Indian IT industry shut down by protests

A day of nationwide demonstrations rocked India’s IT industry on Monday, temporarily closing down major offices at several of the industry’s biggest names.

The ‘bandh’ – Hindi for ‘closed’ – was called by the country’s opposition parties in response to recent increases in fuel prices, prompting offshore IT outsourcers including TCS, Infosys and Wipro to close down offices for the day over safety concerns.

According to the Times of India, the protest had a particularly profound affect on Bangalore – the country’s IT capital  – due to uncertainty surrounding the city’s state-run public transport system during the bandh.

Infosys chief executive Krish Gopalakrishnan told the newspaper that the company’s Bangalore campus – which employs approximately 16,000 people – was closed on Monday, but that contingency arrangements had been made to allow those assigned to BPO projects to continue working.

A spokesperson for fellow IT services giant Wipro, which also has locations near the city, told Information Age that its employees had been forced to take the day as a holiday, but insisted “that work hasn’t been affected”.

However, the country’s software industry trade body Nasscom warned that the one-day closure had potentially damaged India’s “brand” as an outsourcing destination. Sangeeta Gupta, vice president of the group, also noted that the impact on BPO operations would have been much greater were it not for the US Independence Day holiday which was taken on July 5.

“For the BPOs, the impact was less and the holiday in the US came as a blessing in disguise, but for the IT companies… the business sentiment got hit,” she told Business Standard. “Moreover, from an overall brand perspective, working in India is impacted.”

“This is not a one day issue. We need to work on how business needs to go on,” Gupta added.

Following a request for comment, an Infosys representative confirmed that facilities in Mysore and Mangalore had also been forced to close for the day, but were open again on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for for TCS said that a number of its employees worked from home or the "closest location" on Monday. The company claimed the "marginal dip in attendance had no impact on [its] schedules".

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

Related Topics