I think I am a victim of globalisation. The same “tion” that shut the small trading shops, small magazines, small banks, small hotels and gave it away to the big corporations. I used to work in a small magazine which could pay a salary every month and I was their general manager. It was heady times. Vinod Mehta was editing Debonair, Pritish Nandy was editing Illustrated Weekly, Gulshan Ewing was editing Eves Weekly, RV Pandit was editing Onlooker, Desmond Doig was editing Youth Times, some editor was editing Mirror, Vishwanath was editing Caravan and there was hope eternal for small magazines. I was too shy to try and work in a newspaper so I stuck to magazines.
But along came the crunch in advertising. Those days there were small ad agencies like Frank Simoes Advertising, Sylvester D’Cunha advertising, Chaitra Advertising, Everest Advertising, Interpub, Trikaya, etc. who would give us advertisements. However, the situation drastically changed as all these agencies became part of conglomerates. The flow of advertising stopped and the small magazines started folding up one by one.
My boss had entered politics at that time. He realised there was more money to be made in politics than in publishing. And, he was right. So he decided to close his magazine. I was left bereft, without a job. I then joined the Bombay Management Association as its editor. I had proved that I could bring out a magazine and here, too, I brought out a monthly magazine all on my own. I was: ad manager, subscription manager, sub editor, editor, publisher, and what have you. Moreover, they could pay me only a measly sum as salary, which was something like Rs 1800 in those days. This sufficed for me. I was sort of happy.
The coming of the big corporation signalled the end of that small dream, that small happiness. The age of outsourcing and corporate reengineering had begun. Why do we need ten people to type invoices and collect payments when that can be done by five? Why do we need stenographers and typists when all the work can be done by the executive himself on his computer? Why send typed letters by post when you can send it by email and get a confirmation that he/she has read it?
It is said that the cruel East India Company who ruled over India had only eight people in its rolls in London. The west wanted to implement the same policy in their corporate offices. Their headquarters would sprawl in several floors but that would be as a space to show off their paintings, sculptures, and their projects. The real work will be done in India, China and the Philippines.
This idea appealed to Indian bosses also. “Why are we paying him so much when his work can be done by another employee?” In fact, greed had entered the lexicon of managers, unmitigated greed. That’s when companies began downsizing. My dad who had worked in Larsen & Toubro for twenty-seven years retired but I couldn’t get in. The company I loved, and had ambition of working in one day, had changed and moved on. I could do nothing.
Then I decided I would join the devils themselves. I joined outsourcing unit after another, still, I found myself a fugitive from my real calling. These units were looking for younger people to whom they can give more and more responsibilities, make them work harder, hardening their arteries in the process. I stuck with them for some time and then called it quits.
Now that I am retired and doing what I wanted to do, I think I am a victim of globalisation. It’s a time when the rich are growing richer and the poor are growing poorer. There is unrest and unreasonable demands everywhere and not the wherewithal to address them. Those in power shut themselves from reality with their security apparatus. I feel alone, tragically alone, as I type this. But that’s how I see myself: a victim of globalisation.