Friday, March 4, 2011

Perils of Homecoming

Yesterday, I was reflecting that the road that takes people away from their hometowns and countries in search of better career opportunities is a one-way path that seldom returns home, and even if it does, it’s not usually a happy homecoming.

A distant uncle of mine who spent a considerable time in the US, initially as a student and then worker, had a tough time when he returned to India.

For a decade or so, he hopped from one job to another and then gave up on jobs and started his business which didn’t work either. Unable to adjust with professional disappointments, he became bitterly dismissive of India and everything Indian. Few years back, he returned to the US for good.

A friend, who had gone to Mumbai for jobs after his MBA, said the other day that he dropped his plan to return to Calcutta (his hometown) last year as his search for jobs in Calcutta turned futile with either unsatisfactory roles or salaries way lower than his current pay being offered to him.

But generally people want to return home even if it means a compromise in salary and position. What they remain cynical about, however, is whether they would be able to adjust to another work culture, especially one where the job market is not very good. Job markets shape workers’ attitudes towards their work and coworkers. You find politics and groupism everywhere, but they are more active in ailing economies where there are fewer jobs to around. An acquaintance who had a decent job in Kerela (a not so good job market and Leftist bastion) left it suddenly one day fed up of office politics.

Companies, in weaker markets, are also slow in taking decisions. Two months ago, I went through a selection process for a Calcutta position and cleared it. They said they would roll out the offer in a week or two but kept delaying it under some pretext or the other. Finally, I was dropped – and I still don’t know why. (I have written a mail to their HR detailing the experience I was put through, and will publish it in this blog after sometime.)

Partly, people migrating from advanced economies are also to blame - they suffer from a superiority complex which makes them reluctant to adjust. My US uncle’s pet complaint through his years in India was, “Everything is wrong with this country.” Nowadays, I find myself feeling guilty of taking similar gloomy views of everything about Calcutta. My friends snub me for doing so and immediately leap to the defense of the city.

Calcutta was among the strongest economies in the country until it started sliding back with the coming of Leftists to power in 1977 (a year after I was born). People, however, are expecting it to change in a year or two with assembly elections couple of months away and a non-Left party expected to dislodge the Leftist government that’s responsible for this economic stalemate. Bengalis staying outside Bengal and wanting to return home have their eyes set on this election.

So will a political change, if that’s followed by economic betterment, bring about change in work culture in Calcutta? I am keeping my fingers crossed.


Being Pramoda... said...

Hi Indrashish, heard and read a lot such articles about Calcutta..hope some betterment come happens..

Such eexperiences leave lot of questions unanswered.. in the current situations, not even Indian government can handle such..>

any way.. nice one.. thanks for sharing..:)

indrablog said...

Hi Pramoda,
Ya, people are expecting some change. The Cong is expected to share power with TMC.

You dropped in after a long time. Thanks for that.


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