7 Step Rule Book to Master the Art of Sales

7 Step Rule Book to Master the Art of Sales

When I had started thinking about my career, someone suggested me to spend at least a year in ‘sales’. He advised me that sales function’s exposure makes the man “A Gentleman”. It helps the person to appreciate other’s point of view, build up and tell your story, handle rejection, navigate your way to success despite challenges and teaches you “patience”. This message left an ever lasting impact on my mind and career. Being a salesman first and storyteller second, I look forward to meet the doyens of my stream, talk to them and learn from them.

Recently, I got an opportunity to meet Mr. Syed A Asim, Director, DeBox Global; a seasoned sales professional with more than two decades of experience, expertise and success in IT Sales. His illustrious career journey includes heading sales and business function for technology companies; Financial Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Dion Global Solutions Ltd. and Bonton Group of Companies to name a few.

Though we talked on different topics of concern and interest, but the learnings which I got from him about sales in general and IT sales in particular was most beneficial for me and I am sure it will be the same for my readers. So, let’s just jump into it without wasting any more time.

Mukul: You are a doyen of IT Sales in India and rightfully so, because you have successfully spent close to two decades at Sr. Management positions in IT sales. What according to you is the present character of IT industry and sales? What are the challenges and opportunities?

Syed Asim: A Salesperson enjoys these kinds of tags like ‘doyen’ or ‘you know how to make your customers pay’, but I don’t take these words seriously. My idea of sales doesn’t start and end with taking money from someone’s pocket. For me, building trust and maintaining it is more important than just selling a product or service. If you start the sales process with the idea of ‘money’, then you are limiting your reach to just one customer whom you are targeting. But if you start your sales process with the idea of building ‘trust’ then your customer will become your evangelist.

The big mistake people make while trying to understand IT industry is that they take it as a standalone business vertical, which it is not. This may sound contradictory because there are so many companies which are doing nothing except creating IT product and services and selling it.

IT is an ‘enabler’ and it must be seen this way only. Whether it is doing good or bad depends upon the good or bad of the industry whose processes it is enabling. So, if all other sectors and industries which an IT company can serve are doing good, then IT industry will automatically do well.

What has changed over the period of time is awareness and acceptance. Earlier there was very little to no awareness of what IT can do and there was resistance to acceptance too. This was the era when people believed in doing everything of their own.

IT sales started as concept selling. Entire concept was needed to be spoon fed to the customer. Now there is awareness as well as acceptance. In fact, some people go overboard with their dependency on IT. They think that it can do some magic and solve all their problems. I am not saying that it is bad for the industry, but in my opinion, it should be seen that, at what cost it is coming. If the cost of solution is more than the business itself, then what’s the point in getting the solution?

I came across an example where the IT team of a company was asked to give utmost priority to data security. So, the IT team instructed everyone in the office to change their passwords frequently, have alphanumeric constituents with one capital and one small letter in it and one special character. Next thing they found that all the passwords were pasted on the desktop or the board behind because the password were quite difficult to remember.

Another example I came across recently was in a village I visited and which was facing an acute problem of monkey menace. Monkeys were damaging the standing crop. The problem reached the District Magistrate and he promised a sum of Rs.1 Lakh, as if it was a big amount to find some scientific solution of the problem. Everyone got busy with finding frequency and pattern in monkey damaging the crop to designing a sound which could scare away the monkeys. An elderly from the village itself suggested that rather than breaking the head over it, they should rather bring/hire a baboon which scares away the monkeys.

My point is, the business function has to clearly understand and decide what problem they are trying to solve and at what cost. If they could decide it clearly and emphatically, then it will help their business, otherwise it will prove to be a burden.

This awareness is good also for us because it has made sales process easy and people are willing to listen, understand and come up with their own ideas. And with this acceptability and awareness, quality talent pool has also increased, which in turn has increased the quality of product and services, overall benefitting the industry.

Mukul: This brings me to my next question. IT behemoths like Infosys, Wipro etc. are reportedly facing challenges in the mature markets like USA and EU due to slowing down of some of the European economies, noise of protectionism, currency fluctuations etc. Do you think that export of IT services will continue to dominate the sales book of IT companies or will they look inward for revenues?

Syed Asim: It’s not that Indian IT companies were not looking inwards for the revenue; they were. But since the revenue per unit was so small as compared to mature markets you named, they had no option but to look outwards and it has done great service to the country in terms of providing employment as well as earning foreign exchange.

Now, due to increased awareness and acceptance at every level of the society, domestic market is also poised to grow very big. The idea of ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Model Villages’ and big push for infrastructure will provide huge opportunity for the IT companies, domestic as well as foreign and more so if entire plan is executed with transparency. Not only the government expenditure on these plans, but multiplier effect of these expenditures and increase in economic activity due to it will continue to push the domestic demand of IT product and services.

Efforts like demonetization has also forced the end users and companies alike to shift from cash transactions to cashless transactions, which in turn has invigorated the demand for IT products and services. So, there are a lot of things happening which indicate positive future for domestic market of IT products and services. But till the time it takes a proper shape, exports will continue to dominate the sales book.

Mukul: Of late, Indian companies have been forced to move from one business scenario to another due to various factors like technological advancement or disruption from a powerful competitor. For example, before Telecom operators could think about how to realize the money they had invested in 3G, they had to jump start to 4G or before Organized Modern Retailers could even think of reaching operational level profit, they were fighting technological and reach superiority of Online retail. Similarly, what I am seeing that before Indian IT companies could realize full potential of IT services sale in the country, they are already battling with low revenue mobile applications business disturbing their sales register. How complex is the scenario and what should be strategy of IT companies to beat that?

Syed Asim: Mobile applications have helped to popularize the use of IT products among end consumers and it is good. But to say that it is posing a challenge to the sale of IT services is not correct. In fact, it has paved the way for bigger things in the background.

Yes, the economics and sales practices of mobile applications are certainly different from other IT products and services, but interpreting it as their challenge is wrong premise. I have told you earlier that the projects initiated by Government of India offers a great potential to IT companies if implemented with transparency. It will offer same opportunity to mobile application business and both will continue to grow in the time to come.

Mukul: India is the country of entrepreneurs and IT entrepreneurs can be found probably in every nook and corner of cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Gurugram, NOIDA etc. But I feel that it is more difficult to integrate the product to market than designing and developing it. What is your take on that?

Syed Asim: A good product is something which can’t be compromised at any cost. This helps in building the trust. What you are promising to your customers must be delivered. 

But if you ask me what should be given priority, then I will say that ‘sales’ should be given priority without compromising on the product. 

So, sales first approach is always better. It helps you to design a better product according to the need of the consumers and saves cost as well, which in turn guarantees success.

Mukul: You are probably one of the few persons who not only launched an “IT product” specific to Indian market when penetration of IT knowledge was very low in the country, but made it hugely successful as well. What advice you would like to give to the entrepreneurs to create a sales funnel for their product or services and master the sales?

Syed Asim: You know, even if my customer calls me in the middle of the night, I respond to him with full attention and alacrity. I don’t let him feel that he is not welcome. Once I close a sales deal, I make it a point to address all the problems regarding the product, after sales, if there is any. I don’t end my sales process with taking money from the customer. Moreover, I don’t sell something to someone if he doesn’t need it. 

I have always approached my customers as a consultant first, and then I graduate to a guide and then a salesman. It has helped me to understand the need of customers first, then advise him about the right solution and then pitch my product. This process has helped me get the sales numbers and I am sure it will help others as well. 

Now consider if you start as a salesman first, then what will happen. You will start selling without letting your customer tell you whether he needs your product or not. What kind of impact it will have on him?

Your sales process should start with your sales introduction big enough to pack the glimpse of your offerings and small enough to let your customer have all the time to list out his needs, requirements and work. He may not know whether he needs your product or not, but once he is done with his list, you will be in a better position to guide him towards your product or services. It will allow your customer to feel respected and you to attend his questions with proper answers.

Make sure to have initial agreements on the benefits of your product with your customer before signing off the final sales deal. These small agreements will help you to repeat the benefit of your product into customer’s mind and iron out all the difference before the final sales deal is sealed. It will also save you from lots of after sales service headaches. Most of the after sales challenges arise due to mismatch between expected benefits from the customer’s side and promised and delivered benefits from seller’s side. And if any challenge emerge out even after this, then be there for your client, even if it cost you time and money. It will go a long way in building trust and establishing long term beneficial relationship. Be genuine not a fool, be honest but diplomatic, be helpful, build trust…….it will help you in sales. 

For example, if I come to you to sell a phone which may be having some shortcomings and I tell you first about the shortcomings, then would you buy it; Of course, not. If I tell you all the positives but keep quiet on shortcomings, then what will happen after sales you can very well imagine? But if I tell you all the shortcomings but I keep my focus on the positives and the positives outweigh negatives, then you will not only buy the phone but you will be a satisfied customer as well.

Mukul: Data science, AI, Robotics…. how are they going to change how we consume information technology as an end consumer or as a company doing business, whether they are into IT or not?

