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Newsletter. Issue 2003-5. Mar.8, 2003
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People Places and Things

Art in the name of social justice
The Catholic Register TORONTO - March 9, 2003

What does social justice, or ecumenical co-operation, or Catholic development aid look like? Can you draw a picture of social action? Spirituality'

Helen DSouza makes a living laying out abstract ideas in concrete. vibrantly colourful oil paint and pastels. The commercial illustrator has become a go-to artist for social action groups.

Read further at http://www.goacom.com/news/news2003/mar/msg00010.html

World's top 10 most populated cities
1. Seoul
South Korea
10,321,449   6. Mexico City
2. Mumbai
9,900,000   7. Shanghai
3. San Paulo
9,839,436   8. Tokyo
4. Jakarta
9,373,900   9. Istambul
5. Moscow
9,000,000   10. New York


The Britain you don't know

What do most people in India associate with Britain? Here's a guess: a royal family - starchy queen, bumbling duke and 3 or 4 undistinguished children. Then there is Big Ben and a warmongering PM called Tony Blair. A few Indian millionaires & thousands of Indian restaurants. Football games & thousands of tourists (mostly from the rougher trades) visiting Goa. But do they know of thousands of incidents of abuse & assaults against Indians in Britain? The Indian & Goan press (still in the throes of a colonial hangover?) is more likely to report English football results and the woes of British tourists in Goa than the problems of their own compatriots in Britain. Incidents run in the thousands - here is a small sample for the year 2000 gleaned from assorted papers, including Asian-run weeklies. Goan victims are fewer because Goans are hardly visible - smaller population, no shopfronts, little civic involvement. Where are they? Probably at church or some village celebration, at least the older lot.

Race Cases 2000 (a small sample) [Victims below are of Indian or Pakistani origin.]

Portsmouth (South England)
Asian student, 23, faces surgery after a savage attack by a gang of 4 thugs. Rushed to hospital with a broken nose, fractured cheekbone and extensive bruising.

Football match abandoned when a gang of 15 white youths burst into the pitch, chasing the Asian players with baseball bats, beer bottles and other weapons during an unprovoked attack. The manager of the Asian team was cornered in the changing room and knocked down & kicked.

Asian cab driver waylaid by some youths and attacked. They then drove the taxi over Tariq twice. He was left lying in a pool of blood and died later. The following day up to 1000 cab drivers from across east Lancashire drove around in protest. Two years ago a cab driver was murdered in Bolton and a few months ago another escaped being strangled.

Two lighted petrol bombs thrown into Asian shop. Shop was saved but he suffered burns.

South London
Asian cabdriver was carrying 3 white passengers. On the way, the front seat passenger applies the handbrake, stops the car and all three keep punching the driver. He was forced to hand over his change (£20) and was bundled out of his car. The car was found abandoned and ablaze by police.

Cab driver was dragged from his cab by his 3 passengers and beaten unconscious. He was flung headfirst into a lamp post, kicked to the floor and a heavy metal sign was slammed into his chest. He was rescued when another driver pulled up to investigate.

West London
Asian man was alone in his bookshop late on Sunday night when a gang of 4 or 5 youths, boys & girls 13-16 entered. They tried to steal a football and he tried to stop them. He was kicked and punched. He died in hospital from head injuries a day later. He leaves a wife & 3 children. The police later caught 3 teenagers including a 15-year girl.

South Wales
A Sikh had gone for a quiet drink with a white friend. There was an exchange with 4 white men. The Sikh & friend were knocked and punched. Mr Singh was left bleeding on the pavement and died on his arrival at hospital.

West London
Two Asian men had pulled up at traffic lights. The driver in the adjoining car made offensive gestures before speeding off. Later he reappeared with friends in 2 other vehicles. They repeatedly rammed the Asian car, then 7 men armed with metal bars jumped from the convoy, battered the Asians after given them chase near Heathrow airport. Their car was smashed.

An Asian TV scriptwriter was driving at night with his white fiancée. On his way he was forced off the road by a Ford car and was racially abused. 2 more white men suddenly appeared. The Asian was hit in the face with a beer can and dragged out if his car. The Ford driver grabbed his hand and started biting it. He was kicked until almost unconscious and dragged towards the sharp edged metal fence. They were shouting: 'Spike him - put the Paki's head on a spike !' Meanwhile his girlfriend was being attacked by a woman passenger (17) while still in the car. She said: 'One of the men took a flying kick to my head.' The couple were saved when a police car arrived at the scene. Sunil was treated foe broken nose ans cheekbone. His right eye was damaged and he lost several teeth.

