Friday, November 14, 2008

Are we geared for layoffs in India?

Airbus A340-300 in an older colour scheme in 2005Image via WikipediaLayoffs and pink slips are not new to the people of the US. From the time of the great depression, layoffs have been a permanent fixture in their corporate environment. People there understand that getting laid off does not signify the end of the world, nor is it construed as a permanent, personal black mark on their resume.

However, back here in India, layoffs have not been part of the culture so far. To get laid off is still seen in many quarters as a social stigma, a direct reflection of the individual's lack of capability. Not even people such as Karthik Rajaram, who have/had made their lives in the US, have been able to rid themselves of their cultural baggage.

And for the first time in the history of India, it appears that layoffs are inevitable. Everyday, we are hearing rumours of layoffs - in TCS, Wipro, Satyam, Infosys and many other big corporates. Jet Airways has already laid off people (and reinstated them because of government and political pressure). A quick look at google insights shows that India is a close second to the US in the number of searches for the word "layoff", with bangalore, the IT capital of India, leading among the cities.

As a nation are we ready for layoffs? Will the people who get laid off have the necessary support and understanding from their family and friends? Without a dole system or a 401(K)-like plan or some other form of insurance to fall back on, how are people going to manage financially? Will companies induct a laid off person even if (s)he is well qualified, without hesitation?

Are there support groups for recently laid off people? Are there on-line forums and groups available for these people to get advice, share experiences, find an understanding shoulder to lean on, and maybe find their next job?

In a nation where children routinely commit suicide for failing in exams, what are we doing to stop many more Karthik Rajarams?

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