The MeToo hashtags can become the pivots of women empowerment & societal change

In certain jokes floating through the social media I have seen the phrase “That escalated quickly”. Given the situations it gets used, I find it hilarious. The same happened with the MeToo and MeTooIndia hashtags on Twitter but in extremely serious way. They started trending slowly but then hit the high notes so loud that mere hashtags are on the brink of creating a social movement.

It all started with the details of one powerful man floating around. But no one was ready to take out his name. Then someone did. Women journalists pounced on it and his name became a raging wildfire. M J Akbar, a lion in journalism and now a cabinet minister in the central government. Turns out he was a predatory lion, using his mammoth stature in the journalism industry to sexually abuse young women journalists and use his cape of fear of power and influence to devour their self respect and dignity. Then came Alok Nath’s name out. The epitome of culture, decency and manhood. Turns out he is a good old rapist. The burning embers had caught fire. Names of corporate honchos and familiar names from the movie industries followed. Social media has lit up. Journalists and common people alike are baying for the blood of sexual predators.

I got into a row with popular South Indian singer Chinmayi on Twitter. She had called out the name of Vairamuthu, a song writer of almost legendary status who has collaborated on many of the Tamil songs of A R Rehman. Many aspiring singers and artists who had been abused by him were reaching out to her and taking her help in disclosing their experiences anonymously. My problem was two fold. How did the situation deteriorate to the level where so many women in the case of M J Akbar are reporting their abuse sagas and some of them happened 2 decades back? They kept quiet. So I wrote to Chinmayi requesting her to reveal the names of the victims as keeping quiet for so long and hiding behind anonymity are the reasons why sexual abuse has become a daily affair and common practice in the corporate world. She replied saying they have their career to worry about which is why they cannot call out their abusers. Exactly. Abusers are feeding on this fear to continue abusing. If Chinmayi had spoken out about her experiences long back, many younger singers may have escaped being preyed on by Vairamuthu. This is just one aspect of the situation. Victims are compromising on their self respect and dignity by choosing to suffer the indignity in silence. What is more, all men have become potential predators in the eyes of women. It is scary how women see men trying to engage with them in lighthearted conversations as flirting.

Women are also complicit in helping create such a toxic work environment. They have waded into a male bastion demanding equality in work and social status. This is not a Utopian world where men would step aside and let women take over the reins of power from them. What would men seek from women in return other than sexual favours? The ones who agreed laid the foundation stones of the system. From then on, everyone who went on to enter the system were conditioned to live in the system. From bedrooms sex became an accepted practice inside boardrooms. Women who couldn’t digest and come around to accepting all of this were scarred mentally with abuse. The heritage of the system has been handed down to the next generations of men who have only grown on to become more brazen in their actions.

What is astounding now is, other than a few murmurs in the movie industry and corporate offices, there is almost a deathly silence. It is improbable that the world of glitz, glamour, fashion and wealth could be a perfect world. Rather, it almost seems like everyone has taken shelter for the storm to pass. Shobhaa De the acclaimed writer and journalist was on TV to talk about sexual abuse in Bollywood and she said the ones who have been caught in the net are the expendables and small flies. The big and the mighty ones are hiding in plain sight. She was right on the money. Women have had to go through hell and back especially in the movie, aviation (airline) and healthcare (nursing) industries to even hold on to their jobs. But not a single mouth is opening to complain. Goes to show the heights of male dominance which in turn shows how low women have allowed themselves to be buried in the mire of sex, abuse and oppression.

Every individual’s responsibility in the society is to make it better for the next generations. It is not enough that we only try to make our children’s lives better. A life with self respect and dignity should get priority over everything else in society. All urban men who become influencers in the society are raised up in similar environments. Then how do some go on to become such wily predators? It is upon every individual to introspect and ask do we want to continue living inside such a slimy system where we have to keep worrying about our women’s safety and well being all the time. MeToo and MeTooIndia is a desperate call for change. They are the atomic bombs of the urban society. Their explosions have been triggered. What the abusers and predators fear is the mushroom cloud that emanates from it and envelops one and all. This may be the only chance for women to go up in arms against their tormentors. This has to become a movement, cleanse the urban world and it’s fire should then spread into rural heartlands. Women have always called out for equality and empowerment. Their time to take centerstage seems to have finally arrived.

