Original developing models can be the foundation to create an environment of positive and practical ownership of the costs that development involves.
In 1985, a convention was held on Human Resource Planning and Enterprise Management by the Indian Society for Training & Development (ISTD) in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Government of India, at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. Over 80 organisations were represented. The themes explored were: Human resource planning activities; human resource information systems; human resource accounting and auditing; human resource training; development and organisation. The one thing that the convention established was that a perspective on human resource planning activities in enterprises in India was not only feasible but doable. In corporate enterprises, the approach of business configurability was advocated.
Thirty years down the line, if there has been any significant progress in this direction, results are yet to be documented. In the meanwhile, what has happened is that the talk of skill augmentation has occupied prime attention in the domain of human resource management. Pressures for this have been so huge that there is little known serious attempt at converting it at the corporate level for optimisation and goal directed purposes.
Revenue concerns and populist pressures have thrown up some new elements on to the scene. Inter alia, they include the huge spaces that consultancy companies — especially those carrying the tag of foreign brands — occupy. Political entities with avowedly nationalist slogans lead the patronisation brigade of such organisations.
Simply put, these institutions have never witnessed such a boost to their revenue streams as they have seen in the last few years. If this combination of desi governance processes, leaning heavily on bii-desi (foreign) entities, have produced any dramatic breakthroughs, it is still to be established. Nevertheless, the tango between the two is only rising in its speed and range.
By itself, there may be nothing to regret in such a combination. If there is any regret, it is about poor returns received on per unit of investment made in lubricating the revenue streams of consultancy enterprises with apparent foreign veneer. It almost tantamounts to wasteful expenditure.
The time is not yet ripe for governance systems — be it at the Centre or the States — to buy this perspective. This may not even be an issue of any great significance in the projected national election of 2019. Chances are slim even for them to get flagged. Perhaps a core determining element would be that many of the so-called opposition parties also believe in acquired status through association with foreign brands.
Perhaps one of the significant deviations in this sorry theme would be the Van Dhan scheme of the Government of India. Even though the scheme is yet to be fully launched, its perspective is right. It talks of strengthening the market for indigenous products from tribal areas, value addition with technological intervention. This needs to be coupled with better market mechanisms. This proves, if any proof be needed, that there are options of an indigenous genre to unselective and continual introduction of non-Indian experiences.
The core issue, therefore, remains inventorize indigenous competencies, knowledge bases and upgradation there-of. More than anything else, this will require re-positioning of the vantage point of perception. An analysis of the list of dozens upon dozens of themes of doctoral dissertations and research projects of leading Indian institutions will show that selection of themes has a comparatively small percentage of space for those areas that have to do with indigenous models. Value addition to indigenous growth processes and elimination of obstacles, that arise because of the context, needs attention.
The reason for this eschewed profile is not far to seek. Promotion graphs in institutions such as Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, Central universities and also the lesser institutions in these streams, are determined by the recognition received in foreign journals, foreign institutions and others.
Whereas, it is understandable that progressively human capital is being taken as an asset and money spent on its augmentation is taken as an investment. This approach needs a twist. Focus is needed on issues which accelerate indigenous developmental models. This alone can be the bedrock of creating an environment of pro-active ownership of the costs that development entails. This is a plausible approach, provided in terms of intellectual emotion, we are prepared for it.
(The writer is a well-known management consultant)
Writer: Vinayshil Gautum
Courtesy: The Pioneer