Daily Archives: May 25, 2011

Indian companies look to U.S. workers for cheap labor

Is this a taste of the future? Outsourcing goes full circle as Indian firms look to the U.S. for cheap labour

Daily Mail | May 23, 2011

Reversal of fortunes: Indian companies are now outsourcing their work to the U.S. where a struggling economy has caused lower wages

It’s a frustration experienced by most people when they’ve made phone calls to large companies.

An unfamiliar voice answers the phone in a call centre hundreds of miles away where cheap labour is commonplace.

But in a reversal of fortunes it now appears that large Indian companies are actually now themselves outsourcing – to U.S. shores.

Large corporations that have boomed in India amid the country’s nimble economy have been drawn to the U.S. where unemployment has soared.

Struggling residents desperate for work are paid between $12 and $14 a hour to be stationed in tiny cubicles for long shifts of telesales work.

Once the employees are established, many are offered the chance to be flown to India themselves – the same tactic Western countries have done in India

Experts said that the phenomenon, which could become more widespread in the coming years, is partly due to Indian workers demanding higher wages and higher living standards.

‘The U.S. became the fastest-growing location for us last year. We expect that to continue this year,’ Genpact chief executive V.N. ‘Tiger’ Tyagarajan said.

Joseph Vafi, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in San Francisco told the Washington Post: ‘What you have going on in India are salary hikes. As these companies get larger and larger, it just makes sense for them to do some hiring in the States.’

The Indian economy – boosted by a savings culture of large cash deposits – has boomed and is this year predicted to outpace China.

Businesses around the world have targeted India – part of the ‘BRIC’ emerging economies – for their global expansion.

Residents there have seen an increase in living standards and higher wages, which has led to higher spending.

But in a stark contrast and further sign that global power is shifting from the West to the East, the economies of the U.S.- and many European countries – have spiralled downwards.

Around nine per cent of the work force is now estimated to be unemployed in the U.S. Massive debts have also seen harsh spending cuts.

Indian companies had previously used call centres at home, or shipped large numbers of local workers to the U.S. to work cheaply.

But a crackdown on visas by the Government combined with optimism in India has meant that fewer people want to leave. For Indian companies , it is just as efficient to open offices in America, where there are daily queues of people willing to work.

There is also a growing trend that companies want to have workers based in the countries where organisations have large customer bases, or wish to expand into.

Aegis Communications, based in Mumbai, joined the growing number of overseas companies opening centres in the U.S. to take advantage of the high unemployment.

They have nine centres in the U.S. which employ 5,000 people but that is expected to triple to 15,000 employees.

In Lower Manhattan, the call centre employs a large number of African Americans with few qualifications.

Line manager Ray Capuana said:  ‘Our recruitment model is simple. I don’t care if you come from Park Avenue or the park bench. If you can do the job, we want you.’

He calls the process of hiring U.S. workers instead of local workers in India ‘near-sourcing’, ‘diverse sourcing’ or ‘cross-shoring’.

But compared with Indian workers, managers have complained that those from the U.S. are ‘spoiled’ and ‘lazy’.

Obamas get royal treatment in Britain

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 24: U.S. President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during a State Banquet in Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle are in the UK for a two day State Visit at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. During the trip they will attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and the President will address both houses of parliament at Westminster Hall. Getty Images

USA TODAY | May 24, 2011

By Richard Wolf

LONDON — President Obama traded a cozy pub for a spacious palace Tuesday, but the reception was the same: He was treated like royalty.

After basking amid one of the most affectionate audiences of his presidency Monday in Ireland, Obama arrived here to be feted by a queen and three generations of princes.

He and first lady Michelle Obama were welcomed at Buckingham Palace, where they were given a six-room suite last occupied by Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton, on their wedding night.

They were fawned over at Westminster Abbey, greeted warmly at No. 10 Downing St. and, finally, lauded at the first state dinner thrown here for a U.S. president in eight years.

In between, the president even managed to get in a little table tennis during a visit to a school for low-income students with Prime Minister David Cameron.

With about 160 guests standing around one huge, horseshoe-shaped table, Queen Elizabeth II pronounced herself “delighted to welcome you and Mrs. Obama to London.”

“Your visit to this country reminds us of our shared history,” the queen said. “We are here to celebrate the tried, tested and, yes, special relationship of our two countries.”

Obama, in white tie and tails, responded by offering “warm greetings from tens of millions of Americans who claim British ancestry.” He quoted both Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare.

“It is a great honor to join you again in this great country as we reaffirm the enduring bonds between our two nations,” Obama said, citing “the rock-solid foundation built during Queen Elizabeth’s lifetime of extraordinary service to her nation and the world.”

Obama plans to turn from style to substance starting today with a speech to the British Parliament, followed later in the week by a G-8 summit in France and meetings with Central European leaders in Poland.

