How India's Huge Call Centre Industry Is Coping With Lockdown

How India's Huge Call Centre Industry Is Coping With Lockdown

How India's Huge Call Centre Industry Is Coping With Lockdown
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How India's Huge Call Centre Industry Is Coping With Lockdown

As the coronavirus pandemic pushes India into a lockdown, the call centres and information technology services firms that function as the world's back office are struggling to piece together work-from-home solutions and other business-continuity plans.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday ordered 1.3 billion Indians to stay at home for 21 days to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2, following earlier lock-down orders in many cities and states.

As of Tuesday, India had reported over 500 cases of the virus and nine deaths. Many of the companies that provide business services such as call centres, IT services and business process automation were not prepared for work-for-home arrangements, according to interviews with more than a dozen employees of several companies.

That raises questions about whether one of the country's showpiece industries can function smoothly amid the coronavirus crisis.

"The industry has been scrambling to set up its own business continuity plan," said R Chandrashekhar, a retired central government official and a former president of IT services lobby group Nasscom.

In the tech hub of Bengaluru, an employee working at a JPMorgan call centre said that until last Friday, her managers had repeatedly declined staffers' pleas to work from home.