Syed Asim: I have told you so much….now you answer this question…... (After some silence)… Alright……..as I told you in the beginning itself that IT is an enabler. Someone buying it will understand its benefit only after using it. Using big word sometime becomes fashion. People don’t want to be perceived as an ‘IT illiterate’.

Tell me one thing…. If your aunt is in hospital and she wants to see you. Will it help if you send a robot having your face and artificial intelligence and she knows that it is a robot and not you?

Mukul: No….

Syed Asim: That’s what I am saying; IT is meant to enable your job. Now it is up to you to decide in which part of your job you want to use AI.

AI is a comprehensive word and for it to work, you need a good amount of unstructured data points and experiences captured on the continuous basis. You will have to see which function of your business will fulfill these criteria, what benefit it will offer to you and your consumers once it is implemented and at what cost. Say if it is bringing down the cost of production or bringing you more consumer or increases consumer retention etc. then it is good for you.

Availability of unstructured big data points and behavioral aspects in any function means load of information to be processed by human mind, which will surely be beyond its capacity. So, it automatically warrants machine intervention. But it does not mean loss of human employment potential in that organization. For example, if a bank uses an AI enabled chatbot to handle customer grievances, then it will be able to solve these problems more efficiently and at a bigger scale. It will enable bank to utilize human resource more efficiently in the direction which can help in maximizing the revenue like acquisition of new clients or finding new opportunities with older clients.

But, Experience of these things can be felt and measured only after implementation in different functions. 

If you are selling it, then you should properly guide your customer. You must lay out all ‘if’ and ‘but’ in front of him to enable him in making the informed decision.

Mukul: One last question; will Skynet ever take over the world or there are Sarah Connor and John Connor to save the world from it? Or John Connor will be co-opted by Skynet and there will be no Sarah Connor to kill him before he is co-opted?

Syed Asim: I understand from where you are coming. I have seen the movie. A possibility has been explored were robots fitted with collective artificial intelligence group takes control of its own evolution and stops taking instruction from its human masters. There is an assumption in movie that in the days to come, we will be dependent completely on technology and artificial intelligence in all spheres of life.

So far, this assumption is not completely off the mark, but at the same time, it is also getting accepted that too much dependency on technology can lead to disasters. Data Security and related theft to name one is a case in point. There are voices of caution from no less than Elon Musk.

There is law of equilibrium which need not be breached. If it is breached then it automatically corrects the course and brings it back to the equilibrium; sometimes coupled with disaster. Whenever there will be an extreme push in one direction, there will be pull back for sure. So, I personally don’t see a possibility of Skynet taking over the world.

All these things are still futuristic and evolving to give it a decent picture. Till that time, we must enjoy all the technological advancements we can achieve……and not to forget these challenges will throw up abundant opportunities for people who are developing it and selling it. So, I see it more as a good opportunity than anything else!!

Now, let’s quickly wrap it up….. My Rule Book of Sales has the following lessons:

  • Introduction: Long enough to excite your customers and small enough to allow your customers sufficient time to talk about their work, needs and requirements. Your transition from a speaker to a listener should be real quick. Also, it will make the customer feel respected.
  • Understanding: A clear cut understanding of the customer’s requirements, your own product and it’s fitment to address the identified requirement. This will make the customer feel that his views are appreciated and his problems are being addressed. He will not have the feeling of being told off.
  • Honesty: Honesty in approach to address the customer’s problems and fulfill requirements. It would be right to list out the shortcomings of your product, but put greater emphasis on its positive qualities and abilities to solve the customer’s problems. It will build trust.
  • Affirmations: Small affirmations need to be collected to every query raised by the customer and addressed by the product. This will imprint positivity about your product or services in customer’s mind. Here, your transformation from active and patient listener to a consultant and guide must be real quick and smooth. It will strengthen the root of trust and sow the seed of mutually beneficial business relationship.
  • Pre-closure of sales: Before signing off, run through all the affirmations of the customer quickly so that he is convinced that all his concerns are being taken care off. From here your role as a salesman starts…….. Pitch the price here….. Since the customer will be convinced about the product’s ability to solve his problems, hence he would not like to lose it and will zero down on your product.
  • Closure of Sales: When everything is agreed upon, then move fast to close the sales.
  • Be there for your customer even after sales: If you are there for your customers even after sales, it will give you more customers without any extra effort, because your satisfied customers will become your evangelist. They will not only talk about your product in their circle, but even pitch it on your behalf.
I hope all your questions are answered. 

Mukul: Yes Sir... You have given my readers a practical guide of becoming a better salesman. Thanks a lot for your valuable time and sharing your experience with us. 


Rebooting Education An Innovative Way

Rebooting Education – An Innovative way…

The Government’s outlay in education for the budgetary year 2018-19 is Rs. 85,010 Cr. According to Department of Statistics and Programme Implementation, GOI, domestic private expenditure on education in 2014-15 was Rs. 2,25,832 Cr and in 2017-18 also, this expenditure would be on similar lines. Every year, India produces more than 5 million (6.3 Million in 2015-16) graduates and 1.4 million post graduates.  Every year, India is saddled with the colossal task of creating more than 10 million jobs for its educated youth.

In reality, after spending more than Rs. 3.1 Lakh cr. on education, we are adding millions of jobseekers to the already mammoth numbers. If the objective of majority of the educated youth is to seek Jobs, then who will create Jobs? Can the Government alone do that? This leads us to the fundamental question: Is our foundation right? Is our education system correct? Because if a huge part of our population remains on tenterhooks and is dependent on others to provide them an opportunity to earn their livelihood, then there must be something seriously wrong in what is being taught to us.

To find the answer to these questions, we talked to Mr. Sandeep Srivastava, Founder Promoter, IYC World. He is an Educator Entrepreneur and a budding Politician, who is aiming to reach the lower house of the country in 2019 to change the way Education is perceived in this country. For the person he is, we have the best wishes for him. His passion for education can be gauged from the very fact that he himself is a B.Tech (Computer Science) from Jadhavpur University, Cost and Works Accountant from ICWAI, M.Tech from IIT, Delhi and M.B.A from INSEAD. His professional accomplishments don’t end here. He is an Author / Writer as well. His publications includes: Career 3.0: Destressing Families and Societies, Parent 3.0: Secrets of Good Parenting, 21st Century Science- A series of 25 books, Concept based Social Science-A series of 13 books, 21st Century Math-A series of 25 books,  Education 3.0: No child is left behind, The Bright Stuff: How Innovative People Can Make the Old Economy New (Financial Times Series), Government @ Net: New Governance Opportunities for India, Embracing the Net: Get Competitive (Financial Times Series) to name a few.  He wears many hats; that of an Educator, Social Entrepreneur, Mathematician, Technology evangelist, Writer, Parenting Expert and now a Politician.

So, you can very well understand that we landed at the right doorstep to get the answers to our questions. Now, why should we keep you waiting; let’s jump in to know more:

Review Board: Sir, you are an educator entrepreneur solving the humongous problem of elementary education is what I know about you. But please tell me how it all started? How your journey of a social entrepreneur began?

Sandeep Srivastava: The genesis of all this was while I was doing my M.B.A abroad, internet was just picking up. I was studying in Business School called INSEAD in France. There I wrote a book named “Embracing the Net: Get Competitive” along with my professor in the year 1999, before the first dotcom bust. By the time the book came out, the bust had happened. This book I had written in U.K and then I wrote my second book “Technology didn’t fail us, we failed technology” for Prentice Hall, USA. During this period, I realized that technology can change social sector and this to me was an eye-opener as this was almost missing in our country. I came back to India and started using technology for social sector. Out of nearly 17-18 years as a Social Entrepreneur, I have spent close to 14 years in school education sector. Getting into school education sector was more by serendipity than filtering process, but it has been a very interesting and satisfying journey. 

The way the entire system of education in school and at home is going on, tells us that we are sitting on the time bomb. We don’t read. We are not a reading nation!! Just imagine what kind of person or parent they would be and what would they consume….TV…or video on internet…because they can’t consume anything else. People hardly read literature these days….

We have been working on Mass scale transformation in education sector, where a child on the street can be as good as children from our home; that gets the best of everything. He or she can be as good in communication language of English, language of logic, i.e., mathematics and interpersonal skill as our own children. To get these entire things right, one needs at least a time period of 14-15 years whereas to get the education structure of a family right, at least 3-4 generations is needed. If anything goes wrong in between, then process has to start from the start.

Children of people who have spent 14-15 years educating themselves can acquire higher education, become a doctor or an engineer, but he/she will still get a complex. For him / her to reach to the top of his profession or mingle with the best in his profession is an issue, because the strata he belongs to and the kind of conversation he is used to in his society creates a gap. But perhaps his children can aim and reach the top, as he will have all kind of support system in terms of infrastructure and motivation for aspiration in place. So, to set the system of education right in a family, at least 3-4 generations of hard work and dedication is required. Due to this factor, some families have gone nowhere in life despite going to schools and have remained perpetually undereducated and stuck in lower strata of the society.

