Saturday, January 17, 2009

Recession: Time for Ergodic Cerebration

Recession: Time for Ergodic Cerebration
By U. Mahesh Prabhu

It is baffling to learn about Ramalingam Raju. A person who, just a year ago, was called a 'renowned', 'distinguished entrepreneur' and an 'international business leader', is today behind bars for 'financial misappropriation' in the company which he himself had built from scratch—Satyam. If the media informants are to be trusted, he had been keeping up the defalcation for the past decade! Wasn't it during this time that he was honoured with awards and accolades of both national and international standing?

The repercussions of this episode are certainly not going to be few and far between. It could even prove to have a catastrophic effect on the Indian IT industry, which is already facing the brunt of the global economic slowdown. Wipro, which was recently in the news after being barred by the World Bank, and Infosys, are trying their level best to convince their customers as well as investors that they are still impregnable and that recession is having little effect on their business. But how true is that? Only time will (or can) tell.

Globalization, call it good or bad', brought but one fresh trend in the corporate sector with it. It has got rid of the 'job security' factor—forever. This has made people wary with a feeling of insecurity gripping their minds strongly. This might have made them 'efficient', but they are, now, certainly selfish and greedier.

The incertitude has always has had a ruinous consequence on the human psyche across civilizations around the world, over the centuries. The uncertainty always has an effect on mind as well on body; if your mind isn't steady, you can seldom have clarity of thought and a lack of clarity can cause you to take the most catastrophic decisions.

A few years ago, a leading television news channel interviewed the employees of some premier IT companies. The question posed to them was simple—'Do you or not agree with globalization?' Interestingly, everyone endorsed globalization. 'My dad took 10 years after marriage to get a car and over 20 years to own a two-bedroom apartment. My mom is today absolutely dependent on her husband because she has no income. But that's not the case with me. I am not dependent on my husband; I own two flats in this city and have a luxury car and a bike to commute. And this has been possible all because of globalization. So, why anyone should be opposing it?' questioned a lady, in the process demeaning the accomplishments of her own parents.

The IT industry in India today, including companies like TCS, Infosys, and Wipro, do little business other than developing some kind of a computer application (a.k.a. software) for their international clients. This job is akin to building a house with bricks and mortar. Now, suppose you want to build a house; you need to get someone to design it, first. Once the designing is over, you need coolies to build the house. What these IT professionals do is quite similar to the job of the coolies. Terms like 'IT coolies' or 'cyber coolies' are used in this very context. Their work does not soil their hands or stain their clothes, but they are, technically speaking, coolies in every sense.

No, this is not to disgrace IT industry or its people. This is, instead, to make you understand that the IT sector is just another industry like textiles, tobacco, publishing, and automobiles. No job is small, and also, no job is too big, so long as it is within the purview of the ethical norms of society. IT industry in this country has been looked upon with a lot of admiration. Due to this the IT professional gets more respect than anyone else within a family, today.

It's a meticulously insane comparison in every sense. This pomposity has caused mental unrest in the society we live in. Just because an IT professional gets paid a lot and leads a 'royal' lifestyle, everyone within the society wants to earn more and have a similar 'modus vivendi'. For that, they are willing to sacrifice anything—be it giving up their values, principles, or morals. Who cares?

Recession is being talked of today with a lot of seriousness. People are truly scared of it. Loss of jobs affects people badly. But, very few understand that it also brings about a sense of balance. As a result of IT professionals paying excessively for real estate, the price of property had skyrocketed, making it virtually impossible for an average middleclass person to get a dwelling at an affordable price. The excessive demand which was created by these lavishly paid IT industry people had also created a phenomenal rise in costs of commodities, which is already coming down because of this recession.

Yes, sadly, IT professionals, in specific, are sure to have a tough time for at least two more years for they are directly dependent on the American economy which is in a mess. But don't hard times harden people and, also, prepare them for the challenges of life? 'Neither good nor bad times last' is an evident maxim of life.

This recession is a corrective measure. It will readjust the prices from prohibitive levels to nominal. Do you understand that prices of petroleum, which once exceeded $100 a barrel, are now less than $50 a barrel? This is owing to recession. Several other price rectifications are sure to happen due to the phenomenal drop in expenditure.

Drop in expenditure brings down the cost, as it cripples the demand. When there is no demand for a commodity, the prices are sure to drop and this will surely pave the way for more affordable prices for the masses. Hence, recession is certainly a time for ergodic cerebration.

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