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Sexual harassment thrives only on the fear and complacency of women

Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta seems to have opened up a massive cupboard of skeletons of sexual harassment. So many women in the corporate world are taking to Twitter to narrate their tales of similar sordid experiences at the hands of men and vent their anger. The hashtag Metoo is trending like fire on Twitter. Though I am glad that this discussion is finally happening, sadly, women are opening up with their stories years after their ordeal. Why? Because they were forced to hush up for the sake of their careers and lives. Why again? They were more fearful of the backlash and repercussions from the society. They simply had nowhere to go so they had to gulp down the venom and stay quiet.

Before getting into sexual harassment we need to understand what sex is. The answers are in the very foundations of our existence. We share many common traits with animals and one of them is procreation. Why do male species of animals exist? Essentially to reproduce. Their purpose is to pass on their sperms to the females. Male butterflies and males of some species of animals engage in a frantic race without even having food to deposit their sperms inside the ovaries of as many females as they could before they die. There are many more bizarre cases of reproduction process in nature. In many species including ours, males have evolved into taking care of their families. Human males have never been monogamous which is why society was created and marriage as a concept was enforced upon us. Marriage to me was actually a desperate measure to control the reproductive urge of men. When this was not enough, prostitution was created. This is why the Devdasi concept was introduced in ancient Indian society. Upper caste males were allowed to prey on girls and women from the lower castes and satisfy their sexual needs so that they would stay away from girls and women of their own castes. The term sex in itself exist only in our world and is not part of the animal world. Intercourse is just one aspect of the entire process of procreation among animals. But we have made it complex and convoluted. From discovering and understanding foreplay to creating contraceptives to writing an entire book on sex positions, we have actually wasted a humongous amount of our time and energy on something that was actually meant to be a clear and simple process.

Now where does sexual harassment come from? Males of all species in nature are supposed to woo females before mating with them. They engage in fierce battles to win over the right to mate with females. Male birds dance before the females, bring food, build nests and do an array of other things as part of the wooing process. This is why males of all animal species are beautiful and brightly colored. Only among us are women required to color themselves up and look good which for me is one more example to illustrate how male chauvinism dominates human society. What we call as flirting is actually the wooing process in nature. Thousands of years of societal rules have ensured that men don’t ask for sex the moment they like women. But there are men who do it nevertheless. One category consists of the ones with prominence in the society who misuse the value bestowed upon them by people and who knows how to use their influence to clamp down mouths and keep their dirty secrets in the dark. The other category consists of people from the lower strata of people without enough education and without proper nurturing who grew up seeing women getting treated with contempt and without value. The raging debate currently is about the first category. But there is only a thin line that separates the two categories. In both cases, men begin with flirting and move towards seeking sex. When both doesn’t work, men of first category resort to sexual harassment and men of second category indulge in rape. Why? The only difference is, men of the first category have too much at stake to lose if they resort to rape.

But why does all of this happen? Because women blame fellow women for their ordeals. Why? Because there is a huge gap in the mental makeup of women from older and current generations. Women from older generations used to suffer immensely and surrender to the whim and fancies of men to keep the relationships from breaking apart. But this goes a lot deeper. Men with power and influence in the past used to try and hook up with women they fancied. Some women in turn used men’s lust for sex to satisfy their own societal needs. This is very much in relevance and vogue even now. This is the origin for the need of complicity. This is why men expect all women to comply and give in to their needs which is why men often say when another man’s wife doesn’t have a problem doing something why are their wives complaining about it. So the burden of blame falls squarely on the shoulders of women who do not want to comply. This is why women cannot go to other women and open up about their ordeals because of the fear and apprehension that older generations could put the blame on them and use it as an opportunity to make them give up their careers for a domesticated life and their more naive friends and peers could possibly advise them to give into the wishes of men and keep quiet about it to save their careers.

Women of modern times have hardly reasons to complain though. Here is the amazing and heart wrenching saga of Nangeli (https://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/did-you-know-19th-centurys-breast-tax-in-kerala-is-the-darkest-spot-on-humanity-ever/401758). In the erstwhile Travancore kingdom in Kerala about 300 years back, women from the lower castes were forced to walk around without covering their breasts and had to pay taxes based on the size of their breasts. Nangeli chose to defy the demented rule and all the ensuing odds by covering her breasts. When authorities came to collect taxes, she chopped off her breasts, gave them as tax and bled to death. Her act of unimaginable courage was enough to stop this horrendous practice forever. When the entire society was complacent, all it took was one woman’s sacrifice to bring about the change.

