Middle class American dream turns sour?
Record job losses for IT employees! World events affect students careers.September 11th, economic slowdown, IT meltdown, Enron collapse. All these have severely hit the career prospects of young Indians. September 11th hit the H 1B Visa seekers, the IT professionals whose American dreams shattered, as America tightened its rules for American visas.
Hence there is a steep decline in US visas, visa seekers numbers declined and so in the US too Indian IT professionals lost jobs in Silicon Valley. Also at home the events forced the high salary holders to lose jobs, their ESOPs became paper profits and there is gloom. Engineers from IITs are seeking admissions into MBA courses instead of the usual route of campus recruitments by the IT majors.
Yes, 2001 is perhaps the most difficult year, for the much hyped IT industry professionals. There has been record ousters, call it by whatever name! There was the dotcom bust; then came the US economy meltdown. After the September terrorist attack on the US there has been a life-changing phenomenon in the US today. The US authorities not only suspect every other non-white, more so if they look like Asian browns. There are now in addition to the dotcom bust, economic slow down related oustees, the new phenomenon of foreign instinct. There are advertisement notices in US newspapers and elsewhere asking: foreigners not wanted! Says a Financial Times writeup: Once US businesses were criticised for employing too many foreigners. Now they are attacked for not hiring the foreigners at all! Again, the scene in India, more so in the Silicon Valley of our own, Bangalore IT firms is also very sombre, to put it more soberly. But the ground level realities are really pretty morale-shattering for the middle class homes where the dream was making it big in the offshores of America. What happened? The very artificial boom of the IT exports is not working, in the face of US slow down. The big companies like Infosys and WIPRO and TCS were once the darlings of employees. Not now, at any rate.
There are retrenchments, subtly done of course. But the statistics thins time doesn’t lie, it looks. The unemployment rate among the IT employees is a record number.
So what? The point is that no one is openly sharing the agony of the educated unemployed, the youth dreams are getting busy every day. In cities the illusions are getting dashed. More so in the small towns and villages. The professional colleges are now attracting the same number for big capitation fee colleges or courses. What went wrong?
Many things. The year 2001 had proved to be a turning point (or a sour point?) for the lakhs of Indian middle class families who built up a dream world looking to the American shores.
There are even now in the daily newspapers saying: “Destination: US” advertisements. There are organised groups who recruit Indian students to US universities. Not only USA but UK and Australia and a host of other countries, Ireland and even Russia are recruiting Indian students for study abroad. But the US remains the dream land. Not only for students seeking higher education degrees but also for those software professionals who dream of a job in US companies, dreams of a good life. Nothing wrong. Destination USA makes for so many images. Today, the Silicon Valley, the very heartland of the American dream, presents a picture of a downturn in fortunes of so many bright men and women.
There are distress calls now from the very shores to anxious families who want to know the fate of many of their earning members, once the lucky members of a exclusive dram club. Sridhar is now more than a name in Chennai, the very epicentre of the migrating Indian middle class youth and now there is Sridhar. After finishing his graduation in Physics he took a diploma in Java and left for USA to work for an Internet company late last year. He earned a big pay cheque, car, good accommodation in New York and what is more he got a sizeable magic offer of ESOP (employee stock option), the one big difference to all employment jobs in other industries. But the dram run did last for some time but then one day in May he faced the reality of a sudden job loss. Why? The dotcom burst, whatelse? Since then Sridhar and six of his Indian friends who found themselves out of their jobs regularly meet every day in a small rented room to do what? The report says in an unemotional way: just to kill time!
Why doesn’t he return home in India? Says the unfortunate software professional: “I can’t. The shame of it all back at home, I can’t bear. I took a big loan, my parents paid for it and now I have to earn and return the loan. We will be looked down upon, our family would face this shame of failure, our hope lies now to look at the various reports about a possible revival in the March of 2002. Till then we, me and my friends would survive here with what little we earned here”. It is now reported, authoritatively that like Sridhar there are numerous unemployed Indians who don’t want to return home before they get a new job in the US.
Some of the educated and highly motivated young IT professionals now work as attendents at petrol bunks and waiters at restaurants. Unlike in the past, the employment visa today is being issues after a thorough assessment of the recruiting company in the USA.
“Following the dotcom collapse and lay-offs by many US-based companies (a large number of them were started by Indians living in the US) we are not taking any chances. If we find even a minor fault with the recruiting company, we reject the visa application. We don’t want unemployed Indians stranded there, working in petrol bunks and restaurants”, said sources in the American Consulate in Chennai.
The situation in India for the software professionals is not rosy anymore. The IT companies are cutting down staff. The one difference between the US IT companies and Indian IT companies is there is lot of secrecy here, in the USA they release figures accurately. Here there is much media hype on the few big players the nomination of the same names and faces years after year by a chummy press and the real tragedy is never adequate let out for the public, for fear of any scepticism about the hype and hoopla that pervades the IT industry and more so the government spokesmen.
Image Source: nsti.org