Monday, March 16, 2009

Recession REBUKE

I had always nurtured the idea of getting paid for writing. Am writing this blog article while am getting paid, using my office infrastructure. Well this is not exactly my version of getting paid for writing but is not that bad either. A couple of weeks ago I decided to quit the company (Which I had joined a couple of months ago), and unfortunately uttered about it over the phone to my parents. Immediately my phone which was getting accustomed to the local sim card and newfound silence was abuzz with calls from Mumbai. I patted my back for shifting from roaming sim card to a local one now I didn’t have to pay for receiving calls.
“What the fu***”s and “Are you crazy”s along with “You are digging your own grave”s were thrown at me packaged in probably all permutations and combinations of emotions available. Considering the fact that I was just a couple of months old in the company it was an expected reaction, however what bothered me was the appending statement which came along with the convincing and cajoling. It is recession and under the current market scenario where will you find a job?
Given my conceited thought process and opposition to the concept of “conventional” career-pursuit for upgrading nuisance and renaming it as lifestyle, I always was annoyed with such remarks. Moreover this time there was a new tool in the armor of the anxious complacent people, “The recession”. I decided to write about it finally when my auto-rickshaw driver delivered a 15 minutes monologue over recession while returning from office one afternoon.
Now I am not an economist, however common-sense is a trusted ally.
Ancient civilizations witnessed barter. Resources were exchanged amongst individuals or group of individuals to cater each others needs because over a period of time individuals and group of individuals developed traits specializing in accumulation of those particular resources. With an upward trend in the population, standardization of the resources to be exchanged took place and post certain up gradations in civilizations currency came into picture. As empires and nations engulfed races/ ethnicities and transformed them into nationalities, currencies were standardized based on the resources owned by these territorial formations.
Currency was thus efforts in transit. With the advancement in organization of sectors hordes of people came together and companies became prominently visible entities thus setting up channels which distributed resources as well as seeped in the needs. Globalization widened the pool of opportunities which circulated these resources and needs.
If you observe, business or trade across the planet is propelled by 2 drivers viz. Needs and Emotions. Needs and emotions are eternal in nature and will surpass the existential plain only with the elimination of the last thinking mortal. Untoward scenarios are propelled by the fluctuations in the resources and / or crumbling of the channels viz. Nations or Corporations .However these fluctuations are temporary.

But the murky times have their characteristic traits.

Then: A couple of decades ago such scenarios were a bit different. I still remember a lay-off being discussed in my father’s company causing tensions at home, however those tensions pertained only because a new job meant a change in the well established eco-system at the work place and if worse enough, residence. Though, life wrecking situations had resulted even then, when certain production firms collapsed or probably during the infamous Mumbai Textile mills strike; education guaranteed a stable career. Under-educated or uneducated workers did face the brunt. Amongst the distant relatives on one of those “must” trips I would be introduced to “uncles” of the age-group of anywhere between 35 & 50 who all shared a similar body language. While their respective spouses would welcome us cheerfully, these men would be sitting in their drawing rooms wearing remorse on their faces and would give us a Luke-warm welcome while watching TV in their striped shorts and armed baniyans. Later on I would be educated that those were the ones who had lost their jobs or refused PF because of the company going bankrupt or the ones who were forced to take voluntary retirement.
Now: This time around the scenario is opposite. The targets have exchanged their seats. A sense of desperation can be sniffed in the air. Highly educated and the intelligentsia are at the receiving end. The crisis has subscribed to a communist approach by giving a taste of depression to the class which was deprived of the thrill a few decades ago. Though the situation is not so bad at the moment, but the warning has reached well with the current cream-de la cream, that it could be worse. Sullen faces are common and a sense of “humanity” seemed to be prevalent with even the security guards and canteen boys being smiled at. Addicted to a hi-fi lifestyle a little step down now is unimaginable. Moreover inflated household budgets and “must-have” possessions have resulted in partially paid loans adding to the stress. Decades ago the problem was under education, this time it is over specialization. Those in the IT industry for example specialize over such narrow domains (say a certain technology) that during such periods if a pink slip is received, not so pink times ahead are to be faced. Young in huge numbers are being trained in technologies which are of little relevance in our own country.
The major difference if you observe between now and then is that, this time around if an economic knockout is delivered it will be very difficult to regain the position in the game because then our hardworking pawns had clashed and this time around clouds of trouble murk over the royal knights and queens. A blow at the moment is unlikely but if received will be devastating. With many MS, MBAs & engineers sitting jobless, the qualifications are loosing their worth and the education system its credibility.

What is the reason behind this chaos?
India has a higher rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three (46% in year 2007) than any other country in the world. Despite significant economic progress, 1/4 of the nation's population earns less than the government-specified poverty threshold of $0.40/day. Official figures estimate that 27.5% of Indians lived below the national poverty line in 2004-2005. A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) found that 77% of Indians, or 836 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day with most working in "informal labor sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty."
The above data clearly indicates that the largest employment generating sector viz. Service Sector is catering to markets outside the national perimeters. Moreover these 80% of the people who could be tremendous sources of needs and generate humungous business are currently functioning as a heavy anchor which is restricting the cruise of the economic vessel of the nation.

At the moment we are focusing at the height of the tower rather than the base. We are keeping a track of speed rather than stability.

The Vedic principle of “Vasudevam-Kutumbakam” gains revived significance in today’s scenario. The principle literally means one world family. It involves escalation of our selfish efforts to the domain of selfless service. Only when the largest resource owned by the country viz. Human resource is empowered will we reap the benefit of robust growth. This will itself ensure the boosting of agro as well as the production sectors. With 800 million empowered human force, economic leadership will be a matter of time.But that would require our coming out of our comfort zones.
Nations like people have their Karmas. Its time for us to subscribe to our own Vedic principles of universal brotherhood because destiny always doesn’t give signals before striking.

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