An anti-corruption herd…


Times like this, when Arnab Goswami (who is the self-proclaimed modern messiah of great journalism), is trying very hard to prove that the ‘anti-corruption‘ movement in India is now going international – leave me rather astounded. And frankly, I’m not astounded at anything new. People love causes. Wearing pretty T-shirts with snazzy ‘anna’ slogans, a couple of afternoons out in the sun, the excitement of ‘hey I’m being arrested’ can all be very exciting. Also very juvenile – but never mind that.

Here’s the real question, does more litigation/the enactment of more laws solve corruption?  The best question is however this; is corruption even a problem? Of course, this is a terrible question to be asking. It surely means that I must be corrupt, support corruption or at any rate be unwilling to do my bit to ‘root-out’ the unforgivable sin of corruption. I’m going to go out on a limb and say yup, all of those things are true.

Here’s why: Of course I am corrupt, like every other Indian I have been part of a system that has forced me to, against my wishes (nobody likes to part with money, nothing to do with nobility), to pay a bribe in order to get the job done. Of course its wrong and it doesn’t matter that if I hadn’t paid the bribe, I wouldn’t have gotten a passport.  I do support corruption, in that —  my understanding of it being a ‘problem’ is completely different. Am I unwilling to do my bit to ‘root out’ corruption, yes absolutely – because the movement is ill-conceived.

To begin with ‘corruption’ is not a problem, its a symptom of a larger problem. By waging war against a symptom, one isn’t really sorting anything out – the disease you see, is still around. In this case, the disease is poorly-designed incentives.

As Nitin Pai eloquently writes (and thankfully relieves me of explaining the theory behind incentives):

The idea of a ‘Jan Lok Pal’ is flawed and profoundly misunderstands the causes and solutions of corruption in India. It seeks to create another chunk of Government, more processes and rules, to solve a problem that, in part, exists because of too many chunks of Government, too many processes and rules.

If the ‘Jan Lok Pal’ presides over the same system that has corrupted civil servants, politicians, anti-corruption watchdogs, judges, media, civil society groups and ordinary citizens, why should we expect that the ombudsman will be incorruptible? Because the person is handpicked by unelected, unaccountable ‘civil society’ members? Those who propose that Nobel Laureates (of Indian origin, not even of Indian citizenship) and Ramon Magsaysay Award winners should be among those who pick the Great Ombudsman of India — who is both policeman and judge — insult the hundreds of millions of ordinary Indian voters who regularly exercise their right to franchise. For they are demanding that the Scandinavian grandees in the Nobel Committee and the Filipino members of the Magsaysay foundation should have an indirect role in selecting an all-powerful Indian official.

The argument that people should be involved in drafting legislation is fine, even if it misses the point that the Government is not a foreign entity but a representative of the people. It is entirely another thing to demand that the legislation drafted by an self-appointed, unaccountable and unrepresentative set of people be passed at the threat of blackmail. If we must have representatives of the people involved in law-making, we are better off if they are the elected ones, however flawed, as opposed to self-appointed ones, whatever prizes the latter might have won.

The ‘Jan Lok Pal’ will become another logjammed, politicised and ultimately corrupt institution, for the passionate masses who demand new institutions have a poor record of protecting the existing institutions. Where were the holders of candles, wearers of Gandhi topis and hunger-strikers when the offices of the Chief Election Commissioner, the Central Vigilance Commissioner and even the President of the Republic were handed out to persons with dubious credentials? If you didn’t come out to protest the perversion of these institutions, why are you somehow more likely to turn up to protest when a dubious person is sought to be made the ‘Jan Lok Pal’?

But this is us. Given this reality, the solution for corruption and malgovernance should be one that does not rely on the notoriously apathetic middle classes to come out on the streets. The solution is to take away the powers of discretion, the powers of rent-seeking from the Government and restore it back to the people. This is the idea of economic freedom. Societies with greater economic freedom have lower corruption. I have long argued that we are in this mess because we have been denied Reforms 2.0.

How can we have Reforms 2.0 if “those politicians” are unwilling to implement them? The answer is simple: By voting. Economic reforms are not on anyone’s political agenda because those who are most likely to benefit from them do not vote, and do not vote strategically

So here’s the solution; don’t keep adding layers upon layers of legislation!!