Its a pity that educated women still fear backlashes from men and society, suffer the ignominy of sexual harassment and choose to speak about it much later. They need to look for inspiration from history, from the lives of heroic women like Nangeli who chose to not bow and lay down their self respect and integrity at the feet of men and societal diktats. Sexual harassment and sexual predation continues to exist because women in the past have shied away from opening up their torturous lives to the world. Speak up and force the society to change now. That is the only way to make the lives of the future generations of girls and women better and safer. Nangeli, Joan of Arc, Rani Laxmi bhai and countless more brave heart women must be looking down and smirking at the pathetic state women have put themselves in.

The intricacies of resume writing and job search in an automated corporate world

Writing a resume has been the biggest bane of job seekers and sometimes it would seem to be much worse than not getting a job itself. We pore over 100s of different formats available through contacts and on the internet, but we are never sure if our resumes are good enough to land us our desired jobs. This apprehension increases exponentially every time our job applications get rejected by companies when we believe we have applied for the jobs that are the best fits for us. I have gone through all of it and I have learned very important lessons as well.

Now what is the challenge to writing a resume? There are three aspects to a resume. One that represents who we are, the second that positions us in the job market and the third that satisfies job requirements. Then they say resumes cannot be more than two pages long. Freshers and people with less than 3 years experience usually struggle to make their resumes to 2 pages. For people with more than 8 years of experience, the pain is to keep it down to 2 pages. Now bringing together these three aspects into 2 pages does seem like a humongous task, but it really is not.

Most companies now use automated systems to screen resumes which means technology rather than humanity is scanning rather than reading our resumes. Now technology is not intelligent so it is taught to look for keywords. We are traditionally used to writing sentences to describe ourselves so suddenly articulation is not in vogue anymore. We are being made to run helter-skelter in search of keywords. Even job sites are using keywords to filter out and show us jobs that match our profiles. I am wondering how long before keywords get replaced by hashtags.

Keywords represent only industry standard definitions and requirements and has got nothing to do with a person’s skills, abilities and most importantly experience. The primary problem with a resume is that it only allows us to list our activities in our previous and current employment. There is no way to speak out about our experiences through our resumes unless we are called for interviews. A business analyst may have far greater experiences with understanding of different business environments in day to day activities than what is required for a particular job profile but because he/she is not able to express it through the resume, a person assessing the resume will never get to “feel” the way the candidate feels about a job profile. Keywords have only compounded this problem and killed off the human aspect completely.

Now, there is no perfect format for a resume. Standard formats vary across jobs and domains. But what we need to do is to create a relevant resume that clearly highlights our current status, past experiences and our aspirations. Everything starts seeming important- what we have done before, what we are doing now and what we want to do in our next job and all we have is 2 pages. What I do is to write down everything that comes to my mind and let it go to 4 or 5 pages. Then I start thinking about what jobs do I want to apply for. I cannot position myself to be a candidate for 10 different types of jobs or roles. Spreading myself that far and thin will only result in my profile losing relevance in the market. I have to narrow it down to mostly 3. Find 2 job profiles I am aspiring to work on and keep the 3rd one as the continuation of my current or previous job as contingency plan if in case I do not get the jobs I am aspiring for. Then start searching for open vacancies corresponding to these job profiles on company websites and read through the job descriptions. This I believe is the best way to understand the expectations of companies regarding job profiles and also find relevant keywords.

The tricky and interesting part is yet to come. The challenge is to use these keywords and job descriptions to tailor our present and past experiences to make our resume a good fit for the job and worthy enough to be noticed. We are not required to list out all our experiences in our resumes. Only what is relevant for a particular job is required. Our experiences with older companies should get lesser in the number of words and more streamlined towards what we are aspiring for in our next job. For example, client engagement plays a major role in consulting gigs. So if someone is aspiring for consulting jobs and has extensive experience in client engagement through a variety of jobs, highlight client engagement and the ability to handle clients and leave out what is not relevant. This way the 4-5 page resume will get streamlined into a 2 page one. We do not have to actually worry much about all of this now. The challenge was before the time of LinkedIn. Now we can write whatever we want on our LinkedIn profiles, use it’s condensed version as our resumes and put the links to our LinkedIn profiles in our resumes. The automated resume scanning system works somewhat similarly to website SEOs. SEOs scan websites for keywords. The search ranking of the website becomes better when more keywords are detected. The resume scanning system must also be ranking resumes based on keywords so the strategy should be to show these keywords in our resumes to the scanning system.

