How often have you been asked, “How much is your salary” or “How much are they paying you”? Salary, as I learnt in my first job is not a topic to be discussed in public! It is personal information that is not to be asked or to be shared. But here in India it is a very common and apparently obvious question. Generally, from the older generation! I don’t think many people in my generation or field actually ask each other’s salary. There have been numerous occasions when random people ask us our salaries. Literally, RANDOM!
1) We were at the BSNL office last year to get a landline phone connection and the descent looking official first asked my husband where he works, based on which his immediate question was “How much do they pay you”! My husband was so confused, as to what and why to answer to this random phone guy!
2) I was travelling by an auto rickshaw and the driver asked, “Where does your husband work”. Frankly, I have issues with putting up a lie. I just can’t lie and not instantly, maybe I could plan & then lie but I will still have doubts about it and might not end up executing it. So as frank as I am, I replied with the true information. He too instantly said, “How much do they pay him”. Dudeeee! Even I don’t know my husband’s salary. I boldly asked him, ‘isn’t it incorrect to enquire about salary’. He shamelessly went on saying, “He must be making 20K. For sure, if he worked for at 2 years then definitely he makes at least 20k”. I just let him blabber, if that is what makes him happy!
In general, older relatives like grandparents and aunts and uncles tend to ask these questions. And then it becomes a catch 22 situation. Because you think, well they are just my relatives so no harm telling them; or it’s my salary and nobody needs to know it, no matter what relation I have with them!
The problem is not about telling the salary, the actual deal is the way people change once they know your salary. That is my point of observation. And change could mean from respect, to taking advantage of your well to do situation. I wouldn’t say it is entirely Indian mentality; it is mostly human tendency to respect the rich. And of course, I totally don’t accept this tendency. But it happens everywhere. I rather respect the intelligent than the rich!
Because of the high-paying IT salaries, people think that we IT people get loads of money and sharing some or giving away to relatives doesn’t affect us much. It is a good thing to help our relatives when in need, but to take advantage is incorrect! Like for reference, after I confirmed that I got a job, one of my grandpa asked me my salary. I quoted a smaller number than what he had heard. So he argued with me that ‘no, I heard you get xyz (higher amount) salary’. I was like, “It’s my salary you are asking about. So at least believe me what I say”. In my head I thought, if he already knew of my salary, why did he ask me again? And as we chatted, he suddenly throws a statement saying, “My granddaughter should study civil services. You educate her” (as in fund her). I was surprised by the statement. Out of the blue, assigning me such a huge task! Isn’t it her parents’ responsibility to take care of her needs, why me? - An elder cousin sister! There is no harm in helping educate her; the problem is that people drastically change their attitude once they know the salary. Like we make too much and what is the big deal if someone asks for some money, for free!
Like I said before, to this date I don’t know my husband’s salary and it doesn’t bother me. He takes care of all my needs as a husband. If he wants to mention it, then it is fine; but for me to go and ask him, I don’t feel the need. Of course he wouldn’t hesitate to tell me. I just don’t see the need.
And moreover, I don’t really understand how it benefits others to know my salary! How does it help me to know my friend’s salary, we each have our own life and things. I understand there could be a need to know what kind of money you can make to progress, but you don’t have to ask the other person’s salary for that. Just ask for a suggestion, I have 5 years of experience in XYZ job, what should I expect for a job switch! Simple!J