Project Match

Friday, February 13, 2009

Paul McDougall, senior editor at Information Week, talks about IBM's offer to move employees to India and other countries where they have a presence. Sumukha Swaminathan Ravishankar, is a listener originally from India, now living in Short Hills, NJ. She tells us what's in store for Americans who make that transition. What do you think? Would you take this deal? Have you worked overseas for an American company? Comment below!


Paul McDougall and Sumukha Swaminathan Ravishankar,

Comments [31]

David from Boston

According to the Indian that I saw SlumDog Millionaire with, the depiction of poverty in the movie was not exagerated. It was realistic.

The "middle class" in India is a tiny sliver sitting on an ocean of poverty. Corruption is the normal mode of operation. Many neighborhoods don't have clean water. Parasite infection, for someone not born in India, will occur (quickly)in the new arrival. Medical, dental, etc. etc. will be out of pocket. You're going into a 3rd world country, don't kid yourself.

It only makes sense for an Indian who grew up in India and is now living here. It is absurd for a person born in America, who is not an experienced traveler.

Feb. 13 2009 04:30 PM
Lee Conrad from Endicott NY

If you want to see what IBM employees are saying go here:

Feb. 13 2009 03:46 PM
B. from NYC

Well, considering that capital is allowed to flow over the globe, lately like nothing so much as the overflow from our sewage system, isn't this just the next step?

Feb. 13 2009 01:15 PM
Mary Arnold from NYC, Queens

US citizens are joining the legions of workers -- from migrant Mexican farm laborers, to Eastern Europeans, to white collar Indian techs -- who for decades have left their homes, families, friends, and cultures in order to work. In my lifetime the situation has evolved in the US from our living within a regional/US economy in which one person could support a family, to the need for two incomes, and now to having to leave this country to keep one's corporate job. The model of economic growth the world has pursued has promoted consumerism and the concentration of wealth and power in corporations like IBM that are in the position now of making these demands on US workers in order to return to "profitability." What profiteth a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? We need new economic models and cultures that broadly honor human rights, labor, and communities -- where we are working to live instead of living to work.

Feb. 13 2009 12:32 PM

Didn't even know there still WAS an IBM.

Anyway good for them I say.

But IBM and other outsourcers should get zero US tax cuts, US corporate benefits, ability to lobby Washington, make campaign donations, etc.

What's fair is fair, if IBM wants to be a non-US company there is no law against it. No brainer.

Feb. 13 2009 12:10 PM
William O'Leary from Eastchester, NY

I just heard your segment on this topic and was dumbfounded. You completely missed the point of what's happening here. As a former IBM PR executive, I can tell you why IBM isn't proactively promoting this -- it's because the Communications teams are embarassed and want it to go away. This is typical of the ill-conceived HR ideas that have exposed some of the really underhanded things happening at IBM and in corporate America in the past. IBM is shedding jobs; many of the remaining jobs are being shipped to developing countries for one reason: cheaper labor. The argument that they're going where the growth is is a cover; why do you need your procurement organization to sit in India? Are you really buying local India products? No, this is largely a cost-cutting move at the expense of American jobs. It really caused a fracas when, in addition to laying people off here and shipping their jobs to India, HR at one point required that the laid-off workers actually train their Indian replacements if they were to receive any severance package. Communications saw the explosive nature of this and got HR to back off of the policy. Now, HR has done it again. In their arrogance and naivetee they actually see this as a positive -- lay someone off, but offer them the "opportunity" to get their old job back, but in India -- at Indian wages. IBM wins; they get the experienced person to do the work for less, with no obligations on IBM's part. The worker loses; they end up stranded in India, living on modest wages, with no job guarantees, not to mention likely getting sick from tainted water and defacating in the street. What a magnanimous deal for IBM to offer...

Feb. 13 2009 11:54 AM
Eliza from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hi! I know this is not appealing for many workers who are traumatized about getting laid off from their jobs, but as a US Citizen living overseas (in Buenos Aires, Argentina) I can say that it's a really amazing experience. Living in a different culture, learning a new language, and expanding your horizons in a new country is a great opportunity.
The huge problem with this situation is that most US citizens have debts to pay (student loans, credit cards, etc) and it becomes a huge burden if you try to live overseas on local wages but have to continue paying on your debts in US dollars every month.
I also feel badly for the Argentine workers who need these jobs too!
But if someone has money saved, or doesn't have too much debts, this would be a really great experience.

Feb. 13 2009 11:48 AM
Julia from NYC

As someone in my twenties who is unmarried, without children and without property to sell in the States if I lost my job I think I would be very tempted to go overseas to work for a while. Perfect time for an adventure, and I would love to live abroad again. Probably wouldn't be a permanent move, but for a few years.

