‘English, especially in the call centre, is now only one among many skills that need to be mastered in order to be a productive subject of the corporation and the nation’, writes Mathangi Krishnamurthy in one of the essays included in ‘Chutnefying English: The phenomenon of Hinglish,’ edited by Rita Kothari and Rupert Snell (www.landmarkonthenet.com).
The essay contends that understanding everyday communication around the call centre is an important window into the globalisation of English and linguistic hegemony as contrary processes. Notes the author, that while outsourcing as an industry has been made possible by the influx of global capital, its terms have had to be negotiated within the specificity of the locale, which in turn also becomes indelibly transformed in its wake.
Arguing that in the case of the call centre, the politics of English has been defanged in the service of a language that, minimally, gets by and, maximally, can be used in tandem and enhanced by a corporate selfhood. She concludes by stating that this selfhood is linguistically impure and local, yet stylistically global and communicable.
Another essay in the book is about online protests, written by Pramod K. Nayar, which opens by declaring that online campaigns increasingly replicate, extend, expand, and augment offline political action. Online campaigns, says Nayar, relocate political action into a new domain, where the very nature of protests is informed by the nature of the medium, characterised by links, home pages, blogging, and so on. Taking on the criticism that online action and SNSes (social networking sites) operate in a limited space, staying at the level of a discourse with little active social mobilisation, the author urges that we see how SNSes create a culture of dialogue and public debate, which are central to deliberative democracy. He avers that online activism and debates do move beyond the level of a discursive engagement into the public sphere of protests and political action by supplying information for public debate, drawing the attention of a wide spectrum of people, and transmitting complaints and opinions – all of which are key elements in any political culture.