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Thursday, October 20, 2011

IT glory!

An old boy of mine, who has been working for a top-of-the-line IT company for nearly two years, has written bitterly about his experience here. It makes me sad, firstly because I love the boy, and secondly because, despite this being the ground reality, millions of parents all around this country are still drumming it into the minds of their teenage children that they must 'study science' to the exclusion of all other subjects, then sit for the engineering entrance exams, then get a 'good' job - only to end up in this state of disillusionment and misery in their mid-20s: after which, if they blame their parents for ruining their lives, the parents would give the lame excuse that they only did what 'everybody' said was best for their child. The post also gives a glimpse of the sordid reality behind India's so-called success story. It takes a brave young man to confess the truth publicly. I hope a lot of my readers will not only visit that blogpost, but also comment here, saying  they now understand what I warn them about and against, though I know how unpopular it makes me with their parents who supply me with my daily bread...


Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda

I read Subho’s post and empathise with him. Though I am not an engineer, but after having been in corporate world for lot more time than Subho has been, I would say sadly the situation is largely similar everywhere. In fact, in consulting where I belong since the number of chargeable hours you put in directly generates revenue for your company the routine can be tremendously over bearing for anyone. Unless the employees adjust their lifestyle to these demands, it is absolutely difficult to progress. I have faced, struggled in such scenarios.”

In most Asian countries – China, Japan, Singapore – it is like this. Bad routine, unattainable targets, great expectations! The situation is not just restricted to engineering firms. Companies have literally unattainable monetary targets to achieve with limited resources and accordingly everyone is put through these dirty practices.

However, the point number 2 is simply unique to India. I have seen that always in ALL offices I have worked in India. I remember in one of my ex-workplaces, senior people used to go out for “chai-samosa” at around 5 Pm and spend till 6.30 pm outside expecting the junior to wait for them to get things reviewed. The review will start at around 7 pm and end at 9 pm. This was so disgusting. Then in another, my senior used to request me to allow him to play video games in my computer. I of course refused, but could not really understand why he will want to do that. And you know, I have worked in some of the big MNCs. This kind of things are very difficult to fight.

People exploit their positions much more in India, thus dirtying the office for their juniors.

I feel sad for Subho but wish him well.



Rajdeep said...

Having worked in the same industry for almost two years in the recent past, I understand Shubho's anguish. In fact he has put everthing all too clearly and there is nothing much to add. This "shining sector" will continue to "shine" in this way for quite some time.

Regarding Tanmoy's comment, most Asian companies are mainly interested in cost cutting and not hiring of brains. But all this is done under the garb of beautiful words like talent search, internationalization etc. But the only qualifications actually required are to please the boss and work for as low wages as possible for the longest hours. Am sure it helps billing those hours to the clients. Nice business cycle, isn't it!
Unattainable monetary targets are understandable in this scenario. Picture a mule with a load too heavy to carry and the driver whipping it. No use blaming the mule though. And the mule must be grateful that he has work. That is the only sliver of hope. A lot of people are getting jobs and hence a salary at the end of the month. That is often a big thing for many. The real talents go elsewhere if they are lucky or are lost in the crowd of mules. After all they look the same don't they!
I don't have anything against mules and have only tried to use it figuratively.

TheBluntBlogger said...

I have been in the industry for 8 years and Ihave had both positive and negative experiencesn some of the challenges mentioned here are seen in other day to day non-IT jobs as well. Office politics is unavoidable. I have seen politics even between school teachers at school. One need to learn the tactics...earning money is jot easy in today's world.

I respect your POV,I have been through such stages as well. I hope you are not using office network for this purpose and abusing boss on an open forum. It may lead to breach of HR policies

This is the comment I posted. As Tanmoy mentioned some are Indian traits...and some happen almost in every office or job.

Sunup said...