Indian job market has always been notoriously inconsiderate to the aspirations of job seekers. An ex-colleague  in the Netherlands was completely into medical research when suddenly he developed the affinity for computers. He studied computers for a bit and eventually moved into a IT support job. It was a jaw dropping experience for me. In India, not even in my wildest dreams in a million years would this be possible. In the early years of my career, I was interviewed by someone who opted to hire me on contract. What I didn’t know was that the HR person wasn’t convinced about his decision to hire me and she had a strong intuition that I would get another offer very soon which was exactly what happened. What this translates into is that if we are not getting the jobs we are aspiring for and if we apply for jobs that do not require the academic qualifications and the experience we have, we will get rejected even if we are open to working on a lower pay. The perspective is that the job would be a stop gap arrangement for us and we will move out as soon as we get the job what we are looking for.

There are no perfect jobs so there are no perfect resumes. Stuffing up our resumes with keywords is no validator to our relevance in the job market. Candidates for senior roles are all being searched and dug out from LinkedIn now. Well written resumes and completed LinkedIn profiles shows how much time people have invested on themselves which in turn indicates how much they value their work experiences. Job search has become a maze of complex uncertainty and resumes are just one aspect of it. If a resume is being scanned for 30 or 60 seconds before a decision is made, then what we need to do is to first see if there are any lucky stars beaming at us before applying for jobs.

Why the value of the corporate world, it’s management and education system has eroded

Being a Manager has been the most coveted designation in the corporate and industrial realms. Not so much now as designations do not match the actual role the employees play in their jobs in many cases. General Management has gone under the corporate knife and has been chopped into many pieces. There are interesting reasons why management has lost it’s sheen and why the business world has become cold and calculated.

The pyramidal structure of the corporate hierarchy has become pot-bellied through the years. The middle region of the pyramid has been burgeoning because of the exponential increase in the number of managers and manager hierarchy. I see this from a very simple and real life perspective. Consider a big farmland on which different types of cultivation is done. There is paddy, corn, apples, oranges, grapes, olives and different types of vegetables. When the farmland was set up, only a single manager was needed. But as the number of items being cultivated grew, it gradually became impossible for one person to manage it all. So now there is someone who manages paddy, one for corn, one for apples, one for oranges, etc. Up until this point, it looks feasible and relevant. But if they start having different managers for sowing and harvesting paddy or different managers for planting and growing apple trees and yet another manager for plucking apples then it slowly descends into a huge long term problem. Every company goes through corporate restructuring periodically for a variety of a reasons and this is when the biggest problem rears up it’s ugly head. With so many functionalities and managers to consider, it becomes blinding as to what roles and functions are relevant and needs to stay and what needs to be scrapped. A peep inside our history is enough for conclusive proof. The biggest empires of the past all grew beyond manageable proportions and decayed away with time simply because of management issues.

Management is an art we need to keep learning and practicing throughout our lives. The entire concept of management can be sliced into two big pieces. Self management and people management. Self management starts from the time we start walking. Now here is something interesting. Our society has migrated from a community based life to an individualistic isolated lifestyle. But the rules of raising us up hasn’t changed. We walk, we fall, we try again. We are taught the art of patience, perseverance and resilience very early in life. Our preparation on time management also starts very early when we are made to write exams from school days. Now Japanese schools do not think this is right. So there are no exams for kids till they reach the 4th grade. Till then they are not evaluated on their academic or time management skills. The focus is on building their soft skills especially their behavioral skills and making them live like in a community with other kids. There is a very important aspect to this. Kids are made to get their fundamentals in place rather than crowd their minds with numerous aspects of life and confuse them. Science says 80% of our brain development happens in the first 3 years of our lives which makes it most critical time of our nurturing. When we take all of this into account, it boils down to one thing. Good managers start early at learning management.

