Business Today

From the Editor

India's demographic dividend is not just about the "age bulge" that is propelling us into No. 3 position in the global economy.

Chaitanya Kalbag | Print Edition: September 19, 2010

H for Hitler, A for arrogant, R for rascal, I for idiot…" I'm sure many of us remember the "Hari Sadu" commercial about the cheeky young man getting back at his nasty boss because he's already heard from job site It was acid, funny, and emblematic of the "me do" generation that is trooping into India's workplaces. "Young people tend to 'snack' on jobs for a few years until they decide what they really want to do," says Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Founder and Vice Chairman of naukri.

India's demographic dividend is not just about the "age bulge" that is propelling us into No. 3 position in the global economy. It is about millions of young people who are very likely better educated than their parents, more aware of the world than their elders ever were, and clued in on the latest fashions, technology, trends and social mores. They are secure in their competence, and this confidence can come across as brashness. They are willing to walk away from a bad or boring job, take umbrage more easily, and require more handholding, coaching and mentoring than the serried ranks of their white-collared forefathers.

They are also less obsessed about financial stability - being broke and owing money on the plastic in their wallets does not dismay them as it did an earlier generation. The young and the restless also blow into their offices on a current of enthusiasm and exhilaration. They give the word "career" its other dictionary meaning: "a swift or headlong course… to rush in an uncontrolled way".

The chief executive of one of India's largest software companies told me ruefully recently that his young colleagues were not very respectful of their seniors. "Every quarter when our results are published, I get dozens of e-mails from junior staff telling me how to run the company," he said.

Associate Editor Saumya Bhattacharya, who specialises in human resource reporting and analysis, wrote this fortnight's cover package. The 11 companies she profiles have each had to make their own choices in managing young employees. HR expert Sonal Agrawal casts GenY in an insightful light in her column, and first-person manifestos from two dudes - Prateek Bhargava, 23, and Amit Bikram Banerjee, 26 - tell us how priorities stack up for people who got their first paychecks in the Aughts.

This issue is also replete with a lot of other good reading. I don't want to spoil your surprise and delight but will only tell you about our other big takeout, on ICICI, where the revolving glass door on the executive floor has been much ballyhooed but not adequately contexted. Not very long ago, it appeared ICICI's aura had begun to look more like a miasma. Like all large and sensible organisations, though, the bank has sailed through the shoals into calmer waters. Reading about the long service put in by the animals on ICICI's "talent farm", it was clear banking, at least, is not ready for a twenty-something in the boardroom.

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