Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Why truck-driving is a no-no in India while menial jobs abroad is ok!

Why do we have a massive shortage of truck and bus drivers in India, whilst people from the automobile retail business are facing joblessness, and business at dealers online as well as brick and mortar is down? Can people who sell automobiles not be expected to be able to drive commercial vehicles also, especially if they earn more – and what are we missing here?

Let me try to explain this.

What is visible in non-Metro Indian cities seldom makes it to the mainstream media in the metro cities – unless it has some sort of vicarious value that fits in with an assortment of (often) commercial, advertisement revenue linked agendas. It has reached a point where in a variety of school friends, batchmate and family groups, one can predict the kind of location of the posting person from the type of posts.

For example – prices of food in restaurants are going up in cities. On the other hand – farmgate realisations are also going up. Number of people going to restaurants paying more vs number of farmers earning more – whose benefit is more valuable?

Another example – valuation funded companies and others across the board are reducing headcount, and this includes entities in the automobile business. Truck and bus operators, on the other hand, are hugely running short of drivers – which can be a separate thesis altogether. Who benefits more?

Yet another example – farm labour used to come from the poorer hinterland States of India. Many of these poorer States are now doing better, including in agriculture, so the farm labour now comes from border States. Nationality in many cases is questionable, since many countries on India’s borders are not exactly doing well. What next? Whose benefit?

Every which way, if there is one indicator on how things are really going in India, it is rural prosperity in non-feudal India. Which does not make the news in India’s largely feudal-controlled media. Whether the media is left, right, communist, capitalist, or any other alignment thereof, fact remains, it is still very feudal in history today and outlook going forward. Expressly keeping with the times, one might say, and one does not need a telegraph anymore to be a statesman. Puns on media names are intended.

So why does our media end up always portraying a doom and gloom scenario, when quite the opposite is happening in India, outside of the cities? Media is now, largely, a South Bombay and South Delhi 9-to-5 job. If the pizza delivery person can not reach the location at lunch-time, then coverage will be difficult, is what I have seen happening myself.

Take, also, for one more anecdotal example, what can be called the “shortage of baby food and infant formula in the West” syndrome. The media is full of this globally. Baby food and infant formula are amongst the biggest advertisers, right? But our media will talk about food scarcity in India, with not the faintest clue of what food desert means in the West, or the demographics and percentages of people living in food deserts.

India resolved this a long, long time ago, by coming down hard on baby food. Way back in 1992, and then again in 2003, the Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Food Act of 1992 was amended and strengthened to totally ban all sorts of advertising for baby food and formula feeds for infants.

As for food deserts, please look around and figure out – are there any food deserts in India?

For sure, India will never face a shortage of baby food and formula for infants, nor is it likely that in a global food shortage scenario – including at our own borders – will India face a food shortage or see food deserts.

Yes, food prices will go up, as will prices of everything else. Yes, there will be outlier deaths. Yes, we also have a strong backbone of religious entities which feed poor people across the country. 

But. Those who do not know how to grow their own food, or even process their own food, will suffer. Those who grow and process food, and that in India is a huge majority which also votes, are going to benefit. 

At a coffee estate in Coorg recently, I was comparing salaries (or rather, per diem wages), and this is what I got –

# call-centre worker = Rs 500 to 700 per day, own food, board, lodging.

# bus/truck driver = Rs 1100 to 1300 per day, food varies.

# skilled farm labour = Rs 1500 to 1800 per day plus benefits.

# plumber/electrician = Rs 300 to 500 per visit of an hour or so.

# waiter = Rs 400 to 600 per day plus tips & food.

# chef = Rs 1000 to 5000 per day plus benefits.

Board and lodging is considered part of the package for estate and plantation labour, but not so for the call centre worker. And more interestingly – the NGO bijnus which also included the evangelist type of workers, are almost not visible anymore (except hardcore outliers).

This was further explained to me as the “pickle and wine index” by a plantation estate owner operator friend. Same friend, incidentally, mentioned that he was not surprised but extremely sad to see how home making of pickles and wine had almost vanished from many parts of India, because of a variety of colonial era laws and feudal society taboos.

What taboos, I asked him, and he directed me right back to the original question – why do we have a shortage of truck and bus drivers in India with the same people willing to go abroad and do menial jobs?

“Rural and semi-urban societies in India (and maybe in other parts of the world too) which make their own pickles and wines out of farm produce otherwise going to waste have a much higher index of success and happiness in their lives.” 

Those who do not maximise usage of resources at their end, according to him, have fallen into the “peon and clerk index”. Which was the only way up in Mughal and Colonial times. Everything else was considered “menial”.

Statement, observation, opinion, anecdotal, call it what you want – but it hits home like a punch in the solar plexus. The real reason we have a shortage of commercial vehicle drivers in India is simply this – we portray driving commercial vehicles as something which is not a “good” option in India. Because? Because we end up portraying driving as a menial job in India, and as an aspirational job abroad, pickle syndrome meets clerk syndrome, and clerk syndrome wins.

We have brought up generations who would rather be peons and clerks.

(Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.)

Read More

Hindenburg Report: We know who you are, morons!

Very recently we have had an international spectacle, of a research based short seller, trying to bring down an Indian corporate known more for...
Support Us
Contribute to see NewsBred grow. And rejoice that your input has made it possible.