Several years ago I tutored an Indian man who had lived in the United States for more than 20 years. What he wanted to do was to change his accent. Although he was a naturalized American citizen and had clearly mastered English, he was starting his own business in San Diego and wanted to sound more 'American,' especially on the phone. He believed that when people heard his "Indian" accent, they were more likely to dismiss him or his product.
Later, I realized what he was talking about as last year, I had to deal with several customer support people for last minute flight and hotel cancellations. (Unexpectedly, my husband had to be hospitalized.) By the end of my conversations, I was feeling angry and frustrated with the representatives of the airlines and hotel who were obviously not speakers of American English and were likely "outsourced" employees of these companies. They sounded like "Indians," but even more irritating was that their expressions were obviously rehearsed (constant repetition of the same lines) and sometimes inappropriate. I didn't feel that they fully understood my English, and I certainly didn't understand a third of theirs.
Since the many Englishes of the world are a focus of this blog, I'm presenting some of the links I visited recently on the topic of Indian (African, Asian, etc.) English. A recent article in The Times of India concerns the plight of Indian English speakers.
As a result of all this interest in speaking a 'standard' English, however, there are lots of employment opportunities for British and American ESL teachers equipped to instruct accent reduction courses. Here's a link discussing what is meant by "accent neutralization" or reduction. Working on accents is big business now because of all the outsourcing of phone sales agents to other countries. There are many tech-support centers based in India (click here) which are trying to cope with the problem of producing agents that have mild accents and appropriate sociolinguistic skills to handle phone talk.
There has been some backlash to the pressure on Indians to change their accents, and I ran across one blog suggesting that Indian English should be recognized as a major English of the world and that Indians should not have to adjust their accents to suit our ears.
Finally, I offer you an amusing 1.5 minute clip of Peter Sellers imitating various British accents on 'YouTube' and a more serious discussion of the variety of English accents from the British Library's collection. You can spend a lot of time here delving into the library's various links and listen to different accents while reading transcripts.