(Special to MadMan’s Web)
Move over call centres and data processing BPOs. The future of outsourcing belongs to another industry, if Indian Minister for Commerce, Kamal Nath, is to be believed. According to Nath, the next new wave of growth in the Indian economy will come from – believe it or not – the protest industry, now being referred to as SPO – Strong Protest Outsourcing.
Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi, Kamal Nath briefed reporters that he sees major business opportunities in getting Western countries to outsource their protests to India. Nath said, “the outsourcing business is about saving costs and increasing efficiency. Why should people in countries like USA and UK waste their time protesting over various issues? The per-capita income is too high to waste time on being offended. Instead, they can simply outsource this activity to Indian companies.” Asked whether Indian companies were globally competitive in this market, Nath confidently added, “Can you think of any country better suited for this business? India is a diverse country with people of many faiths and beliefs. We have a rich history of being offended at every little thing, from western expressions of love like Valentine’s Day to what someone names their dogs. I am certain that we can be the dominant player in this market in the next five years.”
After the press conference, Kamal Nath granted MadMan’s Web an exclusive freewheeling interview in which he talked at length about this new business opportunity, India’s competence in this area, and the government’s special initiatives to foster growth in the industry.
MadMan’s Web: Mr. Nath, thank you for giving us this chance to interview you.
Kamal Nath: My pleasure. This is the Internet age, and blogs are fast becoming a powerful medium of disseminating information.
MW: Mr. Nath, could you please tell us a little more about this new opportunity for India?
KN: The world is far from a peaceful place. Every day, there are protests in Europe and North America over several issues. Part of being democratic countries is allowing people the right to protest against what they think is wrong. But protests also waste productivity. When people are protesting, they are not contributing to the economy of their nations. So instead of protesting themselves, they can simply outsource their outrage to Indian companies that will specialise in this area. They can then go about their daily lives, confident that their protests are in safe hands.
MW: Why are you so convinced that Indians are the best suited for this activity?
KN: Of course we are the best! First of all, Indians have been offended at pretty much everything over the years. If you’ve written a book that’s even slightly controversial, there are sections that want it banned. If you make a movie that tackles bold themes, you can expect howls of protest about how it’s corrupting impressionable young minds. If you wear a female tennis outfit just like everyone else in the tennis world, somebody will be quick to point out how you are no longer a good member of your community. So let me assure you, no matter what the subject of the protest is, we Indians are capable of delivering a strong protest. Our service standards are world-class and globally competitive. When it comes to protesting, we are the epitome of “unity in diversity”! With our wide range of religions, beliefs, and castes, we are champions at being offended and having our sentiments hurt.
MW: How did this great business idea strike you?
KN: If you remember, we have been making a strong push for India as the next global economic superpower at forums such as the World Economic Forum at Davos. Recently, when I was following the fall-out of the controversial Danish cartoons, I was stunned to observe how competent our fellow countrymen were at protesting over cartoons that they had not even seen. If our people are so skilled, can you imagine how good they can be at tackling well-known global issues?
MW: How will you convince foreign countries that there is a serious cost-saving in outsourcing their protests to India?
KN: This is simple. In fact, I had an opportunity to discuss this with US President George W Bush on his recent visit to India. If you want hard numbers, consider this: The per-capita income of USA is $40,100 per year. The per-capita income of India is just $530 per year. Is there really any reason for an American citizen to fritter away so much money protesting issues like teaching evolution in schools and allowing gay people to marry? Why not simply let us Indians handle that instead? While the Americans save money by working, we will do the protesting for them. We can carry placards, go on hunger strikes, block traffic for hours, and even torch buses and break shop windows if required.
MW: Can you give us a couple of examples what kind of issues could be outsourced?
KN: Sure. For example, we can protest gay marriage if the Americans want us to. We have laws criminalising homosexuality, so it’s a walk in the park. The Bush administration wants to promote abstinence in USA, but why spend dollars on that? We have long been looking down at people having sex before marriage, and we even protested when a well-known actress said it was ok. We have proven competence in these things already.
MW: Do you really believe that SPO (Strong Protest Outsourcing) can be bigger than the regular BPO industry already in place?
KN: Definitely! The youth of India are in need of employment. BPO, while it has provided employment to many, also has to deal with two big problems: training and attrition. Employees need quite a bit of training to handle their jobs, and many of them keep switching jobs, leaving companies helpless. But look at SPO – it has absolutely no training needs. Unemployed people can be recruited by the hundreds of thousands, given some basic instructions on how to protest, and then unleashed to do their jobs. As for attrition, it doesn’t matter in the least if some protestors quit. There are thousands more that can take their place. This industry could potentially solve India’s unemployment problem. There are thousands of issues available globally where the protests can be outsourced.
MW: What steps is the government taking to encourage companies to handle protest outsourcing projects?
KN: The government is going full steam ahead on this. A committee, headed by Ravi Ali Joseph Singh, has been formed to identify volatile issues all over Europe and North America. Ravi Ali Joseph Singh is a veteran government official who belongs to four major religions and has suffered almost his entire life being offended by insults to his religions in this country. We believe he is best suited for this new foray. We will constantly keep the press informed of the developments in this matter. Meanwhile, if budding entrepreneurs want to explore this new opportunity, we encourage them to contact the Ministry of Industry in New Delhi and we will provide all the guidance we can.
MW: Mr. Kamal Nath, thank you very much for your time.
KN: Thank you.