Then comes people management. Till the 4th grade, Japanese schools focus on developing two critical aspects of the personality of their kids : Empathy and Compassion and they have a reason for this. They follow the Clan organization culture and Democratic method of leadership. It requires a very inclusive mindset of working and decision making needs the consensus of everyone involved, no matter what their role in the organization is. But this culture is in perpetual conflict with that of the rest of the world. Empathy and compassion foster emotional intelligence in us but becomes the biggest roadblock to decision making. Take the example of policemen and lawyers. They are trained to focus only on evidence. If they grow emotional intelligence, no crime will be a crime and there will be no punishments which means there will be no law in the land. Ideally, we just need to add excellent communications skills, empathy and compassion to self management skills to become good people managers. But in the corporate world we are part of, none of these are required. Managers are expected to drive people at work like shepherds drive cattle to graze. Team members are neither expected nor encouraged to learn anything more than what they need to know to do the work assigned to them. There are also organizations where managers are used as thugs and enforcers to hire, intimidate and coerce employees to quit unwillingly which I have seen and experienced.

These are the reasons why the world of business seem so cold and hard. Empathy and compassion have no place in that realm. Banks cannot function on emotional intelligence. No loans will ever be recovered. This is why outside of Japan, kids start writing exams early. Our lives are made competitive and good scores are rewarded so that we focus solely on getting better scores to get the rewards. We are not allowed to grow emotional intelligence and our personality development is done devoid of empathy and compassion. This is why there is growing discontent and ire against the existing education system. The education system is being blamed for creating robots rather than humans that can easily fit into the corporate world. Corporate world runs only on numbers and our lives are far more complex and evolved to be measured and defined with just numbers. A growing population of people are homeschooling their kids simply because nothing much has changed in all these years. Schools are nurturing kids the same way their parents were nurtured, to grow up and fit into corporate jobs. Education no longer symbolizes learning. Older generations have had to unlearn many of the things they learned through the education system to understand the world and life around them.

Brigette Hyacinth, an influencer on LinkedIn has been creating quite a stir in the community by openly questioning the stale hiring policies in the corporate world. Resumes of candidates are being evaluated by automated systems run by software and they use keywords to connect and match resumes with job roles. This is the best example of the corporate world needing robots rather than human beings to work for them. Those keywords take precedence over talent, hard work, skills and experience which filters out people who truly deserve to get those jobs. I have been a victim of this system as well.

But all does not seem to be lost. I happened to read about how people from the corporate world in the US metropolises are quitting jobs and moving to far away places like Arizona to live in organic farm based communities. The owner of a large golf course seems to have redesigned the golf course to start an organic farm which indicates that the situation has become quite serious. On a funny note, this should have been expected as organizations have been creating cattle managers all this time and they must have grown tired of managing people who have become robots. Organizations are streamlining and making their hierarchy flatter with lesser number of managers. The growing support Brigette is receiving for her comments even from the HR community is very heartening. The wind of change seems to be blowing, slowly but surely.

Life hacks to deal with urban stress

I had a very interesting train ride recently. Travelling is boring if we are into reading, listening to music or watching movies during the journey. What makes travel interesting, especially by public transport is the diversity of people who are part of the journey. We can engage in conversations with people and experience their experiences and we can also do non-verbal understanding of people by picking up cues from their behavior.

So there was this girl sitting diagonally opposite to me and she was sitting beside an elderly couple so my initial impression was that she was travelling with them. But that changed quickly when I realized that she was never part of their conversation. They both seemed free spirited and were chatting on animatedly, but this girl was keeping herself away from all of it. She looked very young and it looked odd because young people especially girls get into conversations quickly with such elderly people. When they tried to strike up a conversation with her, she spoke a bit, then took out a book to read and eventually went off to sleep. Years of observing and understanding cues from people told me that something about her was not right. Even the way she was sleeping didn’t feel right. After she woke up, I started talking to the elderly couple and slowly dragged her into the conversation. After they left, I continued the conversation with her. That’s when it all came out.

She is employed in a multinational company and was going on a short vacation to her parents’ home. A bit more soul searching and it turned out that she was stressed from work and was running away. To add to this, she is 23 years old. I was astounded. Stressed at 23? That is an age when we adapt to life in a jiffy even it is on a remote island. We don’t even know what stress is at that age. That’s when I realized there is something different about her. She realized that she is stressed and she decided to do something about it. 99% of people at her age wouldn’t have managed to do both. I have been through all of this and I am well aware of what was bothering her. She is not stressed from work, she is stressed from urban life.

They say to become successful, if you can do something, do it yesterday. This is how the corporate world works and is reflected in every aspect of urban life. In the morning, everyone wants to reach office faster and in the evening, everyone wants to reach home faster. Even travelling by public transport is stressful because everyone in the bus or train is stressed about reaching faster and the effect spreads to everyone. Then there is stress from work, stress about household chores, taking care of kids, the list is endless. Cities have become huge stress engines. Then there is something else going on that we are conveniently choosing to ignore.