Poor Subho, one can sense his dejection by going through his post. It's just a matter of one's luck/fate I guess. The whole IT industry can't be stereotyped though. It all depends on the company you are working in -- specifically the project that you are under. Some projects have such unrealistic goals and deadlines that they would invariably drive the employees to deep depression and desperation. While some are so relaxing that you would feel that you are among the luckiest in the world. Then there are some projects which are very challenging and keeps the hard worker on his/her toes. Some others are so plain and lame that even high school students with some amount of training would be able to maintain and run those. People who end up in such projects, the ones who are genuinely ambitious and had big dreams, soon gets frustrated. The ones, for whom just the pay cheque counts, wouldn't mind though. Things also depend on the nationality of firms. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese firms are sweatshops in a way. Though they pay you well they would ensure that you have no personal life of your own! I have friends in Huawei, ZTE, Samsung etc. (all in India centers), who practically have no work-life balance. The only thing that keeps them there are their big pay packets that feed their even bigger EMIs.
And regarding the attitude of managers, it's a common Indian trait I guess. Indians, in whatever field they are -- IT, ITES, armed forces, medical and government services, teaching etc.-- are all the same when it comes to showing their superior attitude towards people working under them, back-biting, gossiping, illegal activities, finding fault with others while regarding themselves spotless and so on.
I feel that most parents pushed/push their kids towards science and engineering because they themselves had a laid back and easy life (or have seen their superiors having such a life), and would have thought that their kids too would enjoy such a life if they took to engineering and a career in the corporate world. Alas, the world has changed a lot and it's a cut-throat world that we are living in. My father would often say that during his stint with the erstwhile Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation, Durgapur unit, spanning from 1972 through 2002, there were hardly some 5 years put together when there was any serious work for him or his colleagues. Same would hold good for most of the heavy public sector units running in those days. It was all 'no work and all pay', and he was frank enough to admit it.
The ones who do not take up science and engineering aren't a better lot by any means though. I know a guy who post-graduated in Economics, did his MPhil and got a good enough UGC-NET score. But still wasn't able to land a good (permanent) teaching position, for educational institutions nowadays find it economical to hire lecturers on contract, often paying them a pittance. Finally he ended up in the banking sector, as a branch manager with ICICI, posted in a Tenkasi town, Tamil Nadu. During 2010 Akshaya Tritiya, his South Zone regional manager gave him a real unrealistic target -- to sell 15 Kgs of gold! All his branch could sell was a measly 150 grams. Months later ICICI held one of its regular zonal managers meeting at a 5-star hotel in Bangalore, where the regional manager abused the ‘under-achievers’ in the choicest language in public!
It's just the times that we live in. The ones who get an opportunity to realize their dreams, who do what they really love to do, are unfortunately too few in number.


Rajarshi said...

Dear Sir,

While I fully empathize with this young man, as pointed out by Tanmoy and others above, this is something which happens in all sectors and has always happened (I have heard stories from my father's days as well). IT is simply the favourite whipping boy (simply because it is also the poster boy). It's nothing but a typical Indian trait, as pointed out by Tanmoy.

However, after spending more than 6years in this industry and having gone through this phase of disillusionment, I feel that it is unfair to paint the whole industry with the same brush. I have personally worked with good managers and colleagues, who have become good personal friends. But yes, the initial idealism to do something really meaningful, does end up into hardened cynicism over a period of time. Just as it is in case of most of the professions, with a probably a couple of exceptions like teaching, medicine, civil services and there too only the most resilient and mavericks survive and retain the purity of purpose over a period of time.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Well, Shubho, I must say I am sorry that so few wrote in to say some understanding and sympathetic words, and the few who did went little beyond clicking their tongues... I think we are congenitally cruel or at least callous unless it's our own feelings or those within the family circle that are hurt, when we wax eloquent and indignant (and, strange to say, expect public sympathy as no more than our due!). Maybe a lot of us even take a sneaking pleasure in knowing that other people are unhappy. In future, you might think of sharing your unhappiness within a small private circle, instead of airing it in public.

Sayan Roy said...

