With the advent of Call center jobs in India, came youth’s independence. Days are gone when the college going youth use to depend on pocket money from their parents for their personal expenses. 8-hrs job, good working environment, flexibility in timing and a good fat pay, all these are offered to the College Going youth. Not only pocket expenses are met, you would find them with the latest gadgets, wearing branded clothes and accessories and partying out at the hippest restaurant and pub in the city. Moreover getting early entry to the job also means getting first hand practical experience of job etiquette. You will find them more professional, good command over foreign language (English primarily) and exposure to western world that benefit them with regard to new technology, development and opportunities.
However, with independence has come many other freedom and that’s what is the cause of worry for the elders. Sex and drugs are two terms that are synonymous to call center lifestyle, though many believe its media generated. There were reports in the media about washroom hole jammed with used condoms, drugs pallets found during a surprise check on employees in a reputed MNC Call center and many youth arrested from rave parties where drugs were openly available. With huge disposal income and stressful/lonely life, a call center employee wants to have a taste of everything in life including drugs. With easy availability of drugs and organization of many RAVE parties, youth easily fall prey to smoke, drinks and drugs.
Live-in relationships are popular now and most of them treat these as a means to satisfy their sexual needs and very few convert those relationships into marriage. Parents are often unaware of these facts and only when they hear news of break-ups or depressions (due to break-up) they come to know about these horrifying acts.
Night shift work for the women is always a cause of concern. However more than security, the night shift working girls are looked upon with suspicion, leading to problems in their social status. While the youth calls this as generation gap attitude, elders thinks the other way.
Beyond the above issues, one problem which worries the elders the most is the health problem. Heart diseases, Stomach Disorders, Sleep Disorders and back-ache problems are common. And above them many also report of loneliness, depression and monotony in life. Especially for night shift employees, they hardly meet any new people because of their odd working hours. They, infact, end up meeting their parents/friends once a week. Though many youth tend to ignore this problem because of bad race for money, but in few months/years they realize the ill side of working in a call center, especially at night.
What do the call center employees say about the above problems?
We entered a well known pub in Bangalore on a Saturday night to see and speak to some of the BPO/Call center employees, who were in full party mood. They said, which other industry will give them the job at first place (without experience) and if at all they get a job they cannot expect the pay to party as thus. Vinay, working in a reputed Call center (night shift) say its fun and he sees this opportunity as a short term means to meet his expenses, impress his girl friend with good gifts and maintain a life style, which demands huge money. He rubbishes reports from the media that sex and drugs are part of Call center life. He adds, this is common to any industry and for just few isolated examples the media should not blame the whole industry. On elders, he says, he still respects his family and do let them know about his whereabouts.
Vinay also feels that the elders are jealous as they were not able to earn so much before attaining certain age. Speaking about his relatives he says that often his relatives seem to show my parents the negative side of working in call center and raises their worries. He adds that’s probably the reason her sister works in day shift job only and has to return home before 8 PM.
Ananya, 21 year girl from Kolkata shifted to Bangalore to complete her engineering works at a night shift call center and says its fun to work when most of the people are sleep. She enjoys free cab drop-in and drop back, good food, music at work and speaking to many people which she would have never expected. She agrees that sometimes it gets monotony with same work schedule and explaining same things to the clients at other end, but with the kind of package she receives, she can enjoy to live in a paying guest house in Bangalore with all modern amenities. Further she feels independent & confident, and does not have to rely on her father, who is a retired Bank employee to fund her education and expenses.
She adds that respect for elder is still there. She makes a point to give a call to her mother when she is at office and back. She values her culture and is proud to be a Bengali first. She also makes a point to visit her family during Durga Puja and spends a full week in traditional style! On weekends, she spends time to catch up with her sleep, shop for groceries, clean her house, clothes and spend evening with her friends, watch a movie or dine out. She wears all branded stuff, which she said, never happened till she got this job!
Similar stories from Malvika, who works in Gurgoan, Noida. She adds that there were some reports of harassment and rape against some BPO employee but that’s part of every work and industry, why blame call center? Her job involves managing a team of 15 call executives, which gives her so much confidence and independence. Malvika, however agrees growing relationship at workplace and also infidelity!
What elders have to say?
We meet Mr. Sunil Sharma, a businessman, having a son and a daughter. According to him allowing girls to work at night is inviting problems. He is further against girls working at call center as they are prone to verbal abuse from the clients in America and Europe. Sunil’s daughter was working in a call center when she passed her college and after initial few days of joy he could see the trauma on her face. When asked she revealed how she was verbally abused. She also had problems in her marriage as Call Center girls are considered as the most inferior job in the society.
Similar comments were from Mr Kandoi, a CA by profession, who adds that girls are loosing social status because of reports of sex and drugs at call center. He says that call center has given too much independence in terms of outlook & money that it is not possible to contain their wishes. He says his neighbour’s daughter usually comes late at night with one guy or another and sometimes in drunken state. He blames his neighbour for giving “Too Much freedom” to their daughters.
There are others who feels beyond slang, verbal abuses the culture is also getting spoiled. Many laughed that during our time the word sex was hardly used by anyone and was a matter of “OH” when someone said sexy! The 4 letter word F**K was hardly use and now a days he often hears teens using them in every sentence and the common being “What the f**k!” Many further adds that the concept of nuclear family and life-in relationship are because of exposure to the western culture.
Doctors are reporting increase numbers of pregnancies and abortions from the teens and when the couples were asked the usual answer would be that they stayed together and ended up in getting cosier! Help centers adds that they have to deal with many issues, about their depression and monotony in life apart from the other allied issues of live-in relationship, breakups and more, mostly related to Call center & BPO employees.
While the people are divided with their theories of thoughts, Call center jobs are flourishing in India and no doubt has given job opportunities not only to the Indian Youth but for many other industries like Transportation, Hospitality, Food and many more. Many big companies are spending time and effort in ensuring better facilities like health counsel, gym facilities, child care and better working environment, the fact remains that there are many problems related to these jobs that need addressing. Probably the companies who are making millions out of them should have more forums and discussions to address these issues. The bad stigma of Call Center Job as an inferior job can be removed by spreading right awareness and public discussions.
We hope people do come forward and express their thoughts and help eliminate the bad thoughts of a Call Center Job!