The global economic slump or ‘meltdown’ as the media prefers to call it has claimed 4.4 million jobs in the US alone. Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the ILO. Asia, particularly China and India have somewhat managed to weather the storm so far. Yes, there have been job losses, but this has largely been in the export and financial sectors. Needless to say however, the American MNCs in both these countries have been on a relentless job-cutting spree since the last quarter of 2008.
The US has been used to the lay-off culture for quite some time, but folks in India and China have experienced this on this large a scale for the first time. Removing people is the first action that an American company would take when faced with difficult times. It is the easiest thing to do. How about improving processes and streamlining expenses? Oh, but that would take time you see. Removing people is easy. Quick-fix solution. Worse, lay-offs are not performance based. You are just plain unlucky to happen to be in a job code that has been scrapped. However, Asians are not used to this. Asian companies would use lay offs as a last resort.
Look at Toyota. When the entire automobile industry flew with a begging bowl to the US Senate, Toyota was sitting pretty. What’s more, unlike GM and Ford, it had not even ‘eased cost pressures’ by firing employees. Look at Infosys, TCS and Wipro. There have been some performance based separation, but there have been no lay-offs. Forget all this, look at Satyam. A company which didn’t know where the next month’s salaries for employees was coming from, has not laid off a single employee. Isn’t that incredible?
I know it’ s hypocritical of me to deride American corporations when I am serving in one myself. But then I’ve joined those countless Indians who’ve sold their souls to American Capitalism. We want to own a good house at an expensive location, we want to drive the cars we dreamed about sitting in as kids, we want to wear expensive clothes and accessories. So, we make compromises with our feelings and sense of right and wrong. Who cares, if the person sitting in the next cubicle loses their job, we have to pay our EMI, right?
Economists are predicting that things will start looking up from the second quarter of 2010. Let’s see! We’ll wait…till then the color of the world will continue to be pink.