Author Says Offshoring 'Real WMD' for U.S.

The author of the new book Rising Elephant says offshoring IT jobs ultimately will threaten the U.S.'s position in the world, and it will create a new superpower -- India.


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America's high-end, high-paying IT jobs are increasingly moving to India, threatening the U.S.'s predominant position in the world and setting India up to become the next superpower, according to the author of a new book, Rising Elephant.

Ashutosh Sheshabalaya, a former journalist and technology consultant who heads Allilon, an IT services firm in Europe, is issuing a warning that the offshoring of U.S. high-tech jobs marks the remaking of the American workforce, as well as the world economy.

While offshoring IT jobs has raised concerns and voices in the high-tech community, Sheshabalaya says it's a far more complex and dangerous issue than most Americans understand. He predicts that this relocation of high-value jobs will ''erode the foundations of Western supremacy.''

Sheshabalaya calls this the "real weapon of mass destruction."

''Entire chunks of the Western economic system may be eroding at a faster pace than few believed possible only a few years ago,'' Sheshabalaya contends. ''The consequences of the relocation process remain unfathomable.... momentous.''

The author points out that while U.S. workers have suffered through the offshoring of textile and manufacturing jobs, this will be the first time the economy has had to deal with the loss of high-value jobs. This is a direct assault on the American middle and upper-middle class. And there should be no mistake, he adds, that India has any intention of simply pulling in low-end call center and programming jobs. High-value, high-tech jobs are equally at risk -- only the timing is different.

India's focus, Sheshabalaya says, is a ''full sweep of high-value white-collar services.'' He calls it the Great Displacement.

And the relocation movement quietly began about 20 years ago, starting in the mid-1980s and then slowly picking up in the mid-'90s. The dot-com boom masked some of this movement. Workers and industry analysts were too caught up in the wave of big salaries, bigger bonuses and more jobs than the U.S. workforce alone could fill to notice. With a down economy and the death of the dot-com boom, the fog has cleared and the statistics on offshoring are mounting.

According to Forrester Research, an industry analyst firm, 3.3 million American jobs will move overseas by 2015. Sheshabalaya notes that means 800 American IT jobs will move to India every day for the next 11 years. Another analyst firm, Gartner Group, predicts that one in 10 U.S. tech jobs might be moved out by the end of this year.

Technology employment in the southern Indian city of Bangalore has overtaken that in Silicon Valley.

In a one-on-one interview with Datamation, Sheshabalaya talks about the failings of the American government to deal with this crisis, what happens when U.S. students stop studying computer science and America's waning days as a superpower.

Q: You say India is positioning itself to become a world power -- a superpower. Is this really possible?
It is not only possible -- in many senses, it's inevitable. The question is over what time frame will it happen. This isn't an accidental success story that India is doing well in IT. There is a massive consensus in India that this is a good way to leapfrog over all the challenges of development of a very poor country. What is very important about IT is that it cuts across all the major interest groups in India as being one of the most crucial possibilities for the country to become a big power and then a superpower.

Q: How soon do you see this happening?
By the year 2040 or 2050. It's going to be a paradigm shift. It won't be tomorrow and it also won't be very dramatic. It will take a generation or two in international politics... The use of the words 'great displacement' is very important. This will take some time. This will be more subtle than you might think.

Q: Do you see India and the United States being superpowers at the same time, or do you see America's global influence waning because of the job exodus?
It's a transition. I'd say it's a matter of one going up and one going down. Europe is going down faster. The U.S. is figuring it out faster than Europe. The displacement isn't a one-way street. There will be a lot of up and down for both sides in this process... By 2050, the U.S. will not be where it was at the turn of the millennium. It will no longer be the case that the U.S. will always get its way.

Q: You use the phrase "the real weapon of mass destruction" when talking about this job relocation. Are you saying that India pulling in high-skill jobs is virtually a WMD for the U.S., along with many European countries?
Actually, this is a quote from the Washington Times. But I do agree. It seems to have numbed and paralyzed many already.

Continue on to read Sheshabalaya's predictions that U.S. IT workers will end up moving to India to find jobs, what happens when students stop studying computer science, and what is ahead for the U.S. economy.

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