We can trace the history of this conflicted opinion between public and private sector jobs all the way back to the age prior to the 1980s. In those days, there were hardly any private sector jobs. Private sector had not yet thrived in India during those days and there was minimal or negligible contribution of its towards the GDP of the country. Hence, the only source of employment for the people in the average middle class family who were moderately educated was the public or the government sector. Since the government was their only and last source of hope, they clung to it with all their might and thus, job security became a priority.
It therefore became the custom that people must finish their graduate education, and immediately join a government job, rise up or maintain the ranks, depending on the potential of the person, provide for their families adequately as per the perks and the pay packages of the government job, and finally, retire in the same company by the end of their tenure. This is a practice that is almost unheard of in these days. When we entered the 1980s, the change set in.
The banking industry got a fillip – a large scale expansion took place with regard to this sector and it grew tremendously. This new revelation to the Indian middle class provided for an opportunity to obtain a high paying, sophisticated, white collar job (it was such at that time). There was a huge clamour for it then and everyone wanted to work in a bank. In 1991, another change set it. Dr Manmohan Singh, the then finance minister of the country took up some wise decisions and brought in the LPG to India – Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation.
This was one of the greatest changes independent India had ever seen. There was a sudden tech boom. The new mammoths in the industry were the IT and the Telecom sectors, run by private companies. These companies offered excellent pay packages, perks, benefits, etc. which seemed, to many, impossible to even imagine. This was a boon and a blessing to thousands and even till today, this love for the IT/BT jobs continues.
During the IT boom, there came in a mindset about the stagnation in government jobs, the inability to swiftly rise up in ranks, the narrow mindedness in such jobs and the general distaste towards the bureaucracy, corruption and red-tapeism in the government sector. This too has been slowly changing, as the new government is slowly revamping the system and making it responsive and more efficient. Moreover, in order for foreign companies to invest in us, our government naturally has to be less stagnant and more active in which case, it has to work on the lines of the quick decision making systems of the private sector. This change is slowly occurring.
In conclusion, it can be said that with the economy opened up for various sectors, there is no dearth for jobs for people, especially those in metropolitan cities. The primary attraction is better pay packages and faster growth and, unless the government catches up in these two criteria, the private sector will continue to be more attractive than a government job.