India

The Death and the Rape : IT Makes News

Sandeep Shelke

The city of Pune, known for its educational history and in modern times, Information Technology sector, has beset by two different incidents in the past week. Both these incidents are related to the booming IT sector and its effects on the society. It has also shown how the new industry is out of sync with the existing society and also that many a questions are left unsolved pertaining to these industries.

First it was a software engineer in Pune whose suicide made headlines in the media. Sandeep Shelke, an employee of Persistent systems jumped from the seventh floor window of his office. Before committing suicide, Shelke had sent an SMS to his brother about his plans. His younger brother worked in Tech Mahindra, a company whose office is located just opposite the Persistent. He had left a suicide note which gave the reason for his drastic act : the stress of work and unable to fulfill expectations of superiors.

Shelke, aged 25, was an IIT graduate. He had travelled overseas and was a team leader in his company. His death sparked a row in the city about the work stress. There has been a realisation in the Indian society that IT professionals have to face more pressure and load than others. But it is the money and better job prospects that prompt parents to drive their children to this sector. With the current slowdown in the US economy (which is the biggest clientale of Indian IT industry), sinking dollar and inflation in India, IT companies are already in mess. The salaries are down and employees are supposed to deliver more. With the down trend in the IT sector, job security of employees is also on the decline. All these factors contribute to the incidents like this. In Pune, Sandeep’s death is not the first one. In Bangalore also, there have been reports of suicide by techies. Companies for their part are saying that they try their best for relieving employees of mental stress, but it is the competition that is the main culprit of this saga.

On Saturday, a BPO employee was allegedly raped by the drivers of the cab she was traveling in. The girl, aged 22 years, was working the the BPO centre of IBM. According to her statement, she was called by her colleague in the night. But in the way to her office, was raped by the driver and his friends. The incident has shocked one and all. Police are investigating the case. This is the second case of this nature. In October, Jyotikumari Chaudhari, a 22-year-old employee of Wipro BPO was raped and murdered by the driver of the company jeep. After that, BPO companies were told to follow certain rules like not to allow women employees travel alone in the cab. They were also told to install GPRS system in the cabs. Still, this incident has shown that there are loopholes in the system. It also points to the disparity in the system. BPO employees, who are at times just 12th class pass, are paid salary ten or twenty times than what the fourth class employees in their companies. Sometimes, the qualification of both is same.

There are also cultural issues. Just two months ago, I had covered a news wherein the organisation of the cab drivers had called a day long strike. Besides other demands, the cab drivers were also demanding to impose a dress code for the girls of the BPOs. The organisation head, Nana Kshirsagar, at that time had told me how “these girl’s behaviour was improper and obscene.” It makes the drivers titillate, he had said. The native media in India is full of stories about the unethical conduct of call girl employees. Since majority of these employees come from other cities of states, they are easy target for the deprived and perverted minds.

When a girl falls prey to their action, it is not only lust-there is also a bit of jealousy. And ironically, the accused manage to create sympathy for himself on this count. As far as media is concerned, like other marketers, it thinks that IT and BPOs employees are its primary consumers. Therefore whatever happens to them makes front page headlines. The more media makes noise, the more industry is desperate. That is why in both the above cases, respective companies did not give comments but expressed sympathies with the victims. As though Any comment would have meant a confession!

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Un commentaire pour “The Death and the Rape : IT Makes News”

  1. Le 11 août 2008 à 18:21

    LeMagIT Blogs : Suicide et viol au menu de l’actualité de l’industrie IT indienne dit:

    […] Nota: ceci n’est qu’une adaptation, en français, du texte original de Devidas Deshpande […]

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