India Inc. too has a humane side

Companies on talent hunt among pink-slip brigade Economic Times Bureau – 20th May 2009

The cynic in me obviously questions the motives. Great talent available at bargain prices and all that but then this article shows that there is hope for people who have lost their jobs.

People who were wondering what did they do wrong apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had talent, they had expertise but probably did not fit into the organization culture, did not have godfather in the organization, probably rubbed a few people the wrong and had to be part of the dreaded list. It made them feel worthless. Made them question their existence. Ask anyone who has been without a job for 6 months and he or she will tell about the trauma they are going through. Every opening they apply to and not get any response. Fear of not mentioning on their profile that they were laid off because no company will hire them.

All this could be thing of the past if this article really holds true and more organizations start hiring people who have been laid off. Of course organizations would benefit because there were lot of talented people who also lost jobs and would be ready to work for far lesser than what they were getting.

But there is a very important issue that needs to be addressed here.

Will the organization beat the poor guy down on the salary because he is not in a position to negotiate? Or believe that while earlier salary might have been way too inflated in the economic boom and negotiate something which does not demean the person’s worth.

The first move is fraught with danger for the organization because the person knows why he got hired and will leave at the first opportunity he gets. Why would he be around in the organization when he believes he was taken advantage of… just because he was on back foot.

But the organization which projects that it values the person’s expertise and is there to lend him a helping hand… it has got a person who is going to give lifelong loyalty.

Our culture has instilled a belief in us not to betray trust.

More importantly in the long run… when the economy does turnaround, its these organizations which would benefit with even more great talent. Because who wants to work for people who are only fair weather employers!

A while back I had written about how Pfizer is planning to provide free prescription medicines to people who have lost jobs in US and wondered if Corporate India can ever do anything like that. This article proves it that yes… India Inc also is capable of being humane… all business and economic considerations aside.

This truly would be a  National CSR initiative if more organizations start implementing this move.

Can the Congress provide the stablity this country so needs?

I, like everyone else in this country is hoping they can! for the sake of the country and its people. I think the mandate they have got… people are telling them “we give you the power to change the future of this country… we are ensuring that you dont have to be with opportunistic and myopic partners. the ball is now in your court”

The stock market is rocking today though its not an indication of anything. One sneeze and it would go into downward spiral.

But people are brimming with hope. All the people who have lost jobs and not finding any… they are hoping that economy gets into the F1 mode. 

People want to feel secure again… they dont want to worry about a bleak future…

I will not talk about corporates because they would still peddle excuses for non-performance and dumping their most valuble assets.

This mandate for congress is not for anything great they did for last 5 years… they did not do anything worthwhile.. being shackled by their partners in UPA.

But now… for next five years… there will be no excuses… the country has given them the power.

The country wants results NOW… not as achievements 5 years from now or 3 years or even one year… Here and now is what the country wants.

Mr Manmohan Singh… you have a huge responsibility… are you up to it?  You owe it to the nation.

Pfizer teaches how to be a responsible Corporate!

“Pfizer Will Give Away Lipitor, Viagra, Other Drugs to Jobless

Linda A. Johnson and Matthew Perrone

May 15, 200″

Just read the above article!

Ok so it might have started as a corporate gimmick (PR would go to town with this one) but the fact is that gesture itself speaks volumes for someone in Pfizer who thought about it and managed to persuade the organization to implement it!

How many organizations have come forward with such an initiative in US? (there might be but we in the world have not heard about them and we sure need to). A great initiative which sends a message out that the organization cares. And these are the consumers who will become loyal to the the corporate brand. They would become the evangelists which every brand aspires for.

It is the organizations themselves who can help the economic turnaround. Raising the level of optimism in a larger social set up would have a positive effect on the environment. Essentially you need to show you care.

