[Woxsen ]: Ethos of Indian Companies

What
has stagnated Indian companies and managers across the last 6 decades of
corporate India’s quest for excellence? Was there a genuine quest in the first
place? Is it the inability to balance innovation and invention? Is it the
inability to balance Jugaad on one side and neatly maintained, accountability
oriented processes and performance measures on the other? Is it the inability
to create clones on one side and people who can and will differ on the other,
to co-exist in the same organization in specific, and civil society in general?
Unless we try to think analytically and in an abstract manner at the same time,
we shall remain slaves of our unexamined emotions.

The
last 60 years have seen India lag behind, as many countries in South-East Asia
and the West went far ahead. Is it because we failed to agree upon the idea and
the implication of how not to agree? It took a desperate attempt by the cash
crunched government in 1991 to unleash Liberalization as the last possible
resort to keep the country united, economically and otherwise. For once,
economics and free market capitalization were seen as saviors and were
preferred over politics as our policy makers substantiated to the old belief
that indeed economics and politics can work as complements and substitutes at
the same time and that neither alone can/should attempt to be the lone savior.
The western world showed the way from the 50s to the 90s that the corporate,
which is perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT INSTITUTION in modern society, functions at
its best when along with free market capitalization, the system ensures that
politics and economics go hand in hand. Till 60 years post World War II, Europe
showed this to the world and the result was to see – for these 60 years, on an
average, it almost always had an inflation of less than 5%, a GDP growth of
more than 5% and an unemployment of less than 5%. Post the sub-prime, it is
time for India to come up and actively implement COMPASSIONATE CAPITALISM – the
very Indian way of dealing with the evils of free market that in the later part
of 2008 saw the world so close to the Depression of 1929.

Over
the last 2 decades, India has transformed its image from one of snake charmers
and fakirs to a country that is the hub of technology and soon becoming the hub
of practionary management with its ability to provide oversimplified accounts
of complex realities and therefore, management problems. Let us not forget that
today, the restaurant and hotel industry in London employs more people than the
Ship Building, Coal, and Iron and Steel industry – in the entire of UK.
Needless to say, every second restaurant in London offers Delhi based food.
Today, the country with the maximum rich people in the Forbes’10 richest in the
world is India. One Indian invented the Pentium machine, another came up with
Sun Microsystems, while yet another invented Hotmail. More than 40 of start-ups
in US technology firms are by Indians. The mere Indianness today is linked to
soft power.

But
how extreme can extreme be – Super Power and Super Poor (almost 60% of India
till date earns less than Rs.20/- a month). The UN/world poverty line is $38 a
month but the Indian poverty line, especially in rural India is Rs.960/- a
month and there are approx. 400 million people in India who are below the same.
So what is the solution? A conundrum often faced by companies – “Should the
business of business only be business?” Is a company’s role restricted to
profit-generation only or should the company adopt a mechanism to give back to
the society and ensure sustainability?

I
guess it is time for Corporate Social Responsibility to spread its tentacles
and spread them fast…

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