Legislation fails catastrophically (what lawyers like to dismiss as implementation problems) when it doesn’t account for incentives. India is known for fantastic legislation and implementation failure. However, implementation failure, like other forms of market failure, are signalling devices. They’re telling you something. They’re saying, for example, systems where clerks are under-paid sustain systems where bribes need to be paid. Systems where accountability is not structurally built-in allows for large-scale corruption…

In the meantime, if you are pro-Anna – consider this. What should you be supporting? Well-designed policy or one man holding a government to ransom?  For further reading consider reading: Why the Lok Pal is a bad idea.

When Mallika Sarabhai says that  “we live in the most exciting times for democratic India, at least in the last two decades”,  I wonder what she is referring to?  The fact that so many Indians think turning out in hippy t-shirts singing songs is the equivalent of a movement, or that the stalwarts of this ‘movement’ consider it to be truly ‘mass’ given that all of India has internet connectivity (sic), or the fact  that India’s need for heroes (read Anna) has grown so much that we should consider this the greatest signl of a fantastically dynamic democracy.

Painfully


The nature of pain (physical) is rather uninteresting. If you’re conscious you can bear it, if its unbearable then you’re probably not around to feel it anyway. Psychological pain, by contrast, is extremely interesting. People hurt each other all the time and the nature of pain differs each time. I’ve learnt recently, for example, that when I’m accused of overspending it results in a kind of blinding flash of pain in the middle of my forehead. However when the accusation is say – not  doing enough around the house the pain is more of a traveling headache. This is  interesting given that there is probably some connection, between what the mind/brain perceives as a grater insult and the amount of pain one feels. Does anyone know anymore about the subject?

Why you shouldn’t fall for ‘development’…


People are often, excited and tremendously, when they find out I work in what we like to call the ‘development sector’. Words like wow, passion, doing-your-bit and such get thrown about a lot. The more I hear stuff like this, the more disconcerted I feel.

The ‘development sector’ in India is one of the poorest performing sectors ever. I can make this statement because, the size of the development sector in India has never been accurately measured, there are no meta-analytical studies that estimate its size or ROI and there are only some arbitrary anecdotal pieces of evidence that constitute ‘impact’.

Most of these pieces of evidence aren’t based on a standard framework or analysis and so there is no meaningful way to measure improvement. I can also make this statement because – in all my years (which are not those many!) I have met very few people (none actually, but I keep hearing about such people) who are uniquely qualified to work with development.

The vast majority of non-profit CEOs are either MBAs or investment bankers. Most mid-management are either engineers, doctors, journalists who decided that it was now ‘time’ to work with development. I’m a staunch supporter of transferable skills. An MBA can bring valuable information about organisational effectiveness (in theory only :P) to an NGO, for example.

However, here is my problem. To practice medicine, you need to have had a degree in medicine, to become an advocate you need to demonstrate knowledge of the law. To become an educator or a non-profit professional; you only need to have ‘smarts’ and ‘passion’. Is this the best rigour we can bring to something we consider so important?

The point is, the ‘development’ sector is a myth. There really isn’t such a thing. If there were – it wouldn’t be so under-evolved. To see what I mean, consider project management. Project management is an IT curse. It’s a great tool that has been studied and dissected and forced-upon generations of coders for years. Its documented and you can even be a certified professional at it. Anything even remotely close or institutionalised for development? No.

Interestingly, nothing has ever been developed in-house. Instead, we know, that the social-sector side of the TATAs likes logic frameworks/models (borrowed from the military), DFID has its own propriety project framework and the rest of us try desperately to capture learning achievement and gender empowerment through PERT charts and Work Breakdown Structures.

The truth about the ‘development sector’ in India (and yes I work in it) is that none of us really know what we are doing. Nobody understands what ‘development’ means, what we should measure, how we should measure, what tools we should use and if there is any point at all to doing all that we – in a coherent clear-headed manner. The arrogance is sometimes astounding. And it kills the beauty of making an effort, the process of discovery and the opportunity that those of us who work in this sector have – which is to learn first.

Contextual Information


I’ve been slow to convert from Firefox to Chrome – despite the fact that Chrome is a lot faster, has more screen-estate and in general provides for a smoother browsing experience.

I’ve finally gotten rid of Firefox altogether though thanks to a great little extension called Apture Highlights. Although Apture works for Firefox too, it somehow fits with Chrome being more ‘new generation’.

What makes Apture absolutely fantastic is how real it has made the “contextual web” for me.  Sure, one doesn’t really need contextual links to save a few clicks. The great thing is that this is how we search for information in the real world — we read something, find something we don’t know about and ask. All without having to do a couple of intermediate steps in the middle.

