Nov 15, 2006

But just how much money, honey?

The contrast was shocking. We were talking to a family of 20, that lived in a village, a stone's throw away from our campus. Our campus, for the unfamiliar, was sprawling with trees and pretty plants all around. Air conditioned classrooms. Ethernet-connected hostel rooms. Tennis courts. And people were cribbing about the absence of a swimming pool to chill in.

Here was a family of 20, living in a 2-bedroom house, sustaining itself on a net income of Rs 3000 per month. Thats abt 150 per person per month. Less than what I'm spending on a PVR ticket later today. Most of them were unemployed. When i asked about their entertainment: "Do you own a color TV?" (ok i didnt expect them to, but it was in our questionnaire) "Wat's the point sir? we dont even have power supply" "But i see you have bulbs in the house" "We get power supply for a couple of months before any elections. Otherwise about 2 hours a day. We cant depend on it"

I was rather disturbed by this encounter. My discomfort did not escape the attention of my classmates (who were also on the project i was surveying people for)

Anyway, cut to 2006. Mukesh Ambani has declared his turnover target for "Reliance Retail" is Rs Ninety Thousand Crore (Im writing it in words coz im not even sure how many 0's to place after the 9). I move in with a batchmate from L, who has only one measure for anyone or anything in life - NPV (Net Present Value). I hear my peers discussing salaries they target - "1 lakh per month", "25 lpa within 2 years of starting my career", "Who will be the first from our batch to hit a crore?".

I pause to think - whats the basis for these targets? I mean, has anyone sat down and thought "how much do i really need to be happy?". Like, enough to pay for a house that cheers me up when i return from a tough day at work, enough to afford a Ford Fiesta, and enough to visit PVR and Athena every weekend... all in all maybe 40k per month, maybe 50...

But i dont think thats how it works. People are driven not by rationale, but that basic human tendency - greed. In school, you hope to be secure (20k pm). You make it to a good college and decide you deserve at least 25-30k. If you make it to an IIM, you expect at least 7 lpa ("the campus average you know, I'm an IIM grad after all"). After first year of working, at least 10 lpa, probably much more if you are pursuing a career in Finance. People pursuing careers in finance tend to be more "driven" by financial targets and desire for wealth, and understandably so.

I meet people who aren't happy that they are earning less than 1 lakh pm. I also meet old friends from IIT who are chilling in life and happy with 30k. Tho they'd like to crack the CAT and move up, they arent overly concerned about that. Then there's a family of 20 that has a net income of 3000 and doesnt complain too much.

There's a complete spectrum of salaries, and one's happiness in life doesnt seem to be strongly correlated with their salary. Those who want more money, aren't happy whether they earn 10 thousand or 10 crore a month. Then there are others who are happy whether they earn 20k, 1l or 1cr per month. This leads me to suspect it isn't all about money honey. It's about your attitude to life, and what you make of however much you earn...

1 comment:

  1. Lil, disconnect on '...Money, Honey?'. I guess people are driven by a 'void' not greed.

    How else do you explain MBAs devoting fulltime attention to blogging?
    A book,"starfish and spider'somehow touches on this.
    It also talks about what you mentioned in 'motivators'. The new age business sense called TRUST.
    A good read for understanding modern day business success like WIKIPEDIA and SKYPE.
    More later.