Working population: The 3 categories as I see it



OK, I speak from an Indian context since that is where I am from. Also, I'm drawing from various observations from all around me. By watching people at work, talking to people across varied backgrounds and domains - from vegetable vendors on the street, to cab drivers, delivery executives to people working for non-tech industry and lastly, people in the high-tech industry. People who have not completed their 10th grade to people with degrees from outside India, to people with MBA's. Individual contributors to managers, senior leaders and entrepreneurs.


Disclaimer: There can be exceptions in every category described below. But by and large, my observations within each category have been consistent over the past few years. Also, my intent is not to prove that one category is better than the other. I suppose, circumstances, aspirations and some X factor makes each individual think and act they way he/she does.

Category 1

The young, highly energetic, big risk taker. The slogger. The guy who has chucked up formal education and is focussed on working as hard as he can to make money, save, invest and grow as fast as he can. Like the cab-drivers I have spoken to. He has left his village - if he was from a family which owns land and was into cultivation, then the mother and younger sibling are taking care of home affairs while he and his dad are in the city, ferrying people across. If they already do not own a car (thanks to quick and easy bank loans or perhaps a private loan from a money lender) they are driving those which belong to someone who came before them. They normally drive almost 18 hours a day. Sleep during a lull period by the road side. Work 3 to 4 days. Take a day's break and then get back to work. They are out to grab all the bonuses in front of them. X trips in Y days and you get a bonus. Since number of trips matter, they even refuse long journeys. And each trip is done as quickly as possible. Some cross the line - jump signals, get angry with customers who make them wait.


The story is very similar to those delivering packages, food, grocery, the small electrical goods retailer, the stationary goods dealer, you name it. Their goal is to save up enough so that they can own a car or a delivery truck or real estate and go up the ladder and make a bigger chunk of money. And these folks know all about asset turnover and such. They know that no investment should lie idle during the night. So if they aren't working, they hire a hand to keep the asset in use. It is all about achieving ROI in double quick time. And the hiring typically happens from back in their home village.


Some outcomes

Large scale movement of unskilled labor from rural to the urban areas in search of quick money. Plenty of land lying unused due to various reasons. Even if water and other resources are available back home, they sense the opportunity to make money faster in the city.A class of people which does not care much about a formal education. In fact, they don't even make plans to go to evening college or do some distance learning. It is all about earning.Cities are like a hunting ground for this class. No empathy or sense of pride for the place of work. Use and abuse.A class which rarely cares for its health. Fully prepared to burn out. A few make mistakes and pay for it. The rest do not care to learn any lessons.

Category 2

The ultra-skilled / those with rare skills. Skills in big demand across the big MNCs and across the startup community. Needless to say, the ones which earn much more than what normally would have been their true worth. The class which gets impacted the moment there is a major technology disruption or an MNC goes through a major strategy shift and has to lay off people. But until that happens, this class keeps earning big time. Totally secure financially, but quite a few with insecurities due to many reasons. Some are so used to the high salaries, they worry about losing their jobs and of having to take up lesser roles. Some, have other passions, but are unwilling to exit comfort zones. Some who take advantage of their indispensability and call the shots at their work place. These are the kinds which accumulate large quantities of material assets and try to secure a safe future for their kids (possibility a few generations!). Sending them to the best of schools available, the best of coaching classes, the best of everything. I suspect only a minority of these kids turn out to be teens with a balanced approach to life and with a lesser sense of entitlement.


Some outcomes

This class usually does not bargain. Has very little patience. Throws money to get out of any situation. Is ready to pay more to maids, drivers and all support services to get what they need. Resulting in bumping up of costs for everyone else.Many in this class also throw their weight around. They have scant respect for the law of the land or the law of the society/community they live in. It is their way or the highway. They are extremely self-centred and they usually do not take up causes which affect anyone else other than themselves.Dilution of values. Within the family, society and at work.

Category 3

Neither as ambitious and driven as the first nor highly skilled and elite as the second (or in very rare cases, quite well balanced despite being in positions of authority) Typically, has a mix of people. Some are highly contented with what they have. Believe in earning their pay with no shortcuts. Believe in genuinely giving back to society, co-existence, a life of harmony. Believe in ensuring that their kids focus on all-round development and make their own choices.


And another set of people who used to be content, but sensing the fast changing world around them, are suddenly confused about where they belong. They tend to suddenly become very insecure about their future. They at times, push their kids into extreme pressure cooker situations by forcing them to pick careers which they feel are good from a financial perspective or pick jobs which are trending. Send them to multiple coaching classes and get them to appear for multiple entrance tests with the hope that they can pick the best option available. The poor kid probably wants to excel in tennis or the arts.


Some outcomes

Mix of some balanced kids and some confused kids. Among the confused kids, some end up losing confidence while some turn out to be rebels.Some very happy families while some families are high on stressThe contented within this class would be happier to move to quieter locations with less action and strives to achieve a higher quality of life in terms of basic necessities.

We have an opportunity to make best use of a good phase and help create a good atmosphere for all round development with focus on improving our quality of life. Choice is ours!

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