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Solar engineer tells youth: Don’t repeat India’s BPO ‘mistake’

According to reports, India’s call center culture has produced “glorified secretaries” who have become pessimistic about their future, an Indian laureate (Harish Hande) of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards has warned his country’s closest competitor in business process outsourcing (BPO).

Filipinos in BPOs, especially the youth, face the same danger that India has been through, says Ramon Magsaysay awardee Harish Hande in an interview with GMA News Online. “Don’t make the mistake that we in India are making,” he says.

The Philippines is closely competing with India, which it recently surpassed in voice-based services, as the world’s BPO hub.

“What has happened in India,” Harish explains, “is that you have also created a bunch of frustrated young people in the future, who have become more cynical, saying that I can’t do anything else, because I have spent my valuable years in a call center.

“They’re no longer innovative. They’re not able to think out of the box,” he says.

Harish adds that call centers have desensitized a number of Indians to their surroundings, which, despite their country’s economic growth, continue to breed poverty.

The Magsaysay awardee challenges young Filipinos who flock to BPOs to think long-term and help address perennial problems like weak institutions and unemployment. “You’re equally responsible for building those institutions,” he says.

Harish, a state university graduate in India, particularly directs his challenge to middle-class and educated Filipinos, who have a wider set of choices and are thus “obliged” to help in building the Philippines.

In his own country, Harish is helping provide poor families with access to cheap solar power so they can improve their lives. He is receiving his Ramon Magsaysay award for helping the poor enjoy solar technology.

“The only way of protesting that the government is not working is actually creating solutions,” he says. “You go and create solutions for the Philippines, and show it back to the government that it can be done this way.”

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