Is our laid back city all geared up for the call center culture?Vijayawada may not look glossy, but the city is all geared up to usher in the call centre culture, which represents the newly globalised economy. While most Indians are tucked away cosily in their beds, there is a generation that is wide-awake and works away busily till the wee hours of the morning. This young breed is not only articulate but is also adept at speaking varied foreign accents. They function as per the US time and are familiar with the American pseudonyms. They earn a handsome salary, which the previous generation would never have dreamt of a few years ago anda lifestyle that is a concoction of the Nouveau Riche and phoney westernisation relocated in an Indian scenario. The teens in the city cannot wait to adopt the new culture, which seems to be eluding them.Want of opportunity"The city youth is good in academics but for want of good opportunity, they have been flying off in search of greener pastures," says Ajay, a young trainee for a call centre. A couple of years ago, the city did see the emergence of a call centre which sank without a trace. The good news is that One Source, a Bangalore-based company, has started recruiting and training personnel for its local branch First Source. An impressive four-floor structure is coming up on the Mahatma Gandhi Road to house the dream destination of the teens. Anand, another trainee, is optimistic: "Yes, the city is ready for a call centre, as it has set itself on the fast track""Many students with good communication skills are moving to cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore as they do not have achance to hone their skills here,' says young Subbu. V. Sadananda feels that the city is ready for a call centre and has the basic infrastructure required for it. It is one of the developing cities and the biggest commercial hub in the state. Says Gopal: "Call centres enable even youngsters fromhumble backgrounds and minimum qualifications too a chance to soar into a hitherto alien world. They sell products from cell phones to credit cards, answering queries on sophisticated consumer durables, exotic travel destinations and complex financial matters with consummate ease." But all this glitter comes at a price. "Long night hour shifts disturbs the bio-rhythm of the body, if care is not taken to maintain a balanced diet with adequate exercise and sleep, it could adversely lead to health problems," explains Chandrasekhar. Social life too may come to a grinding halt due to the long and exhausting hours of work, he adds.
The other side"Stray incidents in other cities have given call centres a `bad' name and parents in Vijayawada are wary of them but by creating awareness and providing good services with a healthy work atmosphere we can shatter these myths," says G. Ramesh rather confidently."Compared to the north and other metros, Vijayawada is quite safe for women and working odd hours would not be much of a problem," comments Naseer, who has joined First Source and is training under them.Chetan Bhagat's tome, One Night @ The Call has come out a grosser as it gives an almost realistic picture of the lifestyle and thinking of the call professionals, but has not been a deterrent to the burgeoning youth waiting to join the call workforce.
HARJEET KAUR ALLAGH