Monday, July 31, 2006

SE - Laborer Part I
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Industrial Revolution changed the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even now, a country’s development is based primarily on the industrial development achieved in the country. India is no exception.

Still, many people who start their work on the blow of siren in the factory early in the morning, work in shifts and leave home to spend happy time with their families in the evenings.

The late 1990’s and the early years of this decade have seen a major IT revolution in India – a lot of software companies emerged as major sources of employment in the job market – with every youth trying to enter the IT field irrespective of the educational background – be it a mechanical engineer or an electrical engineer or a graduate in biology. The author is one of them, working as a software engineer in a famous IT services company for the last 2 years.

After 2 years of working as a robot with no scope for personal life, staying 100s of kilometer (or miles) away from the family, I thought to make a retrospective of myself and the kind of living I live. It has lead to a comparison between me, i.e., a software engineer who earns a hefty 5-digit salary per month and a labourer who earns barely 1.5K – 2K pm. The results are quite astonishing as well as depressing for me.

An ordinary factory laborer has fixed shifts. He works only 8 hours per day.
A software engineer has no fixed timings (even though they are, they cannot be followed practically).

The laborer can claim O.T.s (overtime allowance) for the time exceeding the 8 hours.
No such luck for an S.E. It’s quite natural to work late nights, 10-16 hours per day on a regular basis.

The laborer has ample set of fixed leaves per year.
An S.E. can boast an average of 10-15 leaves per year – But rarely a PL approves a leave (You know, project deadlines is the standard reason).

A laborer has an employee union which takes care of his/her needs in the organization – to protest against any policy which questions his/her rights.
SEs are not that united. They never unite and involve themselves in such things.

A laborer enjoys the life with very few tensions holding a carefree attitude – He spends the day earnings in food, movies and drinking.
An SE views a movie only if tickets are available online for the 2 or 3 multiplexes in the city – that too on a weekend. Rarely, gets a chance to view a movie on the weekdays. Eats whatever he/she gets or relies on sandwiches/puffs/burgers/soft drinks… He too spends bulk of his earnings on food, drinks and movies, but rarely enjoys them.

A laborer has only one tension – whether he’ll get work the next day.
An SE has a lot of tensions – indifferent attitudes of boss and teammates, cell phone, SMSs, credit card and mobile bills, taxes, reports, presentations, follow ups, blah blah – but none of them is really a tension.

Well, the comparison goes on, but my feeling and my experience as a software engineer says that an SE is same as a laborer – he’s a software laborer, majority of them, leading a life worse than that of a normal laborer – except that he works in A.C. and earns a five digit lump sum salary at the end of the month.

I’ll continue the analogy in my next blog.

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