Indian corporates are possibly the single most powerful engine of growth in our burgeoning economic advance and it’s a machine of frightful efficiency. Guess our mantra? We can deliver anything and with chutney on the side!
In an economy that is still shaking itself out of the shackles of Nehruvian economics and socialistic import substitution policies, our current generations picked themselves up in the wake of liberalization and globalization. We embraced technology, refused to be seduced by plastic credit and stayed liquid through the worst financial crisis of the decade.
We are brash, talk trash but have ready cash….
India is finding itself, or perhaps Indians are. We are a bunch of self-congratulatory, aggressive and very-much-full-of-ourselves people. We love to say “told ya so!!” and then charge to process a solution. Not much wonder why our corporates are hated, feared and possibly considered alien in structure, thought and processes.
As an expat, an 8 hour working day was laughably easy and overtime was silliness – but then who’s complaining? A boss who is abusive cannot be tolerated and deadlines are set after collective deliberation? This was not heaven, we told each other – it’s a holiday from the real world, OUR world. A world where 12 hour days without overtime are the basic norm and words like employee exploitation are matter of fact, amongst many other “things” that are par for the course.
Like many things that we have learnt from the fabled West, we have learnt how to ensure our profit margins stay healthy. Maximise profits, minimise costs, utilize resources optimally and do all this on a set time-frame, usually condensed and compromised by human frailty and faults – we don’t merely expect the impossible, we take it for granted. And what of attrition, employee fall-outs and segmentation – for anyone unhappy with their job, there are 20 or even 200 others who would happily take that job. Pay 100 employees marginal wages and pay a manager top dollar to sustain the product is a very western concept that is losing prevalence in the country of its origin.
“Get off your chair, this is not the bloody governmental bureaucracy that you have inherited and get on with your job” We talk in lacs and crores and refuse refusals – nothing is impossible and haven’t you heard the cliché – I (a)MPossible??!
It is surprisingly easy to say that things have changed in our lives here in India. Much too easy but perhaps easy is as easy does for the possibilities are endless; the requirements still stay the same – the wish for security, substance and respect of labour. And despite everything that has happened in the past 100 years, a majority of our people, educated or not, employed or not, are still struggling for the very same even today.
Success is a state of mind, achievement is merely perspective. Shift your focus, I tell my students and often as not, to myself. The hardest test is the one you don’t know you’re being graded upon – and as I write these lines, I realize that we Indians refuse to grade ourselves. We refuse refusals and in the process refuse to acknowledge ownership. Sometimes it’s the lowly menial who refuses to accept ownership for his area of endeavours and sometimes the proprietor who would rather overlook ownership of his endeavours towards his employees – in both cases, out of baser instincts usually.
We have inherited responsibility from the bitter teachings of a restricted economy; accountability was imposed on our untrammelled spirits to ensure delivery and standards, but we are yet to embrace ownership. Ownership for actions and consequences of the same – especially when we do business or invoke the holy triumvirate of corporate policy, development and growth.
And in this process, how do we take ownership for our ideals and principles? Or do we give them a quick polish when it suits our needs or wants. Do we trot out our mission values and statements only when we showcase our code of business conduct paperwork for the next foreign contract or tender? Do we realize that our capitalistic excesses in making hay while the sun shines is self-destructive towards creating institutions rather than quick profits to retire upon?
But then, do we really BUILD for the future today or is that merely a hoary old phrase? Do we actually expect something to outlast our lifetimes and reach out to touch people we are yet to know or might never know. This internet age states that we can access information at the click or a keystroke – how much of it do we actually value and re-use?
A person’s life is similar to the growth cycle of a company – not merely envisaging the ups and downs of the market and the shifting vagaries of demand & supply economics. Building a company is similar to building a life, a sensible stage by stage progression of choices, none of which are wrong. And no theory ever devised by the ingenuous minds of facile imagination can ever comprehend fully the rich diversity of actuality or its causality. Except that of the person building the damned foundations for a structure to call their own and he/she definitely takes all the risks and definitely deserves a bigger slice of the cake. But, exactly HOW big a slice are we talking about here?
To blog is to basically stand on a soapbox and explain to yourself how elevated your thoughts are to the rest of humanity. It is perhaps a vain effort to stretch out to oneself in the ravaging clamour of an uncaring world, too busy blogging itself or variations thereof. My blog is to question how we find the balance between the raging inferno of our ambitions and the consequences of our actions. I apologize if I am unable to state more clearly or categorically as I am lost between the two.
*This piece has been selected as a Winning Entry for the ‘Viewspaper Express Yourself Writing Competition’*