When they get those ridiculously high salaries, it is all good because — market forces, right?
A few days ago, Flipkart delayed the joining dates of fresh recruits by six months. In exchange, it offered to cough up Rs 1.5 lakh as joining bonuses for each hire. The delay kicked up a massive storm, and the news was analysed and debated endlessly on social media as well as in newspapers and television.
I had some difficulty in putting down a coherent response to the controversy because it reveals so much that is pathetic and wrong with our systems, our people and our mentality, that even writing about it is painful. But I finally got around to doing it.
We are talking about (supposedly) some of the best educational institutes of the country, right? (If they aren’t the best, what would all the swagger be about?) Why can’t they produce students who are confident of their competence and ability to provide value, and hence finding a good job? Why are these students okay with being portrayed as a bunch of miserable, starving victims whose last morsel has been snatched away from them? Flipkart was a day zero or day one company at most of these places, right? So these students are supposedly the best of the absolute best, the ‘crème de la crème’. Are they going to go crying to mommy every time they face a problem in their careers? Are our best institutions proud of producing such entitled wimps?
When they get those ridiculously high salaries, it is all good because — market forces, right? The world must accept that. That world, then, is not obliged to shield them when market forces start working against them. Get it? Market forces? It works both ways.
The entire placement system itself is so reflective of the greed and herd mentality prevalent at these institutions – the slots based on salary numbers quoted, the manipulations to ensure “good placement records”, and then this brouhaha that the compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh is not good enough. Go get another job for God’s sake, if you need the money, instead of twiddling your thumbs for the next six months. So many of you would have changed your jobs within six months of joining anyway. Your placement committees would not have compensated companies for their loss in that case.
IIMs don’t even realise the irony of crying foul, do they? Don’t they prepare their students for an “ever-changing”, “increasingly fast-paced”, “risky” world of business? Aren’t they supposed to train for dealing with ups and downs, including and especially the external factors? When they chose to make Flipkart a day zero or day one company, did they not know that they were adopting a high-risk, high-reward strategy? That Flipkart was not a profitable company despite its size and salary numbers? That it was dependent on VC money and that it could dry out? If I were an alternative employer, I would still hire the “stranded” IIT graduates if they could code. I would definitely not hire these management graduates who didn’t understand what they were doing in picking up Flipkart in the first place.
And now the childish response of “banning” companies. Welcome to History. A year later, when the same or similar companies dangle the carrots of high salary numbers, you will go crawling back to them, even proudly featuring the number of students they picked up in your next year’s placement brochures. Or wait! The students will apply to them anyhow even if you don’t allow them to come back through formal channels. If they want they will bypass the campus placements and the placement in-charges will cry foul yet again. So, how about some calm career counselling for your students, ridding them of their sense of entitlement, and instilling the need to do something useful, instead of this playing-the-victim game.
I have long maintained that educational institutes should stop behaving like placement agencies. They should get out of the business of getting jobs for their students. Instead, they should focus on educating students well so that they don’t need such crutches. Have job fairs by all means. Let there be a platform for companies and students to interact. Arrange for counselling and advice. But let the transaction that is a job offer be a business between the individual student and the employer. Stop creating those week-long concentration camps that are known as “placement days” or some equivalent of it. I don’t expect institutes lower down in the reputation hierarchy to do this first. Will the best ones take a lead please?