And if you look around world over, 80% of the kids have gained nothing from schools and remaining 20% got something simply because of the involvement of their parents in their studies. So at the end of the day, parenting matters far more than the schools……

So, I say the current situation is more of a parental crisis than anything else………parent are not asking for better quality education. My way of defining the present situation is…… educated middle class was not getting what it was looking for from the schools, so, it started supplementing the same with tuitions and online courses, but that is also not working now. That’s the level of crisis….. Now it is so happening that people are unemployed despite having degrees like Engineering and Management which earlier had a value attached …..Because the foundation from Class 1st to Class 8th is very weak….

Review Board: Whatever you have just said is somewhat associated with urban or semi-urban areas. A large part of our students live in rural areas and they have neither the idea nor can they plan like this. Their life revolves around a mid-day meal from the school.

Sandeep Srivastava: That’s the irony of modern developing India, where human existence has been reduced to a mid-day meal. Pets of some of the families have better life than kids living on the street or in a poor family of our villages. I am sorry to say, but this is the reality. What have we reduced human existence to???

And it is happening because we have not set our Elementary education right, from Class 1st to 8th. It is called Elementary not without a reason…… ’Elementary’ comes from the word ‘Element’…..because upon this, we build a ‘Compound’.  Once they miss this phase, they miss the entire thing….. Only 5% somehow manage to correct the situation by working hard and with parental support… rest of them simply miss the bus. ….

However, I am not saying that they won’t make money….they will…but will they be able to live their life fulfilling all their responsibilities to the fullest…..that will remain a big question.

Getting good education changes your world view. I went to INSEAD to do something else and ended up doing something else. It is known as the best Business School for landing a very good Consulting job and here I am, working in our country’s social sector. Writing was always my passion but getting exposed to the place, system and environment, where one gets the best of professors as guide and mentor and peers who come there to experience and understand life and not to get something they had set their eyes on for a long time are the best thing one can ask for. Places of quality education changes your views towards life and problem solving…… It fires up your imagination, makes you creative and collaborative. You can’t imagine the way it changes your life and the purpose of life. Good education is to understand the basic value of human life, not about the degree.

Review Board: A question comes to my mind then…….In this age of technology and specially after the advent of Google, everyone; students, parents and teachers alike are busy in the process of cut, copy and paste…..then how would one develop this habit or practice of reading? Most of the schools have become money making machine…..they are milking the parents...

Sandeep Srivastava: From School only….where else? Problem is….Who is asking for change? Parents are not asking for any change……It has become the other way round….parents are treating schools as their paid nanny….just keep my child safe…..but away from me. Whether they are getting good education or not….it has somehow become not the concern of the parents. They think that they will supplement it with tuition. A child is spending 7-8 hours in school and another 3-4 hours in tuition. They are killing the childhood….You just go and spend two days at a child’s desk…..you will go mad.

For just one snap of their child dancing on the stage with five hundred others are driving the parents to send their children where they live a life of mechanized robot. Choreographers are making more money from schools than any other place….Parents are just happy with that. Nobody is asking for quality education.

Clause No. 27 of RTE Act says that tuition is banned, but it is rampant everywhere. I hired a lawyer to file a case in High Court against it, but the lawyer told me that it will not be maintainable in the court. Court ensures adherence to the laid down rule. In RTE Act, only that line is mentioned and no rule has been framed till date. So, when no rule is framed…..how will that be followed?

Review Board: Then how will this situation change?

Sandeep Srivastava: Parents will have to change…..They will have to ask for better quality of education and life for their children. A government changes when the clients, the voters seek for change. Parents need to ask tough question of the school. Parents are not asking why my children are going for tuitions. Why is their childhood getting spoilt?

Review Board: You are an educator Entrepreneur. You are working towards dissemination of quality education using technology. Many other entrepreneurs are doing one thing or other in this field which is really commendable. It may not be the case that it is targeted to urban population of the country, but fruits of all these efforts are not reaching the underprivileged strata of society, who probably need it most. What steps should be taken to make the quality education reach to every part of the country and what role entrepreneurs can play in it? 

Sandeep Srivastava: Problem side you have already mentioned….but there is a bright side and i.e., Technology. Education system is already moving from a teacher centric to a learner centric system where the focus is shifting to how best a student can be taught to be more productive, proactive, responsive and responsible.

It is very difficult to break the bureaucracy of government system and especially in rural areas; it is very difficult to work with them. As far as private schools are concerned, they have become very money centric with no focus on education at all.

My answer for this problem is a Parents school and a Community school aided by technology. As far as educational content is concerned, everything is already created. It needs to be delivered now to the students……and how can it be done???  And by whom it can be done??? Parents…..

No one can teach your children with all the attention, love and care than you yourself….no one understands your children better than you. These community schools can be extended to rural areas as well with the help of technology. Moving out from present system is the only solution because current system has degenerated to the point of no return.

Five parents of West Delhi have come up with a new school for a total seven children, where they take time out to teach their children themselves. We are mentors for them. Recently I have learnt that there is a school in Raipur whose name is “Abhibhavak School”. If families come together to teach their children collectively and they get it tested by NIOS or CICSE Board. There is a need of regulatory framework which allows parents, villages and blocks to come together and create this kind of educational environment, where participative parents and others who have passion for education can teach the next generation.

As I have already mentioned, study material is already available, technology for delivery of content is already available, what is missing is the love for education and love for these children. Government should only focus on quality of the education….They should be more concerned with the quality, standard and test…rest everything should be left to these kind of passionate educationists.

Our country needs a social revolution more than an administrative revolution. We have become morally corrupt by accepting, supporting and propagating what is wrong. We need to change ourselves first!!

Review Board: What role entrepreneurs can play in it?

Sandeep Srivastava: Beautiful question..…… Anyways parents are sending their children to tuition. Let this thing start as a supplement to the existing system. We need people who love children…….

If someone asks me what do I teach…..I tell them I teach children…..earlier I used to teach the subject called “Biology”. Before teaching any subject one needs to start with teaching children. This will solve the problem of quality of education in India and address the problem of unemployment to a great extent.


8 Points You Should Keep In Mind To Get Hired And Stay Happy

8 Points You Should Keep In Mind To Get Hired And Stay Happy

All economic indicators of a country are meaningless if they are not doing one simple thing, i.e. generate employment and employment opportunity for the citizens of that country. After all, the very basic objective of any sovereign country is to create an opportunity for its citizens to fulfill their basic minimum requirement i.e. to live his/her life with dignity. No economic model till date has been able to achieve this and that’s the reason why a cry to have a Universal Basic Income has started emerging. But that’s not what I am here to discuss. I talked to Mr. Abhay Kumar of Team Recruiters (www.teamrecruiters.in), a seasoned HR Consultant on various subjects related to employment and the job scenario of the country. During the interaction I asked him for his take on developments on the economic front, his advice to prospective employees for interview as well as on personal conduct and ways to lead a happy and healthy life. Mr. Abhay Kumar has a career spanning more than two decades invested in sales and human resource, guiding thousands to not only get placed but live a contended life. His strategy of ‘talk’, ‘guide’, ‘prepare’, ‘place’ and ‘follow-up’ makes him unique and different from others. Without wasting much of time, let’s delve into his thoughtful and informative insights:

Mukul: For a prospective employee, what should be the takeaway from impact of policy changes Indian employment scenario? How much GST and Demonetization has have impact on employment scenario of the country?

Abhay Kumar: See, we need to look at the broader picture first on the global trends of last couple of years or a decade. The market generally has been very sluggish, be it US, Europe, China, Africa or Middle East. The Global economy has been under a lot of pressure and in this globalised and connected world, India can not remain insulated. Major Sectors have been under performing and this has challenged the growth prospect of one and all.

Another factor which was playing in the background locally was the performance of the banks which were under tremendous pressure due to NPA and toxic assets. Banks were under scrutiny and this led to a reduction in loan advancements as there was pressure to clean up the books of account.

The challenging global scenario has resulted in countries looking inwards to strengthen their internal economy. This has led to reduced out sourcing of projects and also the increased focus for employment of local resource instead of overseas workers.

IT sector has slowed because projects are not coming from abroad. Reality sector has sucked in loads of money from Banks, Corporate and Individuals. All this has drastically reduced liquidity in the market. And together perhaps this is why the Indian job market has been under a lot of pressure owing to both external and internal factors.

Now coming back to what you have specifically asked, any policy decision of the enormity of Demonetization or GST which challenges the existing system to its core is bound to have a huge impact on everything related, be it economic or social, because both were such huge decisions. Even if we look at either of the decisions in isolation one would conservatively give it 6 – 9 months of a cooling period before the market could bounce back. Coming back to back a year of low growth, challenges and sluggish economic numbers was easily a reality.

Demonetization was extremely challenging to the people in the first 45 days and could only settle down in the six month period. The cash crunch led to conservatism in the market where consumption reduced drastically as people started holding on to the currency and postponing expenses. The over burdened Banks were working with their backs to the wall to ease up the cash issue and the focus from liquidity in the market and businesses taking a back seat.

What added to the problem was the implementation of GST, which brought in a new tax regime. The industry / people lacked in understanding of the Tax System, its rules, implications and a new system both in skill and process had to be put in place. Everything which existed earlier had to be changed / modified. New accounting system, new skills, software upgradation, registrations etc. became a mandatory requirement with a deadline in place. Hence, the back to back implementation of these two major economic policies has further slowed down the performance in the short term.

