The crime that shook Indian outsourcing

How the death of a call centre night worker has changed India's offshoring industry...

The violent death of a call centre worker reinforced negative views in India about jobs in outsourcing - but measures taken by Indian outsourcers have helped change perceptions, says Saritha Rai.

Last month, a judge in a Bangalore court sentenced cab driver Shiva Kumar to life for the rape and murder of a call centre employee.

On a chilly December evening five years ago in Bangalore, Pratibha Murthy, 24, an employee at HP's back-office operation HP GlobalSoft, was picked up as usual by a cab that was supposed to ferry her to work. Her body was found abandoned in an suburb the next day. She had been raped and murdered.

indian outsourcing

The murder reinforced Indian perceptions that outsourcing jobs were too westernised
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The murder immediately became headline news, and sent a collective shiver through India's outsourcing industry.

The murder of a night shift woman employee added to already negative perceptions about outsourcing jobs as being too westernised, and was also potentially damaging to the reputation of India's outsourcing industry among its overseas customers.

The murder pushed Indian companies to adopt more stringent safety practices, according to Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president of Nasscom. "Companies are going that extra mile," she said.

So Murthy's brutal murder has changed the way women in India's technology and back-office industries travel to and from work.

Outsourcing companies provide their employees a host of facilities such as transport, subsidised and even free food. But in a move unmatched...