Software industry body Nasscom on Friday reacted sharply to the reported statement of Health Minister A Ramadoss on the habits and health hazards of employees in the BPO sector, saying the government should not interfere in personal lives of the people.
"Nasscom is deeply distressed by the comments, as reported in the media made by the Minister of Health. This is a generalized slur on half a million youngsters working in this industry," the association said in a terse statement.
It said that allegations of bad diet, excessive smoking and drinking were "exaggerations that demean BPO employees". Personal lifestyle of adults is for them to choose as long as it is within the law, Nasscom said.
"We no not think it is for companies or the government to interfere in the personal life of adult Indians," it said.
ITeS-BPO exports rose 33.5 per cent at USD 8.4 billion in 2006-07 and expected to rise to 10.5-11 billion dollar this fiscal, according to Nasscom projections.
The IT-ITeS industry is the largest and fastest-growing employer in the organised sector. It directly employs more than 1.6 million and has indirectly created job opportunities for an additional 6 million people in related industries.
Ramadoss is reported to have expressed shock at the young BPO workers facing health hazards at the workplace and lifestyle leading to heart attacks and other major ailments.
"We are, therefore, finalising a blueprint of India's first dedicated health policy for the BPO sector," he was quoted as saying in a newspaper report.
Nasscom welcomed the reported comment of the minister to invite the industry before finalising anything. It, however, said "alarmist" statements that paint a negative image of BPO employees do not help the industry.