Take a look at the video below:

Here’s what Venture Beat says about Apture

Perhaps the most coolest thing about this feature is the fact that you can also perform Apture searches within Apture content. I suspect most readers are used to following their curiosity through multiple Web searches and pages. Now you can do that without leaving the page where you started or opening a bunch of new browser tabs. Harris said publishers have found that readers stay on the page two to three times longer after Apture is activated.

Try it, it is awesome!

Wisdom from Fallon


Its been a while since I’ve read a series of books with as much fascination as  have read Jennifer Fallon’s many books.  The books are fantasy and would be considered lousy pulp-fiction by most. However, I find, that the books are both entertaining and educational.

I started reading them when someone told me I should move beyond Potter and Eragon, and of course, because I believe in all things magical. 😛

Fallon’s achievement is in creating a fragile and very human-like tale about fictitious countries and people. The crowning achievement, of all her books (actually only six, since I’ve read only those many), is “Elezaar’s Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power“. I will not tell you who or what Elezaar is, go read. The rest is obvious.

What is so astounding about these? The fact that they are incredibly applicable to real life – even for those of us who lead very ordinary lives.

Read for yourself:

1. Have a reason other than the pursuit of power, for pursuing it

2. Accept what you cannot change — change that which is unacceptable

3. Never appear to do better than your peers

4. Trust only yourself

5. Conceal your weaknesses, advertise your strengths

6. Regardless of who does the actual work — find a way to take the glory

7. Make others seek your aid

8. Use your enemies’ weaknesses against them

9. Keep people dependent on you — particularly those who might one day grow strong enough to challenge you

10. Your reputation is like a virgin — once violated it can never be restored

11. Do the unexpected

12. Kill the gander and the geese will be yours to slaughter at will

13. Never appear too bright or too clever

14. The people on the front line are closest to the problem — listen to their wisdom and then make their solutions your own

15. The mob likes a show — give them one as often as you can

16. Promise nothing

17. Scorn that which is out of reach, do not envy it

18. Never let an enemy’s blood splash on you — mud sticks but it’s easier to wash off than blood

19. Be merciful when it doesn’t matter — ruthless when it does

20. It is sometimes better to have an enemy on the inside looking out, than on the outside looking in

21. Demand change of others — but take it slowly yourself

22. Know when to ignore your advisors

23. Ask for help only from those in whose best interest it lies to aid you

24. Don’t lie — use only those parts of the truth that will aid you

25. Be generous — and keep a tally

26. Owe no man a favor

27. Let others argue while you take action

28. Know when to declare victory

29. Eventually, every leader must make the final decision

30. Never rely on lasting order — everything changes

Sure there is a lot of “blood and enemies” in there, but still. The rules apply.

Snazz and Pretty(ness)…


Development intervention evaluations are lousy for a bunch of reasons.

Organizations tend to overestimate their ‘impact’ – because they forget that their results are valid only for the population they track across time. They forget that ‘impact’ is subject to particular geographies, economic conditions, culture, aspirations and the opportunity costs beneficiaries place on participating in the intervention.

But there isn’t anything unduly surprising about this situation. After all development runs on funds and funds go to those who have the best impact. Sorry – let me rephrase to those who demonstrate the best impact.

If validity of research and impact doesn’t concern you – you aren’t alone. So what if people massage the data a bit or design studies to show a particular effect? In the end, people are ’empowered’ with all sorts of things right?

Children are empowered to go to school, parents are empowered to have ‘safe sex’ and communities are empowered to drink freshwater…. NB: Just don’t ask by how much!

I’m now a development sector person – so here is what I sit and do all day at a premiere development sector organization; answer questions.

Sample this:

If I said 7.2% of all children in India in the age group of X & Y do this – it is the same thing as saying 7.2% of all TV watching children in the same age-group do this, right?

My job description says I should be available at all times to answer ad hoc data requests to support other staff. Data pornographer.

But wait there is more . The ever present request for snazzy graphs and pretty graphs. I have nothing against good looking graphs. In fact, data visualization is a lovely discipline.

Nevertheless – there is something particularly vile about a request for a pretty/snazzy graph in the absence of good data. A poorly coloured graph which has some half-way decent data to show can still make a tonne of sense. But when a picture of a graph is sent you and you are asked to recreate a pretty version in excel – you know it is a lost battle.

Monopolizing TED


This post is an opinion. It is important that I state this upfront given the probability that its likely to be taken badly. This post is an opinion. Re-Stated. Opinion. Period.

Lately, I’ve become a big fan of saying things ‘upfront’ along with becoming a fan of ‘staying in the loop’, ‘re-defining impact’, ‘being on the same page’ and the like, but all that is a story for a different day.

