Saturday, July 14, 2007

Who ate my 3.9 Idlies?

I am back to Blog-o-Sphere after a long time and this time I hope that my stay here will be long enough… unless, aliens again kidnap me.

After I read my P/L statement, i.e. my appraisal letter and revised pay, two questions cropped up in my mind….

1. Why the long cycle?
2. Who ate my 3.9 Idlies?

Let me address each of them

1. Why the long cycle?

When the world is moving towards faster lanes, where an Olympic athlete is measure in fraction of seconds, microprocessors in nanoseconds and fighter planes in Macs; then why we, the coolies, are measured once a calendar year?

IT technology, they say, is obsolete by the time we learn it. Look at the fad-change-rate. In last few years, we have the hypes of SOA, AJAX, EAI, Agile, Lean and Mean, SOX, SOA-Governance, SODA, Whisky, Ice Cubes, Septic Tanks what not….

Every quarter, the poor coolie is asked to learn something he did not know before or worse still asked to unlearn what he had learnt just a quarter ago.

Then why is he measured in one year cycles? Why can’t HR decide his fate every quarter, than make him live through 10 months of slogging and 2 months of suspense?

Well, the standard answer is process? The most dirty word used to say, when you want to avoid something. Process says what you cannot do, but can/will never say, what should be done?

Anyway, I leave this question at that, than getting into another philosophical reasoning, about the very existence of the spices called coolies.

2. Who ate my 3.9 Idlies?

Every employee, whether a coolie or not, always dreams of an inflation immune salary hike. Let us consider an example, so that my question is clear.

In year 2006, one Idly at Murugan Idly shop was priced at Rs. 5 each. (Let us leave the debate of the quality of the goods at Muruguan Idly shop, for a later date and stick to the context.)

So a coolie, when he walks into that shop with Rs. 100 can buy around 20 Idlies.

A year moves on and coolie gets an hike of 30%, moving his salary from Rs 100 to Rs 130, of which 25% is a “variable component”. Here the term “variable component” is the culprit, which is a polished way in which companies con the coolies to think that they are earning more. But in reality, that money is never paid, due to some reason or the other, say Rupee appreciation, Falling Dollar value, Low-Customer Satisfaction (tell me when was any customer ever happy) and Low-Sucking-up-of-manager.

So our coolie, in effects gets a salary of Rs97.50 (Rs.130 – 25%), which is in effect, way less than his inflation adjusted yesteryear’s salary of Rs. 107 (Rs. 100 + 7%). By this time, Murugan blokes have raised the price of Idly from Rs. 5 to Rs. 6.

This time, when our coolie walks into that same shop, he walks out with only 16.1 Idlies. (Rs 97.50 / Rs. 6)

So – who ate my 3.9 Idlies??????

Bottom line – life of our coolie goes on, in his archetypical make-believe world. He is ignorant of the ways, he is conned by everyone, at every mode of life, be it at cinema theaters, at idly shops, on roads, by tax-man, by boss, by customers, by families.

Ultimately, one fine day, when he wakes from his sweet dream, he will understand the truth that was, that the dream was not sweet, but was a nightmare. Till then, IT zindabad.

Update 1: A friend called me after reading this and asked if I was disappointed at my appraisal. The truth is I got 4 on a likert scale of 1-4 and was given out-standing rating by both my level-1 and level-2 supervisors, which resulted in me getting to a coveted fancy designation in my organization.

This rant was on behalf of all the coolies of India.

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