Slap on the face of those though who made the people jobless! When company lays off people.. a month or two months salary is given and the person is erased from the organization. What happens to that person… how will he survive… how will his dependents survive.. is absolutely no concern. And by the way I have heard of such things happening in organizations which have won awards for best HR practices! But if only they sat and analysed and figured that only if they let go of profits for a while.. if only they let go of the prices for their stock… if only they took a decision which would help people… Imagine the goodwill and loyality they would generate!! and of course tonnes of PR which would get that stock price rocking again anyways…

The move by Pfizer sure is not purely altruistic one. The mileage would be immense but hey.. if it helps the common man in the long run… I am all for it

Now how many organizations in India can do the same?  I bet none! most would be busy padding up their reserves.

Are we a happy nation?

India scores high on Global Happiness Index

October 17th, 2006 ·

India may be behind as far as development goes, but Indians are far happier than most in the planet. Certainly, more than the richer lot in G-8. (courtesy

We were 125 on the happiness index back then. Wonder if we are still 125.

I move around… I observe people… I look at the environment … and I get a  sense that we are an extremely unhappy lot…

We are afraid… we are very worried and doomsday is round the corner ( I sound like the guy I have seen in movies… carrying a placard that says “end is near” )

And I am not talking about Ambanis and Birlas and such others in this country. The only thing they are probably scared about right now is – will their billion dollar house create controversy (when net profit is down second quarter in the row) or the fact that Mumbai Indians probably wont make the semis (hell I spend US$ 5 million to put the Idea logo on their shirts)… No I am not talking about them… I am talking about the average joe indians.

Check out the person sitting in the car next to you at the traffic light (or a bike or scooter or even walking) … does he or she look happy?  Yes on the face of it… they probably do… but if there was a mechanism to peep into their soul… I bet things would be lot different.

And no I dont think its about the economic slowdown… terrorist attacks… losing jobs… worrying about layoffs or about the dismal nature of Indian politics… I think somewhere down the line… as a combination of everything… we have become fatalist.

We are pretending for everyone… at work.. on facebook… on text messages… at home in front of loved ones… with friends… with colleagues… 

Pretending to be happy… pretending to be carefree… pretending to be high up on every curve… planning the next holiday… planning the next party… seen at the pub… seen at the restaurants… seen on page 3..

But when the darkness falls… and its time to sleep… eyes take a while to close… breathing of your loved ones next to you.. which used to be a lullaby a while back… its a reminder… reminder to do something… reminder to stop running to stay in the same place and change track… which again has its own set of fears…

I guess why this is happening is because we have lost our reason to be happy… Its been lost in the whole materialistic new India that happened post liberalisation… From the days of scracity, we were suddenly open to goodies… goodies we had only heard about but never seen up close or experienced… and there was money too in the economy… after all if you let the products come into the market, you need to ensure there is money too to buy them. Life had become one big happy shopping cart…

And banks were  going overboard to please the customers… Turning our noses at all the public sector banks, we made a bee line for foreign banks… credit cards.. loans to buy cars… loans to buy houses… loans for holidays… anything and everything was available. Shops were full – with people and products…

Advertising agencies had a great time… selling products people didnt need… and selling lot of creative work too (Cannes was beckoning!)

And then things started going wrong… And let me tell you things were going wrong much before this “so called recession” Recession I believe is a Nazisque conspiracy to purge every person who does not have money or does not make enough or cant help corporate head honchos make more money

Credit dried up… money dried up… and let not the government and stock market fool you. ICICI bank today doesnt want to give money… but only wants money. HDFC must have spend some amount to put their logo on the Rajasthan Royals tees… they need the money back too… Though I think HDFC is probably doing the right things… at least they have backed the right horse

We were living beyond our means and never thought about it… We were optimistic about the future… India was shining you see… to many it still does… (I am one of them)

The mistake we made is that we started believing that its the products, brands and all things materialistic that define being happy (we still do)

And now when we have to stretch out lot more than earlier (easy credit is not available… banks are reducing credit limits)… we think that the things have gone bad.. blame the government (by the way government has never been responsible for anything good that has happened to this country)… blame the economy… blame everyone

And we are unhappy. Why did we ever believe that the companies that we work for.. are going to take care of us… comapnies love to point to the economy and come out with a new list of laid off people… The only thing these companies ever wanted were profits and more profits… and they are not wrong… that is why a business exists…

