Trading jobs


Everybody seems to be complaining about the economy. Jobs are virtually non-existent, salaries aren't keeping up with inflation and opportunities aren't pouring like they used to, even to all the millions of MBAs and engineers being churned out by the Great Indian education system.

Seems paradoxical since every time I'm in urgent need of my electrician, he complains that he's over worked and can't attend to my refrigerator that is engulfed in flames for the next week or two. 'Ladke log nahi hain', is his standard complaint.

Some time ago, I needed some work done on a lathe. My favourite machinist is a jovial chap, always ready with a rather lewd, yet hilarious joke whenever I visit. I love being in his company, and he doesn't mind my hanging around in his workshop, despite my fiddling with his machine tools. He says that there aren't any 'jeans wearing' people who come by his shop apart from myself, eager to learn what his job entails. However, whenever I want work done in a hurry, Mr. Machinist's standard retort is that he doesn't have anybody to help him, and so my job would take longer than I'd like.

Which brings me to the question: if tradesmen don't have apprentices and can't seem to fill vacancies in their workshops, where's the job paucity? It's simple, youngsters don't want to get their hands dirty.

Having gone through the rigours of engineering college, I can vouch for the fact that to most of my peers, the workshop hours were the worst. The absenteeism was the highest during the workshop periods, and I must admit that I made quite a buck finishing other people's jobs in time for the required submission date. After all, if you plugged in workshop, that meant another KT on your report card. So when suddenly the guys realised that all those days of bunking could keep them from going abroad to do an MBA or an M.Tech, I was paid fat sums of money to complete their work pieces. That was okay by me, in fact the money I earned paid for my first cell phone!

There's a brilliant man called Somender Singh based out of Mysore. If there ever was a man who's been there and done that, Mr Singh is him. Racer, mechanic, innovator, aviator and very possibly the man who's going to save the world with his 'Groove' technology. I won't get into the details of his invention because there's enough about it floating around on the internet. However, I suggest you check it out - I guarantee that it will make your jaw drop.

Speaking to Mr Somender Singh made me realise that there isn't anybody my age that I can think of who could do anything even remotely similar to what he has done. The age of physically building prototypes and learning as you go has seemingly passed. These are the days when knowledge is available at the click of a button, and that is responsible for the millions of so called experts. Experts who have never done it themselves, but some how can  tell you ought to be done.

I regularly come across head honchos in motorcycle marques who can go on for hours on end about how superior their products are in comparison to the competition. They will sing praises about the performance of the engine, about how well it handles and how reliable those machines are. But what they cannot tell you is that the performance only comes out at engine revs way beyond the scope of urban road conditions, how extreme the riding position is for everyday commuting and how difficult it is to remove the tyre by the roadside in the case of a puncture. They cannot tell you any of these things because they've never done it themselves. Heck, most of them have never even ridden a motorcycle, let alone maintain one themselves.  

Sure, the world cannot do without MBAs, suave bankers and hot shot engineers. But what the world doesn't need is a world FULL of MBAs, suave bankers and hot shot engineers. There was a time when India was known for its craftsmanship and handicrafts. Today, sadly, a lot of youngsters aren’t interested in working with their hands any more.  We need mechanics to set our bikes right, machinists who can make new functional components out of a rod of steel, electricians who can attend to a household electrical issue before a short circuit burns it to the ground, carpenters to repair furniture and welders who will join two pieces of metal together. Like my granddad used to say, learn a trade and you will never die hungry.