Saturday, December 29, 2001

Budget 2002: The citizen's charter

Open reinvestment avenues for newly created wealth; amend laws to breathe life into dead sectors like housing.
Gautam Chikermane
JANUARY IS when finance ministers hold court with the bigwigs of business and the fat cats of finance, so their demands can be heard ahead of the year’s budget. That exercise this year will be conducted between January 7 and 9. The average citizen is unrepresented, and goes unheard, in these confabulations. So, here’s an attempt to lend voice to some of his demands and recommendations to create a framework that is conducive to wealth creation by and for that average citizen:
Column in Outlook Money

Monday, December 17, 2001

There's much more to life than your job

People who equate self-worth with status find life turned upside down when they are handed a pink slip.
Gautam Chikermane
RECESSION WAS already looming on the horizon when four aircraft decided to ram it home to you. In less than a week after September 11, thousands lost jobs; in less than a month, hundreds of thousands more; over the next one year, 24 million are expected to be jobless. In an increasingly networked world, the effects of these job losses have been felt far and wide. Here in India as well. Layoffs don’t just affect your income, your financial security. All too often a job loss brings in its wake a fast-diminishing sense of self-worth, self-possession. With no phones to answer, no car to drive in, nowhere to drive to, nobody to deal with–all the familiar trappings of being successfully, gainfully employed–it’s easy to feel desolate and redundant.
But it’s also a misguided feeling. If a job alone decided our status and gave meaning to our lives, this whole business of creation would have been quite meaningless. Sure, a job is important–it’s our means to a regular income and to a position in society. But most important, it’s a vehicle of self-expression. There is such a thing as our calling, our dharma. When we’re lucky, the work we do is the work we were meant to do. When we’re not so lucky, we either find meaning in the work we do, or lead meaningless lives that pivot on the paraphernalia of our job–salary and status.
Column in Outlook Money

Saturday, December 1, 2001

Two-timers will rule

In these uncertain times, the key to staying employable is to acquire new skills and work on alternative careers.
Gautam Chikermane
IT’S NO longer in the realm of idle speculation or caged in the fertile minds of futurists–the age of simultaneous careers is upon us. It’s right here, knocking at your mind’s window, urging you to get going before you’re asked to go. If that sounds alarmist, here’s an eye-opening statistic: the International Labour Organisation estimates that 24 million jobs will be lost worldwide by the end of next year. In your 40s, even if you are safely ensconced in your career, you’ve probably gone as far as you can. As Peter F. Drucker points out in his latest article in The Economist: "A growing number of highly successful knowledge workers of both sexes–business managers, university teachers, museum directors, doctors–‘plateau’ in their 40s. They know they have achieved all they will achieve. If their work is all they have, they are in trouble."
Last month, in the US, I saw the first, most obvious signs of "trouble". During the one month I was there, the big American companies handed hundreds of thousands of workers the pink slip, even as the government did all it could to protect the profits of the very same corporations through a $150 billion bailout package. The story is only slightly different here. When we launched Intelligent Investor in July 1998, industry was in the throes of a recession and pink slips were flying all over the place. When the great dotcom dream soured, we witnessed a replay of the predictable industry response to slowdowns–mass layoffs hiding behind smart euphemisms like restructuring, rationalising, rightsizing...
Column in Outlook Money