For economic growth, inclusive development, we need ‘24×7 operations’

For this argument to make sense, we must focus on fundamentals alone- production and consumption. The world of today is far more educated than it was when abundance of agricultural produce led to industrial growth with more and more people taking up other, varied occupations. But the irony is that with a relatively more educated world, we have been unable to repeat the feats of previous revolutions in the present time where economies are either contracting or growing at a lesser-than-expected rate.

The problem is we are overlooking fundamentals of economy. A big, tangible change can be observed should we choose to consider just two things- production and consumption. Let’s understand this with the Indian economy in the backdrop. Which were the periods when the country grew rapidly? These periods are the ones where our economic activity increased, and to be precise, production and consumption saw rise.

The present working of the economic landscape is definitely an impediment to further growth. And there is an eye-opener in the form of COVID-19-induced lockdowns that lays bare the fact that any halt in economic activity leads to nothing but impoverishment. Until it struck, India was doing business as usual. Most enterprises operated from typical 9am to 5pm working hours and indeed, it did provide employment opportunities to some people. Yet, many remained unemployed or underemployed- thereby hitting both production and consumption.

India is a country with demographic dividend and abundant labour, but there is limited work. In the present scene, when enterprises operate for 9 hours, any government, any policy think tank, any activist or any economic adviser cannot succeed in any attempt targeted towards economic growth.

First, increase production by allowing and encouraging enterprises to run for more hours in a day. This will automatically trigger employment generation. More production of varied goods and services will lead to prices coming down. This in turn will boost consumption. One, more people employed means more money in the hands of people, and two, lower prices means more consumption of goods and services that aren’t mere basic necessities.

The simple logic here is that to have a positive GDP growth, we need to produce more, and this production is only possible when people consume more. Both can be achieved by letting the enterprises operate 24×7.

No other scheme, policy action, legislation can achieve the economic growth that we seek to pull out more and more citizens out of poverty and enable India’s shift from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’. The appetite has remained untapped for long. Appetite for motorized vehicles, for electronic goods and even luxury goods has to be tapped by first increasing production and letting the consumption side play its part.

Indian IT industry, BPO sector and other enterprises are examples of what happens when you operate 24×7. Indeed, we cannot start with manufacturing passenger vehicles 24×7, and this is why we need more research on how to implement this plan. The basic rationale is that increased production activity alone can assist economic growth of India. Imagine this- institutions of higher learning operating round the clock and producing more doctors and chartered accountants- of course we need them; banking services available 24×7 and enabling more and more money transactions.

has conventional recruitment practice failed us?

if the economy could produce enough jobs on its own, the government would have been relieved of pumping funds into programmes like mgnrega and other sops to support low income groups. that sadly isn’t the case. let’s see how conservative recruitment norms inspired indian industries’ incompetence.

economists and analysts will talk of low industrial growth, rising non-performing assets of banks and the losing sheen of indian information technology sector owing to lack of skill upgradation in indian engineers, but rarely does anyone talk of how human resource failures fueled these downturns.

india may be inching closer towards a place amongst top 5 economies in the world, we may be the fastest growing major economy, stats including worst credit growth, dismal private sector investment, failure of indian industry in matching up with global competitiveness and technological prowess and inadequate job growth show the ground beneath is hollow and vulnerable to collapse; not to say of our so-called demographic dividend that is eying jobs, not india’s gdp growth rate.

it is never the bank, a company or any business that peddles the bicycle, it is always humans who drive these through decision-making. and the qualitative difference between these decision-making skills of humans is what makes one company profitable and the other a loss-making venture.

let’s talk more basics. while a regular bank employee does not need to demonstrate higher skills than that used by a regular accountant with a mid-sized enterprise, the former is paid more by employers like sbi and pnb (a major reason behind their deteriorating ratios). the reason to worry is the selection process of both private and public sector enterprises that has failed prudent economic theories.

for a bank job, a written test is conducted to know candidate’s knowledge of language, reasoning and basic arithmetic. is that all you need when you function as a banker, what about effectively managing queues during demonetization drives? at managerial positions, b-school graduates, who pass out with theoretical lessons on leadership and organization, are biasedly preferred.

while it is logical that a medical graduate must be someone who shall undertake practicing of medicine, totally irrational is a naïve, a learner of simple leadership skills hired at a managerial position owing to an utterly unreliable b-school degree. in 4 years of engineering, what the passed out engineer is taught is something that can easily be acquired within 6 months by a person with inclination toward engineering and science.

in the entire process of hiring against the backdrop of communication skills and degrees, we are ignoring a fundamental equation that real world scenarios demand not the acquired (or forcefully injected) know-how but operational dexterity.

the only way possible to judge any applicant on this is to float an assignment during job interviews, for recruiting only through predictable tests and verbal one-on-ones has not only resulted in losses to corporates but has also made it hard to achieve and sustain efficiency and competitiveness for the economy at large. the sole road ahead is therefore a prudently conceived and designed assignment to assess real capability of any candidate.