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Salaried fast catching up with fee-earners
December, 07th 2006
Thanks to rapid economic development, the qualified among the salaried class have found their pot of gold.

A couple of decades ago, a monthly salary of Rs 3,000 or more begot a special mention in the annual report of the company that held its readers in a thrall. It is a commentary on the spiralling salaries that today only Rs 2 lakh or more per month begets such a mention in the esoteric list of high-paid employees.

One is accustomed to astronomical sums being bandied about in the context of film stars, doctors, lawyers, architects and other professionals who may be compendiously described as fee earners.

Till a decade ago, a five-figure salary was a stuff of legends. But with rapid economic development through the liberalisation route, the qualified among the salaried class have found their pot of gold.

To be sure, this is a good augury because not only does it narrow the huge disparities in the income levels between professionals and the salaried class but more importantly because it drives home the advantage of quality education.

Already there are reports that the spiralling salary bill, especially in the technology-driven industries, is largely due to shortage of talented persons. And this is likely to be accentuated should the government trifle with universities and institutes of higher learning, marginalising in the process the meritocracy.

Be that as it may, at least two spin-offs are there for everyone to see as a result of the due recognition given to talented employees. First, young NRIs are returning home though not in droves.

What is pulling them back is the real prospect of eking out a comfortable living without having to deposit their elders in old-age homes and otherwise missing out on the home and social front.

The steadily improving living conditions, though no where near the standards in the West, are also a contributory factor in this welcome return back to one's motherland. With NRI retracing their steps, the vexed problem of brain drain may no longer bother the government and society what with wannabe emigrants also losing fascination for foreign jobs.

Second, youngsters, albeit under parental pressure, would most certainly be less glamour-struck what with there being stars among the educated class as well.

It is not as if astronomical salaries running into crores of rupees is ubiquitous and all-pervasive. On the contrary, only a minuscule percentage of the white-collared employees are the beneficiaries of this loosening of purse strings by the employers. Obviously this has created a huge gulf among the employees working for the same company with those left behind seething in resentment.

But there is a positive spin off in this resentment too they are egging their children to take education seriously and spare no efforts in giving them the best when it comes to education unmindful of the expenses, thus viewing in the process education as the wisest investment.

S. Murlidharan
(The author is a Delhi-based chartered accountant.)

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