The Indian IT Professional story: At the crossroads

PtrikhaStarred Page By Ptrikha, 12th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

For years, Indian IT Professionals have had a good time both in India and abroad, even though there were many who did not like them due to multiple factors. However, changing times and circumstances have now placed them at crossroads and next few years would be crucial to see what is the general direction. Please read on...

The Indian IT Professionals: The story so far

Till late 1980's and for much of the 1990's, Service class people from India did not had much recognition abroad. True, there were genius and achievers, and some rang even to the top ladders of the corporate world. Yet, there was no global recognition for them.
Come the boom in Information Technology around 1999, and the Y2K. Indian Software companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Patni(now extinct and taken up by others) and many more rose into prominence.
What followed was a breed of much envied and often misunderstood folks called IT Professionals(to which yours truly too belongs!) in India.
Many of them got a chance to land to their country of dreams-United States through some key programming and other software skills (and even MBAs in Software and IT). There was some cutback during recessionary period between 2002 and 2005, yet the flow continued. Many landed in UK, Australia. Some also got jobs in UAE, Qatar, New Zealand and even in Germany, Spain and France.

All was not so smooth. Many people switched to this field with high expectations, but many left as it did not suit them, some could not be as successful and contented and others joined and later switched to other fields. Then, many faced the brunt of natives' anger, with a few incidents of racial attacks by people who thought that they were responsible for taking away their jobs and careers when in fact, the professionals were merely migrating and going to away countries for better career opportunities and real blame could perhaps be on the big corporates who did a lot to cut costs.

Yet the overall story was positive, and a millions benefitted. Software exports began accounting for a lot of the Indian GDP- 7.5% as per a 2012 figure

Yet everything changes and the above scene was also about to change and so it did.

The Global and Indian IT landscape: The Bubble burst of 2007-08 and the aftermath

The year 2008 will be a year to remember for a long time. This year started a recession cycle which came after busting of a few major banks, and other financial institutions in United States, some moving towards bankruptcy. This was due to the fact that since last few years, speculation and hopes had funded many Business and Corporates but without proper Business Models or risky plans, somewhere the things crumbled. It mainly came to be known as US Housing Bubble burst, with many plans like Subprime Mortgages failing.

This had a cascading impact not only on many countries- developed as well as Emerging nations' growth, but also on consumer IT spending. Global and Indian IT Giants, Mid and small level firms faced lesser number of projects, spending cuts and even layoffs.

Things did improve due to measures taken by US Government, and many countries' central banks.

Yet for the Information Technology companies, things were never to be the same. Why? Because:

  • Financial system became more regulated, and funds for the companies were now monitored more closely by the lenders. As a result, many IT spenders did not had as huge spending stock as before.
  • Clients whom many of the IT companies used to serve tightened their purse strings. Many started demanding more bang for their bucks. As a result, many of the IT companies either slashed their staffs, reduced payouts at the tops, reduced increments and/or deferred expansion plans.
  • Many clients developed in-house capabilities and instead of offering a big Billion Dollar deal, they started giving projects to different vendor based on their needs. So, in the last 6-7 years, we have not seen those many big deals as we used to had previously.

US Housing Bubble Burst :

All these factors and some more have lead to more pressure on the professionals working in the Information Technology field. It is not as easy, since many have also to balance their work life with personal life.

Another challenge has been the increased resistance to the outsourcing which has been seriously opposed especially in US, UK and some european countries. Immigration law changes especially in US which has seen HI-B Visas being reduced have impacted Indian IT companies a lot. While many companies, especially in the United States carried out Outsourcing to cut their costs and also get quality work done at lower and competitive costs, media and politicians and even many citizen groups made the people coming from India to work in many of the outsourced jobs as being guilty. Yet, as yours truly would vouch, we never have had any intentions to take away any jobs, but we cannot be expected to be saints and let go off opportunities for our betterment. Can we be?

Yet, one has to adapt to the changing circumstances and in the next section I will talk about it in more detail.

Indian IT Professionals: What to do, where to go?

While the changes that I mentioned in the last section has had an impact on IT professionals everywhere, the condition of the Indian professionals is a bit different owing to the cultural and local factors.
Let us look more closely at the various issues, social, educational and other factors:

  1. The Educational system in India is not tailored for making people ready for all kind of jobs in corporate world. Even many Post-Graduates find difficulty in getting jobs. In this respect, the field of Information Technology came as a boon for many. Many switched their lines of specialization to get into this field. Lesser opportunities in this field could lead to short-term rise in unemployment and under-employment unless other green field sectors like Renewable Energy, Biotech etc are developed fast, which is easier said than done.
  2. Many professionals, who are 30/35+ have families to support, and have taken big home loans. It will be tough for them to change track and opt for newer careers where totally different skill sets will be required.
  3. Education System will have to become more adaptive and flexible and teach and aspire budding IT students to learn newer skills and technologies. The system will also have to evolve to make vocational education and even non white-collar avenues like Plumbing, Carpentering etc which have so far not been looked with as much respect as white collared jobs in India as more respectable.
  4. The whole mindset in Indian society to not frown upon temporary job loss and see it as a passing phase. This will also ease the enormous psychological and emotional stress that many professionals, especially the married ones go through.

