US giants deepening their footprint in Indian outsourcing

Multinationals are turning up the heat on Indian outsourcers

With job cuts back home, some US multinationals are playing down their activities in India - but the truth is they're expanding furiously, says Saritha Rai.

It is one industry ranking that is kept under wraps: Tata Consultancy Services is acknowledged as India's number one employer in the information technology and back-office services sector, with over 174,000 employees at last count. But who is number two?

Surprise surprise, it may not be an Indian company. Many of the indicators suggest that IBM could have overtaken Indian outsourcing firms Infosys Technologies and Wipro to grab the second spot.

To mark the arrival of the new number two, Indian bloggers are bantering about the Armonk, New York-headquartered multinational changing its name to India Business Machines.

Map of India

India's IT and outsourcing sector is the country's biggest white-collar employer
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Many months ago, IBM India hurtled past the all-important 100,000-employee mark and then quietly and surely proceeded to overtake first Wipro and then Infosys. As at 30 September this year, Infosys said it had a total of 122,000 employees. For IBM, India is now its second-largest location outside the US.

IBM's position on the figures
Officially, though, IBM will neither confirm nor deny that it is India's second largest IT employer by headcount. "As a policy, we do not disclose country-specific headcount or revenue numbers," an IBM India spokesman said.

IBM's last stated India employee count was 73,000 in 2007. In 2003, IBM had fewer than 9,000 employees in India.

"IBM's numbers are massive, they are way over 100,000," said Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, principal consultant at recruitment firm Stanton Chase India. "There is great buoyancy in their hiring. Their ownership of India is big."

Alongside IBM, India became the single largest location by headcount for...