TEDIndia is happening. TED has been ‘happening’, in a better way – for longer. Years ago, when TED found me – I spent several days downloading mp4 (s) to my Ipod. Qualitatively, what made the videos/talks different, was the fact that they celebrated the ‘small fry’, voices that haven’t been heard before.

Now take a look at the TEDIndia’s speakers list.

If you work with development in India – almost all those names are familiar to you. Where are the new ideas? Where is the innovation? A huge percentage of the potential speakers represent the ‘social enterprise’ space, there are also the ‘microfinance guys’, the ‘development economists’ and all then some more.

Some of these guys have done great work in the past. They’ve shaped the development space into what it currently is. They’ve also run out of ideas. Not to mention the ‘legendary-ness” of Usha Uthup.

Clearly, many of these people are established ‘greats’ with good reason. They’re excellent speakers and ,yes, maybe those of in this niche ‘development’ sector do know them – but this is about Global Recognition (with G and R in CAPITALS).

I beg to differ – clearly this is about fund raising and hobnobbing. Nothing wrong with that, just state it upfront.

So here’s my quibble — the idea was for TED bring ‘inspired’ thinking to the rest of us. On this front, TEDIndia – well you’ve failed me.

PS: This post, of course, has nothing to do with the fact that boss(es) are also on the speakers list. 😛

Edutainment?


A friend who works with ‘Education’ (as we in the third sector often like to put it) once told me ” In India its difficult enough to obtain an education without having to worry about its quality too”.

I like to believe in the potential of private enterprise to do do wonders for education, professor James Tooley’s new book – the beautiful tree, does a great job of pointing how this might be plausible with primary education.

I’m also a long seasoned advocate of the Friedman argument that the Government has no business being in business. In India there is no business quite as complicated (both on the regulatory scenario front and on the potential impact front) as the business of higher education.

The argument against the utility of certification and regulatory roadblocks to offering and receiving higher education more common sense than anything else.

Sadly though, when one takes sides one often (and I am guilty of this in more ways than one) — one forgets to account for the losers in the short-run. Take the ICFAI mess in the cities of Hyderabad and Jaipur for instance.

So what can you do, as a student – while the rest of us sit and pontificate about the merits and demerits of who should be in the business of education or who shouldn’t?

Take a look at this article which suggests that students’ check the following four things before committing a good year or more of their lives to an ‘institution’ –

a. Is the Institution awarding the degree, either a valid University or Deemed to be University? If yes, is it operating within its authorized jurisdiction?

b. Does the course/ programme have the approval of the relevant professional council?

c. Does the institution have valid accreditation?

d. Is the institution awarding the degree a member of the Association of Indian Universities?

I recommend everyone who is contemplating any sort of higher education (in India) read this piece thouroughly!

As the author points out towards the end:

“…it is important that students know the regulatory environment in the field of higher education in India. Knowing the legal requirements and taking reasonable care in these matters can help the youth of this country avoid losing money and precious years to well marketed, money-oriented educational business empires. It is certainly better to be careful than to be sorry!”

Firefox Fascination


fx_extensions_icon_275Working has managed to take me away from blogging as often as I once used to.

Its done other things to0 – like rekindle my interest in building, keeping and growing social networks, figuring out a GTD like system that actually works for me both at work and at home.

I call this phase of my existence the “networking-productivity MashUp” phase.

Central to this phase has been reconciling myself to use two separate laptops one for work and the other for my techie misadventures.

The two set-ups have much in common sans the OS and documents.

One of the things that maintains seamless similarity across any laptop/computer I am assigned to for a fairly reasonable length of time is my browser.

My Wakoopa usage tells me I spend a lot of my time in a ‘browser’ (combined for work and home use) and so I try to get it to work the way I like.

Firefox is still my favourite browser despite the existence and obviously faster performance of Chrome (which I use solely for GMail, GReader and so on…), the reason is its extensibility.

Here are my favourite Firefox add-ons with a description of why I like them.

Some are still ‘experimental’ so you’ll need to create an account to make them show up on the add-ons website.

Adblock Plus

Just the most effective way to get rid of ads on the net.

Better Flickr
Better GCal
Better Gmail 2
Better GReader
Better Lifehacker
Better YouTube

I like this set by Gina of lifehacker – and because I read Lifehacker every single day the ‘Better Lifehacker’ add on too is extraordinarily useful.

