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Here?s how call centres look from London

ARE CALL centres a den of "extramarital affairs and drug parties"? Or to say it with the stiff British upper lip, do they "tune in to decadence". So says a report in The Sunday Times (of London). Back in Gurgaon, the suburbia of outsourcing, as they prepare for another graveyard shift, the employees wonder what the fuss is all about. "With the salaries we get, most of us can afford to go to discs and party. Some may even make out. Many professionals do that, so why single out BPO employees?" asks a call centre executive.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 00:32 IST

ARE CALL centres a den of "extramarital affairs and drug parties"? Or to say it with the stiff British upper lip, do they "tune in to decadence". So says a report in The Sunday Times (of London). Back in Gurgaon, the suburbia of outsourcing, as they prepare for another graveyard shift, the employees wonder what the fuss is all about. "With the salaries we get, most of us can afford to go to discs and party. Some may even make out. Many professionals do that, so why single out BPO employees?" asks a call centre executive.

The Call Centre Association of India, which trashed the report, says it is just another bid to defame the booming BPO industry. "These allegations could be made by those who are unhappy with our growth. There is hectic lobbying against the Indian BPO industry," says Deepak Kapoor of the Call Centre Association of India. "There are all kinds of employees. Some may go out and party. What they do outside the office is not our business."

The newspaper report alleged that the BPO staff were leading a "social revolution against traditional Indian values by having extramarital affairs and taking party drugs". It even cited a survey, which "found that one in five of those questioned had had a workplace affair and that majority of those were married". It also alleged that in another poll, one in four people said they regularly had casual affairs.

But it doesn't happen at workplace, say call centre employers. Says Sunil Sachdeva, CMD of SAS Servizio, a Hewlett-Packard BPO: "At workplace the employees are watched closely. They are even watched through CCTVs by clients in the US and the UK. If they are caught doing anything immoral, they will be dismissed," he added.

The call centre workers, who were once pilloried for Bangaloring foreigners, perhaps, can do without CCTVs from abroad following them to discotheques. For as they ask, “Does it happen only in India? Only at call centres?”

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 00:32 IST