"The British were drawn to India as a physical place: a repository of precious raw materials from which the natives might be parted, and a locus of beauty and mystique. The new American attachment is not physical but conceptual—the lure of cheap, smart, pliable labor. Among Chennai’s janitors and security guards, as well as its bankers, the need for discretion about the labor is understood. Even the ephemera of the United States offshoring debate becomes front-page news here; many of Chennai’s young professionals now know the names John Kerry, Lou Dobbs, Benedict Arnold, and Timothy Platt—the latter the proprietor of a U.S.-based Web site called yourjobisgoingtoindia.com, which is as closely followed in Chennai as it is in Silicon Valley. Fascination with the American controversy is more bemused than fearful. Chennaians in general believe that what they call “outsource hoopla” has already redounded to their favor, alerting a wider audience of executives and stockholders to the benefits of wage arbitrage.
Some American companies, such as Ford, have been manufacturing in the region for years, working to capture a piece of a potentially vast consumer market. But now non-factory, professional employment is surging. Among the white-collar options available to Chennai’s college graduates are work for Verizon, Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard, Citibank, Visa, MasterCard, and Electronic Data Systems, a Plano-based tech company founded by the free-trade opponent Ross Perot, which recently announced a layoff of fifty-two hundred U.S. employees. "
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