them?

            Ok. Here's why: "It would cost more lives to do it than not."

            Let's compare it to a cup. The kind anybody who has taken a puck to the nuts is happy to buy and wear. Let's also assume the heart problem is just as simple and cheap to prevent. (More likely not even possible.)

            Here's my estimation:

            Annual Cost per Player = $10 (get a new "heart cup" each season?)
            Active Players per Year = 1,500,000 (globally, that would rather pay $10 than accept tiny risk of sudden death)
            Annual Total Cost = $15M
            Median Lifetime

            • do you actually think that way? e.g. Money == Life? I really don't even know where to begin. I'll just leave this little though: under your system the value of a billionaire's life is necessarily more valuable than that of a pauper. After all, the billionaire makes so much more. You could gut the pauper for organs to keep the billionaire alive and it's perfectly OK. Because economically it's a sound proposition.
        • Nitpick: you have the mechanism wrong. Physical impact to the chest does not typically induce ventricular fibrillation; quite the opposite in fact: it induces a pause in the cardiac rhythm that in the past was actually a treatment for fibrillation (google 'precordial thump'). This is, incidentally, the basis for drunk Dr. McCoy beating on the dead Klingon's chest in the last of the original Star Trek movies. Sudden cardiac death in athletes is thought to be related to electrolyte abnormalities in people
          • it invalidates his entire argument. We could easily test for those electrolyte imbalances and prevent them. Hell, just drink more Gatorade.
            • That is, more or less, why Gatorade was invented. And you are right- I should have been more forceful. This poser is trying to sound like they know something about physiology, which they most certainly do not. I'm just calling out the bullshit. That's you, bluefoxlucid. Put up or shut up.
  • Quality of service (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:22PM (#54692011) Homepage

    Bias against Indians abroad is also compounding workers' fears of layoffs and downsizing at home.

    Let's not pretend this bias isn't warranted. Outsourced indian tech support has a horrible reputation, and I'm taking into account the language barrier. It is almost universal that the best you can hope for from them is that they follow their scripts. Any deviation from the scripts and you can expect nothing but frustration and pain.

    Outsourced Chinese tech support is notably better ( note; I didn't say good, only that it's better than indian tech support ). As a consultant and influencer, I make sure to steer my companies away from any company which outsources their tech support.

    Let's not even discuss outsourced sysops. That shit is the stuff of nightmares.

    • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:29PM (#54692057) Homepage Journal

      Bias against Indians abroad is also compounding workers' fears of layoffs and downsizing at home.

      Let's face it....MOST all stereotypes are based somewhat in observable fact....

      They didn't just miraculously appear out of thin air...

      • MOST all stereotypes are based somewhat in observable fact....

        Correction, stereotypes are/were based somewhat on observable fact AT SOME POINT IN TIME

        • Correction, stereotypes are/were based somewhat on observable fact AT SOME POINT IN TIME

          From what I see...most of them can be pretty readily observed. People, as a whole don't change very readily over time.

          Of course, that's not the "PC" thing to say (or think) , but you can see it every day in many groups of people.

    • by gmack ( 197796 ) <gmack@innerfi[ ]net ['re.' in gap]> on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:35PM (#54692113) Homepage Journal

      I keep hearing this, but to be fair, most of the problem is with the way companies outsource. If someone in India is good at their job (and I have known some highly skilled Indians), they can move to wherever country they want meaning that if you want to hire someone skilled in India than you must pay them enough that they do not want to move.

      If you you are opening shop in India for good reasons such as keeping 24 hour coverage, you end up paying more on wages but you get better people.

      On the other hand, if you are opening shop in India to save money, you are getting all of the people who aren't skilled enough to move and aren't qualified to take the better jobs. That leaves the worst of the bunch to do your tasks and worse yet, if they are being used for call center type work, then you are getting them late at night their time when they won't be at their best.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:51PM (#54692265) Journal
        It's worse than that. A bunch of companies open offices in India and employ competent people. They're not getting the ones that can't move elsewhere, they're getting the ones that realise that, relative to cost of living, moving to the US and earning 2-3 times as much would not make financial sense. These companies do reasonably well. The problem is the people who think that they can contract an Indian outsourcing company and get some reasonable level of competence. The outsourcing companies get the people that the companies paying a (locale-relative) decent wage and with on-site management who can sift the cruft won't hire. If you've been working at an outsourcing company for a few weeks and doing a good job, it's easy to bounce to a better job.
      • If someone in India is good at their job (and I have known some highly skilled Indians), they can move to wherever country they want meaning that if you want to hire someone skilled in India than you must pay them enough that they do not want to move.

