Modi minister strikes discordant note with IT majors on moonlighting

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By S Jha

New Delhi, September 23: Two days after Wipro sacked 33 software engineers for moonlighting, Union Minister for Electronics & IT and Skill Development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, struck a discordant note.

Top names of IT companies in the recent months have slammed the trend of moonlighting amid growing discomfort in the industry about the employees not wanting to return to offices, and thus stretching the work from home model indefinitely.

On Friday, Chandrasekhar, said that “this is the age of employee-entrepreneurs and the corporates/ companies must now understand that there has been a structural shift in the minds and attitudes of the young Indian tech workforce”.

The Minister was addressing the 9th Annual Forum 2022 of the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI).

Chandrasekhar was reflecting on the issue of moonlighting, which is a trend in which employees work for more than one employer simultaneously.

The Minister’s statement suggested that he understood that the young tech professionals work as freelancers that one can take up multiple assignments, while employees sign contracts to agree to the terms of conditions of the employments.

Chandrasekhar’s statement will be seen as the opinion of the government since his speech has also been shared by the Press Information Bureau in an official media statement.

Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji had called moonlighting “a plain cheating”, while the company fired 300 engineers on the grounds that they had been working for the competitors.

IT recruitment consultants have for months been flagging the issue of the prolonged work from home module and the software engineers working for multiple companies while hiding the information from their employers by “using several laptops at the same time”.

“The productivity of the IT companies has been hit, and there are serious issues of data theft along with employees blackmailing the employers when they are asked to report to the offices,” said an IT recruitment consultant, who works for MNCs.

While Premji has been receiving hate mail for firing 300 employees, Chandrasekhar claimed “the days when employees signed up with big tech majors and spent their lives on the job were long gone”.

“Today’s youngsters have every sense of confidence and purpose about wanting to monetise, create more values put of his or her own skills. So, the efforts of companies that want to pin their employees down and say that you should not work on your own start-up are doomed to fail,” said Chandrasekhar.

The Minister further argued that “any captive models will fade”.

“Employers expect employees to be entrepreneurial while serving them. The same people can apply it personally to themselves. Time will come where there will be a community of product builders who will divide their time on multiple projects. Just like lawyers or consultants do. This is the future of work,” Chandrasekhar was quoted by the PIB statement.

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