Sunday, March 20, 2005

Import of love

Everyone seems to be concerned with the recent trend of technology jobs moving to other countries. A recent article in Business Week titled "Outsourcing Innovation" discusses how companies are moving their R&D centers to other countries too. It is not only labor intensive back office jobs or jobs that require cranking code after all requirements have been set here, but also the innovative jobs of research and design that the US is losing.

The concern might be well founded, but why isn't anyone talking about the other job that we are handing over to strangers from other countries. The job of rearing children. This is one of the subjects tackled by the book "Global women: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy." According the book, as more women are taking up jobs outside they are spending less time taking care of the home and rearing children, while men have not started contributing more at home. So a void is created. To fill that void nannies are hired. These nannies come from poor countries where families can't earn enough locally to feed their children. Hence, they are forced to look for jobs elsewhere. The skewed exchange rate tipped in favor of the US dollar, makes jobs here financially appealing. So they leave their respective countries to work here.

When these women take up jobs as nannies here, their own children back home are left motherless. Again a void is created. This void is, in most cases, inadequately filled by relatives. Women in poor countries are forced to make the difficult decision to move so that they can at least provide materialistic support for their children. These women see their children in the ones they are taking care of and love them as if their own. Essentially the children here have 2 moms, while the children in the poorer countries have none. My own niece has one such nanny from South America. She always offers to cook for me when I visit, and patiently teaches my Spanish. Of course I never let her cook for me (I cooked breakfast for her once; no one has ever been as thankful for my cooking), and I am a complete failure when it comes to learning Spanish (I haven't given up yet; am thinking of taking a formal class this summer). But most importantly, she is very good with my niece and loves her dearly. As aptly written in the book- who says money can't buy love?

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