But for one more day Tuesday, Obama could do no wrong. He was saluted not with 21 guns, but 41 — 21 for a royal event and 20 more for the royal park in which it was held.

He and the first lady also received gifts: a selection of letters and watercolors from the 1800s for him, an antique broach in the form of roses made of gold and red coral for her.

After giving the queen an iPod loaded with Broadway show tunes in 2009, the Obamas this time turned to more traditional gifts.

For the queen: a leather-bound album of photos and memorabilia from a visit her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, made to the U.S. in 1939. For Prince Philip: a custom set of Fell Pony bits and shanks, along with horseshoes worn by a recently retired champion carriage horse named Jamaica.

“Very warm words have been spoken between the royal family and the Obamas,” said a palace spokesman who, by protocol, could not be identified. “There is a genuine, genuine — and I really mean this — a genuine warmth between the two families.”

‘Genderless’ Child Ignites Firestorm in Canada

Storm, a four-month-old Toronto child being raised as genderless, smiles while being held by mother Kathy Witterick, 38, as father David Stocker, 39, and brother Jazz, 5, look on. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star/GetStock.com)

Fox News | May 24, 2011

By Joshua Rhett Miller

A Toronto couple raising their 4-month-old without identifying the child as a boy or a girl have created a media firestorm in Canada, where some have likened the scenario to a “bizarre lab experiment” that seeks to undo thousands of years of social evolution.

Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, are raising their third child, Storm, to be free of societal norms regarding gender. Is Storm male or female? The parents won’t say, so no one knows except Storm’s older brothers, Jazz and Kio, as well as a close family friend and two midwives who helped deliver the baby, according to the Toronto Star.

Since publishing a story about the couple on Saturday, the newspaper has received a “rush of responses” from readers, including some who believe the Toronto couple is acting “very selfish” and “very inconsiderate” in their attempt to undo evolution. Others, meanwhile, told the newspaper that “breaking social norms” is not synonymous with bad parenting.

Attempts to reach Witterick and Stocker — who reportedly works as a teacher at City View Alternative, a small middle school in Toronto — were unsuccessful on Tuesday. In a follow-up Toronto Star story on Monday, the couple told the newspaper that they have decided not to conduct any additional interviews.

“We don’t want them to feel like exotic bugs, and when consulted, they said no thanks to more media attention,” Witterick wrote the newspaper in an email.
Clinton Anderson, director of the American Psychological Association’s Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office, told FoxNews.com that while the organization supports gender nondiscrimination, there is no research available regarding potential harms or benefits to raising a so-called genderless child.

“I don’t think the APA has any basis for concluding one way or the other on that issue,” Anderson said. “In the short term, in the long term, there’s really just no basis for saying. This is not an area of research that exists, to my knowledge.”

What is certain, Anderson said, is that a “supportive” environment for any child is one that provides them love, nurturing care and a “good enough” context to develop.

“Gender is, of course, hugely important and that is what these parents are trying to challenge,” he said. “Gender is hugely important to people, and for most people, a fundamental part of their identities.”

Other mental health professionals contacted by FoxNews.com said they saw several advantages to the atypical scenario, including true self-determination for Storm.

“The child has self-determination as to what its interests may be in life, the goals for that child and what direction the child wants to go in as far as all avenues in life, as well as sexuality,” said Jeff Gadere, a clinical psychologist and contributor to HealthGuru.com. “They’re banking on the child being genetically predisposed to its sexuality, as well as its station in life.”

A potential downside, Gadere said, could occur when the child looks to its parents for guidance in areas of self-discipline, education and other topics associated with gender. But overall, Gadere sees little potential for psychological or emotional damage to the child.

“If the parents are able to fulfill all of the needs of the child and are able to meet the child’s needs in terms of guidance and nurturance, I really doubt that there’s going to be any real damage to the child,” he said. “I’m more concerned about how other people are going to react to the child.”

Gadere added: “We’re looking at something that is different. Certainly when we’re dealing with changing the status quo as far as raising children, people become fearful of that. And let’s give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re fearful of the impact on the child.”

Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for government and public policy for the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based “pro-family” organization, disagreed with Gadere’s assessment, claiming the child will grow up “terribly confused” regarding sexual identity.

“I don’t think there’s any question that this is going to do severe harm to this child,” Fischer said. “That child is either a male or female, and it’s a tragedy that his parents or her parents are apparently unwilling to base their approach on scientific and biological truth.”

The attempt to keep the child’s gender a secret is simply a “terrible disservice,” Fischer said.

“The vast majority of people have enough common sense to recognize that this is lunacy,” he continued. “The vast majority of people are motivated by a deep level of concern of what’s going to happen to that poor child.”

