This Article was published in The Hindu on March 27, 2012
Lingamurthy, a resident of Srikakulam, came to city with many aspirations. With a fully paid scholarship for the computer science and information technology stream, his career was set for a firm upward trajectory in the software field.
For a person hailing from a family that makes its living by selling breakfast on a pushcart, this indeed was a big break. He was also elated when he got a ‘dream’ job at, Serene Global Services. The software company promised to train him in SAP, an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software product, within six months and would assign him on related projects later.
He was to get a stipend of Rs.18,000 per month during the training period and a higher salary after that period. But these goodies came with one rider: he has to pay a deposit of Rs. 2 lakh initially.
Despite bleak financial status, Lingamurthy raised a loan by mortgaging his house and paid the deposit. But his dreams came crashing to the ground when the company turned out to be a hoax. Unable to service his loan, Lingamurthy is now forced to take up a job as an ATM guard for a sum of Rs. 6,000 per month.
Lingamurthy is not alone in this plight. About 700 employees of Serene Global Services have similar stories to tell. All of them joined the company as they thought it to be the best avenue to learn SAP for a head start in their career and most raised the deposit money through loans.
“It takes about Rs. 3.36 lakh to do SAP course. Here, we were promised of SAP certification, stipend and an year’s experience. For Rs. two lakh this was the best deal available for us,” Y. Niharika, another cheated employee said. Another factor that helped Serene Global Services in attracting aspirants was that it was well connected with consultancy companies and colleges. It was even listed in the government sponsored Jawahar Knowledge Centers, Malempati Siddhartha, of Forum of IT Professionals (ForIT), said.
The trend of taking a security deposit from a candidate has become a norm in the software companies, in spite of the fact that such practices are illegal, Mr. Siddhartha said. According to labour laws, taking a security deposit or forcing an employee to sign a bond is illegal and those agreements would not stand in a court of law, he explained.
But, lack of a proper mechanism to check these illegal practices, low awareness levels among the candidates and fewer jobs in the market is forcing engineering graduates to accept any conditionalities attached to a job, Mr. Siddhartha said.
The government too seems to have woken up to the problem. Sabitha Indra Reddy informed the Assembly recently that a total of 31 cases were booked against bogus software companies in last three years in the city and it was considering a ‘Core Committee’ to prepare an action plan to control bogus IT companies.