Look, it is a well known fact that there were very few additions in the number of tax payers in general and the numbers of businesses out of reach of the Tax Dept. was huge. This problem was addressed to a large extent by Demonetization and GST by forcing people to get into the banking system which was mapped with PAN and Aadhaar. So, the two decisions did slow down the economy to some extent in the short term but were much needed to strengthen it in the long run. These decisions had to be taken. We can debate about the timing but one can never be fully prepared. In a country like ours which is full of complexities a gradual implementation would not have been possible and the results very debatable.

There is a thought process that believes India was able to minimise the pains of US subprime crisis because of its parallel cash economy. But at the same time, things cannot remain the same and the way forward required these policy decisions.

But I am very optimistic about the future as the steps which have been taken would start yielding the positive results very soon. This quarter will see a lot of activity on the job front with the green shoots getting visible this New Year. Government is also spending big time on infrastructure like road and electricity which would kick-start the economy and generate employment. Everyone needs to be patient and positive.

Mukul: What is the short term and medium term employment scenario of the country?

Abhay Kumar: As we discussed that market has been under tremendous pressure since 2008, so, there were various challenges on employment generation front. But as far as future is concerned, impact of policy changes have firmed up and taken shape. Market players are also now sure that there won’t be any roll back from the government on these decisions and things are here to stay. So, they are back on their drawing board, coming out of their ‘hold-back’ strategy… re-strategizing their plans and actions. 

As mentioned earlier the last quarter has been favorable and so will future as predicted by different organizations of importance. Normally we see that the last quarter of a financial year is generally strong and bullish. In the answer to your first question, I have already said that there is a major push for infrastructure; rural electrification and roads etc. The big Infra push would drive and be the engine for growth and more jobs will be created bringing relief to the employment scenario in the medium and long run.

Our discussion so far has been revolving around the changes and challenges of the last ten years. I think we have seen almost the end of it and we will see organisations re-inventing themselves and re-drawing their business strategy. The ability to adapt and re-strategise will drive the success stories in future. The changed scenario will require employees too to re-skill themselves to remain employable. So on one side re-skilling will be the order of the day on the other side the business of re-skilling will also be a big opportunity.

Mukul: What are the top five points which you would like a candidate to have and keep in mind to leave positive impact and get hired?

Abhay Kumar: First and the most important point for a prospective employee is ‘Know your profile’. People actually spend least amount of time on their CV. They do not read it and very often they are not conversant because professional writer/external help is taken to prepare/write the CV. So, it is very important to read and understand one’s CV, the words written in it, the projection you are trying to make and the goal you want to achieve.

Second is ‘person should be prepared very well’. Before going for an interview, the candidate must know the company very well; the kind of business they are into, product or services they are providing, who are the competitors etc. This would prepare him/her for the questions which would be posed in the interview.

Third is ‘have a positive outlook’. Many a times it so happens that the interviewer cross checks you on various aspects of your personality by throwing challenges or situations; whether you are ready to work hard, are you ready to experiment, whether you are ready to take new challenges etc. Any kind of laidback or lethargic response would put you down in the eyes of a prospective employer. So your words and body language must communicate positive frame of mind and positive approach.

Fourth is ‘long term picture’. It is imperative that people have a very well defined goal or a long term picture in mind. Often people have a very idealistic picture of their career. They want to be at the top in no time. They don’t realize or often forget that there are many steps to a stair between the first step and top of the ladder and every step is a process in itself. And he/she has to go through every process to reach the top.

Fifth is ‘planned approach and open mind for salary negotiation’. Throwing any random number can’t get you hired. Before salary negotiation, it is very important to be realistic and be prepared with your expectation. You should have all the details of income which you are drawing from current employer. You should be aware of the market trend etc. You also need to keep in mind that you need to deliver in multiple times of what you are asking from your prospective employer.

Mukul: What are the ‘words’ you would suggest the candidates to not to have in their resume?

Abhay Kumar: I won’t suggest anything about the words as the context is very important. I would suggest on positive mindset while writing the resume or during an interview. Your resume should represent you, the direction of your career and the path you want to take. You should be as factual as possible and should resist the use of superfluous words and numbers. While mentioning achievements one should try to give a true picture and not to go overboard with the numbers. Similarly when writing about responsibilities one should try to be specific on the responsibility you actually have. If there are additional responsibilities which have been assigned to you do mention them separately and not mix up the two.

 Mukul: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are buzz words these days? How much substance do you think these words holds for the future? Which are the industries or sectors will be most affected by them? 

Abhay Kumar: Look, every change in technology brings a kind of upheaval and change in the market. That’s their nature. Couple of years before Y2K, every company worth its salt jumped into ERP business, with basic objective to cater to their own demand and to explore the outside market. So, it created a requirement for new skills and opened the doors to new avenues for various companies. Similarly, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will have its own impact. It is a long drawn process, so effects will also be visible accordingly. Old skills be discarded and new skills will come in demand. New jobs will replace old jobs; new skills will replace old skills. And as I said earlier, re-skilling will be very crucial factor for survival and success.

Mukul: Few years back, I had read a book ‘Startup of You’ written by Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn. In that book, he has written that the time of stable jobs are over and every Individual is required to be in startup mode all the time. Most important reason he had given for suggesting was the pace of technological advancement. He was of the opinion that high speed of technological advancement won’t let the world to stabilize, so everyone will be required to be fighting fit all the time.  Since 2008, no big Greenfield project has been announced by any big company, whether they are Indian or multinational, if we minus Reliance Jio. During this period, Startups and Unicorns filled up the space of employment provider. But they came with their own characteristics and that is ‘uncertainty’. Do you think that this is going to be the nature of jobs being provided in future or big companies will be back and bring stability in the nature of jobs?   

Abhay Kumar: Yes, technological changes are happening at a very vast pace, so ‘instability’ in the market will be the hallmark. When market remains unstable, then jobs obviously will be unstable. But I would like to use the word ‘dynamic’ rather than ‘unstable’. Again I will bring the point of re-skilling, which will be a continuous process for everyone, if they want to last long.

Mukul: In this age of startups, where employees are getting hired and fired at will, sometime getting duped and dumped, what would be your suggestions to the prospective employees to stay afloat financially and mentally? 

Abhay Kumar: If you remember in earlier day’s people used to live their life in simplicity. After fulfilling their major commitments in life, they used to venture towards luxuries of life. Children’s education, daughter’s marriage, medical needs etc. used to take precedence over other types of expenditure. Construction of house and purchase of car were to be done nearer the age of retirement. There was a strong logic behind it. They used to build their strength first before getting on with luxuries of life. Today’s generation hits the ground running, getting into these expenditures at the beginning of their career. When they get smallest of jolt in their career, they are already saddled with EMIs of house, cars, credit cards etc.  

I am not suggesting that today’s generation should imitate older generation’s lifestyle, but they should focus on building their strength first. As we discussed early in our conversation, speed of technology advancement is very high and it will become even higher in coming days. So, job market, which is dynamic today, will become very dynamic in coming days. So, they should take risk only when they can, otherwise they should avoid it. It will save them from financial and mental stress.

Mukul: I believe that job satisfaction and finding the purpose of life are overrated terms used to manipulate employees. How someone will know without doing something that it is something he/she wanted to do and want to do all his/her life? In my opinion, a person should be like water and should find his/her way in everything and everywhere. He / She should take up anything which comes his/her way. God knows, what will become his passion and start giving job satisfaction. Moreover, focus should be on ‘money and family satisfaction’, because first one is what we take to the bank and second one is ultimately what we aspire to achieve?

Abhay Kumar: Yes, I would say ultimately it is the money that we take to the bank which drives the individual. There is a lot of talk on job satisfaction, living ones dream, dream job but I have a different take on it. Our education system is such that the number one scores in an examination defines your career choice. It is only now that children have started experimenting with choices they like. Marks tell you were you are likely to study and the specialization you are likely to do. While applying for jobs after college, the Campus Recruitment processes defines the kind of company and profile you get into. The only icing would be the CTC that you bag. This continues during the early employment period when money is the driving force for most youngsters. If it comes with a profile you like then that is the icing on the cake.

Another aspect that does matter in today’s time is “Leisure”. With a stressed work environment Leisure is what de-stresses you. The “Me Time” helps you unwind and recharges your battery for better performance. Even if the workplace is stressful, your happiness at home will help you tide over the challenges.


Dos and Donts of Getting Hired for the Best Job

Dos and Donts of Getting Hired for the Best Job

We always wish our meetings, conversations, journey which were delightful, could have lasted a little longer.  Paucity of time, space, money etc might have played the spoilsport, but had we had the choice we would have continued. Same goes with our interview of Mr. Abhay Kumar, which was very informative and useful for me as well to the readers of my blog. We had a lot to talk; I had a lot to ask and he had a lot to advice, but we couldn’t have packed everything in one interview, so, we broke it into two parts.

