Letters - The benefits of outsourcing

Richard Colbey (Observations, 1 March) argues that paying British wages to Indian workers would strike a blow for world equality. But developing nations such as India benefit in many ways from offshore outsourcing: the breaking down of the caste system, the reduction in poverty, the growth in the middle class, the huge increase in literacy and the improved opportunities for women in a country with a history of female infanticide. The British company Xansa has even introduced creche facilities at its Indian back-office processing centres. Although Colbey suggests a hire-and-fire environment, the present labour laws in India are not much changed from the days of Nehruvian socialism.

And far from there being "no trade union

action" on this issue, all the major unions have been vocal in their disdain for rampant offshoring. However, they have worked on research into the issue with the Department of Trade and Industry and concluded that US-style protectionism is not the answer. The research company Evalueserve recently predicted that the UK economy will require an additional 714,000 workers by 2010. Around 372,000 of those places can be filled through immigration, but that leaves approximately 342,000 vacant jobs. So either we allow some offshoring of work or we just allow UK GDP to decline because we can't accept that the world is a changing place.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary
London N10

Richard Colbey laments that pay rates for "outsourced" Indian workers are tempting away skilled people, including doctors. He then proposes to apply Britain's minimum wage of £4.50 an hour (equivalent in purchasing power to £20.88) to those same workers. Wouldn't that tempt even more doctors?

John Clegg
Hoylake, Merseyside

This article first appeared in the 08 March 2004 issue of the New Statesman, Bush or Kerry? No difference