Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Why discontent? Globalisation's made trade in services boom

Globalisation promises us best prices of goods and services available globally. All you need is their free movement across borders. But, when we discuss globalisation, we generally refer to internationally-accepted prices of goods and tend to leave services aside. Even the conflict at international meets cater to unequal treatment as far as prices (or subsidies) of goods are concerned. Why is it so?

Because, there's no conflict. The free movement of skilled labour already exists. But, the story is different for the unskilled labour. We'll leave it for some other day. Free movement is fine, but are the prices offered fair and at par with international standards? Services deserve the best prices, it's also up for sale, isn't it? And it needs to be debated at global meets. But, the issue isn't taken up. Trading in services is not discussed. Maybe, we aren't ready to accept that our services are also up for sale and should fetch the best global price, just like rice or wheat does. Take for example, the IIMs and now the IITs — they are flooded with international 'bids' for students' expertise. It's just globalisation of services, what else? What's more, many students are finding Indian bids more lucrative. It's just gives you the feel of the Great Indian Takeover as Indian cos are out with best offers, better than their global counterparts. The job market has really come of age.

Globalisation has changed the way New India perceives the job market. Long long ago, there was a concept called ‘lifers’. In simple terms, it means your job, just like your wife, should not be changed. You are married to the job — enter as a trainee and retire as the chief. Just as it happens in government services. My dad is one. And thousands like him prefer to stick to their organisations. Rolling stone gathers no moss, you see.

Times have changed, unlike my dad, my average stint in an organisation is perhaps less than a year. Shameless? Not really, this is the case with most of the new-age professionals. So, why the frequent changes? And what have they gathered? Not moss, I believe. GenY has gained double promotions, 100% salary hikes. Today, on an average, where they stand, had they followed my dad's policy, it would have taken them 10 more years. Strange, but true. Now things are done a bit differently — that's all. Sorry dad, no hard feelings.

Offers and counter-offers are what life's made up of. Good or bad — it works well with the individuals as well as the organisations. Everything boils down to matching demand and supply. Poaching, as it is called, has become a well-accepted phenomenon. The result — high attrition rate. The defence — a sleuth of anti-poaching pacts between organisations (who, in turn, poach from other companies).

The fun part is that you don't have to do anything, it will happen on its own. You just have to watch the fun — how your skills and expertise are auctioned. And, when the bidding concludes, you only hear: SOLD. Obviously, at the best price available. Please don't attach any morality with it. It's your skill set and not you that is sold to the best buyer in the free market. You are paid for your service, that's all — be it in India or abroad. It's all in the game — trade of services.
However, there are certain fear factors. First, if when your expertise is 'bought' at such a high price the organisation (in India or US) will ensure that you deliver, otherwise you are jobless. No job security — the hire and fire policy — you know. Globalisation in services has made labour laws and unions pre-historic notions. It's now a harsh world. And the fittest will survive. An excellent offer might make you feel that every dog has its day. But, at the end of it, it's a dog's life.