Happiness comes from content… from being at peace with oneself… both are in short supply right now… but we cant let the world know… about the unhappiness.. about the intense stress… about the turmoil… as the lyrics from a Billy Joel song go…

“Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and
Show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin some are steel
Some are silk and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger…But we love to try them on”

All marketers and advertisers… how about selling some true happiness? How about selling some hope? How about selling some optimism? How about holding hands of these people and letting them know that a business can only be a business when it has got happy customers… and happiness here is not about CRM and service (they are hygiene factors now). Happiness is about the joy of living life for life itself and brands & products are there just to help.

Wonder if companies can think like that? wonder if they would ever realise that its a vicious cycle… people have no money or rather insecurity does not let them spend… they cant sell… they cant sell and they cant have profits… they cant have profits and they would let more people go… and so it goes on.

Corporates… governments (and did anyone in all this election campaign ever hear the parties talking about the plight of people losing jobs?) and we as a society have a responsibility towards each other…


Can smokers “live” in peace please…

So this post if read, would probably elicit a lot of negative comments and these comments would just prove the point I am making…

Sure we became smokers by choice (thats debatable though… can always blame the advertising… the eternal scapegoat for all evil addictions… in my case it was the whole package of  ‘denim crumple pack’ of Charms) but then as it happens with all addictions, it takes over and the usual withdrawal symptoms of irritation and ……

But the point is.. will alienation and making a whole lotta places “no smoking” help? The sneers and the upturned noses and smoking chambers…

We all know smoking is supposedly bad and we should give it up… but then there are a host of things that we should give up on (most western countries after decades of abusing the environment point fingers at Asia and Africa to say that these continents should cut down on all the luxuries that the west enjoyed for so long)

And if the smoking is so bad and governments all over want people to stop smoking… how about shutting down all companies that manufacture the nicotine sticks? Put a complete stop once and for all. But can they? More importantly… will they? And then they should stop all the automobile manufacturing too where the fuel is petroleum product… and stop everything that creates ‘health hazard’. I would love to know how much do these product manufacturers contribute to the government revenue by way of taxes…

I am not propogating that smoking is good… nor am I saying that measures should not be taken to help people get rid of the habit. The evolution of smoking was a direct result of a certain freedom given to individuals in a society and was perpetuated by “Marlboro Man” and “you have come a long way baby” and many other catch phrases and imagery which the youth identified with as a sign of rebellion in some cases and ‘need to belong’ in many others and once the fashion becomes a habit, it sure is difficult to give up…

I believe in a right to choose… I can choose to smoke or not smoke… I can choose to enter an establishment which allows smoking or I can find another outlet. In India, we have “pure vegetarian” restaurants and then there are restaurants which serve everything… take your pick… Why ban smoking everywhere!

Create and regulate the measures that every public establishment should follow. Measures that ensure that non smokers dont have to inhale second hand smoke… and no it does not mean putting smokers in fish bowls or being forced to smoke behind the kitchen in an alley…

Trust me… a beer just doesnt taste good enough anymore in a pub and while smoking has not gone down… going to pubs and having a good time (not getting drunk but soaking in the atmosphere) has sure gone down..

I would love to give up on smoking and would ensure that my kids dont pick up the habit… But then… I WANT TO GIVE UP ON MY OWN… dont want government to force it down my throat (it’s actually worse than the smoke going down my throat!).  And if the government is serious, let them shut down shops for all manufacturers (you cannot have your cake and eat it too)

And to all non smokers and the ones who have given up smoking… you have a choice too but do not shove it down our throat… As responsible smokers (and yes there is a growing breed of such smokers) we also dont want you to consumesecond hand smoke… so how about being responsbile and respecting us too… If the smell of smoke is bad… so is body odor and bad perfumes… If you want the freedom to live without smoke… we also want freedom to smoke till we are able to give up or (till as most social advertising created to win awards says…) we die… You want to enjoy a good time… so do we…

Travelling from Mumbai to New York and not being able to smoke for close to 24 hours aint funny…

There is always a way…