Outsourcing Paperwork

Erica Westly is fascinated by India’s typists-for-hire:

I suspect that the perversion of doing office work in the open air was part of the appeal. I also liked how the sidewalk stalls transformed what was normally an isolating profession into a social activity. Sidewalk typists interact with the community directly, and their work matters in an immediate sense. In India, which consistently ranks as one of the most bureaucratic countries in the world, paperwork is an unavoidable part of life. Even seemingly minor purchases and service requests, such as hiring an electrician, can involve filling out forms, sometimes in multiple languages. Most Indian typists can type in English and at least one official Indian language, of which there are more than 20 besides Hindi. Some of the typists’ customers are illiterate, but most simply lack the equipment and expertise to type up the forms they need themselves.

(Photo by Flickr user Padmanaba01)