To use any or all of these you need to get GreaseMonkey.

bit.ly Preview
A little pop up overlay over all shortened url’s (not just Bitly) which is great, if you, ever need to discover what website that great nugget of knowledge came from while you stumbled along the net.

Brief’

A feed reading extension which is probably the simplest one to use!

Calvin and Hobbes

This one puts a new strip of the ‘greatest political philosopher ever’ 😀 in your status bar, comic relief is important!

Clean And Close

Adds a Clean And Close button to your download manager, which is useful if you download a lot and the long list bothers you.

CoLT

Makes it easy to copy link text and locations, especially useful for research where you want text and link sources.

Cooliris

The best description is the official one — “Cooliris (formerly PicLens) transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D Wall for searching, viewing and sharing the Web.” Very pretty indeed!

CyberSearch

I like how this adds to the ‘awesomeness’ of the awesome bar – search results directly from keywords. Cool.

Dafizilla Table2Clipboard

If you ever have had to copy a table from a web-page you will be very happy you found this!

Delicious Bookmarks

Doesn’t require a description does it this one!

Extension List Dumper

“Dumps a list of the installed extensions.” – very useful if you ever wanted to write your own “my favourite Firefox extensions” type blog post.

Fasterfox Lite

“Performance and network tweaks for Firefox but without the Pre-fetching”, which really wasn’t that useful.

– FindThatBand

Sorry!, but Google for this one. It lets you – “Search for a music artist or band on MySpace, LastFM, or Pandora”. 🙂

Fire.fm

Get your daily music fix from Last.fm.

FlashGot

Want downloads? Get FlashGot.
Google Gears

At the minimum you’ll need it to enable gmail offline and a faster loading version of word press.

Google Shortcuts

For keyboard shortcut junkies.

GoogleEnhancer

Adds numbers, highlighting, favicons and ‘search by date’ to Google searches

Image Toolbar

“Provides easy access to common image functions”, IE Style.

Intense Debate in Google Reader

Enables the Intense Debate comment system in Google Reader.

Link Alert

Changes the cursor to indicate the target of a link.

Linky

Converts text links into genuine, clickable links.

LiveClick

Adds feed reading and notifications to Live Bookmarks.

Morning Coffee
Keeps track of daily routine websites and opens them in tabs.

MovieRating

Lets you view the RottenTomatoes rating for a movie.

Net Notes

Store Notes on Websites in your Bookmarks.

No Squint

Manage site-specific full page and text zoom levels

Open in Google Docs
Open web documents directly in Google Docs

PDF Download

Allows you to choose what to do with a PDF file: download it, view it with an external viewer or view it as HTML.

Previewr

Allows “Easy link previewing”

QuickJava

Allows quick enable and disable of Java and Javascript from statusbar.

ReminderFox

Displays and manages reminders and ToDo’s

Search Cloudlet
More powerful Google search with context-aware tag clouds

Select-n-Go by Cleeki

Select, search, and preview instantly.

Site Launcher

Open websites using special keyboard shortcuts, like Launchy for Firefox

Smarter Wikipedia

Adds a “related articles” box to Wikipedia and allows searching of selected text from context menu

TwittyTunes

Post your tunes to Twitter using FoxyTunes, and more…

Ubiquity

An extension that allows for the use of dynamic commands in Firefox.

Unread Tabs Supreme

“Unread tabs are displayed in italics to indicate that you haven’t read them.

UrlbarExt

“Extends the Location Bar with set of commands to (Make Tiny URL,Copy URL,Search site,Go up,Tag pages easily ,Navigate through sequential URL’s,Unblock filtered websites and Surf anonymously using online phproxy servers)

YouTube Cinema

Play YouTube videos in cinema style.

A Working Mystery


Unless you are a qualified professional or an IT person in India; chances are you can identify with what I am just about to say.

You begin job hunting —  you’ve spent a fair sum of money obtaining a higher education, a bunch of degrees, you’ve been a good and dedicated student and an active participant in extra-curricular activities. By no means are you a blithering idiot or a fool and therefore you feel entitled to a well paying job.

Now here’s the problem- every job you look for and feel qualified for will state minimum requirements along the lines of “5 to 8 years experience”.  If students are busy getting qualified how are they supposed to have that kind of full-time experience? Unless of course they are expected to also work while studying, which is against collegiate law in most full-time university courses.

Higher education is supposed to qualify you to handle jobs that simple graduates cannot- which I gather is why people spend time and money doing it. If you emerge from a higher degree and still find the job market biased towards a decade of experience how are you supposed to deal with it? Simply put, where do students get this decade of experience? If no one wants to pay or hire articulate, young and bright yet inexperienced people – how do they become the ‘experienced’ people these companies want?

