Monday, November 21, 2005


I didn’t realize that the issue would turn out into an all out deep-rooted defense of the IT industry in India when I wrote about it. Which is good. I wanted opinions from back home and I got some. The only way to do justice to the amount of emotion and effort that the responders put into their comments would be to summarize them once more. So, here goes.

(One of my best friends who is working in an IT company in India. I have edited his response for brevity… yup, it was much longer than this :-))

I agree that the attitude issues that u have talked about is there. Ibelieve, it is there everywhere. Moreover, America is a dream realized for very few in this country. So it is obvious that people are envious or jealous about it. Moreover, people do carry attitude when they come from USA. Talk about their fake accent, their behavior, their attitude as if they know a lot is always there.

About the work culture. It depends on your boss how he judges you andyour attitude. Ok Let me tell you, I never reach b4 my boss reached andnever left after my boss left in my 6 yrs of career. I always followedthe work centric approach. But what you mentioned is not false. Yes!This attitude prevails in the industry and I believe it will take timefor us to change this and it is changing. The problem here is that mostof the sr. Mgmt is very old and they have been groomed like that foryears and so they expect the same. But let me tell you, there arecompanies where late sitting is strictly no no. About your friends' wife who works in infosys. I am sure it is a project problem I believe. Not everyone in the project have to work late and neither everyone in infy. Also parth, if u know, even you guys stay up late to complete the work. So how is it different than infy.

"Management" I don't what u mean exactly. But at some point You have toget into people management if u have to move up the ladder. A techie guys doesn't understand the business. It is a different perspective alltogether. But if u mean that people who don't dream to be "CXX" and want to remain techie than they can. But if the person moves to some product company he is again at a higherposition.

Moreover parth, remember one thing america is made up of immigrants soobviously no one is going to have the attitude issue that you aretalking and moreover it has a capitalist economy. This I believe are the main differences between india and USA.

Look parth, All the things that u have written are excuses for notcoming back. People attitude problems are there everywhere and I stillface it more. The percentage of it may be more in India than in US butit is there.

PARTH_SPEAK: I don’t believe you can count these as excuses for not coming back. The whole idea that the discussion veered in this direction is that I intend to come back. When I stay back to work, it is never because I am asked to. There have been days where I have worked from home, or left early. The flexi-time culture is rampant here. The services industry gets its work culture from India, having born and developed over there. The product companies import their culture along with their plush offices. Or so I have heard. Thanks a ton for your detailed and passionate response.

Again, one of my closest friends and a PhD student at Texas A&M University

I think parth, I had pointed out a website to u in this regard. I don't know if u read it. course this dude, M. Vidyasagar, is a well-known academic andreturned to India after a good career in the US and Canada and that tooas a Director of a DRDO lab. So even tho it might seem that hisperspective is different, what he has to say is remarkably similar towhat sush said. It all boils down to being practical vs. emotional.Staying in US is practical. All said and done, less population = lesscompetition. Better quality of life (QoL). More material comforts. Being in India means being close to family, not having the feeling of being a foreigner all the time. Plus for me at least, being the emotional patriot that I am, Vidyasagar's point that u can make max contributions to India only by being there does have some appeal. So I think going to India is a decision which depends on whether u are willing to make the required, financial, QoL, health (ya this is an issue too. I find that my general health in the US is much better than it ever was in India) etc sacrifices to be in ur country.

The issue of children is something completely different. I personallyfeel that while geographical location and 'surroundings' is a factor inthe upbringing of children, it cannot be the deciding or important onethat it's made out to be. The most imp factor is the parents themselves. After all, it's stupid to think that 'American Culture' is 'bad'. There are enough kids in India who go bad. 'Indian Culture' does nothing to help them. There are enough kids in India who lose their virginity before 16. And lets face it.... more Indian kids today are 'more American than the Americans'. And there are enough kids in America who grow up to be good kids who do their parents proud. I am not trying to defend US culture (or lack thereof). My point is that US or India, how kids turn out is decided by how much time and effort their parents invest in their upbringing. I do agree that in India, being surrounded by grandps and uncles and aunts and neighbors does take some of the pressure off parents. But it doesn't absolve them of all responsibility.

