The Digital Skeptic: World Wide Web Kills World Wide Economy
The commodity MBA
It turns out that, like everything else in the information age, the information Hasabnis spent 20 years learning is -- guess what -- a commodity. There are simply too many highly trained, highly motivated MBAs chasing too few jobs in India.
Hasabnis suspects roughly half -- half! -- of MBAs in India are unemployed, and based on my reading of Indian news sources, the percentage of underemployed professionals is probably far higher. Look around and you will see simply shocking tales of top trained people in information-based fields working in low-level, low-paying gigs. Receptionist or human resources jobs are considered good.
"Placement cells in Indian colleges are crap," says Hasabnis. Unless you are coming from a elite school, he believes, master's programs have little pull with employers.
Information does not put food on the table.
Hasabnis' diagnosis of the ills facing India's information economy is just what you'd expect from a bright, young, highly trained business mind with access to the leadership of India's telecom sector.
He says apart from a few plants by Nokia(NOK) and Samsung, India tends not to make phones, only market them. So the telecom "industry" in his country boils down to mobile operators such as Airtel, Vodafone(VOD) and Reliance Communications, or sales outlets such as The Mobilestore.
"The problem with India is it's a huge market," he says. "But only for selling devices. No one does R&D here."
And Indian regulators are frankly a disgrace. Hasabnis points out that central Indian governments have a simply awful track record for attracting manufacturing. If you visit China to look into opening a plant there, he says, you might be convinced to build one. But if you look into creating a factory in India, he says, "your reaction would be completely opposite."
There are the endless problems with infrastructure. "There is a power crisis here that affects the majority," he says.
Hasabnis is not optimistic.
Information doesn't pay here. And it doesn't pay there.
Connecting the global macroeconomic dots is dark work indeed in this digital age: Information-based sectors such as product design and marketing are in the same race to the bottom in India as here. And just like the collapsing music, publishing and legal professions, information-based services struggle to scale in India as they struggle to scale in Indiana.