Normal working time is 9 hours which can extend to 10 or sometimes longer. What people don’t do is to add their travel time to working hours. The travel time is for going to their work place and back so that time has to be added to their working hours. From the time we wake up in the morning, everything we do is oriented in such way so as to make sure that we start travelling to office at a particular time to reach office when our work time starts. We even wake up at a particular time to accomplish this. Our goal from the time we wake up is to reach office. After we finish work, we get back home, get our household chores done and go to sleep at a particular time, with the objective of waking up in the morning to reach office on time the next day. So what is our agenda for the week? Reach Office. Week after week, month after month, year after year, Reach Office is our agenda for 5 days a week. When life becomes this monotonous and when the stress of life in the city gets to us, who wouldn’t burn out after sometime? People who force themselves to carry this for longer duration are the ones who end up with diseases, especially cardiovascular ones.

The question is, how do we pull ourselves out of this hole that too when the Reach Office agenda is upon us relentlessly? Our focus has been oriented towards the Reach Office agenda through years of following its schedule. Tamper with it. Form a habit of doing some activity we look forward to doing in the morning or evening, before or after office. Going into nature is the best way to beat stress but in the urban world, there is not much nature left to savor. In physical activities, dance is the best or a good game of badminton or table tennis. Dancing releases our good hormones which keeps us happy and confident throughout the day. Nature walk and bird photography is a great way to increase patience and focus which can help us significantly in our professional life. Such activities also help us to reduce stress. Now we have another agenda to focus on so the intensity of focus on the Reach Office agenda gets reduced and that in itself contributes to decrease in stress.

Another idea to reduce stress from this mundane urban life is to go on trips away from the bustle of the cities. But there is a little twist here. Do the planning in the preceding weekend for the trip in the next weekend. Now there is something exciting to look forward to and this excitement would drown out the stress of working and travelling in the city for the entire week. We will be on a countdown and with each passing day we will be preparing for the trip. Our mind is now not focused on the Reach Office agenda but it keeps on working because it has become a mechanical aspect of our lives.

The most important thing to remember here is to not run without a plan. We can only run for so long and so far before we have to return to our regular lives. Running away without doing anything and returning will make life even more arduous and painful and the stress will accumulate even more. So run with a plan. Do whatever your heart desires, expend all the pent up energy, go to the mountains and rivers, the blue and the green colors. They can absorb our negative energies and replenish us with fresh energy.

The worst thing happening to us now is that the urban life we are leading is limiting us from exploring ourselves and pushing our boundaries. Our daily lifecycle is being controlled by money based on time. Long hours in the office chairs exhaust our minds which is slowly culling our other abilities. We are falling sick because we are not listening to voices from within us and we are not giving the rejuvenation our mind and body is desperately asking for. Finally what we need to realize is that we are all going through phases of life. This corporate phase will run its course with time, so will the time to raise our children which runs in parallel. If we exhaust ourselves in this phase of life and do not figure out our abilities and passions, we wouldn’t know what to do with our lives when this phase of life ends and we are out of work and our kids have left us. The older generation is already suffering this fate. Ours will be disenchantment to much higher levels.

There was a malayalam movie released 2 years back called Charlie. There are very interesting and important takeaways from the movie. The female protagonist in the movie called Tessa becomes disenchanted with work and urban life and quits both. When she returns to her ancestral home, she gets hounded for marriage and a life afterwards in the US. She bolts and that’s when she comes across the free spirited Charlie. He keeps delaying having a conversation with her and when his father asks him why he replies that it’s not yet time to meet her. The reason is he wants her to first understand what she is looking for in life and why she is interested in meeting him. Without clarity in our thoughts and actions, our lives become meaningless. I told the girl from the train that she is half Tessa now. Unless she understands herself and stop the urban life from bothering her, she will never find her Charlie. If she runs with a clouded mind, she may not even recognize her Charlie if she comes across him. Hopefully this will motivate her to find herself and figure out her life.

H1B lottery – beginning of the end of another gold rush?

The din over the H1B saga is growing louder and the accusations against 3 Indian MNCs seem to be a bit over the top. I am not trying to exonerate them in any way, they have indeed played their part in deteriorating the situation, but they are not the only ones involved.

