It was a usual GSB wedding ceremony in Udupi, but it was my first attendance to a wedding since seven years. I hate attending wedding ceremonies for a very simply reason that I hate gossips. ‘Who are you?’, ‘What’s your Fathers name?’, ‘What are you doing these days’ (employment they mean), ‘Are you married? When are you getting married? Any girl friends’, these are the sort questions that I hate answering especially when they come in the order I just mentioned. It’s, somehow, embarrassing for me. But as that is natural and I don’t criticize it either. That’s because, if you don’t like things the way it is, I don’t think it you should start condemning it.
However let me tell you something about the marriage proceedings. It was my cousins wedding who is serving as a doctor in Great Britain for over two years. His fianc?e, now his proud wife, had just completed Post Graduate in Journalism. Both, bride as well as groom, hailed from a highly educated family and there was fashion and glamour of the west fairly visible among the masses, present at the wedding, through they wore reasonably good cultural attire.
My community, the way I see it, though has been greatly influenced by the western world and education it is yet to loose its traditional tryst with gossips and if I am analyzing it right they will never denounce it – come what may! And I think it shouldn’t because that’s its very unique distinction, its niche to be precise.
As I had not been in the scene for quite a few years now? every one was behind me, for what I would like to call ‘Interrogation Session’. They wanted to know my whereabouts. And why shouldn’t they? They have all rights to know, now that I am in their domain. If I haven’t missed my calculation I might have had answered over 123 questions. However, there was yet another relative of mine who had very recently completed his education in Engineering. He was indeed a bright chap and had scored first class mechanical engineering degree. Due to some reason he wasn’t able to get into a good company besides he also refrained from joining a silly company and instead was trying a seat in various management institutes for an MBA course.
He, perhaps, had worse time than what I had. I was quietly watching those silly questions being thrown at him. ‘What are you doing?’, ‘Didn’t you get into Infosys?’, ‘Why not Wipro?’, ‘How much was your percentage?’, ‘You know my nephews sisters grandson has got into Infosys? He had really struggled hard for gaining that success.’ Many had something similar, like the last one, to say: ‘Oh, very bad? you see why you don’t try abroad? There are some good avenues available for engineers in US, UK, Dubai etc. Perhaps even Kenya or Zambia could do fine with you.’
Those are, at least for me, extremely saddening statements or questions rather. They are indeed discouraging. I feel sad as to how be that working for Infosys or Wipro has now become a ‘Success’ in itself. A simple software customization service provider themselves have hardly any great innovation to themselves. Frankly speaking today these are providing manpower to the American conglomerates. Yes, their success indeed is stunning and my hats off to them. They have achieved something commendable and I have no doubts. But how can one relate working for those companies to be a matter of ‘Success’. This is a sort of hysteria that had made home in the minds of many literate, mind you not illiterate, communities in and around Mangalore, not simply GSB.
Somewhere during 1990’s Infosys’s now Mentor, and then Chairman and CEO, Narayana Murthy had offered ESOP (Employment Stock Option Plans) to his fellow employees. Simply speaking ESOP could be understood as a way in which shares of the company was given to the employees to retain them on a long term basis under an illusion that they were now [partial] owners of the company.
Murthy was so passionate about the plan was that he even gave shares of the company to his chauffeur too. Eventually during the 1998’s stock market boom the Infosys, as well as other IT companies’, share soared to phenomenal heights. Each share with face value of INR 10 was valued at about 15000 or so. During this time those employees, who owned the shares, sold them to make a fortune for themselves. They were overnight Millionaires! People from this place called Mangalore, began buying symbols of richness like that of bungalows, cars and many more.
Unaware by the fact, as to from where did they made such amount of cash, local people began thinking that working with Infosys would instantaneously yield plenty of cash. Then began the, what I would like to call, ‘Mad-Mad’ run of our fellow parents to push their children to study hard and ensure that they got into engineering. All they wanted at the end was their son/daughter to work for the Infosys. The engineering colleges were overwhelmed by the excessive number of applications for admission.
E&C and Computer Science were two branches of Engineering where people were willing to mortgage their whole property, for raining money, to ensure their child got the seat for whatever cost it may be. Incidentally, or accidentally, some percentage of the population did well in their studies and even sourced employment in those companies. Others who failed either worked with some sort of companies in Bangalore or went abroad. They went out also to escape embarrassing comments like my mechanical engineer cousin had to face. The trend even today continues.
Considering this don’t you think that this is silly thing? Indeed it is, trust me! There is a very good saying ‘Those who follow the crowd should understand that crowd would never follow them’.
I am not saying here to condemn those IT companies or those wonderful and, of course, intelligent people working for them. But all that I am trying to say is don’t discourage your, or others, kids if they aren’t able to make to them. Let me assert, those parents, also to support their kids to pursue other profession. After all IT is not the only thing. You can make the mark in several of the profession. This place had been home to some of the finest Journalists like that of M V Kamath, Scientists like U R Rao, Eminent Administrators like Dr. T M A Pai, and Bankers like Late Haji Abdullah Saheb including many others. We have a diverse pool of talent; let’s focus their energies where they are good at and not where there were there is just money or where you want them to be.
Besides one more request that I wish to make, to all our parents, is that let’s not think of the talent present in your kids as commodity. We make it a commodity when we educate our kids and push them outside the place where they have been born or brought up.
The saddest part what we are doing is to subdue the entrepreneurial spirits in our kids. If a person expresses his ambition or desire to start up some sort of an innovative venture, which we have never heard of, we would obviously say ‘What? Have you gone mad? Better start working with some good companies.’
That’s is the reason by after Late Hajji Abdullah Sahib, Dr. T M A Pai and Dr. K S Hegde we never had enduring academicians, bankers or industrialists for ages. The precedent what we have set is certainly not a good one, if not a bad one. We need to change this – at all costs.
U. Mahesh Prabhu
Author: U. Mahesh Prabhu- Mangalore