Sunday, January 29, 2012

"My Grandson is an MBA"

Said Mrs. Mathew to the group which consisted of distant family members and close ones too. All of sixty-two years, born and brought up in an era which never knew what an MBA was nor had any use for it, she hardly cared. Licking her lips and chewing away at the chicken with whatever teeth she had left, she continued to her group at the marriage reception "He's got into a big company now. I don't know what it is ITC or Info-something.... some foreign company..There are so many new names now" She knew she had the respect of her on-lookers-it was the wedding of her cousin's grandson Benjamin. But even before the groom and bride had had a taste of the chicken gravy which awaited them at their table, talk was on at the family-network which laid the ground-work for the next marriage and Mrs. Thomas knew she had a winner. Why, didn't Asha's son who also had an MBA get a 'nice' match? For a country of a 'billion people' where their opinions are as varied from north-south and east-west as their paranthas to their masala dosas and pav-bhaji to momos, India is united in its ideas of marriage and right now with almost certainity in this hot marriage segment the MBA-guy/girl has as much demand as mutton biriyani at Ramzan.

True the Administrative Services will never lose their flavour with the North and Gujarat will always honour its business wallahs, but after the rise and wane of the software techie, the MBA wallah has steadfastedly held the ground at the top of the marriage table. But if you have to name the real hero it has to be the software techie. This particular creature did what no one could dare to hitherto- it single-handedly clutched the power from the doctors and engineers and overnight became the king/queen of the marriage table. This kind of power doesn't come easily in the rigid power structure in Indian society. The software-techie created a new segment in the Indian society-the middle-class or even as some might refer it to-the upper middle class. With the wads of American dollars flowing into the Indian software industry from back-office jobs, the software-techie bought houses, 3-bhks, travelled in autos where he had hitherto caught a bus or worse-walked and basically flaunted his money. Because lets face it- he could afford to show off. All of a sudden the Indian middle-class jumped from bank-slips and wait at cash-counters to credit cards. Where there was the old cathode ray TV now stood plasma flat screens. Be it the change from Old Cask Rum to Teachers and Chivas Regal or from local radio music to entry at the best pubs and discs in the city, the software-techie had it all. And for all the care and frowns and fights that take place to get two people fixed for marriage in India, it still couldn't ignore the fact that with software-techie as groom "life jinga-da-la"(basically means your daughter will be wearing a lot more jewellery than what you would send her off with at marriage). It was seen as a 'safe' investment and software-wallahs came to be hunted more aggressively than whales in the Pacific or cockroaches in China(wonder where those cockroaches in masala stalls in China come from?)

And what made the software-techie a people's hero was that anyone could become one. The American jobs didn't need much of a brain and anyone who could learn a computer language was welcomed in. It didn't matter whether you were a science graduate, a commerce student, or a techie all that mattered was whether you could learn a simple computer language. Quite suddenly NRIs began to lose their status in India 'cos lets face it software-techies did projects overseas and still managed to work in India. All of a sudden parents who wanted the status of a 'foreign-working' son-in-law and still get to see their girl more often, had found their golden goose. The basic man working outside was also happy 'cos the software-techie was bringing in loads of cash into their businesses. And boys and girls all over India were generally happy 'cos believe-it-or-not software-techies led to software-babes and with them came a wave of fashion. Hem-lines shrank and neck-lines dived and the Indian male population was definitely happy. And so was the female population-now they had boyfriends with loads of cash-well what more could they ask for. It was in this period of prosperity that disaster struck in the form a recession. Ask the auto-wallahs in B'lore; they will tell you, for, the recession in U.S which had nothing to do with them suddenly had everything to do with them. No more single-person trips from s/w companies straight to M.G road and discs, no more long distance trips from software-techies. Infact with software-techies clutching onto their money and making a bee-line for buses and a change in life-style, the auto-wallahs got one right on their belly. 

