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In a 21st century call centre, India.
Year of production - 2002
Duration - 4min 2sec
Tags - Asia, Australian culture, colonialism, communication, Diverted to Delhi, exploitation, globalisation, identity, India, job satisfaction, language, Screen Asia, values, see all tags
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The video clip explores the attractions and stresses of the call centre jobs, the training methods and requirements, and the views of customers and unionists in Australia. It introduces warm, young Indian graduates aspiring towards employment in call centres. It demonstrates globalisation issues and the need for intercultural understanding. A number of ethical issues are raised, including the re-shaping of one’s identity for the needs of an employer.
This digital resource is from the project Screen Asia, a joint production of the Asia Education Foundation, Australian Children’s Television Foundation and Screen Australia Digital Learning. Click here for more digital resources for Asia.
In a 21st century call centre, India is an excerpt from the documentary Diverted to Delhi produced in 2002. Diverted to Delhi is a Greg Stitt Production, developed in association with the Australian Film Commission and financed with the assistance of the Australian Film Finance Corporation. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In the middle years of schooling, students can synthesise, analyse, reflect on and apply their learning to personal experiences of Asia in an increasingly independent way. They engage in cultural exchange, reflecting their enhanced understanding of their own culture, and their richer and broader framework of knowledge and understanding of Asian cultures. The aim is that students will increasingly empathise with people from different cultural backgrounds, and develop intercultural values and skills to participate in, learn from, contribute to and engage confidently in diverse cultural environments at home and abroad.
All state and territory syllabuses for English, SOSE and Arts
This film clip is from Greg Stitt’s 2002 documentary Diverted to Delhi which explores the call centre industry. The documentary was filmed in call centre training colleges in Delhi, India. There are also interviews in Melbourne, Australia.
In the documentary, we see intensive training which changes the accents of trainees and immerses them into the perceived culture of the client’s country. Students will be able to step into the shoes of a trainee, empathise with them, and gain an increased understanding of the phenomenon of outsourcing communications. Diverted to Delhi also provides colourful images of ‘incredible India’.
This clip demonstrates aspects of 21st century global technologies and provides students with an opportunity to understand the impact of these technologies on society (National Goals of Schooling). Viewing this clip will assist students to understand Asia, to develop informed attitudes and values, to know about contemporary Asia, and to connect Australia and India (refer to National Statement for Engaging Students with the Studies of Asia).
Teachers familiar with the film Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, will recall that the hero, Jamal, works in a call centre in Mumbai as a chai-wallah (tea person).
For background preparation, students should create a ‘Fact File’ rubric of three columns. (Refer to page 50 in In our Own Backyard: Connecting to Global Issues in Our Region edited by Bronwyn Collie, published by Curriculum Corporation, 2006.)
Label your three columns ‘Feature of Comparison’, ‘India’ and ‘Australia’. To complete the rubric, research information for the following ‘features of comparison’ for both countries: Geographic area, Population, Government, Capital population, Dominant language, Other main languages, Main ethnic groups, Religions, Average income per day/year, Average life expectancy, National literacy rate, Major exports including any to India/Australia, Major imports including any from India/Australia, Cultural exchanges with India/Australia.
Activity 1: Ask students to discuss and respond to the following questions:
- In the video clip’s introduction the narrator tells us that ‘In this era of globalisation it’s common for customer queries to be re-routed through India….’. Draw up three columns to list the cities, images and activities that the director presents to depict globalisation.
- What is an ‘Anglicised name and accent’?
- Did you know that there are many varieties of English? Can you find out how many exist in the world today? Begin by looking up ‘Standard English’ and ‘Singlish’. It may be useful to know that the Australian accent has historically been looked down upon by the British. Do you think that one variety is better than another? Why?
- The documentary narrator explains that the call centre workers in India are taught to ‘speak and think like their customers’. Is this peculiar to Indian training or can you think of employers in Australia who train workers similarly? Consider bank teller training and student casual workplaces like McDonalds. What are the similarities and differences?
- The call centre trainees explain their preconceptions of Australians in class. What do they mention? Are these accurate? What is your knowledge or preconceptions of Indians? What are your sources of information and/or experience?
- What is a stereotype? Do the trainers appear to be passing on stereotypes to their students? How do they inform themselves? The trainees speak English as a second, third or fourth language. How many languages do you speak? Do you feel Australians should learn to speak another language? Why?
Activity 2: Individually, in pairs, or in a group, students are asked to write their responses to the following:
- Who enrols in the call centre courses in India? Why? What are the attractions and requirements?
- What reasons do Margan, Surender, Gunjan and Vineet give for wanting to become call centre employees?
- The crash course English trainees laugh at their mistakes in class. Do these scenes remind you of your LOTE classes at school? What is the difference between formal and informal conversation when learning another language? If you have travelled out of Australia, have you found that people have had difficulty understanding your informal language and accent? Give examples.
Activity 3: Individually or in a group, students are asked to research and write their responses to the following:
- According to the narrator, why is India’s call centre industry growing? Do you think that it is likely to continue growing in the world economic downturn? Why/why not?
Diverted to Delhi Study Guide, Film Australia.
Slumdog Millionaire, 2009, (Film) Directed by Danny Boyle, Fox Searchlight & Warner Brothers.
Adiga, A, 2008, The White Tiger, P127–128 Atlantic Books, London.
Collie, B, 2006, In our Own Backyard. Connecting to global issues in our region, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne.
Collie, B, 2006, In our Own Backyard. Shifting identities, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne. (Ella and Josh’s dialogue about stereotypes on Page 24)
Hamston, J & Murdoch, K, 2004, Australia Kaleidoscope, Curriculum Corporation.
Kwok, J and McKnight L, 2002, Film Asia, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne.
Ledger, S & Ledger R, 2005, Snapshots of India, Curriculum Corporation.
Swarap, V, 2005, 50,000 – How to Speak Australian in Slumdog Millionaire, Black Swan.
Tharoor, S, 2007, The Elephant, The Tiger and the Cellphone – Reflections on India, an emerging 21st century power, Arcade Publishing, New York.
Theroux, P, 2007, The Elephant God novella in The Elephanta Suite, Houghton Mifflin, New York.
Curriculum Corporation, 2004,Think English, Speak English in Popular Publishing, Voices and Visions from India: Texts for the Senior English Classroom CD Rom.
Curriculum Corporation, 2004,Crazy English in Visual and Performing Arts, Voices and Visions from China: Texts for the Senior English Classroom CD Rom.
Curriculum Corporation, 2004, Voices and Visions from India: Texts for the Senior English Classroom CD Rom.