First part you can find here: http://reviewboard.in/Blog-Details.aspx?Blog=8-Points-You-Should-Keep-In-Mind-To-Get-Hired-And-Stay-Happy

In the first part of our interview, we talked about some of the points. In the second interview, we have picked up from where we had left. Let’s dive directly into it:

Mukul: There are lots of advices available on internet to how to get a dream job, which makes people dream about it. Does really any dream job exists or it is just a dream?

Abhay Kumar: Dream job???? How do you want me to define it?

Mukul: Whichever way you wish to…..

Abhay Kumar:  Dream job is a very subjective word; it varies from person to person. For a person fresh out of college, anything which gives him the money and the time to spend may be his dream job. For a middle management level employee getting a senior level profile may be his dream job and so on so forth. So, it is very difficult to define a dream job; a dream for you may not be the dream for me or someone else.

So, I would rather advice people not to fall in the trap of these good sounding words. They should focus more on the jobs which fits into their long term career plan and also which allows them the money and time to carry out personal responsibilities.

Mukul: It automatically answers my second question. I believe that a dream job is something which adds value to your professional life in terms of money and growth and personal life in terms of basic quality time with your family.

Abhay Kumar: Yes, it’s all about progression. A job may be a dream job at the time of landing it but after joining if you are not conducting yourself well or if your immediate boss is not in sync with you, you might get into a very uncomfortable situation. Then you start cribbing and plan your exit. We have created lots of hype around it. I would say that any job which gives you financial, physical and mental comfort and continues to do so over sometime, is a dream job for you.       

Mukul: You have been working in the field of manpower planning and recruitment for close to twenty years. What are the steps you would suggest to prospective candidates, from writing resume to facing interviews and negotiating salaries?

Abhay Kumar: One needs to have two set of targets; quantifiable and non-quantifiable for both short and long term. Coming back to question you have asked I would say that first one should have a very clear cut quantifiable short and long term target of money he want to earn, the house he wants to live in, the car he wants to drive, holidays he wants to take etc. Benchmarking is one of the key points of success, whether you are benchmarking against yourself or someone else. These quantifiable targets help you in measuring your success. Moreover, first four needs of hierarchy, as defined by Abraham Mashlow, i.e. Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging and Esteem are deeply connected with it.

Second, he should fit in his education, expertise, company, profile etc. into those long term and medium term targets. If someone doesn’t have these things properly drawn out on paper, then he will drift from one place to another for a few thousand rupees growth and will end up messing his career in the long run.

Now, you will have to bring in the five points which we discussed last time. All those five points needs to be addressed every time someone prepares himself for the next job. (Those five points are reproduced here for the reference of readers.  Link of the previous interview is given in the beginning itself.)

“First and the most important point for a prospective employee is ‘Know your profile’. People actually spend least amount of time on their CV. They do not read it and very often they are not conversant because professional writer/external help is taken to prepare/write the CV. So, it is very important to read and understand one’s CV, the words written in it, the projection you are trying to make and the goal you want to achieve.

Second is ‘person should be prepared very well’. Before going for an interview, the candidate must know the company very well; the kind of business they are into, product or services they are providing, who are the competitors etc. This would prepare him/her for the questions which would be posed in the interview.

Third is ‘have a positive outlook’. Many a times it so happens that the interviewer cross checks you on various aspects of your personality by throwing challenges or situations; whether you are ready to work hard, are you ready to experiment, whether you are ready to take new challenges etc. Any kind of laidback or lethargic response would put you down in the eyes of a prospective employer. So your words and body language must communicate positive frame of mind and positive approach.

Fourth is ‘long term picture’. It is imperative that people have a very well defined goal or a long term picture in mind. Often people have a very idealistic picture of their career. They want to be at the top in no time. They don’t realize or often forget that there are many steps to a stair between the first step and top of the ladder and every step is a process in itself. And he/she has to go through every process to reach the top.

Fifth is ‘planned approach and open mind for salary negotiation’. Throwing any random number can’t get you hired. Before salary negotiation, it is very important to be realistic and be prepared with your expectation. You should have all the details of income which you are drawing from current employer. You should be aware of the market trend etc. You also need to keep in mind that you need to deliver in multiple times of what you are asking from your prospective employer.”

 

I have seen people throwing whimsical numbers as their expectation which are bound to be rejected.  And even if, by any chance, any of these numbers gets accepted, it puts extra pressure on the candidate to perform and bring out revenue in many multiples of the salary being paid. So, it is always advisable to understand that what you are asking depends on what you are bringing to the table. It makes sense to checkout the market trend, industry trend to zero down on a realistic expectation.

Mukul: After getting selected for a new organization, leaving the earlier one becomes a challenge. What would be your advice to the candidates to handle this situation amicably and in friendly manner, without trying to get even with immediate superior? Could you lay down few rules for ‘Exit Interview’ which every candidate must follow?

Abhay Kumar: Employees leave any organization primarily for three reasons; growth in money terms, growth of the profile and continuous disagreement with the immediate superior. In all the scenarios, it becomes a bit difficult or sometimes very difficult to leave the current organization. So, it is very important to be transparent at the time of negotiating a joining time frame with the new organization. All the eventualities like serving the notice period or buying the notice period should be discussed in advance, so that everyone is on board. 

As far as rule for ‘Exit Interview’ is concerned, there aren’t many except one, “don’t burn the bridges”. It has been witnessed often that outgoing employees, in the case of tiff with the immediate superior and which again is quite frequent, tries to run him down or create a bad impression. Whatever is the situation this kind of hit-back should be avoided at all cost. You never know when you will bump into him in the future. He may become your boss in the next organization or may be he might be friends with your new boss. Not only that, your new organization may like to take a feedback about you from your boss, colleagues or the organisation and your action may simply put them off and would end up in getting an unfavourable feedback. Further, if you want to come back at a future time for whatever reason may become impossible if you have burnt your bridges.

Mukul: Employees leave their present organization in a stressed environment most of the time and most of them end up taking the wrong decision. I have seen people burning their happiness and energy out due to the wrong decision they take. What would be your advice to such people?

Abhay Kumar: When you are in an organization, you are with competitors who are all striving to achieve success from the same pool. So, there is bound to be friction sometimes more than you can normally bear. But, that’s the situation everywhere. You can’t run away from each and every tough situation or you can’t have the best shot all the time. To play your best shot, you will have to wait and sometime, this wait may seem lengthy. You will have to bide your time and wait for your moment. It is easier said than done, but that’s the only way. 

Mukul: New organization is always complete with new people, new environment and new rules. What would be your suggestions to new employees to handle the new situation?

Abhay Kumar: People are often short on three virtues; patience, ability to observe and ability to listen. In any new environment, these three virtues come as a very big help. When someone joins a new organization, he must know that he has joined a new space which belonged to others till sometime back. Everything will be new for him from his workstation to coffee machine to the cubicle, not to mention his colleagues and the boss. It requires a lot of getting use to. 

So, my suggestion to everyone joining a new organization would be to wait, have patience and observe the people and the new environment, listen and understand everything, then open up. It will help them to avoid many unpleasant situations.

Note: Abhay Kumar can be reached at sales@teamrecruiters.in         


Retail Sector An Insiders View

Retail Sector: An Insider’s View

Retail Sector of India, with gross revenue of more than $641 Billion (As per IBEF report), is one of the leading employment provider. It accounts for 8% (As per IBEF report) of the employment of India. It will cross $1.6 Trillion (As per IBEF report) by 2026. The numbers being churned out by retail sector could have been bigger, had government taken serious policy decisions related to this sector and had taken measures to implement that. ‘Make in India’ is good policy initiative, but it could have been great, had another policy initiative ‘How to sell Made in India Goods’ taken place.

I talked to Mr. Sanjeev Jha, Category Head-Staples with Vishal Megamart about the journey of modern retail in India, its challenges and future. He has worked for more than twelve years with top retailers of India, he is expert of this field, and he holds leadership role in the industry. Even prior to joining organized retail, he worked extensively in the field of commodity sourcing, trading and an innovative concept of retailing, i.e., Raytu Bazaar. You might have read lots of research reports, but we bring you the opinion of an insider:

Mukul: Modern retail has traveled quite a journey in last decade. Where do you see it going in next decade, say by 2025?

Sanjeev Jha: I would like to put my answer this way. Modern retail actually didn’t have ‘quite a journey’ in the last decade. Yes, it was a journey, but filled with uncertainty and unclarity in policy regarding FDI and other matters of concern, which were needed for the growth of retail sector. As FDI was allowed in automobile or IT sector, which led to their exponential growth, it should have also been allowed in retail. In absence of that, retail sector suffered the lack of funds to remove the bottlenecks of sourcing, storages and supply chain.

Regarding second part of your question, especially for brick and mortar retail, I see two or three strong players in the field with one or two new entrant. Consolidation has been the hallmark of this sector since beginning as you might have noticed. That is the scenario which is firming up. This is about the players.