It was during this period of change or as a silent partner during their growth that a second species called the MBA-wallah began to raise its head. With major companies setting up shop in India they needed someone to run the shop. With C.As being produced in India at the rate of water in corporation taps and owing to the blood-suckers they tend to become when they finally become C.As, companies probably decided they needed their own answer to the adminisitration problem. They decided that people with loads of work experience in the shop-floor(the basic techies) couldn't handle the 'problems' of management and a new breed called the MBA-guy was created to be the Daddy of them all - yes even the software-techie. And the middle class had again found its foot-hold 'cos you said it- with a graduate degree and high school mathematics you could now enter any of the management schools and the best of them the IIMs and emerge as a new creature- the MBA-wallah. Almost inevitably unless you were a complete idiot you did the exitting with several job offers in 7-digit salaries. And the next door Ramu who until now had the vocabulary which could barely include "machining, procedure, scientific, sir/madam" now emerging from MBA colleges had lingo like "down-sizing, right-sizing, resources(not the iron-ore and aluminium kind mind you), break-even" all words which meant latin to common people. True to their nature of respecting things which they couldn't comprehend, the Indian populace treated the MBA-wallah with awe and respect. It invaded the industry in all spheres except where it mattered at the shop-floor and saw to it that things were run 'smoothly'. It became the baap(dad) to the software-techie and other basic techies. And unlike the software-techie of which there were basically two types the code developers( a rare minority) and the code-checkers and probably the bpo-worker, the MBA-wallah came in all kinds of types from number-crunching finance-types to tongue-wagging HRs and Marketting and still others. The work-force was not human anymore-no they were human resource and all the down-sizing, right-sizing hit the software-techies and other techies in their under-belly. Quite like shady religious preachers they used jargon which no-one could understand and lets face it-weren't meant to understand. Many a kid studying engineering and realising that his brains were probably only going to land him a tech job for a measly 5 to 4-digit salary saw the 'error' of his ways and moved onto MBA where you needed less brain and more tongue-wagging and he could earn a hundred times more. So they sold their souls and brains to the B-schools as they are called and shed their engineering skin to become a new breed which scarcely remembered or associated itself to engineering or science as such- and they were rewarded. They even marketted their own products- soft-skills to the unsuspecting public who lapped it all up- Gods that the MBA-wallahs were now.

And India's biggest unspoken industry-the match-making industry took notice of this new breed that was emerging. No one noticed the pot-belly or the photo-shopped hair on the MBA-wallahs, no one noticed the old Ramu hiding underneath they only chose to see the rich cream of the B-school smeared on him. They didn't care whether he could be a boring old fag crunching numbers day-in and day-off, they didn't care whether he could be home at all to spend time with the family, all they wanted to see or hear was the unfathomable jargon and the foreign business trips that their daughters could accompany him on. They chose to just see the cash-cow infront of them-"he is well-placed and will provide for you and you both will learn to adjust to each other" was what the daughters heard from their parents and instead of well-toned hrithik roshans in their dreams they learnt to accomodate the 'baby-facish', 'slightly plump' and 'official-looking' MBA-wallah. 

Every species in this world finds its own mate - by itself. Everyone except probably the Indian groom/bride. Like potato in our sambhar and aloo-gobi the choices of the groom/bride is just one of the ingredients in the sambhar that is a marriage-match. The Indian groom/couple are probably the only species still out there who are still spineless in getting a match on their own or worst still, are forbidden to do so on your own. Arranged marriages were followed to the best part of the last century probably in the west, but the scale to which it is followed here would probably blow away any comparison. From grand-parents to uncles and aunties on both sides of their dad and mom had to be convinced, before the Indian bride/groom even had a say. By then everyone else other than the couple concerned are convinced they want the two together and then everything thats important is shoved under the mat with "every marriage is like this. You will adjust to each other". Only such a system could have wagged in and lapped up an MBA-wallah with no apprehension whatsoever(am I being too critical? Some of them really work hard and are good at what they do you know) and as luck could have it it gave them the MBA-wallah.

On the dusty streets of Tanjavore in the early hours as dawn is still breaking Mrs.Iyer has just finished splashing water in front of her house and has drawn a kolam(drawing with rice-powder), to find the daily has just arrived. Breaking her reciting of the keertanas sung from the speakers at the nearby temple she opens it straight to the matrimonial section(they go straight from matrimonial to obituaries in that order) and thumbs down the Iyer section. Her face lights up as she has found what she was looking for "bride sought for Iyer boy,fair complexion, MBA graduate and working in reputed company. Girl should have traditional values..." True to her expectation Mrs. Mathew finds that her crowd of onlookers are eager to hear more about her MBA grandson. By tomorrow word would have reached the outer arms of the family tree and beyond and before long she would have a 'nice' girl for her Vincent.