I am a student right now and far junior than the others who have expressed their views about their similarly unpleasant realities in the world of jobs.I want to say something which I hope almost every student and ex-student of Suvro sir shall agree with.For several years on and on,sir has been telling us the same thing over and over about the much-hyped "corporate life".He had in the past made us aware of it by telling us many similar experiences of ex-students like Shubho-da. All we did was to listen and forget it after a while,until we happened to collide heads-on into a wall of 'rude awakening'.
I DO NOT intend to say that Shubho-da and others of his ilk did not pay heed to any prior information about the reality.They must have had their own aims and plans to make for a good life.What I mean to say is that,there are some friends of mine who are currently working in the private sector as engineers,working very hard,being treated dismally but still manage to gloat over their 'positions' as something of a prized possession.They bray about their salaries and the braying becomes still louder with words such as "in a few months' time,I shall be absorbed as an assistant manager!" I hope sir understands which of his ex-students I mean by the above comments!
SHUBHO-da,I am glad that you have poured out your heart honestly and bravely,but I am shocked at some of my friends who can still hypocritically claim, within their sympathetically small groups consisting of their proud parents,relatives and others,that they are not disillusioning them into believing themselves!
---- Sayan Roy.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you for publicly acknowledging what I have been trying to do for so many years, Sayan. Hundreds of others should have done so, but they either don't have the courage, or the honesty, or the 'time'. I hate to let young people grow up to be bitterly disillusioned, and so I try all I can to prevent it, within my very limited capacity: they should, at least, go ahead with eyes wide open, and be able to accept the rough patches because they were forewarned. Goading children to work for 'success' by feeding them with daydreams which are bound to shatter sooner or later is the cruellest thing we as parents and teachers can do.

And yes, I know exactly which of your friends you have in mind. Tolerate and ignore them with a smile... poor chaps, they and their parents cannot live without clinging to self-delusion. But don't let them convince you that they deserve your admiration and respect. Recall that the wag said 'Even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat'!

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

thx Subho for expressing my pain and frustration, of which I don't have the courage or the 'enthu' to rant about any more.

I am a batch-mate of Suvro, and got into the IT/Software scene late for the lure of money and glamor.

Now, I don't even care enough about this shit to write a few lines or talk for a few minutes.

Shubho said...

There is nothing to be sorry about so few people leaving comments on my post Sir. Some of the reasons why people may not comment here are:

1. Unlike me, a certain section of people is frightened that their supervisors may see their comments here by chance and that may ultimately lead them into trouble.

2. There is another class who have just gone through my post, and after finding the harsh reality something quite difficult to digest they have just forced themselves into believing that it is rubbish, and they are better off mentally if they do not think of all this stuff. Whenever a person starts to think, worries follow, and ultimately frustration is the result. Not many people have got the courage to accept facts. Enslavement is something that Indians have learnt to accept with glee from the time of the British rule in India. Accepting the fact that one is a slave causes frustration, so it is better to shirk such thoughts.

3. The third section of 'happy slaves' is busy showing off status in the form of cars and houses and bank balance. Those are morons. They will not understand what I have written. They cannot think - they find life in the IT sector a luxury. The less said about them, the better!

Dipanwita Shome said...

Yes, I find Shubho’s blog post extremely familiar. I am not a whit happy that I find it so, but I do, what to do.
One of my dear friends has in desperation begun making frequent calls to my house. The reason, I imagined, was rediscovered and augmented camaraderie, but no, I realise now from his own admissions that it is the voices from his job that he is trying to drown when he seeks company and noise. Shubho’s “superior” boss is no more unique. He seems to be everywhere flitting like some sort of demon, from company to company, ruining scores. But worse is the state of a brother of mine.
I stay away from home in a different city. Often, this brother would ring me to say that he was in town meeting Shiela Dixit or in Bihar meeting Shibu Soren and the like. But, every time I asked him if he could meet me when in Delhi, he declined saying that he was terribly busy with the ministry. I, foolish as I am, believed everything he said. This continued for over a year and I continued to believe in the astronomical sum that he said he brought home each month, the number of women followers he had, the meeting room that was named after him, and such others. In retrospect, it surprises me that I could never catch the lies; I am generally not so naive.
My brother spoke about friends owning BMWs and Mercedes sedans and farm houses and homes in Sainik Farms, sporting revolvers—obviously, both wish fulfillment and a desire to let out frustration. Since then, he has got married to an excellent girl only to divorce her in a month, he has not been able to sustain a single relationship within or outside his family. The two of us too, talk no more.
He refuses to take the world on from his original vantage point. He is scared and completely unwilling to give himself up, either to us or to another human being in the deepest relationship possible. But, he earns quite a bit still. And he is still caught in the same company/industry. In this race he has been left with the intelligence and education to run again and again in that same rat race.

