This cycle repeats every year, and it just keeps getting more and more stressful for most techies in India, or at least the non-IIT ones.
Yes, placement time at IITs.
As if the shameful burden of having studied at an institute lesser than the hallowed Indian Institute of Technology wasn't already killing us, we've had to bear the ignominy of the screaming headlines in newspapers every other day for the last few weeks.
Facebook offers IIT Bombay girl Rs 2 crore package.
Two IIT-Delhi students get Rs. 1.42-crore job deals each at Facebook.
Starting salaries for IIT graduates reach Rs 1 crore.
20-year-old Jaipur girl gets Rs. 2.1-crore job offer from Facebook.
Four IIT students ignore lure of 1 crore pay package.
You pick up the paper, glance at the front page headline and suddenly you feel your heart slowly sinking downwards in the neighbourhood of the kidney area. Even getting rejected by the few girls back in college didn't hurt this much.
I've just stopped reading the newspapers now. How much shame can a man tolerate? Here we are, approaching middle age, losing hair at a rate faster than you can say 'Dr Batras', toiling hard to get what used to feel like good salaries that are just pale in comparison to what these IITians are getting. (Except, of course, if you are a senior engineer in UP. Even IITians can't make the sort of money some babus do.)
Who are these children getting crores and crores of money straight out of college? Why is the government not making any rules against this attack against Indian culture, which emphasises on spiritualism more than materialism? What will they do with so much money? Why can't these news reports be censored or at least moved to inside pages of newspapers, hidden between ads for new apartment complexes in Gurgaon? Why are there no panel discussions being conducted by screaming journalists frothing at the mouth given they probably make even less money than non-IIT techies?
When I was a young boy studying to get into IIT, every time I heard the phrase 'three magical words', I used to think 'Indian Institute of Technology'. It was the love of my life, the object of my desires, the one that turned out to be an unrequited love affair. Alas.
I still didn't suffer THAT much, since I only started the IIT coaching when I was in class 11 and lost two years of my life in pursuit of greatness. These days, apparently some coaching institutes offer programs starting from the 6th grade. Quite rightly so. The sooner, the better. Why give kids the chance of having a life when they can spend their life solving integration and organic chemistry problems? After all, there are job packages worth crores waiting to be lapped up.
Oh yes, package. That amazing word. It's such a cute Indian phenomenon where otherwise coy neighbourhood aunties don't even blink when asking young bachelor men how much their package is. 'Did you get a good package? My son has a BIG package. Will they make your package bigger next year?' Chee chee.
But I digress. Back to newspapers and these quoted package figures. Converting dollar salaries to rupees and using the resultant number to mock ordinary Indians and make them feel suicidal must be our greatest invention since the great Indian rope trick. Sure Facebook made them a nice offer, but it involves living in Silicon Valley and perhaps some sign-on bonus and stock options that would vest over half a decade.
A crore salary in San Francisco may actually be equivalent to about a third in India in purchasing parity terms. Not that that's a small number. IITians sure put us ordinary mortals in our place like Australia does the Indian cricket team whenever we go visiting.
Too bad, there's not much I can do anymore. I would write the IIT-JEE again but I am already past the age-limit and the only old people they allow at IIT are Aamir Khan if he has to shoot a movie.
The good news is that my boy is four-years-old already. Maybe I should go look for a coaching institute that can help him start early and get an offer worth crores. I can't afford to waste any more time.
I can just hope that he grows up to bag a big package.
(Originally published at amreekandesi.com)