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How call centres look from London

A report in The Sunday Times says call centres in India are a den of 'extramarital affairs and drug parties'.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 18:20 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).

In Gurgaon, the suburbia of outsourcing, as they prepare for another graveyard shift, 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 (CCAI), which trashed the report, says it is just another bid to defame the booming BPO industry. “These allegations could have been made by those who are unhappy with our growth,” says Deepak Kapoor of the CCAI.

“There is hectic lobbying against the Indian BPO industry. 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 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 said that in another poll, one in four people said they regularly had casual affairs.

But it does not happen at the workplace, say call-centre employers. “At the workplace the employees are watched closely,” says Sunil Sachdeva, CMD of SAS Servizio, a Hewlett-Packard BPO. “They’re even watched through CCTVs by clients in the US and the UK. If they’re caught doing anything immoral, they’ll be dismissed.”

Call-centre workers, who were once pilloried for ‘Bangaloring’ foreigners, perhaps, can do without CCTVs from abroad following them to discotheques. As they say: “It doesn’t happen only in India or in call centres.”