Saturday, January 31, 2009

Post 512 : What you pay is what you get....

I was driving yesterday, and I realised that in my 14 years driving in the city...driving has slowly degenerated to a point...where now, as it stands, it is probably a car-smash-car road-skill.
Another epiphany stuck me. I could easily get a driver for as low as around 4-5k INR(about 100USD) a month, and at this point, though it would be a luxury, I can afford it, if I really feel like it.

In effect, to outsource a strenuous and arduous journey on the Mumbai City roads, all I need is about 5k INR.

what would be the qualifications required for such a job? 1. Trust 2. Basic ability to drive a car around. Would there be any entry barrier for such a job? None else I can think of. (For those of you who are naive enough to notice "driving license" as an item is missing...welcome to costs around 2k INR and thats it....everything else, including, the ability to drive a car is secondary towards getting that document. India must be a big consumer of grease :-))

That also means, almost anyone who can wield the automobile mechanics is eligible to drive.

The same story holds for someone who works in manufacturing. If you can deal with the mechanics, for 5K INR (or maybe a little more) you can work at a pen manufacturing factory.

And the same....for cooks in hotels (I said cooks not "chefs")....and ad infitium....

Coming back to the driver example, that almost means anyone can be a driver in Mumbai. Entry barriers almost dont exist. You dont need patience, composure, respect for traffic rules or fellow drivers, road sense, ability to deal with accidents, civic sense, social responsibility and on and on....

Get the drift?

You pay peanuts and you are getting monkeys. Should it even surprise us that driving conditions in Mumbai are so hazardous. We are part of the problem, we put almost zero pre-conditions before handing the car over to a person.

Lets turn this around. Suppose we said:
1. Every person who drives should be able to read English (road signs are almost entirely in English).
2. He (or she...assume for the rest of this post) should know the traffic rules.
3. He should do a basic training in roadside emergency (certified by a proper responsible authority).
4. He should have proper domicile (known family, proof of birth, traceable background....)
5. Tickets in Mumbai are religiously imposed and tracked (in utopia, that is, right now, most of us have never got a ticket in life, we just use grease and exit out of the situation). If tickets are issued, and more than 5 tickets and you can drive any more.

The list can go on. (Again), you get the drift right? What have we done, increased the barriers to driving on Mumbai roads.

Almost immediately the population of eligible drivers will go down substantially (down by 90% say). Salaries will go up by 2-3 times from current levels.

But the whole society will benefit.....(Including those who are now driving). But wait a minute, not "whole", because 90% people will now be without employment.

So is the lax rules and situation a response to a job crisis. Hardly.

In the pen example, we now know why a Camlin pen will never match upto a German "Lamy". The "Lamy" worker is far higher on the Maslow hierarchy.

The more I think of it, I see this degeneration continuing until only ashes remain. Then (maybe) the phoenix might rise.

Till then, order few more sacks of peanuts, we need to create more monkeys.

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