The Outsourced Security Guards of Bangalore

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According to the India Ink blog article titled “Outsourcing Security as Bangalore's Police Force Shrinks,” written by Saritha Rai (2014) and recently featured on the New York Times website, the city of Bangalore, India is outsourcing a large percentage of its police force; primarily its security guards. According to the article, there is a large security presence in Bangalore, even though the city's actual police force is quite small in comparison to other cities of similar size. The reason for this is that there are companies that are bringing people in from outside of Bangalore to do security work for very cheap. Many of these outsourced guards are not given the same benefits as legitimately contracted security workers, and they work nonstop for what little they do get. Calling them “private armies” this article discusses the massive security force that now amounts to around 300,000 guards that have been recruited as part of “a haphazardly run cottage industry that recruits the elderly, who can be hired for less money, or that brings in labor from distant states. The imports are untrained and ill at ease and cannot speak the local language, Kannada” (Rai, 2014).

The police force of Bangalore is less than a third of that of New York City's police force and so these “private armies” have been a response to the shrinking police force, the rise in Bangalore's population, and what is referred to by some as a “symbolic token of power” (2014). By having seven or eight security guards standing watch at the headquarter establishments of such multi-national corporations like Google or IBM, the interests of these companies are being protected. If each security officer outsourced for the job were to be paid a mere $200 for an entire month's labor, as is the case of the security guard highlighted in this article, then it would not cost these companies very much at all to fill their buildings with security guards. As for whether or not it is ethical for these powerful companies to exploit the Indian public by paying them deflated wages to protect their own multi-million dollar companies is not made entirely certain (as is the case with companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds), for many of those hired as guards doubtlessly feel that any employment is better than none at all.

Financially, taking part in the hiring of “private armies” of security guards is a no-brainer as far as a company like Google is concerned. The situation in Bangalore allows for an immense presence of security to be communicated by the outfits who take on the services of these hundreds of thousands of guards working there. It is hard to tell if these companies are truly better off due to the massive security forces protecting their brick-and-mortar establishments or if they are merely exploiting Indian citizens to put off a facade of security. For example, these guards are supposed to keep salesmen from entering these buildings, and yet it is implied in this article that getting around these guards is just part of the job of those truly efficient at selling. So even if the cost of having hundreds of security guards present at a company's establishments amounts to pennies in comparison to the massive revenues created by multi-million-dollar companies, it may be that this security force is still yet an unneeded cost.

What a company would have to consider when deciding whether to begin hiring their own “private armies” to stand guard at their establishments would depend on a few things. Although outsourced security forces are relatively cheap, to have these guards working to guard one's headquarters would require that company to have plenty of extra revenue to spend on such things. It would also have to be determined if whether the presence of these security guards will be enough in preventing infiltrations that might end up costing the company money. That immense size of the private Bangalore security force may be disproportionate to the amount of actual crime that is legitimately thwarted as a result of their presence. In which case, having a private security team becomes not so much about protecting interests, but rather the conspicuous display of security guards by the companies that are rich enough to afford human status symbols of security to stand outside of their buildings and let the people of Bangalore know who has the most power and expendable income.

Reference

Rai, Saritha. (April 4, 2014). Outsourcing security as Bangalore’s police force shrinks. Retrieved from http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/04/outsourcing-security-as-bangalores-police-force-shrinks/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0