Millions of unborn girls deliberately aborted by Indian parents to ensure male heirs

Selective abortion is concentrated in families where the first child has been a girl

Its population is expanding at breakneck speed, yet its schools are empty of girls

The full extent of India’s ‘gendercide’

Independent | May 25, 2011

By Jeremy Laurance

Some call it India’s “gendercide”. In the past three decades up to 12 million unborn girls have been deliberately aborted by Indian parents determined to ensure they have a male heir.

Once, parents desperate for a son achieved the same end by infanticide. But modern medical technology, and the complicity of the medical establishment, has sanitised the process and made it more socially acceptable.

The systematic elimination of female foetuses in the world’s biggest democracy is widening the gap between girls and boys and storing up social problems for the future. In some towns there is already a shortage of brides and there are fears the growing gender imbalance will worsen attitudes to women.

The 2011 census revealed 7.1 million fewer girls than boys aged under seven, up from 6 million in 2001 and from 4.2 million in 1991. The sex ratio in the age group is now 915 girls to 1,000 boys, the lowest since records began in 1961.

Latest research shows selective abortion is concentrated in families where the first child has been a girl. Parents welcome a first daughter but want their second child to be a son. In these families the gender ratio for second births fell from 906 girls per 1,000 boys in 1990 to 836 in 2005, implying between 3.1 million and 6 million female foetuses have been aborted in the past decade.

Wealthier, better-educated couples are the worst offenders, the findings show, putting paid to hopes that socio-economic progress would lead to a change in attitude. Although all strata of Indian society share a preference for sons, better-off families have access to and can afford the ultrasound tests to reveal the sex of a foetus.

Couples believe their family is unbalanced without a son who will continue the family name, earn money, look after his relatives and take care of his parents in old age in a country which has no social security system. Importantly, a girl will marry out of her family, taking her dowry with her, while a boy will bring a dowry into the family, a significant economic advantage.

Publishing his findings in the journal The Lancet, Professor Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto, and colleagues from India, said: “The selective abortion of female foetuses, usually after a first-born girl, has increased in India over the past few decades, and has contributed to a widening imbalance in the child sex ratio.” They call for closer monitoring to help curb the “remarkable growth of selective abortion of girls”.

Termination of pregnancy on the basis of sex was made illegal in India under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act in 1996, but the law is routinely flouted. The Home Secretary, Gopal Pillai, has called for a “complete review” of the current policies designed to deal with the imbalance in the sexes, but few believe there is a genuine willingness among politicians to address the issue.

The market for sex determination is said to be worth at least $100m (£62m) a year, with 40,000 registered ultrasound clinics. Although attempts have been made to increase penalties under the act, out of 800 court cases against doctors in 17 states there have been only 55 convictions.

In a commentary published alongside the paper, Dr S V Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health, said: “The demand for sons among wealthy parents is being satisfied by the medical community through the provision of illegal services of sex-selective abortion. The financial incentive for physicians to undertake this activity seems to be far greater than the penalties associated with breaking the law.”

Efforts to reduce discrimination against girl babies have been successful in places such as South Korea. But the sex bias found among second-borns recorded in India has also been found among Indians living in the USA, where the same social pressures do not exist.

“This finding raises a difficult and provocative question for public policy: should medical technology be allowed to play a part in letting a family plan their desired composition, especially when there is an active public policy effort to voluntarily limit family size to replacement level?” Dr Subramanian says.

Peter Fonda encourages his grandchildren to take up arms against President Barack Obama

Peter Fonda arrives for the screening of ‘The Beaver’ in Cannes Photo: AP

Peter Fonda, the star of Easy Rider, says he is training his grandchildren to use rifles for a conflict with President Barack Obama.

Telegraph | May 22, 2011

By Richard Eden

Lars von Trier, who was banned from Cannes for praising Hitler, was not the only one making unsavoury comments at the film festival.

Peter Fonda, the star of Easy Rider, suggested to Mandrake that he was encouraging his grandchildren to shoot President Barack Obama.

“I’m training my grandchildren to use long-range rifles,” said the actor, 71. “For what purpose? Well, I’m not going to say the words ‘Barack Obama’, but …”

He added, enigmatically: “It’s more of a thought process than an actuality, but we are heading for a major conflict between the haves and the have nots. I came here many years ago with a biker movie and we stopped a war. Now, it’s about starting the world.

“I prefer to not to use the words, ‘let’s stop something’. I prefer to say, ‘let’s start something, let’s start the world’.

Nazis tried to train dogs to talk, read and spell to win WW2

Hitler hoped the clever creatures would learn to communicate with their SS masters Photo: BNPS

The Nazis tried to train dogs to talk, read and spell to help them win World War II, it has been revealed.

Telegraph | May 24, 2011

The Germans viewed canines as being almost as intelligent as humans and attempted to build an army of fearsome ‘speaking’ dogs, extraordinary new research shows.

Hitler hoped the clever creatures would learn to communicate with their SS masters – and he even had a special dog school set up to teach them to talk.