        I agree with this statement. I would only add that folks of this quality won't work for outsourcing firms, typically, or if they do it's transitory.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In my experience, outsourced work involving knowledge or customer service interaction rates as follows...

      #1 Philippines.
      Speak Americanized English. Similar culture. Most able to improvise and most companies are willing to trust them with it. No attitude. Some issues with word choice, like "please wait a while" instead of a "moment" that can be frustrating, but nothing major. Do have typical Asian attitude towards bending the rules and can be frustrating about financial transactions.

      #2 Hong Kong
      Speak British

      • Eastern Europe, particularly S Eastern Europe. No so much for phone banks, but for IT/dev roles. Of course they aren't near as cheap as India and YMMV.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ukraine has very good coders. Time zone isn't as hard compared to SE Asia. Willing to tell you when the requirements has issues instead of implementing the whole thing and letting it fail. Not nearly as cheap as India.

      • You forgot Singapore. I've heard they're pretty good
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Rude when customers don't understand them. Attitude issues when corrected. Inflated sense of importance. Tend to have tone issues with customers. Very willing to break rules. Hygiene is an issue.

        Arrogant and filthy.

  • No Sympathy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:29PM (#54692059)
    Between the bad accents, inability to creatively think, and watching far more talented professionals get replaced by offshored idiots (or H1B'd) I don't have much sympathy for their plight. Good riddance and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      It's not about race: when you hire somebody locally, you can evaluate them better. When you pay a firm 2 thousand miles a way to select staff, you have less control over quality, and they are tempted to cut corners to save a buck because that's human nature: less scrutiny, more corner cutting.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:31PM (#54692071)

    From the summary:

    Employees are being rated as poor performers so companies can get rid of them.

    Here's the thing - as any developer who has worked with offshore teams knows, there are quite a lot of people that probably SHOULD be laid off for poor performance. What if it's not *just* so companies can get rid of them, but an actual ten to having qualified workers on staff instead of just any warm body?

    The thing is IT was never going to save India other way - they have more substantial problems in other fields to address,, like a collapsing manufacturing sector.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:38PM (#54692157)
    When Cisco announced their layoff that took affect after the October 2013 government shutdown, the Indians I've worked with were shocked that the layoff applied to them and their middle management. Cisco ran out of Americans to lay off each year.
  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:50PM (#54692263) Homepage

    We seem to be in the third phase of Indian tech growth:
    - Phase 1: Talented Indian engineers and programmers were recognized with opportunities in the US and other Western countries
    - Phase 2: The inevitable over generalization that ALL Indian engineers and programmers are superior to Western engineers and programmers with the added benefit that they work for substantially less than their local counterparts
    - Phase 3: Recognition by Western companies that they've been sold a bill of goods, the average Indian engineer and programmer is not superior to Western engineers and programmers and, due to the fact that they've been set up to fail because of incomplete specifications and non-existent training/onboarding, they have been hurt by indiscriminate hiring of Indian tech workers

    Rather than reaping the profits through Phase 2 without concern for the future, the Indian government should have been upping its game in terms of the quality of the workers being made available to Western companies as well as establishing more stringent standards for workers along with better education for them. What has happened is that the initial good experiences has been overwhelmed by bad and hurtful experiences leading to companies eschewing Indian tech workers for "the next best thing".

    • Most Indians in India too bought the same bull shit that ALL Indian techies are superior to Western grads. They were so bad they did not even know how bad they were. This hubris is making India not realize the phase 3 as fast as American companies realize it.
  • Reputation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @12:52PM (#54692275) Homepage Journal

    The reputation of the quality of service provided has finally saturated to the point that companies looking to save a buck on offshoring now think twice. I've seen too many companies with executive level decisions made by individuals with absolutely no understanding of the technology or quality of service - their decisions were only based on the cheap (up front) cost of the services. Enough companies have learned the hard way that the supposed cost savings don't pan out for several reasons, and that has become common knowledge in non-tech circles. Americans in general have experienced and been unhappy with support provided by individuals that speak very poor English, to the point that it now reflects poorly on whatever company is using such services as being second-rate in their support. The bubble is bursting and things will normalize, and that will definitely result in a sharp reduction in the amount of services demanded of India.