The above list is not comprehensive. The Governments, state and central have a big role to play, especially in terms of facilitating education and Business. Society too has a role to play. these might require a separate article or even a Research by itself.

As for the individual IT professionals like yours truly, the writing on the wall is clear. Adapt, innovate(which many young Enterprising men in India have done), never give up hard work, and yes stay fit mentally and physically. We need to learn new skills, and also change our mindsets to be ready for ups and downs.

And yes, the Global media, and other people also need to acknowledge that the Indian IT professional might be cheap for many owing to the currency differences, but he or she is a quality person, and can compete with the best and bring out the best. Stop looking at them with disdain, and instead talk to the Corporates in your country about where they need to cut costs and improve profit, and evaluate who is the guilty if certain natives lose their jobs.

Other Recent works by this author

I have written on Technology articles, articles on sports, Business and much more. Here are some of my recent works:

Using RefCursors to return a Resultset in Oracle Database

Verizon to buy legendary Internet Media Firm AOL in a Billion Dollar Plus Deal

Good Database Design Practices in Oracle and other Databases

My experience with writing Information Technology Articles

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Personal Movie Review: Chalo Dilli(2011)

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Crossroads, Education, Green Card, Indian It, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Services, The Road Ahead, Trends

Meet the author

author avatar Ptrikha
Ptrikha is an IT professional, with a great appetite for writing on a variety of topics ranging from Business, Economics, Politics, Sports, Technology, and much more. He has written over 100 Articles

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
12th Jun 2015 (#)

Thought provoking and educative share, thanks Ptrikha.Though not an IT person, I do interact with them. Indian IT people have certain skills and, more important, the needed mindset to work under pressure.

When I left India as a finance professional over thirty years ago, one gave me a telling quote - no problems for you as " you are as reliable as a German car but like a Japanese car in terms of fuel efficiency." It is a fact I was more concerned than those who put the money or lend money to the company!

When I started, computers were almost non existent and simple calculators were a novelty shared by many! I had played not only a finance guy, but also IT and HR , even marketing! One has to step out of the comfort zones more and more - learn, unlearn and relearn and when nothing works time to take it easy - cut expenses to income. One needs a simple abode and then will be surrounded by genuine people - siva

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author avatar Ptrikha
12th Jun 2015 (#)

Thanks for some very soothing advice as always Siva. Have a nice evening.

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author avatar vandana7
12th Jun 2015 (#)

I have been screaming my guts about this for ages now. They can come and go as and when they wish. It is our folks who are left high and dry with a bleak future and no skills to begin anywhere.

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author avatar Ptrikha
15th Jun 2015 (#)

Yes, but we have to change and be more skillful, even if nobody cares for us.

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author avatar vandana7
15th Jun 2015 (#)

The point is, technology is changing so fast. By the time the person masters those skills, new technologies emerge, and he has to become a student again or risk being unemployed. Effectively, IT personnel spend some part of their income to remain employed. And even so, new technologies take time coming into the country. They become outdated abroad, by the time our people learn it here. We set up institutes and infrastructure for what we believe to be new for now technologies, and give preference for it in our policies, creating further divide between educated and uneducated. Uneducated envy the educated, whose lot is no better, considering lack of job security and high taxation and stressful job. Targets set by multinationals are high. They cannot be met in their own country. It is pretty much like giving IT professionals some toys in form of cars and stuff like that, so that they earn forex, which politicians use up frivolously. Reminds me of the that monkeys and bread story with the cat as the arbitrator. And I forgot to mention that government officials compete with IT professionals for salaries, but do not have to spend so many hours before the system, or on learning. If an IT professional loses job, he does not have pension to depend upon. But if a government official meets with an accident, his kith or kin get employed, and his pension remains intact, increasing periodically with DAs, and his medical bills too are paid by the government. We have not even discussed the under the table earnings here. The country owes IT and IT enabled services so much because these youngsters will have a lot of circulatory problems when they age. But nothing is being done for them, when they have bailed out the country. In fact, they are taxed on par with the rest, which is a shame. As much of shame as not paying enough to Army veterans.

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author avatar Retired
12th Jun 2015 (#)

I'm an IT professional myself and I couldn't agree more with you on this subject.

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Ptrikha
15th Jun 2015 (#)

Thanks Joyesh

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
12th Jun 2015 (#)

Thank you for sharing such a great article. I love the way you present your work.

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author avatar Ptrikha
15th Jun 2015 (#)

Thanks Nancy, and your work is very inspiring too.

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author avatar snerfu
13th Jun 2015 (#)

Very touching article about the plight of IT professionals...but are they really in the dumps? Does their boat have a hole in the middle? I don't think so. I think, that if IT professionals search in the right places they will definitely get what they deserve.
And there is growing demand in the Indian sector too. But there is a lot of competition too.
I commiserate with them but I think they need more help in landing the right job...maybe from the government?

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author avatar Ptrikha
15th Jun 2015 (#)

I won't say that I am writing about their plight, but yes there are difficulties. The core solution is deep inside our education system, our mindset and to a large part our "Herd" mentality. And we cannot blame everything on governments, or societies. And yes, somewhere, MNCs, and big corporates too are to be blamed since they rever their employess only when sun is shining and are willing to dump them the moment grey clouds start hovering.

Thanks snerfu

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