Now, what shall be the strategy for incumbent players? In my opinion, they will have to grow horizontally, they will have to and they will be going to Tier-II and Tier-III cities, because organized retail is still more off an urban phenomenon. That’s the kind of compulsion will be in front of them. I am not talking rural India. Entry in rural India will take another 20-30 years due to many reasons. Let me tell why they will go there. Few good things have happened recently and one of them is GST. GST has made movement of goods and warehousing easy and these two things are very important for start and growth of retail. Earlier, they were facing challenges on these two counts in every city. But even GST can’t solve all the problems, unless there is policy support of state governments along with central government. A collective policy involving other aspects retail, such as, real estate, employment etc. is still to come up. Retail could have been even bigger employment provider and it has pointed out by Niti Ayog as well sometime back.

Clarity in policy initiatives and earnestness in its implementation by government brings in lots of other things with it, like institutional support, banking and financial support etc. and if that comes in, then the growth of this sector will be phenomenon.

Mukul: Taking a cue from what you just said, it seems funding is a major problem for the growth of this sector. So, do you want to say that retailers in India have found their success matrix and funding is the only problem, which can be achieved by FDI?

 Sanjeev Jha: No, FDI won’t sort out problems of retail just like that. Foreign players have had their share of experience and whenever they decide to come back, they will surely employ their experience and learnings. I am talking about Pre-GST scenario, where moving goods from one city to another city was a challenge. GST is a good policy initiative which will boost retail, but a lot more than this is required. Government will have to take it as a project and give their more than 100%. Like in other sectors, take the example of mobile phones or pharmaceuticals or automobiles, state governments also chipped in as they gave land, gave tax holidays, made employment laws conducive for starting up the business, a full fledged coordinated support from state as well as central government is needed. And when this happens, it will be the biggest employment generator for the country. Lots of state governments still have their own reservations and lack of coordinated effort is pulling things back. These are the important points to bring in FDI, otherwise I see it more as a domestic player driven sector, where they will be consolidating. But this consolidation exercise must make their business viable. After consolidation, they will tap the market for their funding requirement.

Mukul: Online retail had serious impact on organized retail. Some of the sectors like electronics shifted majorly from organized retail to online retail. Do you see any course correction happening, because most of the small to medium online players are out of the market due to various reasons?

Sanjeev Jha:  Very interesting thing has happened in India as far as retail sector is concerned. Both modern retail, the brick and mortar one and online retail has entered in India around same time, with just 5-6 years lag. As you have said that most of the small or medium online retailers have shut their shop; they were expanding at a very fast speed and as were their speed of growth, as were their speed of burning the cash. And I see online retail space as more consolidated one than modern retail.

There won’t be more than 2-3 national level players along with some niche players and they would also be prone to challenges of logistics and taxation like modern retail. Another area of challenge for them is IT infrastructure and internet speed. With 4G, things are looking better for them. Moreover in India, online retail is mobile driven and smartphone sales have seen exponential growth in recent times, which is bonus point for them.    

Now coming back to your question, I don’t have the specific data, but it seems, mobile and its accessory’s sales has shifted to some extent from organized or pop and mom store to online retail, but the extent can be debated. Eating up the market share or having pole position will depend on many more things like what value proposition they are bringing in for the end consumers and how they are involving the consumers in their sales process. Innovation in customer acquisition and customer retention strategy will be key for them, because they are not seeing their customers face to face. Simply replicating the strategy of pop-n-mom stores or modern trade won’t bring them success in the long run.

In the present market scenario, everyone is growing; general trade is growing, modern trade is growing and so is online retail and every sector will continue to see consolidation. Don’t you think that general trade is also consolidating? There is hidden unemployment in general trade as well and unviable players are exiting the business. Either those businesses are acquired or those spaces are filled but consolidation is happening there as well. In my opinion, all three spheres of retail are growing and will continue to grow because India is growing.

Mukul: While talking to you right now, one thing came to my mind that mobile phones with complete packet do not weigh more than 500 grams, which makes transportation easy from one location to another. Does this mean, weight of the product play a role in growth of online sales of the product?

Sanjeev Jha: Look, online retail provides the instant reach to millions of customer with less hassles of distribution network. Taking the same product to consumers through pop-n-mom store or modern trade will take more time, more investment and more effort than online retail. Yes, size does matter in logistics, which brings the cost of logistics down and so the overall cost to the end consumer. In this age of smartphone and technological advancement, consumers are well aware in advance about the product. Product companies are also going a great length in making the details of product reach to the consumers. So, what is left for consumers is saving of money in their hand.      

Mukul: Government is pushing for digitization of payments. Demonetization, payment apps, UPIs etc. and incentivisation by the government to promote digital payments can be seen as actions in that direction. Amid slow adoption of technology and not so good penetration of real banking, what is the future of digital payments in next 5-7 years time?  

Sanjeev Jha: I will put it this way. India is a unique country and people are very smart here. They like to squeeze as much benefit as possible from anything. Simply because something is changing and that change is promoted by government, they won’t accept it. For digital payments to succeed, government will have to eliminate the cost of digital payment. Right now, either merchant or the customer, or ultimately the customer is footing the bill of digital payments. Unless this anomaly is corrected, digital payments won’t succeed. In whatever way possible, government should incentivize the digital payment, not charge it. Though I have heard that ADHAR based payment system, which is on the anvil, will have this benefit.  Otherwise, cashless payments will take its own time to grow than present growth rate of 16-17%, which may increase by 2-3% more, but phenomenal growth can’t be expected.

Mukul: Multichannel sales is picking up. By multichannel sales, I mean to say that organized retailers have come up with online portals as well as mobile apps and some of the online retailers have started having their physical presence. Do you see it as a sales model for future or these are one off cases?

Sanjeev Jha: See, one size fits all doesn’t work. Just because someone has adopted one sales model, doesn’t mean others have to adopt it as well and they will succeed is also not guaranteed. If an online retailer is starting its operation in organized modern retail, then they will have to be as invested and as efficient like them, otherwise they will fail. Similarly, if a brick and mortar retailer is entering into online retail, then they are entering into the domain of FlipKart and Amazon and they will have to be as good as these online retailers, which is very unlikely to happen. Unless any of the players decides to have a specific plan for multichannel sales, I don’t see it is future of retail. This space is very ruthless and people won’t go and buy from you just because you are good at one thing or in one sphere. Customers go to different sphere due to different requirements and different mindset.

Mukul: What will be challenges in front of retail sector per se in next decade?     

Sanjeev Jha: Part of answers of this question I have given in your first question. I will bifurcate challenges into two parts. One part in government policy, because I believe that government is still not very convinced what this sector can do. Even if they are, it is not visible from their actions. And if that does not happen, the market scenario will mostly be domestic player driven.

Next point is, as I have discussed earlier, growth of this sector will come from Tier-II & III cities. Though GST has set the ball rolling, but retailers will have to move to these towns with finding the viability of business. Steps have been taken by incumbent players and Tier-II & III cities to some extent are being served but speed is what matters. But again I would say that these players don’t have leverage of huge cash to burn for speedy expansion in these smaller cities. So, we will have to see how everything pans out in the light of two things which I have mentioned earlier as well as now.

Mukul: One last question; do you see modern retail replacing pop-n-mom store completely in India, may be in 20, 30, 40 years?

Sanjeev Jha: Never. No company has wherewithal to reach every nook and corner of India with all the product consumer needs. Moreover, pop-n-mom store comes with their own set of advantages like location, speed in decision making, connect with locality etc., which can’t be matched by big modern trade retailers. Again, as I have mentioned earlier during our conversation, all three spheres of retail will grow, because India is a huge market and it is growing.

Disclaimer     

1) Figures of revenue from retail in 2016 and 2026 and percentage of total employment provided by retail sector has been taken from the website of Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).

 2) Opinion expressed by Mr. Sanjeev Jha is strictly his personal and does not reflect the opinion of his present or past employers.          


Rebooting Education An Innovative Way Part II

Rebooting Education An Innovative Way Part II

In his book “Differentiate or Die”, world famous Marketer and Management consultant Jack Trout has written; “Your competition can copy your product, copy your strategy, but they can’t copy your level of commitment and passion”.

There are many who are using technology to solve the problems which are plaguing our education system. Some of them are successful; few more may succeed and may create a Billion Dollar Unicorn but how long they will stay in this business will always remain a question. Present culture of VC funding and Angel Investment may force them to cash out and either exit the business or hand over the management control to the investors. They may not be able to match the commitment and passion of Mr. Sandeep Srivastava. He runs an investor free and debt free organization for the last 14 years. He has been earning and putting it back in the organization he has created. That’s why I avoid mentioning it to be his business.

In first part of the interview, we talked about why and how he started his journey as a social entrepreneur. Link of the same is here: Rebooting Education An Innovative Way

In the second part of his interview, we will know about Sandeep’s opinion on Education System and its impact on Job Market and how can we set things right.

Review Board: Is there disconnect between our Education system and the Job Market? Though employment data may be saying something else but the real unemployment in the country is huge. Underemployment is a huge problem in our country….

Sandeep Srivastava: Underemployment is much bigger problem than unemployment……..Why won’t it be??? It goes back to the basics….There is a staircase with steps of success to go up in life….. Pre-school, Primary school, Middle school, Secondary school, Senior Secondary school, Under Grad, Grad….so on and so forth….

And what we are saying or doing….. First five-six steps are damaged, so, remove those steps and directly jump to Graduation or level above or level just below. How can this help? It is bound to make students weak.

