Sunday, May 27, 2007

Problems are the solutions

It’s about time ‘Bharat’ is part of the Indian growth story

The recent series of news as reported in the popular business press reminds me of Pogo, a comic strip character when he remarks “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Till very recently, a vast majority of the business ventures were stifled by the dominant logic and conventional wisdom that typecasted organisational planning and execution in an archetypal fashion. But that is no longer the case, as some entrepreneurs, guided by their conceptual and realistic capabilities, are taking risks and breaking the erstwhile conventions and practices.

Consider the following cases (albeit, exceptional in nature) that Indian IT sector is witnessing in the current scenario. In Andhra Pradesh, the GramIT (a rural BPO unit) of Byrraju Foundation, a Satyam-supported social initiative is leading the back-office experiment in rural areas by leveraging the low-cost, low-skilled and lower-attrition human capital (primarily comprising of undergraduates) and thereby also eliminating the negative fallout of immigration into the cities and its related problems. Similarly, Saloni Malhotra, one of the founders of DesiCrew Services Pvt Ltd, has strategised the firm’s operations by creating a central hub in the city together with some minor satellite centres in geographically diverse rural locations for undertaking low-skill, high-volume data services. Genpact too has transplanted the learning of vendor development and other functions into human capital management, wherein it is confidently signing up employees from informal sources, comprising primarily of college dropouts, housewives etc. In an industry characterised by high employee turnover and unbridled absenteeism and an economy exemplified by a great degree of informality, this particular initiative has all the ingredients of a ‘win-win’ situation. In my opinion, the absolute numbers of under utilised talent in the rural backwaters shall demonstrate the strength of this novel business project as it provides decent income and productive work, both at the same time. This growing breed of social entrepreneurs have merged both the social and business mission in a seamless fashion. What’s more laudable and perceptible in all these micro-cases is that they are characterised by three common threads: social conscience, strategy rethink and enterprise/organisation dynamism, particularly at a time when India is in dire need of amplification of its vital resources for quickening inclusive growth. This can be achieved by empowering its citizens (primarily, rural youth) with education, employment, wealth and consequent self-confidence and poise. Sociologically speaking, I suspect that in the rural socio-economic environment, the dearth of professional avenues and earnings get reproduced in terms of lower levels of self-confidence and self-esteem. Making provision for a chance to learn and earn at their pace helps them surmount these. The State, rather than being a mute spectator, can have a prominent complementary role to play in making ‘Bharat’ awash with this novel and decisive economic flow. Way to go!


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