To Work For An MNC Or Not: The Great Indian Middle Class Struggle

Posted on March 27, 2014 in Education

By Gaurav Upadhyay:

The great Indian middle class and its inspiration have always been a recipient and follower of global economic trends and dramas. The American-Indian and NRI terms evolved too ambitious for the mass of people who aspired to prove that their income, savings and education are worth some achievement in life. The hard working Indian was then recognized for his perseverance and commitment for excellence. Global delivery model, as called fashionably, emerged and evolved as a working model for MNCs and global companies who were looking out for round-the-clock assistance to grow businesses, on a cost effective scale. Offshore, as a terminology for people delivering quality and profits to global companies sitting in third world countries, prominently India has become the norm for global business operations, raising some debates over the quality of work, under utilization of human cerebral power and a false sense of security.


Post liberalisation, with the advent of IT, multi-national corporations which set up their centres in India were seen as mass recruiters. The average Indian graduates from not-so-premier colleges were lured to be a part of the globalisation wave. With the expansion of the trend, as the global companies realized the potential of low cost and high quality outputs, working with an MNC became a popular career choice for the youth. The deluge of BPOs, ITES and Captive units made the youth of the country well-dressed, well spoken with an American accent and caged into a constrained and moderated work culture. Working in midnight, compulsions of punching hours and repetitive work hinders in the growth of an individual to think beyond his capabilities.

A brand on your resume is a testimony of your pedigree and capabilities. This thought has seeped seamlessly into the minds of every graduate graduating from thousands of engineering colleges, and also in the minds of teachers, parents, recruiters and even venture capitalists. The nature, complexity and diversity of work experience have taken a back seat. The brand image being created by global companies has hit on the meritocracy and democratization of employment.

I have met and seen umpteen numbers of IIT and IIM graduates stuck in the ‘global identity aspiration syndrome’. When it comes to the question of career selection, the MNC brand takes priority. On the contrary, many new graduates have understood the importance of choosing the kind of work over choosing the company. But this comes at a cost of resistance from parents, seniors, mentors, and peers. Working with Indian companies is still considered an outdated decision. Thanks to the upcoming breed of internet entrepreneurs who have generated interest and curiosity amongst the elite premier school graduates to try and test the start-up work culture, some hope is still left. We need more talented brains to grow the gradually evolving Indian start-up community.

One of the biggest misconceptions we have been living with is that working with MNCs makes you rich. Fresh engineering graduates join offshore centres on a miniscule pay package which is not sufficient to sustain the living cost of a big city neither does it maintain the standards of living as a global employee. These folks live under a constant stress of financial status with their families, spouses and even public transport. The average income for this group is nowhere close to the expenses one has to bear to match with exaggerated needs for social stature, recreation and enhanced lifestyle. I wish I could coin a term ‘The average Indian IT guy

The pros and cons of the offshore model is a debatable topic and arguments against it might sound biased and stereotypical. However, the facts about the quality of work, bounded work-life and resistance to work for Indian companies certainly leave some questions open to discussion.