  • Good news? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @01:15PM (#54692489) Journal
    As an American I fail to see how any of this is a bad thing. There was never a shortage of US talent who could fill jobs just a shortage of companies who liked the fact talented workers were scarce enough to command high salaries and had leverage at the table. They also don't want to admit that learning on the job is the job in technology, any large environment takes a year or so to become versed with the tech details as implemented in that environment and in that time a skilled tech worker can fill any gaps or blanks in their experience vs what is used at that company. You don't actually need someone skilled with all your devops tools in a devops roll for instance, anyone with a solid ops record can learn the additional tools alongside unwinding the mess that is your corporate environment and the person who can "hit the ground running" without that year simply doesn't exist though some are more effective at faking it during the transition than others.
  • "Employees are being rated as poor performers so companies can get rid of them"

    How about the high demand for workers in the tech industry created an environment in which demand outstripped supply so just about anybody could get a job with little to no training... which of course led to an industry full of idiots with extremely poor customer service skills who lacked even the most basic skills needed to perform most IT related functions... so much so that without written step by step instructions they were i

  • Everybody loves a doomsday scenario and articles that are apocalyptic. Heck, politicians routinely use this strategy to win elections.

    The reality is unsexy and mundane middle-ground. The Indian IT industry is not going to disappear overnight, nor is the US industry is not going collapse overnight because of China and India. Also, everyone loves the stereotype stories of Indian offshoring horror stories but again, the answer is a lot more complicated.

    The unfortunate reality is that a lot of the headcount tha

    • If there are hundreds of thousands of mediocre or even sub-standard workers, there are also tens of thousands of employees who are top notch and highly skilled.

      Nobody cares about that. They care about which type they get on their project.

      On the actual work phase, not the proposal.

  • Not to worry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @01:25PM (#54692583)
    India can (and should) now develop an industry to provide with electricity, running water and sanitation to the more than 600 million Indian citizens who lack such basic facilities - there is more than enough work for everybody when it comes to implementing such a program. Of course, the Indian government will do nothing of the sort, preferring instead to devote resources to me-too international pissing contests, as it has historically done.
    • Re:Not to worry (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @03:52PM (#54693717) Journal

      India needs economic growth for its poor people. Building infrastructure is not a bad idea, but the economy for the common people is still largely hampered by over-regulation. IT has been a source of growth because it only needs some people showing up to an office. If you have to actually get land for a factory, get a loan for it, get the permits to make something, make something, and sell it for a profit despite the weird taxes between state borders, it is much harder.

      India ranks #143 [heritage.org] on the Index of Economic Freedom, way behind China at 111. Moreover, India's direction is down in the Index, as opposed to China which is moving up.

      [India's] Growth is not deeply rooted in policies that preserve economic freedom. Progress on market-oriented reforms has been uneven. The state maintains an extensive presence in many areas through public-sector enterprises. A restrictive and burdensome regulatory environment discourages the entrepreneurship that could provide broader private-sector growth.

    • make anybody rich. Which is the main point. Sure, you'll have made the lives of 600 million people better, but what about that 1 person who wants profits now? They need outside capital flowing in rapidly and a product to sell at middle class labor rates for slave labor prices.
  • I think this may be due in part to a few things:
    - Companies being less susceptible to the sales pitches (i.e. "Our Indian developers are superior in every way to your native ones...and we work for 20% of the salary!") after either being burned once or twice, or playing golf with enough CIOs who've been burned
    - Saturation -- as in, even if they're cheap, the body shops can't hire people indefinitely if the amount of work is going down
    - Cloud -- less remote management of infrastructure that isn't automated to

  • So they've burned through the 80% of their possible market and now won't be able to sustain further growth.

    There are only so many u.s. companies with large IT staff. Smaller companies are going to a hosted model.

    And there are a lot of huge failures (Sysco) by indian IT companies which are well known so the remaining companies are less willing to bite. When some "bright young executive" proposes using indian resources the Board and upper management know it's not as good as it sounds.

  • to the Philippians. The Philippians finally got it's act together with regards to telecom, so outsourcing there is now possible. Plus they speak native English. Expect a lot of work to flow there now.
  • If your job heavily depends on international politics and trade, expect instability.

    Then again, most jobs do to various degrees. Career stability is so last century.

  • What if this is simply the same development that you see in this industry in the US? What if it's just rampant age discrimination taking place in India in the same way it takes place in the US? The industry had experienced a long period of expansion in India, but it the expansion had to plateau at some point. And the number of younger workers willing to do simpler work for lower wages only increases. In India it could simply be the beginning of a bursting bubble. Do remember that all the tech executive
  • 'Gilded' ain't 'golden'.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.

Working...