Look, we can’t do better if the basic school deficit is not fixed. The school deficit can’t be 100%. There may be some deficit…but not of this magnitude. Today morning itself, I bought some snacks from an up-market store in Kailash Colony and the person at the cash counter asked me for “Ek kum saat sau sathh” (One less than Rupees Seven hundred sixty). This is the level of education, in Delhi, in an up-market place like this. The person was not able to speak numbers properly and that too in Hindi. That’s the situation….

Review Board: If this is the situation in a place like Delhi, then what will be the situation in other parts of the country? I was reading somewhere a few days back that India produces around 6.3 million graduates every year…..what quality of students this system might be producing?

Sandeep Srivastava:
India needs to create 1 million jobs every month. Around 12 million people get added in the supply side of job market every year.

Review Board: It will be really chaotic situation; someday somewhere…..it may burst out on the streets.

Sandeep Srivastava: Hasn’t it been happening already? Have you read the newspapers of yesterday? Trains were stopped by people seeking jobs in Mumbai….Apprentices were on the railway tracks demanding jobs.

……. For me, it boils down to getting the three languages right.

…….The First language of human is art and music. You might have seen children spoiling the walls with their drawings when they first start learning something. Music is the other one………It is proven fact that music plays a big role in developing a child’s brain. 

.......The Second language is a person’s mother tongue. It is also called the natural language. In our country, we have stopped using the mother tongue and have created a conflict; because in our country, language of academics is English, which is NOT the natural language. We have not developed any other language of our own country which can be used to teach Medicine or Engineering. Even if we start now, we can’t teach these courses in any of our languages and it would take centuries to reach there.

…… The Third language is the universal language and it is called language of Mathematics. Two plus two is equal to four, is same anywhere in the world. Only how you write numerals will change, otherwise everything will remain the same. Lot of subjects become easy when you write it mathematically and there are a number of subjects which are Mathematics based. Physics is actually Mathematics. Einstein didn’t do any lab test for his formulas; he only found answers through mathematical formulas and all his greatness are outcome of mathematics only.

These three things need special attention and needs to be corrected. You will be surprised to know that there are only twenty countries in the world where their mother tongue and language of academia is different. In a country like Thailand, even medicine is taught in Thai…..they have made their language so rich. I was shocked when I heard this…..we couldn’t take any of our languages to that level. This is not the problem of developed world. This is the problem of these twenty countries where the mother tongue (first language) has not been taken to the level of the second language i.e. English. And if we are able to do these things in our mother tongue, say Hindi or Bangla or Tamil or Telugu….. It can easily be transferable in the second language, i.e., English.

For all of it to happen, we need to create a country of readers. We never read as a nation…..only 5% of the population i.e. the Brahmins read……otherwise everywhere else there was an oral tradition. Time has come for us to start reading!!

Review Board: Sir, this brings me to my next question. We need money to educate ourselves and we need jobs to earn that money back. It is like the cycle of zero sum game. Especially in our country, when a child is born parents are ready with a list of career options and all of it ends with a job. The Indian education system is creating a country of job seekers. Barring IITs, which are giving a good leverage to entrepreneurship, almost all other educational institutions in India are producing consumers for the job market and this has been continuously creating havoc like a very high unemployment rate, poor mental health of many which no one is ready to talk about and lack of inclusive growth across all economic strata of population. What steps should be taken to make this system capable enough to make our country a country of job creators and what role entrepreneurs can play in it?

Sandeep Srivastava: This is a very interesting question. We are celebrating the fact that we have a very expanding middle class. There are around 350-400 million people in the middle class; though there is huge disparity in this class itself, but we have defined it on a certain basis and reached this number. Now we are happy….This number is big…even bigger than the population of USA…..world is looking at us….beautiful…..But there is a flipside……and I call it “Curse of the middle class”. In this class, people look for and cling to security. We want our EMIs to be paid on time; we want a life where our children will keep paying their EMIs.

The Goal of education has become limited to “financial security”. It has stopped being the source of becoming human and an understanding of life; what else can be done with education. The curse of expanding middle class is that as it is expanding the points of this financial security are narrowing and converging. We are zeroing down to the most secure point where we can live a financially secure life and everyone is chasing those points only. We are bothered about adding something to it but not risking anything out of it to create something new…..one more house, one more flat to earn an extra rental income….that’s all we want.

In past fifteen years, professionals like Doctors, Engineers, CA’s etc., have made more money outside their profession. You will often hear a statement from people that “my hobby for Saturday and Sunday is to search property for investment”.

Review Board: We are busy securing money…..but that is not creating anything.

Sandeep Srivastava: That is the middle class curse…Business is all about coming out of your comfort zone, taking risk……….but middle class is risk averse. And with this expanding middle class, we have become more risk averse as a nation. Even if we want to do business, we look for Angel Investor first. We don’t want to take risk on our own money. The moment you get money from someone, pressure starts building from the day one. Obviously it will happen because when we have taken money from someone, we will be under pressure to pay him back……so rather than the idea behind the business, money becomes the priority. So, this whole expanding middle class becoming risk averse has repercussion on others.

Lower class people are watching this and they realize that if it is the goal of the middle class, then it must be the best solution for aspirations of life. And that’s why; the entire nation is looking for jobs, rather than thinking about creating one.

There is an electrician in my office who is on the retainer basis. He has been coming to me and crying that his son somehow cleared the tenth grade and now he does not want to study and also does not want to work with him. He wants to get a job. That is the situation everywhere. So, this middle class has created a risk averse education system and social environment where the financial security tops everything and that is a huge problem.

Review Board: And how will it change?

Sandeep Srivastava: If we are able to understand it then we will solve it. But, there are elements to it…..steps to it…..and Parenting is the first step. Education should focus on overall growth of the child. We need better education system which promotes innovation, which promotes change, which promotes entrepreneurship. Without giving any benefit, government is putting all the pressure, its responsibilities on entrepreneurs. It should not happen. An entrepreneur, who is barely surviving in order to create something must be supported and not pressurized to share the social responsibility of the government.

Review Board: So we have two takeaways from it: one, we have created a country of risk averse middle and lower class and second, if someone wants to create something….take a risk….then the government is piling on them the pressure of social responsibilities.

Sandeep Srivastava: I would like to put it this way……small entrepreneurs should not be treated as big corporate, at least for the purpose of sharing government’s social responsibilities….for example opening a crèche or giving a nine month’s maternity leave to a pregnant woman. Normally a woman comes back to work after a couple of months of delivery. She also does not want to be left behind in the career by staying out of the work. An entrepreneur also can’t go without a resource for nine months.

Government should first allow the entrepreneurs to reach a level where he can carry the burden of social responsibility. As an entrepreneur, I shall be given the same amount of privileges as big corporate. My degrees, my knowledge has no bearing on my capacity of raising money from the bank. It will only look at the collateral I can provide to the bank. Though people who can and have influence are able to get or manage the credit line. If there is no value of knowledge assets then what’s the point in creating that knowledge asset. By giving it no value at all, the government itself has put a question mark on the education system it has created. If all these things are happening, then how can a country of job creators be created?

Review Board: Sir, I won’t talk ask about policy decisions to improve the education system of India. That’s government’s prerogative and responsibility. But in this prevailing situation, what advice you would like to give to the students who aim to get the best education, which can give them best return of their investment in terms of time and money and keep them productive till end?

Sandeep Srivastava: Beautiful question again……..A child learns when the family learns. There is one approach since eternity where parents tell their children to read……It is “Go and study”.

How will your children go and study when you are either watching TV or talking to someone or doing something which is not related to study. A child imitates their elders. So, to educate a child, elders need to sit and learn and get educated again with them. Even if they are highly qualified, they need to do it again. First time they did so for themselves, second time they will have to do it for their children.

If as a parent they can’t do that then they won’t be able to make the life, purpose of life and goal of life clear to their children. An uneducated parent may face the challenge, but who are educated, must focus on it. As I have already told you that to get the education level of a family right, at least 3-4 generation is required. So, if someone is at the first level of this ladder, a lapse can very well be expected and can be accepted…..but not with the parents who are already well educated.

Once they start sitting with their children, they will understand them well and guide them with all the love and care. During this course, they will be able to get all the best learning’s of life to their children which will be with them till the end.

Review Board: Sir, you have already answered my last question. I want to ask this question again but from the parent’s point of view.

Sandeep Srivastava: We have already discussed that present education system and quality has degenerated to such a level that we need a completely new system. I will again reiterate that onus is on parents to seek better life for their children.

Better life doesn’t mean fighting tooth and nail for already narrowing career options and making it narrower by driving more and more people towards it. Purpose of life should not be to get to a situation were one is depressed or becomes a heart patient by focusing more and more on monetary aspect of life.

So, my request would be not to add anything more into it of that sort. Don’t reduce the human life to the level where only money matters….. Understand the very first fact that we are humans…….We have come to this world to evolve as a better human being…..not as a machine or an animal…..


Investment Strategy for Better Future


An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”- Benjamin Franklin

I made a killing in the stock market; my broker lost all my money, so I killed him.” –Jim Loy

First quote holds the forte of truth everywhere and more so in financial investment and wealth management, probably with greater importance.