I believe the US government itself has diluted the true purpose of the H1B visa. The objective of the H1B visa is for the American MNCs to recruit and move skilled people from around the world to work from the US. Now which are the companies that fit into the category of American MNCs? Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, etc.  are the names that first come to mind. Do these companies need to bring in 65,000 people every year from abroad to work for them in the US? Only fresh applicants and the ones whose visas have expired consume the 65,000 visas. The lifespan of the visa is 3 years and at any point in time, 130,000 active visa holders are already out there in the market on top of the 65,000 visas issued in any year. It would be unbelievable to even imagine that American MNCs would bring so many workers into the country every year. What will happen to the employment market for local people? Even then, Bill Gates and many other IT corporate honchos have been openly advocating about increasing the H1B visa numbers. So if the American MNCs are not getting a decent enough piece of the pie, who are the demons gobbling up the visas?

I am a little blurred at the moment with regards to the definition of a MNC. Top American companies have operated in the US for many years before they expanded their presence to other countries. Indian companies operating out of India register their companies in the US and they become MNCs? Is it just that easy? Why is not required that a company needs to have a pedigree and legacy of operating out of its parent country for say, 10 years in a given industry and have documented proof to show that they are a profitable company before they are allowed to set up offices in other countries? Why didn’t the US government set up a different visa quota system for American and foreign MNCs? With due respect to everyone and without any racial discrimination, a company registered in the US solely with the intention of outsourcing work from the US to the native country of the founder/a stakeholder should not be given the status of a MNC. Why didn’t the US government strictly ensure that Indian MNCs pay their foreign workers the same salary as local employees in the US? Indian MNCs have made mountains of money by paying a fraction of the salary of what they should have.

What Theo Negri experienced (http://www.firstpost.com/world/h-1b-whistleblower-theo-negri-on-how-lottery-salaries-are-gamed-by-tcs-infosys-cognizant-3404384.html) and what the real threat to the visa system is does not come from the Indian MNCs though. Indian MNCs ensure that they do enough background verification of the employees before they hire them. But there are plenty of devious companies that don’t. They don’t hog visas but the damage they do to the visa system and genuine applicants is enormous. They have offices in the US, they hire people from India on their payroll, take them to the US and contract them out to work for companies there. People have to pay a lot of money to these companies to get the visa and they are tied down for at least 2 years on bond to work on the company’s payroll. Contracting can happen through several intermediate companies with the effect that what employees get in hand as salary becomes very less. It becomes an uphill task for these people to recoup what they spent and break even. These body shopping companies develop excellent knowledge of the US market requirements and they know how to showcase the resume of potential candidates that fit the job requirements. Bloated work experience and skills and even fake certificates are the usual methods these companies use. They even know which cities people should fly to in the US at any given time, where border entry checking would be a bit more lenient.

Indian MNCs have also misused other types of work visas like the L1 and the B1 visa. How did this blatant misuse of the US work visa system continue for so many years? How is it possible that these companies openly flouted the country’s labor laws? How do body shopping companies know which city to be used as port of entry? Why did the US government allow the visa system to be manipulated so badly that people with below average skills could enter the country and get employment? There has to be a lot more at play here that is seen. The powerful Indian lobby in the US must have kept the entire visa system at bay by keeping all the stakeholders happy. After all, the money involved here is monstrous. Forget everything else; I was wondering one day about the number of people who might be applying for US visa of any type every single day. They all have to pay visa application fee. Many of the visa applications get rejected as well but the application fee is not reimbursed. How much money is the US government making each day simply from visa application fee from around the world? It is staggering.

With the Green Card as the point of attraction, the world ended up believing that US is the heaven in the new world, just like the people of Europe believed Jerusalem is a land flowing with milk and honey and headed there to start the Crusades. From the time Europeans arrived on the Mayflower and landed on American soil, people have had to toil really hard to make America what she is today. Life is not different anywhere in the world and to come up in life, we have to toil hard no matter where we are. The higher value of the dollar and the status symbol of being in the US is what drive most people in India to the US. It even helps Indian grooms get more beautiful wives and higher dowry. The gold rush had to stop sometime. I saw this coming in the aftermath of the 2008 economic meltdown. I am surprised it lasted so long.

http://www.firstpost.com/world/white-house-h1b-visa-assault-powered-by-indian-origin-professors-research-3412766.html