Almost a year back, I kept my appointment with my 40th year and as a mammalian trait, I developed an extra love for my tribe of 40-ish man of contemporary India. The love triggered in considering the current and future plight of 40+ professionals of Indian IT industry. My group means normal, decent professionals and not super-bright, super-achievers : in technical skills or political skills.
I heard recently that TCS – one of the largest Indian IT companies had announced a major reduction of existing employees. I think no one knows the underlying mathematical model and Formula 40 of deciding the individuals who are to be ‘sacked’, ‘removed’, or to be labeled as ‘ martys of optimization who sacrificed their job so that the organization can survive and grow’.
Now, I have learnt something called perturbation theory which says that if some process is so complex and you are completely clueless, you assume a formula (as if you know, like let us say x in algebra) and apply the theory to see whether facts fit nicely, reasonably, irrationally or nonsensically.
Let us call this Formula 40
Formula 40 now takes the following structure and process flow
1. 50,000 freshers @ INR 3.5 L per annum = X * (average 40+ professionals with salary of 15 L per annum
2. To balance the equation, we find X = 12,000. I hear that total reduction considered is close to this number. See the power of perturbation theory !
It means that not a single paise in balance sheet will change (other factors remaining same) if 12,000 – 40+ people exit the gates with a non-functional access card is equivalent to 50,000 entry with bi-directional passes. In non-technical terms, if 12,000 40+ employees can be ‘whacked’, 50,000 new and fresh soldiers can be immediately recruited.
Other factors are never the same. Rather the ‘other factors’ is the factor that forced a brilliant employee telling me something like this. I am using the most sublime code ever written by man – rhyme.
When I was one like this 50,000 ; 15 summers back ;
I longed for experience and age for that was the yard-stick.
I longed for the promotion and the hike thereof
I also felt that I have got knowledge and experience enough.
Formula 40 came like a storm, it was after all, a number game
To balance the equation, every person looks all the same.
I have defended my organization a million times to customers fiery,
But I was never taught as how to justify my hiked salary.
I worked hard Sir, slept in the mattress in cold nights in colder climes;
“That is fine for history Sir’, we are are in a different time.
The phone rings and the hand gets frozen.
Colleagues whisper, a crisp as the knife of an assassin, unknown.
The 40+ men of Indian IT industry today were the 2nd wave of people India sent to Western shores first and then a part of them established the IT phenomena in the homeland. For a true historian, this generation of India (which is also my generation) will be recognized and given their due. They faced the following in their flower of youth :
a) barrack some living
b) Ghetto living for the most
c) Back-breaking work schedules and managing the managers who over-committed
d) Cold climate and fighting time zone
This generation is now passing by the inexorable law of historical evolution of the industry and history in general.
For many of the 40+, the call of the optimization assassin will come. This will be as objective as we reject a solution of a differential equation as physically unsuitable for the physical problem we are solving. We do not dislike the solution, we have no hard feeling. It is simply the context of the problem. The Law of Causation is suspended.
The opportunity is to feel this in one’s skin and neural system and to one’s soul.
To the most brilliant group of this 40+ in Indian IT industry
Your temporal organization is not and will never be capable but the judge of history will give your due. You have served the industry and country well. You have upgraded / optimized / redesigned so many processes – external and internal of clients. But you never had the time to ask in such busy-ness : How shall I design my life ? What is the purpose of my life in the broadest sense ? What shall I tell, as the essential essence of my experience to the horde of 50,000 entering in…..
You are finally, you may know or may not, at the tremendous opportunity : The opportunity of being a Li-Der, a Life-Designer.
A handshake in thought and a salute, my generation, my friends, my colleagues !
* I had been an auxiliary foot-soldier of the industry from 1996-2004. Auxiliary : I worked for the industry that helped bits move to and from from Indian shore to Western shores cutting across ionosphere and exosphere, oceans through fibre optic cables and through potable radios. I also supported customers for an Internet account called shell account, i.e. Internet through a window which is only available now in the command prompt window with black screen and a strangely white text. I was a telecom-wallah.