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India must not rest on BPO achievements: Indian-origin deputy mayor

Posted by on February 6, 2011 0 Comment

Franklin (New Jersey), Feb 6 (IANS) India “cannot rest on its past accomplishments” in the BPO industry since China and the Philippines are “threatening India’s leadership position”, says Rajiv Prasad who has been appointed deputy mayor at a US town.

He adds: “Many jobs are created in the US due to Indian companies investing in America.”

Sixty-year-old Prasad, an alumnus of Hindu College, New Delhi, was appointed deputy mayor of Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, a month ago. Prasad is working as assistant vice president at Mahindra Satyam BPO Ltd for the Life Sciences markets.

He expressed his concern about India’s position as the global leader in the BPO industry. “Although India pioneered the industry it cannot rest on its past accomplishments when China and the Philippines are gaining and threatening India’s leadership position,” Prasad told IANS in an interview.

The senior executive said the BPO industry in India needs to be innovative and evolve to the next level of Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), provide high-end services, entire functions and complicated processes supported by professionals rather than the commodity call center services.

These KPO services will also generate higher revenues, without getting mired in commodity price wars and low profits, he added.

On the impact of the Indian BPOs in the US job market, he said: “It is hard to give precise figures, as the exact impact of the Indian BPOs on US jobs is unknown.”

“It makes for great political rhetoric especially in a campaign year. Finding the least cost alternative is inherent in the US free economy since the 1960s.

“On the other hand, many jobs are created in the US due to Indian companies investing in America. The lower operating costs have also increased the availability of money for investment and growth in employment in the US,” he said.

Talking about his new role, Prasad said as a deputy mayor he has to enact ordinances and pass resolutions. He said that the challenges of the office would have been similar in India in terms of campaign financing and fund raising. However, in the US one is expected to know a lot more about the issues before voting upon them.

On the opportunities for the Indian community in the state of New Jersey over the next couple of decades, he said that “the Indian community would have an opportunity to play a far more active role in local governance, on the merits of what they have to offer without changing their identity or religion to gain acceptance with the electorate”.

He felt that the Indian community was very complacent.

“We need to be united, politically active, and learn from the Jewish people who are willing to pay any price to safeguard their rights and interests.

“The Indians, on the other hand, think that they can get a free ride and do not realise that every day there is racial discrimination taking place and laws and ordinances passed against Indians building temples, churches or mosques, areas re-zoned to make sure Indians do not build where their size is severely restricted and where the neighbours do not want to see an Indian house of worship in their backyard.”

“On the whole, there maybe only a few, under 100 out of over 2.5 million Indian Americans in the US, holding public office. We come here for the dollars and are happy banking them but fail to get involved politically,” said Prasad.

A resident of Franklin township for the last 33 years, he has spent his professional career in healthcare marketing, management and sales with multinational companies.

Prasad entered public service when Mayor Upendra Chivukula requested him to serve the Indian community’s interests in Franklin.

Eighteen percent of the township’s residents are of Indian origin, out of a total of 65,000, and needed representation while Chivukula himself was moving away to the state assembly of New Jersey.

Prasad, who came to the US for higher studies, has a son, Siddhartha, and a daughter, Deviyani. His forefathers belong to Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

“If time permits and the opportunity arises I would love to mentor the next generation in schools in India which are just as good as any in the US, pollinated by a lot of returning and visiting professors,” he said.

“But that is still a awhile longer. Right now I am trying to educate my fellow Indian Americans on the need to get more involved politically and if there are any willing, then to try and mentor them for the future.”

Rajiv Prasad is among a number of Indian Americans who have made their mark in US politics.

Nikki Haley is the second Indian-American governor of a US state after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, who became the first with his election three years ago.

A number of Indian Americans have made their mark in the US President Barack Obama’s administration. They include USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, first chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra, chief information officer Vivek Kundra and senior staffer of National Security Council Anish Goel.

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