An Asian taxi driver was flagged down by pack of youths. One of the thugs smashed the passenger side window, reached for the driver's side and punched him in the face several times and took his key. They next pulled him out of his car and 4 or 5 of them began beating him up. Then more joined in. A fellow cab driver found him in a pool of blood. He could hardly speak and his eye was closed. An ambulance had arrived but took away not the victim but the attackers who were slightly injured. He took the victim in his own taxi to the hospital. There he found the same thugs laughing and threatening the 2 Asians. The doctor said the victim's cheekbone was broken and he might lose an eye.

South London
An Asian man walking out of the tube station was approached by an unknown white young man, beaten, stabbed several times and left lying in the street. Police were called and the man was taken to a south London hospital.


Backroom Deals

India aims to become the back office for the world's banks

POOR as it is, India is rich in well-educated, English-speaking, young people. It has become a prodigious exporter of their remote services: as skilled software coders and accentless call-centre voices; as long-distance sales-people and invisible insurance clerks; as diligent medical-record transcribers and patient number-crunchers. Multinational financial firms have been among their best customers. Now India wants to clamber up the value chain, offering more sophisticated services. Finance, a business that runs the gamut of sophistication from bean-counting to quantum physics, seems as good an industry as any in which to try to lure more work from expensive homelands to cheaper Indian pastures.

The bulk of that work--by value, at least--is still in information technology. Sunil Mehta, vice-president of Nasscom, the industry's trade association, says that in 2002 global financial institutions spent $120 billion on IT, of which only $4 billion was outsourced to India. He sees a big opportunity for Ind ian software companies in banks' drive towards more seamless processing of transactions, and in the closer scrutiny of back-office costs inspired by moves towards a new international capital-adequacy regime. Indian firms such as TCS, Wipro and Infosys already carry out a lot of some banks' IT operations; another firm, i-flex solutions, sells its banking-software product, "flexcube", in more than 50 countries.

Besides software engineers, India also has millions of other bright young professionals: accountants, lawyers and business-studies graduates. They have already attracted plenty of IT-enabled work from financial firms. To take but a few: GE Capital International Services, which describes itself as the "largest shared-services environment in India", employs more than 13,000 people in activities ranging from finance and accounting to remote marketing; Citigroup's outsourcing arm, e-Serve, has more than 3,000 people in Mumbai and Chennai; American Express has 2,000 processing transactions from around Asia and manning a 24-hour international call-centre in Delhi; HSBC a similar number in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune; and even the World Bank has 100 staff in Chennai.

Many firms are gradually transferring more complex processes to India. Scope, the outsourcing arm of Standard Chartered, the largest foreign bank in India, has the grand aim of becoming, in effect, the back office for many of the bank's operations in 56 countries. It already undertakes at least some work for 34. Unusually, Standard Chartered in Chennai even handles the back end of foreign-exchange trading--everything except the deal itself, from confirmation through to settlement--and copes with derivatives transactions as well. Some 2,000 people work in the Chennai "global processing centre", with at least another 1,000 expected to join this year. Scope is still competing for business from within its own group. But it has begun exploring the idea of selling its services to outsiders--as has e-Serve.

Many big investment banks, accountants and consulting firms are farming work out to Indian-based subcontractors, even if they are shy about admitting it. Not only might clients worry about security and confidentiality, or feel short-changed when work is shipped abroad; the implicit threat of cuts in jobs (or pay) at head office might rattle morale. (This week, Britain's BT was under fire over plans to outsource directory inquiries to India.)

Yet increasingly, relatively humdrum, time-consuming tasks, which would once have been foisted on ambitious but inexperienced young recruits, working long hours to earn their spurs in Wall Street or the City of London, are, thanks to the miracle of fibre-optic cable, foisted on their lower-paid Indian counterparts. And, besides the in-house operations, there are a few independent foisters. Evalueserve, in Gurgaon near Delhi, with 100 professionals, offers research and analysis to banks, venture capitalists, consultants and others. Its much smaller neighbour, SmartAnalyst, boasts four of the top ten American investment banks as clients for its tailored internet-based research service.

A report published last year on the alarming shortfall in the pension funds of a large number of European listed companies appeared under a western brand name. The data, however, were retrieved, collated and organised on the sixth floor of the building that houses Chennai's biggest shopping centre. There, Office Tiger employs 675 young Indians providing a virtual back office to some 20 American and European firms: banks, auditors, consultants and lawyers. Having started in desktop publishing, it now offers to replicate the functions of a bank's in-house library and its junior analysts. Joseph Sigelman, an American former investment banker who runs the fast-growing outfit, estimates that, at an hourly rate of $20-35, it routinely takes out 50% of its clients' costs.

Slumping markets and regulatory troubles are helping to expand the number of services that financial institutions are contemplating outsourcing. Hard times concentrate minds on cost-saving. The hope for Indian services is that, as in the software industry, customers who came for the price will stay for the quality.

See related content at http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=1596039


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