(Note to readers: We want to hear from you about IBM’s pending layoffs and the offshoring jobs issues. Send comments to rsmith@wral.com)

Research Triangle Park, N.C. – The growing media buzz about looming layoffs and massive restructuring at IBM isn’t igniting much sympathy for U.S. workers in India where many IBM jobs apparently will be shipped.

“Wake up and smell the … Darjeeling,” the Times of India quoted one blogger as writing about Big Blue’s U.S. workforce.

Darjeeling is an exquisite black tea – from India.

Added another: "Well, it is ‘International’ Business Machines after all. I think a good case can be made that if the company wants to do more business in India, Russia, Brazil, etc, then it would be a good idea for it to hire more people in these countries."

IBM certainly is doing the hiring overseas, especially in India.

Indian media reported on Tuesday that IBM now employs 53,000 people in that huge country. That’s one sixth of IBM’s workforce and the largest concentration of Big Blue workers outside of the 125,000 or so in the U.S.

Don’t forget, either, that the largest concentration of IBM employees in the U.S., is right here in the Triangle – some 11,000.

But that number could take a hit later this month. Rumors circulating inside IBM have pegged May 29 as the day on which the company will launch a new round of layoffs. Alliance@IBM, a fledgling union seeking to represent IBM workers, is predicting 12,000 layoffs with most coming in May and June. Those cuts will follow 1,300 announced last week.

But bigger changes may be in store with a “LEAN” program as reported by writer Robert Cringely proceeding to carve out much of the U.S. workforce in IBM’s Global Services unit.

Some critics have dismissed Cringely’s report, one calling it “hogwash.”

However, sources are telling WRAL Local Tech Wire that major changes are taking place – and Big Blue employees know that if they are caught talking about them to the media they will likely be fired.

Meanwhile, IBM Chief Executive Officer Samuel Palmisano was in India on Tuesday touting the company’s $6 billion expansion plan in that country that he launched last year.

India media noted more than once that Palmisano avoided contact with reporters.

However, he did deliver a speech that focused on, ironically, openness.

The Economic Times noted that Palimasno spoke to a group of CEOs at a “closed-door meeting.” Points of emphasis in his speech, The Times said, included expertise and openness.

“To cause work to flow to you – to your nation, to your region, to your city – you must have an attractive business environment and increasingly, a vital element of that is openness,” Palmisano said, according to The Times.

IBM certainly is open to the idea of growing its India presence.

The question many IBM workers in the U.S. and Europe (which are said to be on the job chopping block, too) are asking: “Is my job among those being offshored to the land of Darjeeling?”