Meltdown blues reduce techies’ marriage market value

November 2nd, 2008 - 11:32 am ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 2 (IANS) Farmer O.P. Kurien, whose income has for ages depended on the fluctuating prices of farm produce, had just begun to look for a well-settled techie groom for his techie daughter when the current global financial meltdown washed away his dreams for a more stable future.Till recently young men and women working in India’s mushrooming information technology (IT) firms and earning fat salaries were among the most sought after potential brides and grooms in the marriage market. But not any more.

Kurien’s daughter who works in one of the top IT firms in the country has made it clear that she is just not going to marry another techie.

“My daughter tells me jobs in IT firms are no more stable and it is better to marry someone in the more traditional manufacturing sectors where there is greater job protection,” says Kurien.

Early this year, the 150-odd IT firms in Kerala employing about 25,000 techies, for the first time notched up software and services export revenues of more than Rs.10 billion.

It was then party time for IT professionals with hefty pay hikes, foreign trips and all kinds of special perks and allowances. But the lights began to go off from the beginning of October. Suddenly, IT companies were handing over pink slips.

With media reports indicating that more than 200 software professionals have already been sacked in the state, the others employed in the IT sector are now sleepless in Kerala.

IT firms in the state such as IBS Software Services, a leading software company in the field of travel, transportation and logistics, have recently come under fire from the media for terminating jobs without notice.

IBS, for instance, recently asked close to two dozen techies to leave in a whiff.

Says a shell-shocked software professional earlier with IBS: “I was asked to report to the HR department. They asked me for my ID card and said that I have to resign or else I would be handed a job termination letter. I had no option but to leave.”

IT firms, however, say it is business as usual.

“We do regular performance reviews of our employees and this is not the first time that we have asked employees to leave. Maybe right now this appears to have hit headlines because of the global recession,” an IBS spokesperson told IANS.

In the past few days newspapers and television channels have been highlighting the woes of IT professionals and how firms are asking them to leave without notice.

Even websites that carry news of software technology parks such as Technopark here are now full of reports and analyses by techies who feel that things are not rosy.

Technopark’s founder and chief executive officer, G. Vijayaraghavan, however, feels there are a lot of positives as well as negatives in what is happening now.

“The sad part is that right now only the negatives are being highlighted and this is not going to augur well for the industry prospects here,” he says.

“If there is a crisis in the public sector, governments pump in money but when there is a crisis in the IT industry, it is the entrepreneur who has to take care of himself,” says Vijayaraghavan, defending the action of the IT firms.

Job cuts in the IT industry also spell trouble for banks as they target IT professionals for home and car loans as techies with just three years’ experience earn as much as Rs.40,000 a month.

“If this tight situation continues for months together, home and car loan repayments will come to a grinding halt. God forbid that such a thing should happen,” says a bank manager here requesting anonymity.

All the publicity in the media has now forced the state government to react.

“Labour laws have to be followed even if an IT firm is in a special economic zone,” said state Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan here Saturday. Special economic zones enjoy many benefits such as tax waivers and easier regulations.

“We have come to know about recent happenings in Technopark companies where employees are being treated with disdain. We will interfere even if there are no complaints,” said Gurudasan.

The minister has asked the state Labour Commissioner to visit Technopark and submit a report.

There is a flip side to all this. They may be technology geeks, but with the looming crisis, IT professionals are now increasingly flocking to temples, mosques and churches.

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