Meltdown impact: 'It was over in five minutes'http://www.financialexpress.com/news/me ... s/388197/3
Posted: 2008-11-20 09:19:19+05:30 IST
Updated: Nov 20, 2008 at 0919 hrs IST
Sandeep Jadhav, a 27-year-old professional in India’s outsourcing industry, had only seen the good times. He worked hard as a support technician in the local subsidiary of an American software company and took home an annual salary of about Rs 5 lakh.
He frequently bought expensive sarees for his wife, toys for his eight-month-old son and cricket gear for himself, maxing out on his two credit cards. In December, he planned to take a home loan and buy an apartment in the Kanakapura suburbs of Bangalore. Last week on Tuesday, Jadhav was called in by the vice-president of his company, handed a month’s salary and sacked on the spot.
“I signed the letter, took my cheque and walked out without speaking a single word. It was all over in five minutes,” said Jadhav, reliving the moment. The vice-president told him that he was being terminated due to “bad market conditions”.
A nightmare called the “pink slip”, familiar to most Indian workers as something that happens only in the West, has arrived in Bangalore. In this city, one of the world’s hottest outsourcing centres, companies have begun laying off employees and putting a freeze on recruitment. Even campus hiring, a process by which most fresh recruits break into the industry, is at a low. Bangalore is hurting.
Jadhav said he never expected the job situation in the software industry to come to this. In the past years in Bangalore, professionals like Jadhav — personable, articulate and with good spoken English — have been besieged by jobs. While the outsourcing industry has grown at averages of 30 to 35 per cent in recent years, the boom has cascaded into thousands of new jobs for college graduates with sound technical and communication skills.
To be sure, workers took advantage of the explosion by hopping companies, demanding and getting handsome pay jumps. Jadhav has worked in the past for the business process outsourcing firm FirstRing and Dell Financial Services.
But the recent, serial bust-ups in Wall Street and a recessionary US economy has badly hit Indian outsourcing firms. With American companies — their biggest customers — facing an economic dip, outsourcing companies are cutting back and, in turn, choking the job market.
“The scene is really bad and I now realise what my brothers in the United States must be going through,” says Jadhav....
Outsourcing to low-cost countries like India has been a controversial cost-saving measure adopted by Western companies, and has been the source of much heart-burn amongst workers because of the lay-offs. During the recent US election campaign, president-elect Barack Obama declared himself against the practice.
None of this makes any sense to Jadhav’s father, an official with a government-owned bank, who reacted, “I cannot believe this can happen”. Jadhav says his father has worked for the bank for 29 years. He expects to continue working there for the next four before retiring.
Despite being pink-slipped, Jadhav himself holds no grudges against his employer of one-and-half years, Dulles, Virigina-based Everest Software, which makes products for small and medium businesses. “If Yahoo, IBM and Microsoft , all big companies with huge cash reserves can lay off, why not smaller companies which lead a month-to-month existence?” asks Jadhav pragmatically.
In the last few weeks, most of his colleagues in the company have been fired, too. “I was one of the last to be shown the door because I was one of the better performers,” he says.
The slowdown in India’s outsourcing industry, the mainstay of Bangalore’s economy, is showing up in unexpected ways. The city’s restaurants and drinking lounges are reporting a 30 to 50 per cent dip in revenues. A publicly-listed real estate firm has slashed prices of apartments. Others have introduced low-end options. Rush-hour commuters are even talking of de-clogging in the roads during peak times as outsourcing workers prefer taking the company bus or riding a two-wheeler to driving their cars.
In the last week, Jadhav has been frantically surfing the internet and scouring the newspapers in search of a job. He has dispatched his resume to a dozen companies unsolicited. He has fired it off to several placement consultants. He has attended three interviews so far but he has had no luck.
Jadhav may not yet have a job offer but he has a plan. “At the next interview, I am going to say to the company, give me a job, don’t give me a salary. Pay me only after I prove myself. I’m ready to go to that level.”
Jadhav’s wife Debadrita quit her job as a content editor at Yahoo when she became pregnant last year. The couple now has an eight-month old son. Jadhav has...
crossed the overdraft limit on his two credit cards and has run himself into a Rs-70,000 credit card debt. As he describes, “I am quite a spendthrift”. If he does not land a job in the next one month, Jadhav cannot pay his credit card dues and the card company will “come knocking to my door.”
Jadhav’s credit card debt has not found favour with his father whom he describes as his opposite because he abhors loans. “If my father has ten rupees in his pocket, he might consider spending one rupee. But I will spend two rupees if I have one rupee in my pocket,” he describes. Jadhav concedes he will have to change his squandering habits for the sake of his wife and son. His wife might soon start job scouting too.
It has only been a week since he has lost his job and Jadhav says he can manage for the next couple of weeks on his last pay cheque. If he does not find himself work within a month, Jadhav says he will go to his dad and say “zindabad” to his bank. He says how he expects his father to respond: “He will call me shameless!”...