The incredible findings show Nazi officials recruited so-called educated dogs from all over Germany and trained them to speak and tap out signals using their paws.

One mutt was said to have uttered the words ‘Mein Fuhrer’ when asked who Adolf Hitler was.

Another ‘spoke’ by tapping letters of the alphabet with his paws and was said to have speculated about religion and learnt poetry.

The Germans hoped to use the animals for the war effort, such as getting them to work alongside the SS and guard concentration camps to free up officers.

The bizarre ‘Wooffan SS’ experiment has come to light after years of painstaking research by academic Dr Jan Bondeson into unique and amazing dogs in history.

Dr Bonderson, from Cardiff University, visited Berlin to scour obscure periodicals to build up a bizarre – but true – account of Nazi ideas.

Hitler was a well-known dog lover and had two German Shepherds, called Blondi and Bella. He famously killed Blondi moments before committing suicide in his bunker in 1945.

The evil dictator was said to have been keen to use dogs for the war effort and supported the dog school which was called the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA.

The school, based in Leutenburg near Hannover and led by headmistress Margarethe Schmitt, was set up in the 1930s and continued throughout the war years.

It was reported to have had some success, with dogs tapping out words with their paws.

Some of them were able to imitate the human voice and one, when asked who Adolf Hitler was, is said to have replied ‘Mein Fuhrer’.

The forerunner of them all was Rolf, an Airedale terrier who ‘spoke’ through tapping his paw against a board, each letter of the alphabet being represented by a certain number of taps.

He was said to have speculated about religion, learnt foreign languages, wrote poetry and asked a visiting noblewoman ‘could you wag your tail?’

The patriotic German dog even expressed a wish to join the army, because he disliked the French.

Another dog, a Dachschund named Kurwenal, even received a visit from a troop of 28 uniformed youths from the Nazi animalprotection organisation on his birthday.

He was said to speak using a different number of barks for each letter, and told his biographer he would be voting for Hindenburg.

Another dog, a German pointer named Don, went one step further – imitating a human voice to bark “Hungry! Give me cakes”, in German.

The incredible story of Germany’s educated dogs has now been revealed in full by Dr Bondeson, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University in his book “Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities.”

He said: “It is absolutely extraordinary stuff.

“In the 1920s, Germany had numerous ‘new animal psychologists’ who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication.

“When the Nazi party took over, one might have thought they would be building concentration camps to lock these fanatics up, but instead they were actually very interested in their ideas.

“Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature – they believed a good Nazi should be an animal friend.

“Indeed, when they started interning Jews, the newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind.

“Hitler himself was praised for his attitude to animals and Goering was a forerunner of animal protection. They seemed to think nothing of human rights, but lots about animal rights.

“There were some very strange experiments going on in wartime Germany, with regard to dog-human communication.

“Nazi animal psychologists worked with the educated dogs, and there was even a school to teach animals to communicate, with dogs supplied by the office of the Reichsführer-SS.

“My guess would be that they were intended to work with the SS or be used as guard dogs in concentration camps.

“Hitler was himself interested in the prospect of using educated dogs in the war effort, and he advised representatives of the German army to study their usefulness in the field.

“Still, it appears to have been very early days – there is no evidence it ever actually came to fruition and that the SS were walking around with talking dogs.

“It is really remarkable and fascinating insight into a hitherto unknown facet of Nazi Germany.”

Dr Bondeson’s book, Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, also includes chapters on acting dogs, travelling dogs, turnspit dogs, holy dogs and exceptionally faithful dogs.

It has been published by Amberley Publishing in Britain and the Cornell University Press in the US and costs 20 pounds.

Austrian city of Amstetten withdraws Adolf Hitler’s name from list of honorary citizens

Austrians salute Hitler as he passes the Benedictine Abbey at Melk. Photo: scrapbookpages.com

Dictator remains honorary citizen in other cities

AAP | May 25, 2011

IT TOOK 66 years – but the Austrian city of Amstetten has finally struck Adolf Hitler’s name from its list of honorary citizens.

Amstetten Mayor Herbert Katzengruber said that city council agreed to do so “with a large majority”, with only the two representatives of the far right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) party abstaining.

Although the fact that Hitler was on the list was well known, it took a demand from a member of the environmentalist Green party for the council to act.

Mayor Katzengruber had earlier suggested he saw no reason to do anything, telling the Austria Press Agency that many experts hold that honorary citizenship expires when a person dies.

Like Amstetten, about 140km west of Vienna, many Austrian towns declared Hitler an honorary citizen after Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

Most, but not all municipalities removed his name when the war ended in 1945.

Officials in Waidhofen an der Ybbs, near Amstetten, acknowledge Hitler’s name remains on their list of honorary citizens – but say they do not plan to formally remove it.

They too argue that the status ends with the death of a person.