Productivity and Innovation can make India win

I was going through an article in ‘Business Standard’ that tells so highly of the success of China and particularly that in manufacturing. I also got the shocking news of Indian government canceling the study tour of China by officers of Indian Administrative services. China didn’t issue visa for some officers from the Arunachal Pradesh, as China considers Arunachal as part of its own territory. Every one visiting China or reading about its growth story gets stunned. Nowadays both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister keep on referring to China in all their public or private speeches. It is understandable if China is to be a benchmark. But why can’t we create the success stories ourselves in whatsoever area we are actively involved?

It is not that the India is standing and waiting. Many are creating the benchmarks that others in the country can follow. Recently I read a story of a textile company in Coimbatore that I shall like people to appreciate and emulate.

KPR Mills on the fringes of Coimbatore has come out with a unique way to improve productivity, according to P Nataraj, MD, KPR Mills.

“We found out that it takes 15 minutes for one person to move around one line in a spinning mill to check for breakages. Therefore to ensure that the time taken be reduced without employing more, one of our employees suggested roller skates. We brought a trainer and on an experimental basis, we taught a few girls to use these skates. We were amazed at the outcome. They were now going around the line in five minutes as against the earlier 15 minutes, without burning much of their energy. For us, the productivity improved by a whopping 60%.

Slowly, we copied this to other facilities around Coimbatore. It has generated tremendous interest amongst other textile mills in the region. Soon, most of the big spinning mills will see people skating around. From the employee angle, the girls feel they have wings to fly and fatigue levels are low. Both the employees and the management stand to benefit,”

And see how they coped with the manpower issue.

“KPR Mills were planning to expand its operations, and wanted more manpower. It employed girls from remote villages on contracts for three years, provided them with hostel facilities inside the factory so as to take care of the absenteeism problem. Allowing them to be idle after the factory work appeared to be dangerous. It decided to enroll the girls with Alagappa University and Annamalai University for distance learning programme.”

The idea of the contract system was to ensure that the workforce is committed to work for the period. “Upon completion of three years, girls are equipped to work on the shop floor and are educationally qualified. Under our societal set up, girls are married when they are around 21 to 23. So, on completion of the contract, we give them Rs 36,000 which they can use to get married.”

Is it not an innovative humane HR approach?

As reported recently, a Kerala company involved in tackling the problem of dumped food waste, and a Karnataka firm has provided thousands of rural families dung-based biogas plants. The two firms are among 10 global projects short-listed for the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, popularly known as the “Green Oscars”. Why can’t these firms be made the benchmarks and the IAS officers emulate them in their districts in different states?

Ratan Tata, in his capacity as the chairman of the Investment Commission, recently wrote a letter to the Prime Minister warning that major projects entailing a combined investment of nearly $60 billion are meeting delays and roadblocks for no apparent reason. Does it require a visit of China for the IAS officers attached to the project in any manner to get over these delays and roadblocks? With support from IIMs, IITs, and huge lot of technical and managerial talents in our country itself, all in administrative positions must work to help creating a brand for India in their respective fields.

Basically, India must work on improving its productivity in every area and come up to the world standard, be it road making, shipbuilding, agricultural yield, or distribution and transmission losses in power sector. We can have our own unique way depending on our social setup and requirements. It is bound to give results that many will envy.

And India can keep on creating the success stories of productivity and innovations in every sector and activity. IAS officers, the cream of the educated class, must create their own success stories rather than visiting China to copy their systems and on return to come out with the great and simple excuse that the Chinese system can’t work in our environment, culture or way of governance based on democratic system.

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