P.S: Dru best of luck for your interview dude. I don't hate all MBA people you know, especially those who are really into management like you are.

24 comments:

  1. awesome read............

    so MBA is the new alphamale eh?

    nice description of the match making routine here.. classic case of the tail wagging the dog :P

    btw if there is a nuclear war and we need to rebuild the world.. the "MBA wallas" will b out of jobs.. makes u wonder what exactly are they contributing back to the society.. :0

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  2. MBA man is supposedly the new alpha male or so the match-making industry thinks... lol btw u can wonder what they are contributing to society without the nuclear war scenario :) i'm sure if u ask them tho, they will show u a dozen graphs which show they are the actual contributors to society and not the designers and skilled workers actually making the stuff. Oh that makes me remember I did forget something while I was writing: see it takes close to 5C for aishwarya or kareena to pose for a lux ad, and marketting mbas cd tel u that it is more important to get these above mentioned personalities to flaunt their zero-figures than for the damn soap to actually be good. They will argue that there is more going for an ad campaign than the actual product itself. Goes without saying they will absolutely hide the fact that without the damn soap itself there will be no ad campaign to speak of and inevitably none of their over-paid jobs.

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  3. This is one helluva description mateyy...nice goin...the demerits of MBAs as u and melbin elaborate are pretty standard stuff as in wats often been parotted about...bt it doesnt take away from the fact that it has its share of being right. So i wont describe the flip side and rant bout the advantages of MBA. bt pertaining to the matrimonial market, there u hit the nail rite on the head. So many qualities that are groom must possess are all glossed over by that mesmerizing 3-letter word. anyways to all MBA aspirants out there...read this blogpost and redefine ur stategies or else u gonna find urself fast outta demand :)

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  4. now,before we go off on a tangent and start giving ourselves self-congratulatory messages on being the 'real engines of the world',let us take a moment and understand the beauty and the intricacies of making a project come together,making sure that everything is co-ordinated to make a designer's dream a reality..I say that both are like wheels in a bicycle..any difficulty in grasping this concept would make me lament the one-dimensional engineers our country is producing..

    and over-paid?? There are countless MBAs getting very low salaries.. Companies today want value for money...no one is going to pay money to people who are incapable of contributing.. Some time spent in the real world industry outside of classrooms would reinforce notions of how each link in the chain is critically important..some thoughts to ponder over before launching into a war of 'us v/s them'..

    as for the match-making industry.....god help us all!!!!

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  5. @chicksbuddy..welcome to the blog :)..but pls do leave ur name..cos chicksbuddy isn't much of a help :) I don't say that they(MBA) are worth nothing...just that i don't understand what the hype is all about..
    @distorted lucidity..the beauty of making a project come together..that is done by the planning section in all companies and done by thoroughbred mech engns or production engns for the most part..thats y we study something called o.r..again i dint say that mba is worth shit..i just dont give it that extra special attention tht it gets everywhere..the MBAs who are badly paid are the ones who get out of 3rd tier b-schools..now if they too are gonna get a fat pay-check engnrs will prob decide to hold onto their designs for sometime..MBAs generally get to play boss..and thats wat iam saying..still u dont have to get wired up lucidity :) u have bit dust in the engg world; u deserve a leg up..and cheers to that..

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  6. @sundeep thankya...glad u liked it.. :)

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  7. @dear leo:... its not all about o.r. you know...its about everything that impacts the project like financials,how govt decisions can have a long term effect,how competition can affect the project...its about knowing the whole picture..

    now someone who knows the whole picture is who gets to play boss so he/she can make decisions taking everything into mind... when i worked for sometime,i realized this.. i realized i needed to add another dimension to get the complete picture of how to make better decisions..

    people who arent educated enough about the rest of the functions in the planning section as you have so wisely mentioned end up losing money for the project and become a burden..dont give me the bookish explanation of how that doesn't happen cause i have seen it happen with a variety of people..now i wouldn't want to be one of them..i.e a disgruntled couch potato doing only my work and complaining about people not funding me enough et.al.

    badly paid mba's come from top tier b-schools too..people who are coached enough to clear the selection process as is the sme for all fields..getting into the real world is where they fall and thats where your b school cant help you..

    p.s. i love the dust and the freedom to bring my own ideas into it..will call to explain how that works cause it might be difficult to grasp here..

