Challenges plaguing Indian Industry03 January 2018
India, with a workforce of around 480 million is once again poised to be one of the fastest developing nations in the world. LPG (Liberalization Privatization and Globalization) was introduced in 1991 to bring about reforms in the industrial, trade and financial sector to improve the country’s economy. The government opted to abolish the “License Raj”, reduce their involvement in businesses, check public sector monopoly and opened the country to FDI. This marked a radical change from the socialist and self-reliant “outlook that the government and the people held up until then.
As a result, Indian companies were propelled into the modern era largely under young leaders who would soon became the global face of the new India. More and more international companies also began to open up offices in India bringing about a steady rise in the amount of foreign investment in the country with every passing year.
Experts claim that India is an oxymoron in itself. As we plunge deeper into modernity, in many aspects the country is regressing. The “need to save” mentality which has been drilled into every Indian since birth has resulted in a vast difference in the work culture and lifestyles. We are the second largest smartphone market in the world, but a vacation is still considered a luxury. The Indian culture itself perpetrates simplicity; however, it can also be argued that most people practice it selectively.
Despite being a rapidly growing economy, a vast majority of the county is still below the poverty line. The economic growth in the country is far less inclusive than that of other nations. India ranked 60th among the 79 developing economies appraised in the World Economic Forum’s latest Inclusive Development Index. In fact, more than 65% of the current population in India consists of under 35 year olds who consist of the largest employee base. This makes a large proportion of the population more vulnerable and also fiercely competitive, since the cost of living in the country is not rising proportionally to the rise in income. Most Indians also invest heavily on education and often end up with huge loans to repay since scholarships are almost nonexistent
Does cost effectiveness trump comfort in India?
In an increasingly globalized business ecosystem, most large companies have operations in major countries across the world. However, the company policies are not the same for all the countries that they operate out of. While the company ethos more or less remains the same; everything from the minimum wage mandated, safety operations, quality of the office spaces and many other pivotal factors differ from region to region.
The governing rules for companies that wish to operate in India are far less stringent than they are in most other parts of the world. Metropolitan cities are bursting with people and they have become concrete jungles. Most companies focus solely on profits and follow unsustainable operation methods which are more cost effective for them with no regard for the consequences it might have. However, these companies are not the only culprit. The cities do not have an efficient waste management system, a safe public transport system or even good roads. This means that companies have other unforeseen expenses that they do not have to deal with in other countries, thereby making them less willing to spend more than what is absolutely necessary in other aspects.
The situation in many companies that are made in India are even worse. Employees are paid less than the market average and are given no perks whatsoever. Unlike other countries where employees are given a bonus on major festivals like Christmas, most Indian companies have a merit based bonus system which often depends solely on the managerial staff. Employees also do not have access to subsidized or free food items at offices unlike the developed countries. Company parties are thrown once a year if that at a very small scale unlike the lavish Annual parties that are a forte at companies abroad.
Many companies also offer their employees paid sabbaticals to do something that interests them for a while, this is almost unheard of in India. In more developed regions, a healthy work- life balance is also encouraged with both male and female employees being offered paternity and maternity leave periods of up to 2 months and 2 years respectively.
Employees should ideally have a well-lit and open space to work in. Using a smart automation system that can control the temperature and lighting in the office can also reduce energy consumption and bring down costs in the long term. However, merely a handful of companies have opted for this system in the country, unlike the developed countries where it is rapidly turning into a staple particularly in the newer buildings.
In fact, most offices in the country are bland and unaesthetic spaces which merely house the bare minimum, particularly if they are not in the service industry. This is because spending on interiors is still considered an utter waste of money and certain companies even believe that it distracts employees, however this could not be further from the truth. In fact, some of the older companies have downright unhygienic conditions with stacks of dusty files, littered corridors and an absence of ventilation.
However, this trend has not really caught on in the country in spite of the fact that plenty of measures are being taken to draw the attention of people to their unsustainable way of life and to try and make them change it. In the developed countries, most companies also host marathons, team building exercises and other recreational activities to keep employees both physically and mentally fit. This is more or less the exception rather than the rule in India.
We are also notorious for our slow rate of technology adoption, particularly in the public sector. Although, the digital revolution hit the country a few years ago most companies and the majority of the public are reluctant to use the latest innovations. There is a level of distrust as well as the general view that it is just a ploy to loot them.
The business sector in India is complex; the country works in a way that is unlike any other. Although, the entry of the startup culture is slowly changing the way we eat, shop and even work. Employees are given precedence in startups and this means that they are afforded luxuries they could not have dreamt of in most traditional companies. All we can do is watch with bated breath to see whether these new age companies will achieve what their predecessors failed to.