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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Socially inclusive labour geographies of offshored opportunity? Minority (im)mobilities in India’s New Service Economy. Seminar

18 March 2015
Shackleton Building 44, Lecture Theatre B

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Nathaniel O'Grady at N.O' .

Event details

At the forefront of international debates around ‘jobless growth’ and youth unemployment in the global South, the rise of offshored, service sector-led development in India has been celebrated as: providing new opportunities for ‘decent work’; a vital means to absorb India’s growing cohort of educated unemployed; and spearheading India’s transition to a global economic power. However, scholars have recently questioned the degree to which India’s ‘modern services’ offer socially inclusive employment opportunities for skilled workers from lower castes, ethnic and religious minorities. This paper presents new evidence from a survey of 1033 service workers in India’s National Capital Region, focusing on 8 lead sectors: IT / ITES-BPO; Tourism, Hospitality and Travel; Transportation and Logistics; Organised Retail; Real Estate; Media and Entertainment; Healthcare; Banking, Insurance, Finance. The survey tracks graduates from two historically marginalised communities: Muslims (n=467), the largest religious ‘minority’ community in India; and ethnically/racially distinct communities from North-east India (n=451). The analysis evidences the ability of graduates from both minority groups to secure permanent employment in a diverse range of roles across multiple service sectors, and with impressive entry level salaries. But in contrast to the extensive cross-firm career staircases previously documented amongst metropolitan middle class elites (James and Vira 2012), constrained patterns of labour market (im)mobility are also evident. Within this context, the paper concludes with a number of important research questions that might usefully frame the growing labour geographies research agenda in the Indian context, as this body of scholarship seeks to decenter its analytical focus beyond service workers in the ‘core’ economies of the global North.

Chaired by Professor Peter Sunley

Speaker information

Al James, Bhaskar Vira, Philippa Williams and Fiona McConnell , QMUL, Cambridge, QMUL, Oxford . (joint paper)

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