Its all about quality

Written by Malvika Singh | Updated: Jan 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Quality, and an attitude of mind that ensures and nurtures quality, has died in India. Everywhere one looks, even in the pampered capital city, is devoid of quality. Indians as a rule are relentlessly looking for discounts and freebies which forces those in the service sector to cut corners and deliver sub-standard rubbish. Whether in the distribution of power or in the tourism industry, we try desperately to pay less than what is necessary in order to maintain quality and consistency. Great ideas and projects begin with a bang and rapidly deteriorate as the clientele destroys the ethos of quality by demanding cuts and discounts because they know no better. They just do not have the intrinsic sensibility.

Visitors from other countries are used to different layers and levels of quality and consistent cleanliness. With our own people haggling away, there is no competitive quality here. It is this lack of style that makes India an unpleasant destination. We dare not behave in the same manner when in quality areas across our borders. And, more often than not it is the well-heeled lot that haggle. Bargaining has become a national trait. As a result, we do not compete at any level in the international arena. We are just plain average. The subsidy syndrome is so ingrained in our psyche that it is reducing us into being a third rate continent. All standards have gone to seed.

You arrive at Delhi airport and the horror hits you in the face. You get into a cab and the driver invariably cheats you. At the hotel nothing is customer friendly. On the street touts and beggars attack you. It is there for all to see and experience but no one gives a damn. Small wonder that people travel to other, less interesting places and bypass this country. Sri Lanka, despite the tragedy it lives with, does the reverse. It welcomes you. So does the whole of south-east Asia. We have been left far behind and only we are responsible.

The world heritage sites that sit in India do not beckon. They are horrendously administered. The only interest is to cut an entry ticket, three times more for a foreigner. It is sick. Pride has passed on and greed has taken over. The tourism industry has gone for a six and it has nothing to do with September 11! It has to do with other better choices. Why does Air India not meet the standards of Singapore Airlines Why is Air India first class full of free travellers When AI was run by people who understood quality and service, it was a great airline.

We have to get out of the clutches of Delhi and the government, state governments included. Their complacency and corruption has driven quality out of the window. Restrictions on the service sector have allowed the deterioration. It is easy to rectify. Call in those who know and comprehend, and formulate clear simple policies that do not require facilitating and looking after those in authority and power. That has been the cancer. The quality of people at the helm in many cases leaves much to be desired. It is only a question of quality, quality, quality. If we get that in order we will be out of the quagmire.

It is believed that Rashtrapati Bhavan, which had a semblance of quality, has recently brought in a coffee dispenser for self-service of coffee. Thats how it all goes wrong. We forget that self-service machines are for kitchens and roadside cafes! The quality of the air we breathe, the streets we live on, the water we are compelled to drink, the harassment on the roads, the lackadaisical attitude of the traffic and other cops, the tacky shops, the garbage dumps, all come together to show up Delhi as a falling apart capital. We have lost the grace and style that was our legacy, a legacy that is longer and stronger than most cities in the world. When one thinks of the possible reasons for the destruction of our inherited assets, there seems to be only one plausible answer lack of quality of those who rule, those who make policy, those who call the shots. Yes, it sounds like a stuck record...stagnation has killed quality and each one of us is responsible for this descent into mediocrity.