I am unwilling to blame some abstract concept like 'US Culture'. As far as I am concerned, it's a trade-off. If I wish to live in the US and enjoy the benefits it gives me, then I should be prepared to pay the price of extra efforts that I have to put in terms of parenting. My personal feeling is I like what Vidyasagar did. Now that I have come to the US, I wud like to use this opportunity to advance my career and knowledge and go back to India to assume a position of responsibility where I can contribute significantly. There are good and bad things everywhere. I wud like to imbibe the good things in this country and go back to serve my own.

PARTH_SPEAK: This is one comment that is completely off-topic but worth reading nonetheless. The man makes sense on most occasions, and I can always banter him in the future for his use of “wud” and “ur” so extensively in the e-mail :-)

My fellow blogger and friend and the self-proclaimed target audience of this post He had a lot to say :-) See this:

PARTH_SPEAK: Thanks for bringing the cohesion back into the post. You validated my point about pretense. Not everyone will be as brazen and outspoken as you at the work place. So, it is possible that when CoderDude can’t impress the fact upon his managers that he wants to go home at 6, he WILL work till 9. Perhaps he works till 9 because the four cubicles next to him are also occupied with CodeDudes. The manager perhaps notices the one CoderDude who left at 6, and has something to say for it. I know that most product companies have branches open all over the place (well, Hyderabad and Bangalore to be precise). After all the arguments I heard about services versus product industry, the latter seems the lesser evil. Alas, these aren’t in my dear Bombay.

A fellow blogger, who works in the IT industry in Bombay

I disagree almost entirely because I work in the IT industry and in Bombay. Granted that there aren't as many places in Bby to work as there are in Hyderabad or Blore, but the work situation in India has changed. It is a better place to work now.

I once said on your blog that ppl at my workplace are unhappy but it is because I work in the IT services industry as a tech writer - MS, by the way, is one of our biggest clients - We are working on the Yukon series right now, having finished with Whidbey a while ago.

The biggest source of frustration for us is unreasonable client demands and our PMs who dont contest anything. Pls dont misunderstand - I am not trying to pick a fight about MS - only trying to make the point that the services industry anywhere - IT or advertising - comes with that huge handicap... of being captive to your client's demands.

From everything I hear, even start-ups here are doing really well and are good places to work at. A friend of mine, on confirmation, got a hike from 27 to 35k, never comes in on weekends and works everyday from 10 to about 7 in the evening. Good life, I'd say, esp in Hyd which is cheaper than Bby. I could go on Parth, but I will stop here. :-)I do hope that I have not given offence in anyway and I am quite sorry if indeed, I have

PARTHP_SPEAK: There is no offense taken whatsoever. In fact, I want to thank you for your comments. This isn’t the first I have heard people complain about Microsoft J It is good to see a point of view in defense of the services industry. I didn’t imagine it that way, but thought of it as a stop and go working experience. The depth of the tech industry in Bombay is good, but doesn’t have the presence of product companies that I was looking at. Thanks once again for your comments, and best of luck with your commute (even if it is to SEEPZ, it can’t be easy) J

Fellow blogger and SPCEite

I'd add that the answer to whether to return back to india is in part based on practicality as you have described, and is part emotional (for want of a better word). I'd been to a talk some months back, where the speaker (a distinguished CEO of a start-up) made a snide remark about how indian students take up most grad positions, and then return home only to marry and come back to the US to work again. And the audience thought it was funny! I've since wondered why I'm still in the US, but then again there is the practical aspect that's aptly expressed in this post.

PARTHP_SPEAK: Indeed amazing that an audience would take it lightly. Perhaps, this is indicative of our mentality here. We work hardest, question little and bask in our little successes.

Graffiti Speak
Haven't seen her on my blog, but boy has she made up with a long long comment :-)

Hi there, let me help to disperse some of your misconceptions and fears you have expressed herein.
I am an IT professional, a senior business analyst in a Telco.

I was in the US on H1 for more than 4 years and I moved back to India owing to personal reasons in 2002. Initially I had lots of apprehension, and infact I had quite some disappointments after I came and I thought that I have done a mistake but things started to make sense in the long run. And I must confess that I have no regrets now… Few changes here and there are required…but overall you are happier here than in the land of lust.

I fell sick the first month I came down because I took a sip of tap water in a restaurant and got viral fever. That was a bad start alright but I learnt a lesson not to take anything but mineral water. Like you mentioned, being in the US while giving you an advantage over your career, it has lots of downside as well.

