“Mere bache yeh sab kaam nahi karenge.” my kaamwali bai pondered aloud as she mopped the floor. “Wo sab school jate hai. Padh likh lenge, achi naukri mil jaegi. Tumhare bachon ko apna kaam khud karma padega” she announced. “Acha hai, acha hai” I replied, not knowing what else to say.
I pored over my morning newspaper, filled with reports of the financial turmoil in the US, the Fed Reserve bailout and chiefly about it’s impact on the jobs outsourced to India. Jobs which are not part of ‘core activities’, which need to be done but it’s ok if someone else would do them- for cheap. I glanced briefly at the outsourced mopping activity and returned to my newspaper. “Will I ever be able to say it?” I wondered. “Humare bachon ko quality education milta hai. Wo technically aur intellectually strong hai aur apna product khud banaenge. Tumhare bachon ko yeh outsourced kaam khud karne honge.” Will I ever say it? I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure- several deprived children- like my bai’s kids, will study hard and compete for jobs available in India- outsourced or not. I remember meeting a group of 7th grade kids on a football ground near my home last week. One of them ran a good 2 rounds of the 8 I usually do at the ground daily; he eagerly introduced me to his friends who were playing cricket in a corner. As the conversation shifted from sports to studies, I discovered that they studied at a govt. school; they loved the free khichdi provided for lunch daily and the kheer they got on some days! One of them excitedly ranted on the dozen 100 and 200 page notebooks they’d got, distributed free of cost by the owner of a local small scale factory. My little running companion interrupted him and asked me “ Tumhi kay shiklay?” (What have you studied?) “ Engineering”, I replied as his eyes glowed at the prospect. “Amhi pan engineer honar”(We too will become engineers) three of them replied in unision. “Hua. Pan running sodu naka”. (Do so, but don’t quit running) I replied as I took their leave.
Deprived of quality education on home turf, several Indians are pursuing higher education abroad. They are not different from the poor kids I met; they’re burdened with loans, but fuelled with ambition and a desire to become competent. They’ll graduate to join the likes of Microsoft and Goldman Sachs(it survived, I guess); in short they’ll join clients of the outsourcing industry. But will outsourcing ever stop? I doubt. They’ll be glad on the client side and we’ll be content with outsourced jobs. Sure my kaamwali’s kids won’t do any mopping; but someone else’s kids will. You cannot bridge all gaps but hey-on the brighter side, you’ll still have a job- all you have to do is compromise on the pay!