New Year Message For India

Updated: Dec 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
The time for making fresh resolutions for a new year has come. While some people I know believe that such resolutions are made only to be broken, there are some who are very committed to them. It is a fairly pervasive pastime at this time of the year for many individuals. Resolutions are usually about those aspects of life and living which are difficult to change but need to be. I often wonder whether organisations also have such needs. I think some do. Annual plans, in my view, are of this genre. For most organisations government or private these are wish lists which are usually not fulfilled. Managers of these organisations keep discovering newer reasons for non-fulfillment of these wishes. This process goes on year after year with list after list.

In my view, 2003 is an important year for many Indian organisations. For India Inc, it is just one year away from the beginning of full-fledged implementation of the World Trade Organisation regime. For government of India, the year marks the beginning of a very ambitious five-year plan. Of course, for many political parties too it is a year of reckoning. Hence, it can reasonably be expected that some very serious resolutions will be made by most of these organisations for the year to come, if not for the next two years. I have some suggestions in this regard.

Organisations of India Inc and the Indian government have to realise that there is very little time available to make the kind of changes that are required to be made. Hence, the New Year resolutions made this time have to stick. Lack of resolve in this round can prove to be irreversibly damaging. Hence, it is important that organisations of all types make resolutions which are well thought out, with a keen intention to keep. For India Inc, two resolutions suggest themselves: working toward high manufacturing competence and competitiveness, and less dependence on government largesse; while governments in the country should resolve to make government and governance less expensive for India.

India Inc has been discussing and debating about manufacturing and its criticality for the Indian economy for a major portion of this year. Yet there is no perceptible evidence of action in this direction. Various industry associations would need to draw time-bound plans in this regard and put pressure on the government, wherever required, for creating a conducive environment for the manufacturing sector. Initiatives by these associations to collaborate with management and technical academia would manifest the resolve to improve manufacturing. It is an imperative for the manufacturing sector to understand its weaknesses and find solutions to overcome them in the shortest possible time. Without a national resolve and an action plan to back it, becoming an important global player in the manufacturing sector may remain yet another unattended New Year resolution.

A strong external locus of control is a behavioural shortcoming that India Inc has to fight against. It is time that India Inc reflects within for answers to it problems. An internal need to excel and be distinctive will have to replace the eternal attribution of failure to external causes. A resolution to change in this regard would form the basis for fundamental reform in Indian industry.

Governments and their organisations would need to resolve to reduce their size and, hence, the cost of government. Large-sized governments have the dual effect of reducing operational efficiency and increasing cost. Additionally, governance becomes difficult and expensive. Too many layers of government increase the distance between the governed and government and, more importantly, make transparency almost impossible. If governance has to improve it is, therefore, necessary that government has to reduce its size on a priority basis. The economic benefit is an obvious concomitant. As the luxury of alternate choices in this regard does not exist for the governments in this country, they have to resolve and act in the next two years or so. For both industry and governments time is running out. They have to act as per their resolutions and resolve to act now. They cannot afford to break these resolutions anymore. Happy New Year.

The writer is a management consultant based in Mumbai