Attitude issues are there everywhere but in India it could be more apparent and prevalent because India Inc. is just getting professional. We ought to just shrug off these and really give these things time to heal themselves. Work Culture is again getting better by everyday but yes if you are in a service industry chances are at critical times you would be called in to put extra efforts but again you can ask for a comp off when there is less pressure which any sensible project manager would grant. I have personally liked the challenges of a service driven company as opposed to the laid-back work environment of a product driven one. We have both here in all major metros including Mumbai and there is really no need to worry.

“Boss” culture is very much here and your fears are justified. But it need not be a rule of thumb to go or come to office based on your manager’s timings. As long as you deliver quality things at the right times and show your presence as much as possible without chitchatting with colleagues for long hours, it should be ok. And of course while not working you can even play games or solve crosswords even with your manager…to lighten the spirit. This trick has worked for me…

Exposure wise, India gives you a lot as in US we tend to focus on mastering one particular thing, which is not the case here as you are expected to be a jack-of-all-trades as there are variety of clients. If you are not one, you become one automatically once you are in such a demanding environment. There are training requests that you can give to your PM during appraisal sessions and if it is genuine, then they are always heeded.
When I came down, this stark truth (of knowing many things) hit me hard but eventually I found myself easily adapting to the demands of the job. This is actually a great plus when it comes to Indian work environment.
Like I said before, India Inc. is just getting professional, so while changes are happening, the change is slow and steady. So patience would be the key for people who want to come back. This is particularly applicable for climbing up the ladder here. Also, you need to preferably have a Godfather to give you the necessary push…at least in not-so- professional companies who still have this bossism. If you don’t know to butter people, then you might as well be contented with your post and pay and get out of all the politics.

There is an automatic pressure to come up in designation as you age in a company but it is not again mandatory. In my office I still see programmers who are in their 40’s something that is not uncommon in the US of A. However, the most key thing being in India is the job security and citizenship status that is seen as a luxury for all foreign returned people because we know the reality we had in the US. There is constant fear or job loss unless you have a green card or citizenship with which you can be at least safe until you get another one. Here there is no one to kick you out…you are a king …literally! If you have a decent monthly income, and a stable job, then nothing like that! You get anything and everything. The labor is cheap, so you get the luxury of having a chauffer, cook, maid(s), caretaker, etc. which if done in the US, would eat up all you earn…
Finally, Mumbai has lots of major IT companies concentrated in SEEPZ and Navi Mumbai where you have this Millenium Business Park…

The conditions are most conducive right now for all NRIs so much that many foreigners are coming to India seeking secure and better paying jobs. The downside I could say being in India is facing bribery and red-tapism in day to day lives along with pollution. Again you can find ways to bypass these things as you mature here. But all said, it is upto you to make up your mind. Good Luck…but hey don’t think too much to comeback to your motherland. It is she who made us what we are and it is time we show our gratitude to her.

PARTH_SPEAK: Thanks for the detailed response. It is indeed good to hear from people like you who have seen both sides of the coin. I didn’t mean that people take my comments about leaving after the manager too literally. Point being that pretense to work should not overshadow actual work done. Job security is a must. I agree. But job satisfaction is equally important. Mumbai may have a bunch of IT companies (I worked in MBT for a year at Chandivali) but the product companies lie outside the realm. Thanks for your copious comments. They were enlightening.


I don’t think my point came across too forcefully. I am not trying to establish that India is a bad place to work in and that US is heaven. I mentioned that a lot of this is hearsay. Nice to know that people are kind enough to dispel some such ideas. At some level, the responses tended to be over-defensive. Relax guys, I am on your side :-) Several people mentioned the emotional benefits as an offset. I agree with that 100%. Never overlooked that. But the whole point of this post was exclusively to discuss what work life looks like in India. The negativities I mentioned can’t be so important that they are make or break the decision to go back. Sorry for the EXTREMELY long post here, but I felt that everyone’s responses deserved a good space.


TTG said...

BTW, at this point I out to mention - I NEVER KNEW you were MARRIED! This is the first mention you've made about your wife on this blog, I think! Of course, one would think logically that there's a marriage in there somewhere if you are RTD2's bro-in-law, but I guess I never bothered to make the connection..


Niranjan said...

Excellent discussion Parth, and kudos for initiating it! Its enlightening to get such varied perspectives on a very relevant topic.

Graffiti Speak said...

you have indeed made a great effort in streamlining all responses and then responding has helped me also...good luck in your decision. Take care!