Shalini Shukla 18 Apr 2012
In the last two decades, India has gone from being one of the least globalised economies in the world to one of the most dependent on international commerce. “Our markets are more open, we enjoy a wider range of consumer items than ever, and those who go abroad (far more than ever before) finance their travel expenses with foreign exchange,” says Shashi Tharoor, elected member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala and former Minister of State for External Affairs. “Business process outsourcing has (also) tied large numbers of Indians to foreign work environments and business partners.” This year, India is poised to over take Japan as the third largest economy in the world, based on purchasing power parity. James Agarwal, consulting director and head – India, BTI Consultants, a part of Kelly Services, says that main growth drivers seem to be a variety of internal and external factors, including investment-friendly public policies and regulations. “India has also successfully raised its aggregate savings rate to levels that would allow sustained high levels of domestic capital formation, in turn helping high growth,” says Agarwal. While India’s economy is one of the world’s most dynamic, corruption, sloppy standards, a lack of decent staff and too much red tape are common gripes amongst businesses. Prince Augustine, EVP – Human Capital at Mahindra & Mahindra, says there is much to be improved. “The potential of India has not been fully tapped in terms of its resources and people capability,” he says. “There is ample scope for growth looking at the vast expanse of the country, its population and rich cultural heritage.” The country’s labour force is one to be reckoned with. It boasts the world’s largest labour pool, with 270 million entering the workforce over the next 20 years, says McKinsey & Company. It also has the world’s youngest workforce, with 70% of the population falling under the age of 35, according to the latest Indian Census. “By and large, people (in India) are hard-working, and management is participative, forward-looking and quite performance-oriented,” says Augustine. Agarwal agrees and says work culture in India requires one to be acclimatised to the behavioural as well as cultural variations of the country. “For instance, here, people consider their family when accepting job proposals, although Gen X is emulating the west gradually,” he says. “Also, workers in India have a strict work ethic; they do not mind even working on weekends if the demands are such, unlike most other countries where weekends are almost exclusively considered personal time.” However, Agarwal added that Indian workers can be rather particular about certain festivals which cannot be ignored, such as Diwali. Gender equality
While India has certainly done some things right on the business front to achieve double-digit economic growth, gender equality in the country still has a long way to go before it comes even close to levels of other economic giants. According to the Gender Sensitivity Benchmark for Asia 2011 report, India is the worst among six top Asian economies when it comes to the representation of women in the workplace at the junior- and middle-level positions. Indian multinational companies studied had the lowest number of women employed, at 24.43% of the total workforce in India. Agarwal laments that despite the fact that recent times have witnessed a boost in the status of women, such discrimination still seems to exist. “Discrimination here relates to matters like pay, conditions pre- and post-employment, promotions and other opportunity matters,” he says. “For a developing country like India, gender equality is still a long way off, coupled with unprecedented efforts to grant women an equal status and thereby ensure her development.” There is a silver lining though. In spite of all the challenges, India has shown and worked on...
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