Monday, July 7, 2008

The real Brain Drain

Hire them young and hire them all – this has been the common tag line of some of India’s leading software companies. And so, I am here, sitting comfortably inside a mammoth glass and steel structure staring straight into the flat screen in front of me all day along only because at the end of every month, not a day before or after, my account will be credited with a bunch of notes.
So, what is wrong in providing employment to the youth? Isn’t this supposed to be a sign of a nation’s development? Isn’t it the way to prosperity?
Before we answer those questions, let’s look at some issues involved here.
To start with, there is a problem with the designation- Software engineer. This is very misleading, coz we are not doing anything related to engineering here. All we do day in and out is sit and code, worse still – we detect errors in codes or probably monitor the smooth flow of codes. Now the so called software engineers are churned out by the plethora of private engineering colleges spread across our country. Of late we have seen a surge in the number of such private colleges and students opting for engineering as well. Ask any of these so called techies as to why they opted for the degree and you are most likely going to receive a mundane answer – some as blasphemous as “coz the name engineering sounds good”.
And why is this happening? Obviously the greatest incentive to the whole madness would be the fat pay check that these graduates are offered by the new wave of IT companies. Nothing bad about it except that the jobs they offer does in now way require any lofty degree. Most of the time, it’s only documentation work (read as typing work) which any tom, dick and harry can do. How much does one have to study to actually be able to design html pages – that is to say place the buttons at this end and that end? True it does involve time and effort, but to say that this requires an engineering degree would be preposterous. But then there are jobs that do require thinking and brain working – sadly those kind of work are not in plenty. The bulk of the work is always the little menial work which obviously needs time and effort but in no way warrants any special talent. And what makes it worse is that most of these companies will have no mechanisms to actually channelize talent. For all you know a brilliant coder would be sitting idle doing nothing or some trivial job and yet another guy least interested in the work would be assigned to it. And he obviously will get it done, coz as I said, you don’t really need to have great talent to do those jobs but then the quality would obviously be low when compared to that brilliant coder sitting idle there.
Here is where the problem lies. Not long back, we were talking about brain drain. It was about Indian brains being utilized for non-Indian companies, of course in their lands and thus it was perceived that we were losing out on our precious talents. Worse, we had resources trained using the tax payer’s money not bringing in any bit of revenue to our country. On the contrary, they were bringing in all the riches to other nations. A nayar or Joseph going to states was looked down as something treacherous coz they were denying us of their brain.
But today, we have a different kind of a situation wherein the raju or Jacob is very much there in India. Working here and living here but doing something completely uninteresting and less satisfying. We Indians have always been low on confidence and perhaps that’s why we have been stressing on job security as our primary concern with our employer. During the time of our parent’s it was Government jobs that people were looking forward to. And today it has been replaced with the I.T companies. True, they are providing jobs and they are generating money, but if we look at the larger picture we are only being our own nemesis by resorting to something that is underutilizing our abilities.
Now – this is what I call the new age brain drain – not about our talents being getting used up elsewhere but rather our very own talents suffering right in our land doing nothing but acutely damage their thinking cells.
My target is not the I.T companies. My target is not the bigger MNC’s who outsource this work as well. I am targeting the plethora of college goers who are least worried about what they do to their life. In the name of job, they are ready to accept anything that comes their way without making the slightest of effort to search for one (me included). They are content with the 6 digit figures affixed at the end of a bond paper. Unwilling to think beyond in life, they end up ruining or rather destroying their life doing nothing useful in life.
What say?? Did I strike a chord anywhere??