In my current line of work, India is often associated with a lower cost labor supply. I know random statistics related to this: for each person’s work sent offshore, the receiving location often staffs 1.3 to 1.7 people to do the work until processes are stabilized. Ratios can reach as high as 1 sending FTE to 2.1 receiving FTE before process improvement occurs. If not properly managed, total costs can increase in an outsourced environment even as individual compensation decreases. These questions never come up at trivia night. Fortunately I picked up a few more anecdotes on my visit to Bangalore, India this month:

  • Infrastructure mismatch – Components of the environment rarely develop at the same pace. Traffic congestion results. The ebbing and flowing of pedestrians, animals, trucks, buses and various other honking two- and three-wheeled mechanisms is really quite remarkable.
  • Lower value of life – One of my local colleagues pointed out the lack of safety precautions in everyday life, the clinging from trains, shoddy construction, etc. and traced it back to a lower concern for personal consequences. Hey, he said with a laugh, even I value my own life less than you. The cost-benefit calculation is different.
  • Warm versus polite – People are generally not polite on the surface but have warm personalities. I had numerous exchanges swing between limited acknowledgement/curt communication and welcoming/accommodating/openness in the dialogue.
  • East and West – The geographic location lends itself to influences from both hemispheres. What works better interacting one way (e.g., formal, documented, etc.) may not work as well the other. India, a place between two worlds. Not the official tagline.