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Wanted: more foreign heads

Wanted: more foreign heads

Author: Kris Lakshmikanth
Publication: The Week
Date: March 7, 2004
URL: http://www.the-week.com/24mar07/currentevents_article10.htm#3

Not so long ago, we were chasing jobs around the world. Today as a headhunter, I am witnessing the first trickles of what I call, for want of a better word, reverse migration.

I get phone calls and emails from foreigners seeking jobs in India. The other day I got a call from Tokyo. The caller was Joe, an American who had read about my work in The International Herald Tribune. He was a victim of the downturn in the Silicon Valley in the US, one of those whose jobs had migrated permanently to India. Joe had come to Tokyo in search of work. His assignment in Japan was getting over and he was willing to relocate to India.

Two weeks back, one of our Indian clients from the old economy-a leading garment exporter-hired Darlene, a fashion designer from Frank-furt. She wanted the India job because she felt there were more opportunities for her talent here rather than in Europe. I met Darlene recently in Chennai and was amazed at her enthu-siasm for India. This morning I was on the email with Therese, a young call centre manager in Kansas. Therese had sent me an unsolicited mail with her biodata. Since her profile interested one of my Indian clients, I phoned her. She was ready to take the next flight to India, her only query being about some interesting Indian Web sites that could describe how life is for a single American woman here.

Let us not forget that only 60 years back, over a quarter million Englishmen were in this country on work. Today the clock has turned 'full circle'. Here are some interesting facts: The CEO of Ranbaxy is a foreigner. The CEO of Taj Hotels is another. These, as you know, are Indian companies, India-born, India-bred. Many MNCs have foreigners in various roles. Even our desi MNC, Infosys, has several hundreds of foreigners on their rolls. In fact, my apartment complex has several foreigners working for Infosys, and not all are in senior jobs.

What does this mean to Indians? Shouldn't we complain that our jobs are going to foreigners? My only answer is: we are truly globalising. We are importing talent that is not available in this country. Fields like fashion designing, biotechnology, software products engineering, and advanced healthcare will attract increasing numbers of foreigners to India. If India plays its cards right, it can become the no. 1 knowledge production centre of the world by 2006.

More than three dozen US majors are already setting up shops in India. A revolution is about to happen. Well-paid technology jobs are shifting to India and China, which are low- cost centres. The number of jobs outsourced to India is rising. Every leading company in the US or Europe has to have an India strategy. By 2010, we can expect our salaries to be on par with the world. Headhunting companies like ours will become even busier next year.

(The writer is founder CEO & managing director, The Head Hunters India, Bangalore.)

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