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Young and restless

Quite a few Indian men are showing signs of restlessness. This is resulting in increased job hopping and rising intra-national migration.

twitter-logoManu Kaushik | Print Edition: December 30, 2007

Amit Raina is 33, completed his MBA from Bombay University in 1999 and joined Mumbai-based ad agency Quadrant as a client servicing executive. Since then, he’s been in two other jobs and three cities. “I’ve been restless since I started my career and I don’t think that is going to change,” says Raina, who currently works in Delhi as Executive Vice President (Home Loans) at a global financial outfit.

“Money is not the only cause of this restlessness. My aim is to try and make the most of the opportunities that are up for grabs,” he says. Raina, who hails from Chandigarh, moved from Quadrant in Mumbai to the Chennai office of Rediffusion in 2000. “In 2003, I joined my present employer in Hyderabad, and was transferred to Delhi in 2006 in my current capacity,” he says.

Like Raina, the 31-year-old Avijit Das has also been on the move for the last 10 years. For him, shifting from one place to another in search of better opportunities has been a great learning experience. Das, who hails from Kolkata, completed his postgraduation from the Indian Institute of Packaging in Mumbai in 2000 and was picked up by Hindustan Lever (now Hindustan Unilever) from campus and posted in Pune. In 2003, he shifted to Bangalore as part of the joint venture between HLL and SC Johnson.

“The venture soon broke off and I returned to Pune.” Das is currently based in Delhi, working as Packaging Development Manager with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. “It doesn’t matter where you work, so long as it helps fulfil your requirements and aspirations.”

The US is often called the land of opportunities. India can now honestly claim to be a rival for that label. From retail to infrastructure to IT to telecom, there are opportunities galore for Indian men across the country. Says S. Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences: “Increased mobility is a hallmark of a dynamic economy. It is natural for men (and, women, too) to migrate to places where jobs are available. That is what we’re now seeing in India.”

Avijit Das, 31, Packaging Development Manager, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
Avijit Das, 31
Packaging Development Manager, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare

“It doesn’t matter where you work, so long as it helps fulfil your requirements and aspirations"

This trend, visible for ages, has now gained critical mass. Says Sharmila Rege, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Pune: “A closer look at the profile of Indian men indicates that they are restless, very ambitious and looking for fast-track career growth. The challenge for the economy is to meet their ambitions and aspirations.”

The expectations of the younger generation is vastly different from those of earlier ones. They tend to look at both short-term and long-term benefits. Says Dr Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chief (Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences), Max Healthcare: “The biggest difference is the aspirations of the men. Increased global exposure means everybody is now aware of what is happening elsewhere in the world.”

And it’s not only, or always, money that fans this restlessness. Vivek Bana, 27, completed his MBA from Amity International Business School in 2003 and joined an event management company in Delhi. Two years later, he joined DLF’s Events & Promotions Division in Gurgaon as a Senior Executive. “Moving cities for work is not an issue. What’s important is the job content and the satisfaction I get from it,” he says. In fact, our survey shows that one in four men in India actively want to settle down in some part of India other than their current place of residence, while another 29 per cent don’t mind doing so.

The rest feel rooted and don’t want to move. That means a little more than half of Indian men are actually open to the idea of moving cities. Corporate and organisational priorities are also pushing this trend. Says Rege: “In the services and manufacturing sectors, employees are liable to be shifted between different cities at frequent intervals for ‘on-site’ assignments.”

The Business Today-MaRS survey shows that this restlessness is most acute in the north zone, followed by the east and the west zones. Southern men emerge as the ones most rooted to their soil. Among cities, Delhi men come across as the most restless, very much in line with the regional data, but men in Pune—and not any of the southern cities—the least so.

Says Parasuraman: “The reason is simple: the four southern states—Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu—now lead the country in a number of indices including infrastructure, job opportunities, social security and political stability. So, it’s natural that local youth prefer to stay put.” This is in line with our survey, which shows that 65.2 per cent of men in South India are satisfied with their current standard of living. But opportunities can only be part of the reason. That’s because men in North India rank second on this parameter (63.2 per cent of them are satisfied with their current standard of living), yet the north tops the list of “restless” regions.

So, there you are. Greater opportunities, and soaring ambitions are fuelling a mass intra-nation migration of people, but this, and a modern way of life—as we see elsewhere in this cover package—in no way detracts from the traditional values that Indian men still hold dear. Maybe, just maybe, this will, over time, subsume the many sub-national identities that now make up India and result in the emergence of a truly pan-India Indian.

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