Producing the Knowledge Professional: Gendered Geographies of Alienation in India’s New High-tech Workplace
The emergence of a software services industry over the last decade has rapidly altered India’s position in the global imaginary. Since India officially liberalised its economy in 1991,1 inviting foreign capital, the software industry has grown steadily and has managed to build an international reputation. Popular media in India and abroad are replete with accounts of this growing high-tech industry, the emergence of new urban spaces of consumption and its smart, young, educated, hyper-mobile, albeit largely middle class2 workforce of ‘knowledge professionals’—the beneficiaries of the new globalised economy. The rhetoric around work culture in this industry emphasises a flat organisational structure, camaraderie at the workplace and meritocracy. Work has been redefined as ‘intellectual and disembodied labour’ and workplaces as flexible and fun. Part of this new image of a modern, progressive and tech savvy India that has embraced open market policies is the increasing visibility of and dependence on educated middle class professional women and a hegemonic discourse of ‘empowerment’ that is symbolic of the IT (information technology) sector.