One solution is the ‘internship’ idea which works remarkably well in some cultural and national contexts, for example, in America. The only reason it works is because potential employers are willing to consider internships in lieu of full-time working experience. Most times they do; they also carefully consider waitress experience, window-washer experience and even the experience of planning a wedding!

A career counselor in Washington asked me rather quizzically why the  ‘internships’ on my resume were simply not put-down as ‘work-experience’. I had a hard time explaining that in India internships are not generally acceptable as quasi work-experience qualifications; at least employers don’t see it that way. In my lifetime – I am yet to see an Indian company hire a data quality person who has McDonald’s on their resume.

So we have a problem. One plausible explanation is that Indian internships, except at premiere institutions, are simply not ‘good enough’. Employers demand such exorbitant years of experience because candidates with lesser experience are simply not good enough.

This however seems like a fairly poor explanation to me two counts; the first one is best explained by an analogy to Indian sports (think Beijing Olympics) — how is it that a billion people seem to be able to produce only three world-class sportsmen? In a similar vein, what is it about the Indian education system or the job market that makes the vast majority of college graduates unemployable? The second reason for my skepticism is simply that the explanation is not intuitive enough to be true.

The truth seems to be mid-way and is really an economic phenomenon. Increasing the ‘experience required’ section narrows the pool of applicants which makes an HR person’s job much simpler. Just as most of the hiring in any company is done first through network exploration and lastly through the Internet.

Understanding this simple truth is like crossing a huge ice filled river with deep dangerous crevices to arrive upon a gigantic smoking sausage and a cup of hot chocolate. Strangely enough most job seekers begin their job searches on the Internet and turn to their networks last. In my case which I suspect is rather ‘normal’ this has more to do with self-esteem than extreme stupidity.

In India reducing the HR executive’s load is a vital exercise mostly because we turn out a huge number of potential employees from educational institutions, who are at the very least ‘formally qualified’. Reducing the number of applicants is therefore one way of reducing huge transaction costs and makes things easier.

Unhappily for a job-seeker, the incentives too are designed to make this system work and sustain itself. Because people are seldom paid what they deserve and even less so in response to the amount they actually work; there is a fairly large pool of people with a decade plus of experience who will work for peanuts. My network mostly consists of such people, which, explains the bit about self-esteem.

There are other powerful incentive structures in place to skew the job market and the economics of hire-and-fire. One of the more apparent of these is the simple fact that by hiring people with ‘at least half a decade or more of experience’ companies bypass training costs for their employees. A new recruit is almost always more costly than a more experienced one, especially in a situation where jobs are fewer and farther in between than there are people to claim them. By increasing the amount of experience required of potential candidates employers offset training costs to themselves at the expense of a prior company who actually invested in the recruit when he/she was new.

This, of course, is of no consequence whatsoever to the average job-seeker who jumps at the opportunity of a marginal pay raise in a new company. There is nothing surprising about this sort of behavior. Indeed a systematic study of the resumes of people ‘forty and above’ versus ‘thirty or below’ will reveal similar truths.

The vast majority of those who started working before higher-education exploded (which is vaguely linked to the arrival of the computer generation in India and the persistent presence of the government in higher education) have changed as few as three companies in their entire career spans, the more eccentric of these get to five. Contrast this with the BPO happy crowd and you will see a plethora of companies all over their resumes, a vast majority of these companies don’t even make it to the candidate’s CV thanks to space concerns and a ‘job-hippy’ tag.

Why does this happen? I reckon this has to do with the fact that job loyalty has hardly any benefits in India. This too is a consequence of the large pool of candidates companies can choose from. The costs of re-hiring, conventionally known as ‘menu-costs’ in economics, in the whole scheme of things are now negligible.

Little wonder then that more and more young people desperate to beat the ‘experience barrier’ fake everything from degree divisions to references and now increasingly ‘experience’ on their fancy templated resumes written on pirated versions of Microsoft Word. You have to admit the temptation to do so is strong – so strong in fact that there is unlikely to be a better man-made designed incentive structure to get people out of their beds and to work every single day of the week.

Companies are now moving towards investigative firms that do ‘background checks’ – which is all rather pointless given the incentives for these companies to ‘fake’ background reports themselves is astronomically high.  India will have yet another informal information market functioning in the blink of an eye and it will be perhaps be one of the most effecient prototypes the world has seen so far.