Dipanwita Shome said...

My brother has studied his subject only and well, and he has studied it, I know, because he had to land a quick job. His father was a nincompoop. My aunt brought him up on rice, dal and one tomato per meal. She herself sold sarees from door to door. This has me refer to Sir’s most recent blog post: India, twenty years after—no onus on a “new outburst of creativity of the highest order … encouraged, equally in the sciences and the arts…” , no systematic growth of any of the other branches of study or employment leading to a lucrative career both of the intellect and otherwise.
Many of the thousands of boys and girls who step into the IT industry every year, or so my friends in the IITs and NITs tell me, are from poorer families like my brother’s. Their fates seem sealed till GNP spells per capita income parity in this country. But what about the rest? What is wrong with the parents? Why do they pretend that a brother like mine won’t happen to a child of theirs? Why do they always wonder where the flowers have gone? Why can’t they act in advance? My father, a technocrat, tried the same with me, I resisted and so did my sister. If any child is reading this comment, remember that this quick fix, if at all a fix, is only one of the options available. Work a little harder, work a little longer, and you could be working hard and living harder. I do.

shrestha pal said...

Dear sir,
unlike most of the parents my parents didn't force me to take up science for which I am very grateful to them .But some of my relatives keep on telling my father that he has made a great mistake by not forcing me to take up science.If it had been so that their sons and daughters whould have been doing really great by taking up science then there would have been a point. But if a chemical engineer does the job of a "computer enjineer" and gets Rs10,000 per month and their famaly is proud about it , I can see really no point in taking up science if i don't want to .

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Strange spelling of 'family' Shrestha, but thank you for commenting.

You've got my point just right. Whose purpose is served by forcing unwilling young people into the kind of studies which don't even - on the average - hold out great career prospects anyway? All these millions of parents will say 'But at least this way they've got some way to make a living', as though they have taken it for granted that all their children are morons, and deserve nothing better. The really wonderful thing is their weird snobbery - that even if the son has graduated with engineering from some third rate college and is doing an utterly nondescript job for a fairly pathetic salary, he (and they-) should be accorded some social status for being 'successful'! And that success justifies stifling all the talents those children might have been born with... precisely the reason why India has stopped producing great musicians, artists, writers, teachers, statesmen and scientists a long time ago.

Shubhranka Mondal said...

Let me share another link

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Many thanks for the link, Shubhranka. I hope many of my young readers, who can still choose, will read and ponder over it before burning their boats. Notice that Joseph has at least written about those who go to the IITs: as a rule, IITians, except for the dregs among them, don't go to work in the IT/BPO sector! And also remember that this huge class, despite eventually settling for pretty low paid and highly insecure jobs, go about preening that they have somehow achieved the kind of 'success' that justifies being intellectual morons, cultural dwarfs and moral cretins. In a country where well reputed cooks, mechanics, lawyers and even private tutors earn several lakhs a month, what can you say about a BTech who makes perhaps Rs. 30K and wants the world to acknowledge him as a success story?

Shubhranka Mondal said...

I think,
Despite 'his' ignorance, the world still acknowledges true passion and rewards people who love their work in ways more than what he can even imagine .

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Oh, no, Shubhranka, this 'he' we are talking about is not ignorant, he simply chooses to live in denial. Do you think he has not heard of Sachin and Aamir and Rehman, and has never encountered tutors who earn ten times what he does, and businessmen who make at least a hundred times more? He pretends very hard to himself that they don't exist or somehow don't count, because it would be too painful for him to admit that their very existence indicates either that he is a moron or that he got his priorities wholly wrong very early in his life, thanks most probably to his parents, friends and some schoolteachers who didn't know better!