How Might India Create Health Opportunities for its own citizens?


Dr Arindam Basu, University of Canterbury, School of Health Sciences, email:,

Dr Shrimati Das, Nehru College, Bengaluru, India, email:


We argue in this paper that as India continues to assert her ”soft power” by influencing other countries, her pattern of transaction with the rest of the world is changing. In turn, this has resulted in a unique occupational/population health problem that warrants examination.

Since mid-1990s, Indian entrepreneurs established ”business process outsourcing centres” (BPO and Call Centres) in India that served back offices to the developed countries; further, the Y2K crisis in computing provided opportunities for Information Technology professionals from India find overseas jobs. Both contributed to India’s economic growth but also exposed Indians to life stresses in the developed countries.

BPOs are important tools India uses to project her soft power, yet how do the working conditions in BPOs affect the health conditions of their employees? While the Diaspora act as agents of India’s soft power, trying to project India’s expertise in different spheres, they too seem vulnerable to the stresses of migration.

We present our findings from a survey conducted in Bengaluru, India and highlight health issues related to stress and work associated with BPO. We also draw a parallel with a survey of health effects observed among Indians and compared with other immigrants in Auckland DHB region in New Zealand. In the light of these findings, we discuss the broader question how should India address health issues to create a better environment for its own citizens even as it realises its aspiration as a global soft power.