Follow On

The Data Quest Article, March 2013, Ganesh Natarajan

If there is one thing we could not have expected the Finance Minister’s budget to do, it is to provide a panacea for all the ills that plague the economy today. His attempt to deliver a budget that does not displease anybody too much while providing the much needed impetus to development and economic inclusion has been reasonably well received by the business community and industry associations but has come in for fire from some think tanks in India and abroad, who believe that the targeted sub five percent fiscal deficit will be well-nigh impossible to achieve with the plan expenditure substantially going up and no signs of revival in the manufacturing sectors of the economy.

One clear signal that the Government has sent out even as it walks the tight rope between the expectations of the vote banks on one hand and the fears of the business community on the other is to provide a string fillip to entrepreneurship in the country. The focus on technology incubators, inclusive innovation start-ups, angel investing and skills development are all steps in the right direction that should boost technology start-ups in the country. The announcement of safe harbor provisions and rationalization of dividend tax from overseas subsidiaries should balance the additional tax most of us will have to pay and one is confident that that few percentage points of additional growth that we expect to see next year will be delivered by the products and services segments of our industry.

Interestingly enough, the major controversy of February for the IT sector was not the NASSCOM growth projections or the budget impact, it was the rather amusing announcement by young and new Yahoo CEO Marissa that she was banning all “work from home” practices. In an industry where work flexibility gas enabled many bright professionals to stay engaged or re-enter the work force, such retrograde steps raise questions about the intent and approach of large firms as they put shareholder priorities ahead of other constituents.

At a panel discussion organized by the National HRD summit in Mumbai recently, an interesting response came from Mukundan, the articulate young CEO of Tata Chemicals in response to a query on dealing with shareholder expectations. Focus on your customer and your employee, he said and shareholder satisfaction will follow. Are some of our bigger IT companies listening? We had a similar discussion at Harvard Business School earlier this year when the case study of Zensar motivating our associates through vision communities and personal excellence initiatives came up. A well-motivated and anchored bunch of talent will do more to improved top and bottom lines than any financial steroid. So let the Finance Minister do his job and do the tough balancing act between industry and people expectations. We should forge ahead and grow our companies by anticipating customer demand and being flexible in our approach to all our stakeholders in times of stress for the Indian and global economies !

Photo credits : Clipartkey