Feeling the Recession
Recession became a very palpable, feeling, breathing concept in India, when bank after large bank began to take a tumble in the United States. I honestly believe the situation in the US is a making of their own doing, of unfair, unethical and shortsighted trade practices adopted by the companies there, all for a quick buck.
Companies in the US chose to get greedy without considering or accepting the ‘people’ element, which is so central to any business. So the people of the US were sold a dream and when their dream collapsed, so did the company and economy. I watched on with a morbid sense of satisfaction as the predicted happened in the US. But then the effects began to reach us here in India
First we began to read about how large companies were sacking people because they could not afford to pay them. The companies weren’t getting projects thanks to the American recession. Then the situation reached my doorstep, my company. Friends I knew were getting sacked. My days have changed to constant worry that I could be heading towards the same situation as my friends. The thought of unemployment has filled lakhs of us with dread.
I looked around my office and I see the same worry and concern in the eyes of my colleagues, I hear the whispers, the plans. CVs being sent around, and uploaded to job sites.
Should I leave when I can, should I wait, the company may pull through, but then again, what if it doesn’t. Should I take a lower offer, should I choose even an obscure company, would I be letting my company down by leaving? Are some of the issues that fill my mind.
We see all the company heads meeting and trying to figure things out, even while people keep being called, first those who were low on work, then those on contract basis, and put on notice or simply shown the door. Many of my friends were told they weren’t good enough, inefficient or that there was no work for them. I could do little; we who stayed on could do little, as we watched their eyes well up, the anger boil through, the despair and sometimes disgust. I could do little, as their confidence took a beating, I could do little to assuage their pain. I would come home to pray, I still do, that I be safe.
As my heart is filled with dread and sleep eludes me, my close friends try to fill me with hope and positivity, and when I return home each day after a hard days work I mentally tick off yet another day. It’s a small victory that I got through yet another day without being put on notice. Sometimes I feel so like an alcoholic or drug addict whose motto for sobriety is ‘one day at a time’. ‘One day at a time’ is also a hymn, if you Google for it you will find the words, and they’ve so apt for this situation.
When I look around I find a large number of my colleagues require their jobs for the salary, to fulfill their personal commitments. Most of these people are middle class and lower middle class, and they have people who depend on their salary. The fear that follows them and me is that we just can’t take a break in our salaries. Like me a lot of my colleagues come from other places than Bangalore and we need to support ourselves here, or people need to pay of the EMI on their educational loan, housing loan or medical loan.
Working in an alien city, away from our family is stressful enough. Then the expectations at work are also high. People are expected to spend a minimum of nine hours at work. Most spend more because in the best of time we are loaded with work and delivery schedules are determined by the manager. With the economic uncertainty, lakhs of people have been put under further stress. Our stress is further heightened as large Indian companies like Satyam now begin to collapse and there is yet another flush of unemployed labour into the already saturated market.
As I look back at my journey from a quiet, stress free life in a village of Goa to the cities of first, Delhi, and now Bangalore, I cant help but conclude that even though the money out here is good (especially if you know how to use it wisely and this does not include shopping), the price we pay to earn it, in terms of the high level of stress and the effect that it has on our body’s, virtually maxes out the gain.
The only advantage of this entire recession-retrenchment crisis is that it has brought the hoards of working people, more young than old, to their knees before god. Suddenly, we have begun to realize that no matter how hard we work or how much time we spend at the office; our jobs are all in danger, not because our work is not good enough, but because the company just can’t afford to pay us.