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  8. @lucidity "badly paid mba's come from top tier b-schools too" so what is the whole point of the degree .. nothing but a piece of paper... just that u get a stamp of an MBA... it doesnt really show how good u r or on the contrary how bad u are either... i think dat is exactly what leo is trying to point out

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  9. @melbin: my point...is that getting the stamp itself is not important..it is what you do in your course that makes the difference...just because some idiots manage to get into an mba college or btech/mtech for that matter doesn't mean they achieve everything that is possible to achieve in their courses...

    im saying how when you get into the industry,companies sort you out according to your real talent..so you need not have fears about any tom,dick and harry being a manager in a good company,just as any tom,dick or harry wont be a designer in a good company...hope ive broken it down enough for you..im trying to explain why you wont have overpaid mbas in today's industry..

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  10. @lucidity "you wont have overpaid mbas in today's industry"? are u kidding me? when recession struck the highest paid employees had all the company's money... wonder how they got that? that begs the question what exactly it is that managers do(the ones with an MBA degree)? value addition? please go ahead and explain

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  11. @melbin:before i do...tell me...have you worked anywhere yet? so i can explain in the required detail..

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  12. and please go ahead and tell me YOUR version of how a company functions,putting in all the various kinds of people who are in it..

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  13. ' "badly paid mba's come from top tier b-schools too" so what is the whole point of the degree .. nothing but a piece of paper... just that u get a stamp of an MBA... it doesnt really show how good u r or on the contrary how bad u are either...'

    by your...uh..logic..then what is the point of any degree?

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  14. :) nice early morning read:) well as a 'techie' myself here's some inside news. IT has the highest % of women employees...so a 'software techie' groom has lost his USP...at least from what I've seen in Bangalore. And if you throw a stone, chances are you'll hit at least 5-6 IT blokes..that's the density. it's almost inevitable NOT to marry one...LOL!

    MBA...the lustre is fading, again because of the numbers. I've worked with some really impressive MBAs. It all depends on how a company wants to use an MBA vs an Engineer.

    'american jobs did not need much of a brain'...come come now. calm down.

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  15. haha looks like i hav stirred a hornet's nest alright.. :)
    @lucidity all iam saying and probably what melbin is trying to convey as well is that no one knows a company's shop-floor better than the engineers themselves..so instead of promoting people with years of shop-floor experience to go and do a management course and rejoin at a better level, getting a fresher frm b.tech or a guy frm some other stream say non-techie jus cos he has an mba is absurd. And paying them disproportionate sums of money to do a job which could be better done by an experienced engnr with an mba.

    @Moonbeam haha even as i had finished posting the link on ur wall i remembered that u were a software-techie as well..so i guess "the american jobs ..."needs an explaination..as i have understood the code developer's job is still challenging...but u hear complaints from almost every other guy who is not in the code-developing part that all they get to do is code-checking and stuff..which is quite mundane and dull..and if not for the money they are paid they wd have quit long ago...but u hav to admit u do feel jealous cos for the same effort that u put in any other industry in india a few years back, u got less cos software jobs got paid in the dollar and the rest in the Indian rupee.I'm not saying literally but the diff in pay ws staggering..and the marriage industry haha goes for the cash-cow doesnt it? :) and the stats of it employing the highest percentage of women ..cheers to tht..wat wd we do without the software-babe? :P

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  16. @leo: ihave no issue with those points of view...i am just incensed at blind generalization done..as i am for generalizations done in all sorts of discussions..as for 'getting a fresher frm b.tech or a guy frm some other stream say non-techie jus cos he has an mba is absurd' we must also remember the special cases we talked about..both ways..i.e. there are examples of non engineers better at engineering than engineers and non-mbas better at management than mbas..thats why i hate generalizations...it holds the natural prodigies within its boundaries of narrow thinking..

