Wednesday, October 03, 2012

UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS - Work from home - data entry operator

Manjunath ( Photpgraph withheld to retain confidentiality) grew up and graduated from Hindupur near Anantapur.  His father owned  some land there that they cultivated . Ever since his father fell ill, they have leased out the land and live out of the income.

Inspired by his grandfather’s words, Manjunath set out to Bangalore the city of prosperity and growth, 150 kms away from his home  to find a corporate  job.

While at home he attended  V R Reddy’s spoken English classes where he learnt among other things practical life skills such as confidence building, how to answer interview questions , spoken English, the art of networking and making contact with high officials and such things.  

After many failed attempts to get through an interview in the BPO companies in big bad Bangalore, despite all that education from Reddy Sir’s tutorials, Manjunath’s finances started dwindling. 

Proud young man that he is, he could not take any more money from his ailing father.

Manjunath chanced upon an advertisement near Majestic that called for data entry operators who could work from home.  He applied and after a few back ground checks, was given an assignment to type 250 pages . Upon good quality and timely delivery of the work he would be paid Rs. 12 per page.

Thus started Manjunath’s career as a data entry operator. He typed pages and pages of scanned manuscripts sitting on his second hand laptop in the PG accommodation that he shared with other boys from Anantapur.   

Manjunath specializes in motivational books. Among the many short stories he has typed, he narrated a first hand version of how selfless workers in Japan staked their lives to close down a nuclear reactor after the  disastrous earthquake, despite personal hazard of heavy nuclear radiation to ensure greater good for mankind.

There are similar stories of unsung heroes from all over the world that he uncovers when he types these manuscripts.   The cover page of these books is unknown to him as his contract agency does not disclose those details. 

Unbeknownest to Manjunath, I discovered he was the man who  typed the pirated copy of ‘Chicken soup for the soul at work’ or one such version in the Chicken soup series  for a client from Kenya.  

Manjunath takes pride in the fact that his manuscript is proof read in Kenya and published there. That makes him a qualified international BPO worker.

Many years ago , I was patron of this extremely knowledgable street side hawker who sold the pirated versions of all bestsellers  in the market near Churchgate station in Mumbai. These books were not without their flaws. Sometimes they had the crucial pages of the thriller missing and that could seriouly irritate an engrossed reader. The Pirated books network was suaully so strong that there was literally no bestseller that did not find its way at the pavement shop a few days after ( or sometimes even before)  it was officially released.          
Manjunath and many of his friends make it possible for a wider audience across the third world to read books at throwaway prices on pavements in big cities that others would go to the bookstores to buy.   

I met him when he had come for a job interview and we got talking about his current job as a freelance data entry operator.  It was then that I uncovered some interesting facts during the conversation.  I liked him and his small town optimism.

With a heavy heart, I scribbled a ‘rejected’ onto his interview evaluation sheet.  He could very well have passed our ‘Criminal background check’ required for the job.  But my conscience would have objected.  

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