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Yes, it’s happening
Sour dates in India’s Silicon Valley
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, November 25
While Wipro software engineer Gaurav Nigam today denied that a dating allowance existed in Wipro Technologies, the issue has lifted the lid on the policy of the HR departments of software and call centre companies that encourages employees to bond at work.

Software companies and call centre managements may not be giving dating allowances, but they pick up the tabs for a variety of things - multiplex tickets, dinners and even laundry. This is done to keep the employee in a circle consisting of his colleagues and helps to build loyalty, besides keeping potential poachers at bay.

Gaurav Nigam has been accused of receiving a dating allowance which, his wife says, was partly responsible for her abandonment. He, however, claimed today that it was he who had been beaten up by his wife.

Gaurav, accompanied by representatives of NGOs Asha Kiran and Save Indian Family Foundation, alleged that he was beaten up several times by his wife for failing to transfer the ownership of their house and car to her. He also claimed that a false dowry case had been registered against him and that his parents were also arrested.

Gaurav may not have got a dating allowance but software professionals and call centre employees do get a variety of incentives to "bond" as a family.

Ruchi, a call centre employee, says: “It starts with simple lunches and dinners out with the working group. Once we get comfortable with one another, the group goes out on extended weekends to places like Goa on holidays which are paid by the company.”

Another call centre employee says that her office holds parties on each Saturday by turning part of the office space into a discotheque. The purpose is to help employees de-stress. The employees feel that the company is taking good care of them. Other incentives include sending top performers on paid foreign trips and holding conferences and seminar at exotic locales.

Experts feel such “goodies” may be harmful to family ties. “The point is to make employees enjoy life but the family is not included in most cases,” says social worker Anuradha Deepak. Due to this policy, married workers spend weekends in Goa and Singapore with colleagues, which may build intimacy and wreck their marriage.

She says this issue has been highlighted by Gaurav’s estranged wife Tripti who has dragged Wipro Chairman Azim Premji into the court case. She has alleged that Wipro’s dating allowance was encouraging extra-marital affairs.

Wipro, on its part, has denied giving dating allowance and refused to elaborate on the issue.

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