Feb. 13 2009 11:47 AM
hjs from 11211

if anyone does take the job offer from IBM they have to make a documentary about the experience!

Feb. 13 2009 11:47 AM
Freelancer from Washington Heights

I think this is great if it became widespread. In a relatively short time (8-10 yrs) you would see tremendous pressure from relocated US workers working alongside their new colleagues to increase salaries, worker protections and living standards.

To adjust to globalization...workers need to be as mobile as the corporations!

Feb. 13 2009 11:42 AM
SUPERF88 from

9/Mike --



Feb. 13 2009 11:42 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

Another case were the top 1% is screwing the rest of us

Feb. 13 2009 11:41 AM
Bets from Brooklyn Heights

I would be interested in knowing what Indians think about Americans relocating to India and taking "their" jobs. Also, it sounds like a double-standard when we say we can't live on the salary that they have been living on all along.

Feb. 13 2009 11:41 AM
hjs from 11211

this is a total slap in the face for workers.

Feb. 13 2009 11:41 AM
jjl from

mike/9 -- great stuff -- send top 5 execs from each american company getting government welfare to Mumbai! BRILLIANT

Feb. 13 2009 11:40 AM
jjl from

Too bad you couldn't be talking w the IBM exec who came up w this, or their PR person.

Feb. 13 2009 11:39 AM
JT from LI

The biggest problem with this is that the workers would probably have to sell their homes in this horrible market in order to make the move.

Feb. 13 2009 11:38 AM
hjs from 11211

CHEAPER CHEAP goods comes with a price

Feb. 13 2009 11:37 AM
Che from Soho

It seems the number one issue is the social security and salary issue. What is most concerning is that these programs simply drop people off in foreign countries and say good luck. Without any hope of getting back or staying in touch with their homes and families.

Feb. 13 2009 11:37 AM
HennyYoungmananishwala from

Just read an article about how Indians are no longer interested in doing outsourced cubicle gruntwork. So this is a hilarious solution!

Feb. 13 2009 11:37 AM
DJ from NYC area

Yes, work for IBM

Feb. 13 2009 11:36 AM
DJ from NYC area

I just went to Bangalore India. It was great!

Feb. 13 2009 11:36 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

How about sending the CEO and other Executives to India and paying them local executive salaries. That would save a lot of $$$$$

Feb. 13 2009 11:35 AM
superf88 from ads

Does this include the division of IBM recently sold to the State-owned Chinese company?

If so, would those Americans sent to Mumbai then be given the opportunity to make that jump over to suburban Bejing?

(At least they could get away from that nasty Texas Peanut Butter!)

Feb. 13 2009 11:35 AM

I Think the American public should stop giving their business to companies like IBM who will not provide American jobs. It is time we begin to use our purchasing power to combat corporate greed. This is not brain surgery. Americans used to support companies that supported Americans.

Feb. 13 2009 11:35 AM
marcelo from NYC from NYC

I recently came back from a development country and the major issues are:
Crime (security), Medical Insurance and Education.

Feb. 13 2009 11:34 AM
mozo from nyc

I lived in abroad in Japan for three years and I had a good ex-pat package. Paid in dollars, rent allowance (didn't pat it all but it helped) three week vacation back to the states every year. This is something that sounds good if you're single and under the age of 25. I visited India and most Americans would find it very stressful especially if you were living as most citizens do there.

Feb. 13 2009 11:34 AM

(I would say that it's a perfect idea for trust fund babies -- but is there really such a class anymore -- at least one that can support an entire outsourcing strategy?)

Feb. 13 2009 11:16 AM

Only problem is if you lose your job (it's been known to happen) you lose your work visa and are sent packing back to your home country. What will you bring back home -- a wallet full of worthless, dirty paper and a sack of tourist knick nacks?

See this article on the subject, re Dubai foreigners abandoning their cars at the airport -- and these were folks making real money--

Feb. 13 2009 11:05 AM
hjs from 11211

not for the money but it MIGHT be an interesting experience for a year or so. after see slumdog millionaire I don't even want to visit india.

Feb. 13 2009 10:29 AM
RJ from NJ

I am of Indian origin, and visit very often. the biggest challenge people who have lived in US for most of their lives, is educating their Kids. Indian Education system is centered towards academics and academics alone. Unless IBM pays for educating these kids is the various international schools which have sprouted all over India, it will be extremely tough.

Good luck negotiating with IBM

Feb. 13 2009 09:22 AM

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