Tayzwi

Should be reading more and writing less, but well...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

 

Jingoism revisited

People keep telling me how good things will happen to India if we stop complaining and start doing things. I agree. No amount of armchair philosophy and acerbic cribbing can beat direct action on the ground (italics inspired from The Direct Action Day).

NGO's are doing their bit. Examples like Barefoot College, which do transform lives en masse are inspiring. But the question which bothers me is how viable it is as a career alternative? Can I work full-time for an NGO and sustain a normal family on that income? I doubt that. This has a two fold impact. Either people do it part time, while debugging Java code for their day jobs; or highly inspired people take it up no matter what, and don't bother about better living conditions for themselves or their families. Why is working for a good cause not a viable career option? Why does primary school teaching pay so less? Why is the media coverage for these causes so restricted.

Let me elaborate on the media point a little (currently obsessed with this "manufacturing consent" phenomenon, apologies). We have seen India Today do their Person of the Year feature on someone who has made a real difference at the grass root level, we see coverage on some NGO's now and then, we also have sites like Good News India which appreciate and publicize great work done by unselfish people. But if you compare the number of articles, features, headlines, cover stories, etc. covering the BPO/IT sector, covering their glamor, how-to-get-in-tips, going ga-ga over the global economy, etc. with the miniscule amount of coverage that NGO's get, you know why people are not inspired that much. But the reason for this difference in media treatment need not be attributed to Chomskian filters, but can be easily attributed to the fact that NGO-type of work is still not a viable career option for a fresh graduate who is looking for a job.

Currently our manufacturing, government, political, transport, financial and other non-IT sectors are not as lucrative as the BPO sector. The consequences are obvious - we are just losing a huge chunk of educated quality work force, who instead of working on things which do matter to us, are selling long distance calling cards to someone who hates them in some godforsaken place. We have to see whether the money they are bringing in to India is comparable to the benefits that'd have accrued over a long term had they decided to put in their brains and energy into working for India directly. I think the latter would yield better results had it paid as much as the call centers. This is where some amount of Jingoism comes in. I beat my chest and scream that we should not be licking ass, and should be kicking it instead, and I hope that someone (including me) hears me and does something worthwhile.

But why are non-IT sectors not as lucrative as the IT sectors? I don't know fully. Needs more academic study.

Of course, all of it is economics. The Brits looting like common robbers, the Americans doing it in the grab of neo-colonialism, the Elite taking horse riding lessons (couldn't resist this dig S), the Media raving about movies like Page 3, and almost everything that results in anything is attributed to economics. So, if everything were economics, where does government policy come in? why can't free markets rule the world? Why do we need countries, governments, organizations, unions, etc. taking care of people who cannot take care of themselves. I think that is what separates us from the free market loving animals of Masai Mara. We try to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves. And when that doesn't happen, we cry foul. We cry foul because, according to us, exploitation of the not-so-intellectually-or-technologically equipped class of people is not fair. Not abiding by live-and-let-live is unfair. But, free markets do have their place. Aggressive economic thinking resulting in great profits is a great thing. People who can do it should be allowed to do it. But if that starts happening at the cost of an entire set of people, an entire culture, across centuries to alter the mind-set of generations, I have a problem with it.

I am a jingo alright.

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Comments:
I like his side of Tejaswi . He is finding his stride as a writer :)

I don't agree with many of your conclusions , but the main attribute needed to write well is not necessarily impeccable logic but having something to say !
Keep writing :-)
 
Why don't unselfish, quality jobs (i doln't mean quality control) pay well? I guess it has its origins in the sex and cash theory. Sex the soft part of ur job like job satisfaction, work environ, challenge on the job, kind of people to work with et al. Cash is well...cash! Typically, if you are not a top manager, chances are that one of these two parameters will be missing no matter what. Looking at it from the contractarian philosophy, salary is what a company pays its laborers to compenasate for the personal life they lose and do something they wouldn't do on their own but for money. So, in jobs that don't fall into senior management, the more you get paid, chances are that the more hateable your job is. I really do not know why the same doesn't apply to senior management jobs. Here, the more you get paid, chances are that the more value you are adding!

About free market and govt. There is no free market on planet earth. American capitalism is not about the animal life of masai mara. It is about the game hunting that humans practice in Masai Mara. American Insurance system is a classic example of violation of free market principles. What about bailing out big businesses like United Airways? Is that a free market phenomenon. America wants developing nations scrap subsidies given to their farmers. But what about social security that pays the lazy and and is paid by the hard working?

One of the ill effects of IT/BPO boom is the brain drain from other streams of excellence into IT/BPO. Such incompetency, over the long term may lead to devastating after effects of neo-colonialism. I'm not sure if neo-colonial powers like US, UK, Germany have any intention to develop this incompetency in us. But nonetheless, the effects of incompetency are likely to hurt us big time. There are countries like Brazil that have for ages survived on the exports revenue of a single commodity like sugar. We may be able do the same with our niche in IT/BPO. But what if these industries die out? What if all software and hardware becomes as easy to use as a TV and business doesn't warrant further improvement? What if the Chinese govt starts promoting english literacy aggressively? Strong economies always happen to be diverse economies.

About media.... I'm afraid luxury brands don't exist in media. You are not likely to find the equivalents of Ferraris and Rolls Royces providing supreme quality at ridiculous prices for the discerning in the world of media. Media is always for the 'Janata'. So don't be annoyed if the media doesn't reflect the views of yours and mine. If it does, it would probably go out of business. PAge 3, IT, BPO, Criket and bollywood make it to the media because that is what the common man likes to find in it. Do an interview with Sharukh Khan and do another with Amartya Sen. How do you think the viewership will be distributed?
 
Life is pointless. Whether you are involved in cutting edge research or begging on the street .. it hardly matters at the end. Idea of being happy is subjective. How do we decide who are the people who cannot help themselves?

Why should we move towards the ultimate complexity? Why is that the *right* thing? Why should every one strive to make this world a better place?

So what if the living conditions of mediocre moves from bad to worse?
So what if the human race is wiped off the face of earth? So what if the world seizes to exist?
 
@anon: Tells me that you have been reading Shantaram. Hmmmmm. Good book. Not-so-appealing philosophy.
 
You pose a number of interesting questions and in the interest of clarity and detail, I decided to post the response @ “Jingoism revisited” @ woolee.

Thanks
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