Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Even if pigs could fly… – The answer to the call centers + Sanjaya theory [updated with videos]

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As many of our readers are probably aware, people who care about such things are starting to think that Sanjaya Malakar is still on American Idol because call centers in India are voting for him (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Personally, I did not have a problem with this theory. Opinions are like… , everyone has one. But sometimes, opinions aren’t harmless; sometimes, they are tinged with the bitterness of bias and ignorance, which is not surprising when anything involves a concept or phrase as loaded as “call centers”. Our post on Malakar was picked up by a few other, more widely-read blogs. Well, that’s nothing short of delightful. That’s what’s so special about the blogosphere, that viral velocity. But that very aspect of blogging also transported our little minnow Uberdesi to the relatively vast fishbowl LA, the gossip blog from MediaBistro.com. Dream come true, right? Wrong. The snarky aquarium dwellers went on to call out our post as “suspicious”.

This did not sit well with me or our other resident bloggers.

What follows should inspire you to doubt that this blog and/or Indian call center workers have anything to do with Sanjaya’s continued fortune.

Before we begin, a few things should be made clear.

Yes, everyone who blogs here at UD is South Asian and we left our respective Motherlands a long time ago. Except for Santosh, none of the resident bloggers watch AI or care about Sanjaya’s performance. Santosh, who regularly blogs about this topic, watches AI because he has shite taste in entertainment and more relevantly, it gives him material.

So, bearing all that in mind, there are a few crucial facts that are relevant to this issue.

First off, AI cannot be broadcast LIVE in India. Everything is time-delayed and the fact that in India, AI is being played on another network (Star World) besides the one it actually comes from (Fox) should hint at that. Star World on its website claims that the show is broadcast live, but its online programming guide proves otherwise.

It is highly improbable for a T.V. to be present in a call center environment; do you watch reality programming when you are at your job? Even if there is a T.V. that did broadcast an American Channel, AI would be broadcast at the wee hours of the morning.

The time difference would mean that the show should be available at approximately 6:30 / 7:30 A.M. for it to be live. But from Star World’s online schedule it plays at 10 am on Thursday, which makes it 11:30 P.M. Central Time and at 8 P.M. on Wednesday, which would be 9:30 P.M Central Time Tuesday night. This also happens to be the busiest time for call centers, considering the calls they have to make to the west coast. Think of all those telemarketing calls you receive every night when you sit down at the dinner table; if those cunning Indians were stuffing a virtual ballot box for someone who isn’t even really one of their own, would they have time to annoy you?

As far as I know, the voting lines are only open for a couple of hours, again, the very hours that are considered peak times for most call centers. Why would someone running a business allow his or her resources to be used for something other than making money?

Assuming for a minute that the above things were not true and that call centers in India do get a live feed of American Idol, the fact that thousands of phone calls were being made to the same 1-800 number would not go unnoticed. At approximately 50 rupees to a U.S. Dollar, for a massive, grassroots campaign like the one which is possibly being “suspiciously organized” by this blog to actually occur, it would cost employers the equivalent of a few days pay for every employee to pull off this kind of a stunt.

Call center initiation
You think these people are voting for Sanjaya? They can’t even keep themselves dry.
Image from Caption-this.com

Additionally, call centers are very strict about monitoring calls made by employees. Given that most of these companies are audited by third party firms, no one would want to lose their clients (i.e. the American companies who have hired them) to skew results of a reality show. If this does not convince you, recall the various identity theft cases in India: do you still think American companies are not going to monitor calls being made?

Considering all this, there are only two possible things that could be happening.

1) Viewers here in North America are voting against the Judges or they want to vote for the underdog.

2) Someone has hired a call center or two in India to vote for Sanjaya, which from the above should prove unlikely..

Either way, I barely care, about reality shows, their contestants or the viewers who obsess about such things. What I do care about is the unproven assertion that those devious, foreign call centers are responsible for yet another activity which harms “real Americans”. If a fish tank can weakly call us out for being “suspicious”, Uberdesi can respond in kind. The difference is, the nefariousness we sense– unlike the inconsequential outcome of a television show– has real and painful repercussions, for Sanjaya and everyone who looks like or allegedly votes for him.

I have to thank Paru for helping me edit, verify and correct this post.



If you need more proof, feel free to check out our country based stats for 2007.

And she decides to starve to vote Sanjaya out.

Another person decides to join the hunger strike.

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  • That falls on the borderline between ridiculous and hilarious. People do have a lot to say against others. Let them be.

  • We can't prevent any opinions of the people. As long as they are not offensive to others, then why not?

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