Code Monkeys

As a fervent believer in the dominating role of IT in India's development I had a great respect for IT companies operating in India. Rapid growth of IT industries in urban centers have given real boost to economy and has resulted in growth of real estate and consumer market. Still, I was little confused about their business model in the light of high recruitment,hefty packages and sustenance in spite of significant attrition rate. I knew by experience that these fresh graduates often do not have proper training in latest programming methods.


I got the opportunity to air my doubts during a casual discussion at a get together, where some managers and experienced software engineers employed in famous IT companies were present. While getting information about their companies and praising their commendable contribution to India, I expressed my view about the poor quality of IT education being imparted in colleges and asked, how their companies accept such fresh graduates merely considering their degree certificate and offer good financial packages which are envied by graduates of other branches.


Though their explanations varied in details, I could comprehend the answer to my questions. The main business of IT companies in India is only to provide necessary manpower to carry out the projects designed by multinationals in developed countries. The costing of such projects is on man-hour basis. Hence companies maintain large floc of qualified people in their command to show their strength and grab the jobs. They give the specific training as per project requirement in first six months which is enough for the small well defined repetitive job that they have to do. The billing rate is much higher than the salary and company makes money in numbers. Even if the person leaves the job, other person can be fitted into that slot with small duration training. These employees remain locked up in the type of work and do not get comprehensive knowledge of project or opportunity of learning new skills. It is mainly the body-shopping that gives money to these companies.


One software engineer who was doing a monotonous job of debugging C program, exclaimed that they do not know the project plan, scope and objectives, "Big bosses sitting in developed countries do that job. They call us code monkeys.", he told casually. The basic architecture and plan is developed there, we have to only write the code to implement it. There are teams of programmers, technical writers, validators, debuggers, software testers with elaborate system of monitors and managers, all of those could be aptly termed as code monkeys ( in form of skilled labour). There are do's and don'ts, how-to guidelines, strict time targets, penalties and rewards, security, cctvs (boss is watching you feeling)and firewalls. I was shocked with the frank revelation of the real situation.


I learnt that many IT companies are engaged in running multinational businesses which include banking, production, infrastructural works and even arms production. There is also a large group of companies which are in advertising, entertainment and gaming business.


Who knows, the projects being undertaken by big players with support of our IT companies, may be detrimental to our country and people in the long run. Entry of foreign companies in local market, direct foreign investments and activities may be ultimately beneficial to those companies and their countries rather than our country.


I imagined a golden cage, where monkeys are tied up to work and they are doing their work, without knowing what for they are doing it. I was tempted compare the state of affairs with clerks working for British Government before independence. These clerks were enjoying power and money which was more than other native citizens.


The word code monkey made me restless. I searched its meaning on net. Though the word was completely new to me, to my surprise, I found that it is name of a very famous video tv show and music. The weird characters in that show only strengthened my impression about the derogatory meaning of the word.


My belief in IT companies doing good to country is in a crumbling state. The pompous living style of IT workers, their lack of awareness about social problems and rise in economic disparity are doing more harm to society.


I strongly feel that IT companies in India should throw these fictitious opportunities of growth by serving big powers and instead take lead in planning and implementation of mega projects for development of India. Then they will not be taunted as code monkey suppliers.