If you’re a professional in India, you’re getting paid peanuts

Here’s your peanut.
Here’s your peanut.
Image: Reuters/Vivek Prakash
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Indian professionals may be in love with their jobs, but their employers aren’t exactly loving them back.

Annual base salaries of white-collar workers in the country are the lowest among major economies in the Asia Pacific region. In fact, professionals in neighbouring China make at least 64% more than their Indian counterparts, according to a 2015-16 global remuneration report by advisory company Willis Towers Watson.

Willis Towers Watson surveyed 5,500 companies in the region, of which 313 were from India. It compared annual salaries in professional, middle, and top management categories in a dozen countries to those in the US. Here’s the break-up:

The situation is worst for entry-level white-collar professionals, whose annual salaries are the lowest in India at $11,000 (Rs7,39,364). In China, the figure is almost double. Meanwhile, senior managers in India report an annual base salary at $66,000 (Rs44,36,186), half that of China. It’s not much different for top managers either.

Typically, factors such as cost of living and demand-supply of labour decide wage variations.

“Each market is different and the reason that pay gaps exist is due to the demand and supply of labour in that particular market for a particular job,” said Sambhav Rakyan, data services practice leader for Asia Pacific at Willis Towers Watson. According to Rakyan, other factors including cost of living and inflation also determine the pay difference. That’s why even large global companies with offices across markets adjust salary structures to local regions.

Perhaps the only silver lining is low labour costs that make India a more favourable destination for foreign investments, especially compared to China.

But India’s performance in terms of employment generation itself hasn’t been great. Between January and December 2015, India’s job market delivered its lowest growth in six years—only 135,000 new jobs were added in eight labour-intensive sectors.