Aapki naukri mein na izzat hai, na mazaa hai aur na matlab ( Your job
has neither respect nor fun nor meaning)," declares the new tall, angry
A man whose father would like nothing more than a son who follows in
his footsteps as a ticket collector.
The young man is Abhishek Bachchan, giving voice to the hopes and
dreams of the Average Young Indian, in Yash Raj Films' summer caper, Bunty
Aur Babli .
Whatever its storytelling flaws, this is one sentiment the scriptwriter
has identified perfectly. Move over, Abraham Maslow, this is 21st
century India's 'hierarchy of needs' (Maslow is known for establishing the
theory of hierarchy of needs -- he said that human beings are motivated
by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied
before higher needs can be satisfied).
Izzat (Respectability) x Mazaa (Fun) x Matlab (Meaning) = Career
Apply it to just about any industry or profession. And it works!
All mazaa , no izzat
Take BPOs, which are worried about employee attrition. These companies
provide young graduates with the best of everything -- money, work
environment, career growth. Even fun, in the form of special allowances,
movies and parties.
The mazaa angle is, thus, well taken care of. But what about izzat?
'I work at a call centre.' Despite ads from e-Serve, which pretend
otherwise, that statement will not really impress your girlfriend's father.
At the end of the day, the job essentially lacks matlab. You work for
one company but answer calls for another. There is no shared vision or
mission beyond answering the next call. What you do never really seems
to make a 'difference'.
In the Izzat x Mazaa x Matlab equation, there is only one variable the
young person can control. And hence s/he hops from job to job in search
of more mazaa (money).
Izzat and mazaa, but no matlab?
On the other hand, IT, which mainly employs young engineers, has a
better chance of retaining its employees.
Not only do they provide decent starting salaries/ fabulous campuses,
there is the additional mazaa angle of being sent abroad to work within
a couple of years of joining.
Plus, saying you work for Infosys, Wipro or Cognizant Technologies
receives a respectful nod from peers and parents.
The reason many still quit IT is the matlab angle. Those who equate
coding work with being a cybercoolie often choose to go abroad for
further studies or try an MBA.
Not that life after the MBA may offer any more in terms of matlab, but
having the IIM or Bajaj tag adds to izzat value. And if you are lucky
enough to be placed on Day 0 or Day 1, the mazaa factor is multiplied as
The quest for matlab
The relative importance of these three factors -- izzat, mazaa and
matlab -- varies from person to person.
Matlab, in fact, is the most personal variable. Some of us can happily
buy into the mission statements of the companies we work for. We can
find personal meaning by reaching our goals and targets as well as be a
tough but fair boss/ employee/ coworker and a loyal and loving spouse/
But to others, 'meaning' comes from doing what you are passionate
about, something you really care for. This definition of matlab is often
swept under the carpet at an early age when we follow the herd towards
the engineering/ medicine/ MBA degrees we never really wanted (but were
assured was the only way to go).
In the long run, we try and make up for the absence of meaning by
trying to maximise on the other two fronts.
Yet, when any of the three variables actually becomes zero, the
equation comes to naught. So every now and then, an individual will take the
bold step of pursuing matlab even if it comes at the cost of mazaa, ie
lower salary or perks.
These are the folks who choose to quit their fancy jobs and join the
non-profit sector. To them, the loss of some money and perks is evened
out by the thrill of making a 'difference'.
Similar is the choice of becoming self-employed. While a handful are
'entrepreneurs' in search of size, scale and summits, the majority are
'alterpreneurs', who strike out on their own -- leveraging their
knowledge, skills and contacts -- as an alternative to the regular corporate
Control over one's life and time equals more mazaa even if you work
equally hard to make the same kind of money.
If you are a young doctor, often, it is only the matlab factor that
keeps you going. Given the salaries and working conditions at public
hospitals, the mazaa factor is extremely low. And given the commercialism
that has crept into the profession, izzat -- although still high -- is on
On the other hand, professions like modelling and acting which, a
couple of decades ago, commanded no izzat, are now seen with awe. The only
problem is, there is an additional variable in the equation: risk.
This risk varies from 0 (absolute flop) to 1 (making it big).
Izzat x Matlab x Mazaa divided by Risk could mean you become a Priyanka
Chopra or one of the millions of aspirants who never makes it beyond
the casting couch.
The same applies to other creative and thode glamorous professions,
like copywriting, filmmaking, dance, music and art. But if you really have
the talent and belief in yourself, the risk is worth taking.
The trick, really, is figuring out your own personal equation, instead
of living by what you saw scrawled on the Blackboard of Life by people
Because two equations could be completely different, yet add up to that
The answer to life, the universe and everything that makes you truly
(Originally written by:
Rashmi Bansal is a graduate of IIM Ahmedabad and founder-editor of the
popular youth magazine JAM ( www.jammag.com
).) 5th March 2007 From India, Hyderabad