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Epidemic called MEDIOCRITY – Part II

This article is about how a mediocre short-sighted business & economy model is aped from the West, adopted by India Inc and how it is affecting India’s Socio-Economic fabric.
West has already seen it all and reached the high point of saturation and point of no return, and the consequences of which are: Sub-Prime Crisis, Global Meltdown & Recession, Toxic Debts in Multi-Trillion Dollars. Clearly & surely, a meltdown (mess-up would be a better word) of this enormity could not have happened in a short span of a couple of years.
India as a country is rocking with a revised 6.1% growth projected for 2009, right behind China’s 6.5%, especially considering the current gloomy, depressed and flat business & economic climate. India Inc has come a long way during the last two decades of our liberated economy and How! We have literally converted the sleeping towns of Suburban India into knowledge-worker powerhouses, with the opening up of ITES, BPO & Call Centre shops all over. It is quite obvious to talk about our economic & technological achievements quoting relevant statistics & numbers. Mobile Telephony and Internet penetration across India, Computer Literacy, Increase in Per Capita Income, shrinking BPL Population (BTW, more than a third of our population is still living under extreme poverty and barely able to earn a Dollar a day), Huge & Growing Middle Class consumer market, Technology-enabled Administration & Services, Nuclear Energy (Indo-US Nuclear Deal), Space Research (Chandrayaan etc.), Tata Nano are some of the milestones that would be worth mentioning. All this clearly shows that India Inc has finally arrived and is not limited to producing cheap T-Shirts and answering phone calls.
But then, there is a Collateral Damage that is not so apparent and hidden beneath this hype & growth story - we have paid and we continue to pay a huge price in the form of:
A) Degenerating society in terms of Physical, Mental & Moral health: 54% of IT, ITES and KPO & Fin Services workforce suffer from chronic & lifestyle diseases - depression, severe headaches, obesity, chronic backache, diabetes & hypertension – as per the latest ASSOCHAM study & survey. 24X7 work culture - the result is a shocking 27 Yrs the new Burn-Out age as against 40. 40% attrition rate of fresh employees (less than 1 year) – inspired & disillusioned by punch lines - Yeh Dil Maange More (Pepsi) – Karo Zyada ka Irada (Max New York) - looking to switch loyalties at the slightest of an opportunity for a few thousand rupees – Blissfully ignorant of the fact that in the process, they are reduced to a product that is available for trading by the body shopper (placement agency) - the more they are traded the more money everyone makes. This surely does provide a healthy and sustainable career growth. Non natural working hours – work by the night and catch up with sleep by the day? Not only is this abnormal but against the very law of nature and our biological clock. Moreover, working by the night, especially for the women workers, have exposed them to becoming soft targets for related crimes, while outside and at work all through the night.
B) Consumerist and Materialist Dustbin out of NMC (New Middle Class): Cheap, Easy & Hassle Free Loans, made it immensely attractive and possible for the CCC (Call Centre Couples) and NMC (New Middle Class) profile to fulfil their materialistic and consumerist needs, stretching themselves beyond their affordability limits – as a result, they commit themselves to long term re-payments, spreading over a horizon of 5 to 25 years, depending upon the product – White Goods, Electronics, Cars, Property etc.
C) Widening Socio-Economic Inequality, increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots - Poor have remained poor while the rich have prospered. Bharat was left somewhere far behind in the India Shining growth story. This non-inclusive growth (that still remains an unfulfilled election promise and agenda for all politicical parties) has been the major cause for the ever increasing gap among the rich and poor.
D) Compulsory Primary education has remained a distant dream. Private schools and higher education (mediocre and below average) was vigorously pushed across and are considered extremely lucrative business models, to churn out more and more mediocre graduates to feed the ever increasing demand of a low cost Off-shoring / Call Centre / BPO businesses.
E) Inherent and internal strengths of the country are ignored and not marketed / negotiated to its optimum at the international level. Two-thirds of India’s population still works in Agriculture. Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing still accounts for appx. 25% of our GDP. Where do we hear and talk about promotion and marketing of this strength at the national and international levels? Why are the farmers are hungry and committing suicides, living below poverty lines or at subsistence level, when they contribute to almost a quarter of our GDP?

Fortunately today, it is these very strengths of Bharat that has actually prevented and saved India Inc from sinking and touching the base, unlike the rest of the WEST in this global recession and meltdown. Hope this would be a wake-up call for the India Inc to revisit their strategy and marketing plans and look at areas we have ignored during all these years. There is a huge opportunity out there, waiting to be tapped and if that is done, we will be once again the India of 1835 – as reported in Lord Macaulay’s address to the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835 and I can’t think of any better lines to end this article with his quote below:
“I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Comments

  1. Ashish,

    I read somewhere in some other context that the quote that is attributed to Lord Macaulay is in fact apocryphal and that it is fairly certain that on the 2nd February 35 ,this guy was in India, so he could not have addressed the British Parliament on that day. To be fair, I also think that the language gives an impression of having been manipulated, just to give an impetus to the agenda of some people who consider that everything that is wrong with our culture was because of the British .This does not withstand scrutiny and probably is a result of a native Indian tendency to not “stand up and be counted” and take responsibility for our destiny. There is nothing much that supports the idea that British practiced cultural imperialism. I feel their interests were commercial to start with, and grew to an imperialist tendency to perpetuate power over “the empire where sun never set" which sustained the British pride.

    A subservient attitude that is all too evident in general Indian populace is largely self-imposed. Normal in case of vanquished races kept under protracted slavery. Some races seem to overcome the bad effects in just few decades. Indians are taking too long.
    Unni

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