In The Armchair

Andhra Workers and the IT Industry

Posted in India by Armchair Guy on March 14, 2009

A couple of days ago, I came across this article on Rediff about Patni computers ripping off its employees by failing to pay them dues that were owed to them.  The article itself was somewhat shocking, but such happenings are neither new nor surprising.  (And I don’t know whether this instance is true.)  What really interested me was the discussion in the comments at the bottom of the article.

Now I don’t normally read comments on Rediff or the Indian Express because they seem to be the prime place for people to anonymously vent their most politically incorrect thoughts.  This article is no different.  Some comments supported the company, saying that workers dupe companies about their experience and try to jump ship after being taken to America.  Others said it’s the companies’ fault for employing harassment and other heavy-handed tactics against their workers.  But a huge proportion of the comments were about something else: a phenomenon I hadn’t been so strongly aware of before: anti-Telugu sentiment.

Through the years, I’ve come across a variety of perceptions about various groups because I’ve always lived in the midst of a slightly different culture.  I am Telugu by birth, but have lived in Calcutta for most of my life.  Lately, it is in the US.  So I’ve always been aware of misconceptions and stereotypes about Indians, “South Indians” and Telugu speakers.  While I lived in Calcutta, though, this was mostly good-natured misunderstanding.  People from various other parts of India, though, seem to have stronger opinions.  North Indians, for example, seem to view South Indians as “simple” folk: the way Europeans viewed “natives”.  It’s not specific, it’s not targeted at individuals.  It is a perception of South Indian culture as a whole.  (I should say I personally think South India is way too diverse to be treated as a single culture.)

But the comments on this article were different.  Here’s a precis of the reasons for the negativity about Telugu IT industry workers: They fake credentials in order to secure jobs.  Academics, experience, and capabilities on their resume are fake or heavily inflated.  They use such fake resumes to gain an unfair advantage over everybody else.  They are often caught out and bring disrepute to Indian IT workers.

I know from personal experience that there is a percentage of Telugu workers for whom this is true.  I don’t work in IT, but know several people who do — and know some Telugu people who have faked credentials.  (I also know several non-Telugu people who have faked credentials.)  Not only do they do it, they strenuously defend doing it.  So, why do they do it?

It’s my theory (and this applies to non-Andhra people as well) that this happens wherever you have smart people who lack opportunities.  It is not a failure of the people, but of the system.  Most Andhra students are bright,  but they are simply one among several million.  EAMCET and the engineering system in AP don’t give students the opportunity to distinguish themselves in any way.  Apart from a very few, all of the hundreds of thousands of colleges are the same.

Maybe this is the only way for people to escape, to assert their individuality, to be somebody or something other than an unrecognized cog among millions of other cogs.

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8 Responses

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  1. Vikram said, on March 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    You are absolutely spot on. I think the number of South Indians (esp. Andhraites) is comparatively higher among the new wave of migrants to America. But I feel this is more due to better education than fake degrees.

    I think in some sense, most degrees are fake, or atleast overrated.

  2. Armchair Guy said, on March 14, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Vikram, the number of Andhraites is certainly high in IT… I feel there’s more of a engineering-USA craze among Andhraites than in any other Indian state. Although they don’t usually fake degrees, they do seem to inflate experience on resumes.

    It is interesting that in respect of this kind of honesty, the entire country has gone downhill from a couple of generations ago. People who were born in the 40s and 50s seem to have a level of integrity and basic decency that later generations did away with.

    I wonder whether the recent globalization is eventually going to take us back to the same levels of integrity and reliance on hard work we had a generation ago.

  3. alwayssaynotoracism said, on April 3, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Few days back talking to a friend about career and skills ( I am in IT ) he suggests: “Hey, you have to take the Hyderabad Route in all this, there is no other way”. For a while I couldn’t get what he meant but then it started slowly sinking in. I said no. So in general I agree that there is definitely some sort of “reputation” connected to AP folks, rightly or wrongly I donno.

    > It is interesting that in respect of this kind of honesty, the entire country has gone downhill from a couple of generations ago.

    Well, that’s a generic phenomena isn’t it? Not just limited to resumes, degrees etc., See how far and how fast the country has degraded in the past 10 years. We always had Islamic Terrorism, especially from late 80s and from late 90s ( after Cross Planter Pope’s speech ) Evangelical Terrorism has made inroads into Indian polity.

    > wonder whether the recent globalization is

    I am not so sure. With Globalization comes Globalization of the 50 Billion Made off kind. Globalization in India’s context is Americanization/Westernization which means Missionaries, Cultural Genocides, “sayadarshini” literature, Charlie Chaplin Statue and such.

    AG, first time, so I just rambled. Nice blog!

    Feel free to visit mine
    http://victimofprejudice.blogspot.com/

    .

  4. Armchair Guy said, on April 3, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Hi alwayssaynotoracism, welcome to my blog.

    Thank you for your comment. I do agree that much of the reputation of the Andhra IT workers is deserved. Talking to them I feel there is no perception that something is wrong. It has come to the point that they sometimes talk of faking credentials, bribing and so on in a matter-of-fact way as though it is perfectly normal and acceptable.

    I will definitely check out your blog.

  5. Kiran said, on July 20, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Hey armchari guy, This anti- telugu feeling is nothing but racism form caste crazed [edited] called North Indians. You should seem them close to see the ugliness in these [edited]. They think they rule India and cant digest when they see someone else making good progress.

    They cry at Andhra cheating not because they think its wrong but because it reminds them their lack of capacity at cheating. Afterall adding stones in daal is good business for these bhaiyya [edited].

  6. Armchair Guy said, on July 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Kiran:

    I hope my post didn’t make you feel like blaming North Indians; I think the anti-Telugu feelings are partly a result of competition, the accusations have a grain of truth in them. Besides, I like to think that only a few Andhras use such methods and only a few North Indians hold ill-will towards Andhras. The majority from both sides get along!

  7. anon said, on March 5, 2016 at 5:17 am

    I recently came to US and staying with some students/working professionals from Andhra, after staying with them for few months, got to know that all of them got job using fake experience. They create fake resume, fake interview, somebody give telephonic interview on their behalf & they even conduct fake skype interivew by lipsyncing. And then gets the work done by someone by paying them.

    • Armchair Guy said, on March 7, 2016 at 3:16 am

      It is unfortunate that this happens. There are many expectations from employers, colleagues, clients, even the government that get subverted when this kind of behavior is indulged in.

      Having said that, if they are able to get the work done to everyone’s satisfaction by paying someone else, it sounds like they actually do have a skill – to find a low-cost way of getting the work done. If that is indeed the case, they could consider setting up a consultancy rather than engaging in unethical behavior. Of course, this is probably not a practical suggestion.


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