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  17. @lucidity i think u are trying to justify to me why u are doing an mba... which i dont give a damn abt... moreover the need to justify to me means u aren't convinced yourself why u are doing it either... which i dont give a damn abt either.. now coming to the point... what is the point in a degree.. if u can answer it in one sentence please go ahead... if u have a paragraph long answer i dont have a time to read it as its just another mba ranting to me... every btech guy has to be trained for atleast 2 years in the industry(except software sector of course)... that begs the question what is he learning in the 4 years of btech?... what i am unsatisfied with is the whole concept of financial sector jobs.. "making money out of money"... agreed the mbas make a lot of money but the low income groups and the farmers are the most who suffer due to its fallout.. what our country needs today are not more managers or software engineers but entrepreneurs, teachers, policy makers and their likes.. hope a good b school makes u realize that rather than how to make the government and the public fools and play with their investments and increase liquidity. :P

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  18. @melbin: dont get personal...dont assume what i am trying to do...maybe im trying to fill in logic in the middle of some slogans..ive been trying to have a meaningful discussion with you where points can be brought across and compared..i understand you have an issue where i asked you if you are working..i was trying to see if you could connect with the industry's point of view..

    im not here to help you justify the question where ive asked you what the point of any degree is by your logic..you've gone and entangled yourself there..get yourself out..

    ive worked at the ground level of engineering...the place where all the fuckups of mindless designers and impractical mbas get manifested...ive been at that front and have made a difference..ive been trying to bring in all that here...

    like it or not,financial decisions affect the technical part of a project..i feel its important to know about financials so the technical and financial guys dont go working in different directions...its happened with me..now if you have a problem with the financial system the world follows,understand it and give solutions to change..there is no point in sitting back and shouting at the rest..

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  19. for your question on what managers do: im talking about the ones who've worked,understood ground realities and then gone for an mba: they make sure the technical and financial arms of the company work together...they are taking care of both the actual execution of projects and making sure the money comes in..double work?right?

    now there is another breed of mbas,which can be likened to what we call in our company stamp engineers...they dont know shit about anything and lecture everyone and become a pain for the company...they might have got a fat pay package but companies eventually throw them out...same for engineers who dont know their job..

    the third breed are the natural prodigies...they can be freshers and still handle tech and financial stuff of a company better than experienced guys...they should be given a chance to use their talent..

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  20. @lucidity: shuru kisne kiya tha? fyi i worked at a place and i did my own survey over there and found out that most of the managers didnt have much work to do and just came there and did talking and bullshitting all day long.. it was the middle management that worked... so what is the point in having highly paid employees who do practically nothing.... and yeah the perfect solution to the financial prob is reverting back to barter system... :P

    btw coming to the point.. what u are trying to say is that u need a middle guy who talks to both financial wing and technical wing.. why cant they just talk to each other and eliminate the middle guy? u can double the profit.....

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  21. @lucidity.. seems like didnt understnd the question abt the degree so i will answer it myself...
    for that first u have to explain what a degree is : a certificate that says u have the abc skills to do xyz job. doesnt say how good u are at it.. if u are able to convince a company tht u possess those skills... u dont need a degree.. most ppl dont have those skills so they opt for a college degree.. but i still stand by my point that a college degree is not the only way to acquire those skills....
    why would someone opt for a job as a manager
    a) they are good at it
    b) it pays more
    the ppl who come under category a dont need a degree to prove it.. they are natural and they enjoy doing it... then there are ppl who come in just for the money.... most of them just eat away all the profits of the company and dont give in much either.. like u said every tom dick and harry out there doing an mba just because everything they see is the money not because they think they are good at it...

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  22. @melbin: i didnt ask you if you worked just to unglify you..i wanted to find out where you got the viewpoint from..im not got to get you matey :-p...so leave that complex in the trash!

    now we gotta remember that what you have seen are SOME mbas...ive seen em like that and have also seen many who are using their combined knowledge to good effect..for that matter ive seen both types of basic engineers too...so it would be wrong to uh..castrate the whole cause of the excesses of some!

    now there are always going to be conflicts of interest between the financial and technical wing...you need someone with sound knowledge of both to resolve that,right?cause without knowing the inner workings of both,you can never know the long term effects of decisions made..

    now,please understand mba is not all about naturally available aptitude skills..check the list of subjects on say,the iim-b site..just like we have to learn subjects in our btech/mtech as courses where a guy explains concepts,you need to learn stuff in an mba coll (refer http://www.iimb.ernet.in/pgp/courses)

    plus the b-school atmosphere with all the seminars and case studies and interaction with people from umpteen spheres,gives you an overview of the whole industry..so if im a project guy,i can understand the problems which my vendors(manufacturing),finance guys,pr-advertising guys,front-end marketing guys and a host of others,face..

    and ive not said every tom,dick or harry's doing it for the money...i said every guy who does an mba is not guaranteed continuation solely of the basis of his degree in a company...now i add:a good company..

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