Thursday, April 15, 2010


I have been working for more than thirty years and now on the verge of retirement I realize that I will have to continue working for another 3 decades to get the type of salaries that are offered to new MBA aspirants fresh out of “B” schools.

I vaguely remember during my college days some bright students- escape by way of scholarships or some tough cramming into the IIT to get into a technical position or like some others who by some decisive self interested act pass the IAS as then their prospects in the marriage market soars and comments like’” he is getting a four figure salary” which meant Rs.1000/ a month. A cab from the airport to town would cost more than that, my salary in 1972 was a princely sum of Rs. 350/, a long way off from the magic four figure/digits, and many years later when it became 8 digits we were delighted. Now I wince on discovering the disconcerting pay packets that are bandied around. I can’t remember how many zeros constitute these new CTC (cost to company) emoluments that are handed out liberally to management graduates and software professionals these days. Even the petro dollar Gulf countries cannot match these astronomical salaries. What recession, what downturn are we talking about?

Two years in a “B” school and it’s a dream world out there big cars, concepts, merger and acquisition deals, dinners and a huge wad of money at the end of the month, not to mention the ESOP’s that are distributed like confetti. Were we all Saps in our mid thirties? Trying to survive as a whole and independent executive with dislocations and painful separations from family and friends.. I had to eat my guts out to meet the annual targets, no time for sabbaticals, or partying with my old gang, just business cocktails and dinners adding pounds in the middle and pre-mature ageing. No gym, no workouts, no juice or salad bars, just a woeful scowl that signifies serious business intent.

There are a lot of old timers like me, still hard at work trying to save enough moolah at the end of their tenure to buy a decent apartment in Bombay. Our blood, sweat and tears have slowly vaporized in many outfits as we now await the “axe effect” I wish we had venture capitalists in those days then we could have sold our start ups and surfed the net all day long. Now we have to think twice before even entering a Starbucks for a meal.

Sometimes I envy Shyam a bright and avid boy who grew up in rural town but found the globalization unsettling and was forced to live off paychecks from his parents. He lived a tremendous and tragic life, battling the curse of alcohol for most of his short life. His hauntingly wonderful and tragically limited life has spawned a generation of similar stereotypes from the baby boomers generation, who have become a template for many Keralites who do not believe in a white or blue collar jobs nor employment during their lifetime and neither migrated to the red brigade so prevalent in Gods own country. The landscapes of our youth, with its old fashioned manners and mores of lifetime employment are gone and we cannot sit in judgment of the new world order where everything is outsourced to a third party. So it is the journey that matters, not the rewards or destination. Life itself is the path and goal we must tread carefully lest our carbon footprints pollute this order.

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