Pondicherry Calling

Pondicherry is in the news. The former French colony, handed over to India in 1954, has just become the lastest cause celebre in ‘the great outsourcing debate’.

Under the evocative title: Once they were French colonies, now they call back NewIndpress has a piece today on this very topic.

Says Joel Ruet, a researcher with the French Cultural Centre in Delhi: ??Companies?both French and Indian?now offer a variety of opportunities to French-speaking Indians in the software sector. Satyam, Wipro and other companies looking for opportunities in French BPOs have now started to have their own in-house French software translation units where Indians from the old colonies are hired,?? he says. This is apart from the French energy companies like TotalFina and EDS that have come to India and hire those proficient in the language.


The level of activity doesn’t seem to high at present. One India-base observer had this to say (perceptively in my opinion):

Balaji E., General Manager, Ma Foi Consultants, a recruitment firm…….commenting on actual level of outsourcing from France,….says, “France has not been doing too well economically and has a relatively high unemployment rate. There isn’t much outsourcing happening now.”

He also reasons that Europe is typically an employee-driven market unlike the US. “A European country would face greater resistance in outsourcing jobs.”

Nonetheless France’s economic lethargy is only being masked right now by the even greater lethargy to be found in Germany. Having not exactly outperformed in the ‘great China race’ French companies will like all their other EU and US counterparts find themselves cost-pressured to seek solutions. As and when they do Pondicherry, and numerous other former French colonial outposts, will be waiting. Could this at least turn out to be be the unexpected proverbial sting in the once great colonial tail? And could this once obscure village which the French – who arrived there in 1673 – converted into a flourishing trading centre be yet again reborn thanks to its newly revitalised cultural resource?

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

2 thoughts on “Pondicherry Calling

  1. I wonder if any French companies outsource work to former colonies in Africa, which would have the advantage of being closer to France and also nearer to the French working day — staff in call centres wouldn’t have to work into the night. Obviously you’d need to choose a country that was politically stable and had a good communications infrastructure, but Morocco for instance would probably be good enough.

  2. David, they do so, some weeks go there was an article in Le Monde, I think it was about some call center in Tunis.

    DSW

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