Second quote, though on a lighter note is another aspect of the stock market; if you don’t invest in educating yourself about fundamentals, probabilities, permutation and combination, you will lose whatever you have earned and much more.

Internet has made all the information available to us on our fingertips, but unless and until the information is vetted by a person of authority, they are meaningless. That’s why; we decided to cut the clutter and take you away from routine and bring you the wisdom of someone who has been in this industry for close to two decades.

Mr. Sameer Kapoor, CEO of Elite Wealth Advisors Ltd. has close to two decades of experience in the Financial Market. He has worked as Senior Vice President with Religare Ltd, VP – Online Business with HSBC InvestDirect (India) Ltd., ILFS, Mansukh Securities and Mefcom. For majority of the time he was building up and growing the Online Business on pan India basis.

His LinkedIn Bio reads,”Blogger by choice, Finance Enthusiast, Speaker”, and believe us, he excels in everything that he has written. But what he modestly didn’t mention in his profile is that he is an astute and avid inbound marker, helping the information to spread and businesses to grow. His two blogs www.simplypaisa.com and www.mysharebazar.com provides great insight of the financial market and handholds the end users in the process of intelligent investing. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) from ICFAI, Masters of Financial Management from Pondicherry University and B.Com from Delhi University.

Let’s learn together from his knowledge and experience….

Review Board: Journey of investment sentiment in India starts from greed and reaches indifference travelling via fear and despair. Is it the scenario only in India or also in the rest of the world? Has intelligent investing ever been a pattern or will it ever be the pattern in future and if yes, then what does it look like?

Sameer Kapoor: Any investment that makes decent returns can be considered as intelligent investing and if I guess it right, Indians have always made decent money whether it is in Stock Markets or with Real Estate. The only difference of opinion comes when you actually wish to evaluate your decision.

The invested capital in couple of days may be giving different returns in terms of IRR as compared to that of couple of years. So it is important for investors to define the tenure of investment before investing.

Upcoming breed of Wealth Management businesses are very well articulating these things and will surely redefine the perception.

Review Board: What advice would you give to small investors for intelligent investing?

Sameer Kapoor: A small investor looking to invest should clearly define and most importantly correlate Risk, Return expectation and Tenure. Any uneven proposition giving very high returns may not be recurring or may not be true also.

I haven’t seen Super Heroes in my entire career so only capabilities seemingly true for a human should be trusted upon.

Review Board: Mess in the Indian financial system and the mistrust of common man in the people running this market is largely of their own doing. Their greed has definitely done a huge damage. What are the short and long term steps that need to be taken to restore the faith of common man and strengthen the structure of financial system once again?

Sameer Kapoor: Greed of little better returns brings everyone to these markets so nothing bad in this. Difficult part is that very few people with limited capital exposure and practically no discipline in their investing approach tries to represent the very large mass of small and big investors. Increasing market capitalization with more and more IPOs/Public issues getting over subscribed reflects confidence of people only. Historically, we have seen returns of people invested in businesses through stock markets have outperformed that of any other financial asset class like FDs or Gold.

SEBI always keeps bringing measures to bring more and more confidence of investors and is doing a great job.

Review Board: Whatever happened in 2007-08 due to US Subprime crisis is nothing when we compare to something like China, US and Global debt scenario. Chinese total debt crossed $33 Trillion few years ago, which is three times more than their GDP. Global debt stands at more than $217 Billion against the Global GDP of around $65 Trillion. What is your opinion on that? How long will this bubble sustain? What is your advice to common man to safeguard himself from any such eventuality?

Sameer Kapoor: I guess Global debt figures are in Trillions and I think it stood at $237Tn for Q3 2017. See, high debt figures are always alarming and creates a risk of afloat.

A major component of this debt comes from Governments who borrow money to fund social schemes. Here you will find few which will have extremely high debt and few with very manageable debt.

As an investor, I would like to be in a place which are producing growth and using debt to manage that growth. Others which are using debt just to fund their facilities are bound to see a bad day in future times. This may be very high depreciation in currency or extreme inflation or total economic fiasco. However, few hard workers will sustain their growth and come with some amazing numbers.

I would certainly be on the side of these hard working borrowers rather than crying on few lethargic borrowers. Similar to this, investing in such companies always yield good returns as their management understand how to sail through difficult times and grow business.

Review Board: Under the current Market scenario when SEBI has been proactively tightening the rules and regulations for Market Operators reducing the maneuverability, how do you see it impacting the Brokers?

Sameer Kapoor: Definitely, it is going to impact the complete broking business. I feel broking business is going through a big change.

It is getting primarily divided among investors and traders. While Traders are getting more focuses on derivatives and automated trading. Investors are trying to outsource their direct interaction with markets to Portfolio Managers and Investment advisors. Both sides are witnessing a big growth and newer technological advancement.

A traditional way of calling and servicing clients is slowly getting outdated and speedily getting replaced with self service or completely outsourced approach.

Review Board: In this digital era, customers are educated and informed. It has made customer acquisition easy and tough, both at the same time. Easy, because sales team is not required to spend good amount of time on educating the customer about the product or services and tough, because customer is already informed and has multiple choices. So, what would be your advice to anyone looking to acquire new customer?

Sameer Kapoor: Business never gets tough with customer education rather one needs to find a way to service this educated customer in a most cost efficient way and reduce cost associated to such customer education.

Online has come up as a most preferred way for individual investors as it brings convenience to access and operate, freedom to choose own investing method and cost efficiency with reduced pricing models. It is now a proven fact that Online is not only better than in Brick and Mortar model in Acquisition but also in Servicing.

Businesses now see a lot of competition on online space also but the smarter one still find their niche and create acquisition spree. Within Online, now there are multiple ways to generate opportunities but cost efficiency is the name of the game.

Online Marketing is not like what it used to be 10 years back but has changed shape. My three key advices would be

  • Never hire any person for Online marketing who do not understand the Industry.
  • Maintain your online reputation as the recourse from bad reputation in online space is very difficult.
  • Never rely on business model which depends on customer ignorance as awareness spreads very fast online and will eventually destroy your business.

We had great time talking to Mr. Kapoor and few things which came out prominently from our discussion were:

  • Educate yourself about the battle you are getting into.
  • Whoever you are; evaluate the risk, reward and time frame.
  • Stick to the normal, expect what is humanly possible. -
  • Little bit greed is good, because that’s what brings you to the market, but overstretching is not only bad for you but the market as well.
  • Online marketing has changed what it used to be ten years back.
  • Keep a close eye on your online reputation. A small mistake and lethargy can cost you the reputation built over years of hard work.
  • Never rely on the business model which depends on consumer ignorance because awareness increases faster in online domain and anything wrong can destroy your business.

As we enjoyed our discussion and learnt from his experience, we are also sure that you will find it informative and valuable.

Note: To read more insights from professionals working in different field, keep visiting www.reviewboard.in . You can ask us about our services at mukul.bhartiya@reviewboard.in and sales@teamrecruiters.in. 


Is Indian Economy Under Slowdown or Crisis


Politics can’t be without economics but economics can be without politics; if we choose to practice so. Political economics focus solely on getting elected and re-elected by the political parties. Though economics is the second word of political economics but when it comes to objective, economics becomes third or distant last in the priority list.


Fidel Castro, famous ruler of Cuba (Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and President from 1976 to 2008) and noted communist famously said, “I became a communist by studying capitalist political economy, and when I had understanding of that problem, it actually seemed to me so absurd, so irrational, so inhuman, that I simply began to elaborate on my own formulas for production and distribution”.


What he did not tell all of us that every individual action depends on psychological functions which further depends on numerous biases and heuristics created by demographical, social-economical, educational etc. nudges and interventions applied by different forces every moment, which further fires many chemicals known neurotransmitters laying down new memories, creating new biases and heuristics or strengthening the earlier one. Hasn’t this become a heady cocktail of jargons and words, very difficult to understand? That’s what political economics is; very difficult to understand.


India as a country is as diverse as the word ‘diverse’itself can be and it is as multidimensional as‘multidimensional’the word can be. Indian economy is complete reflection of the country, giving scope to every party to claim what they want to claim and most of the time each one of them may be completely true or true to some extent or completely wrong.Since economy is what matters to everyone the most, it becomes imperative to make this cocktail light, if not nectar, for everyone to consume, I talked to Mr. Suraj Sharma, who is an authority in this field.


Mr. Suraj Sharma is Chevening Financial Services Fellow, hosted by Kings College, London and IIM-Kolkata alumni. He also holds PGDM from Centre of Management Education, VAMNICOM, Pune. Presently, he is Chief Executive Officer of Punarvasu Financial Services Pvt. Ltd and also one of its board members. I had couple of straight questions to him and he cleared the haze overstate of Indian economy. Here we go with our discussion…..


Mukul Bhartiya: What is your opinion on current economic situation of the country? Would you call it “slowdown” or “crisis” and what are the factors which led to it?


Suraj Sharma: Current economic situation has the symptoms of “slowdown”, which if ignored, can develop into “crisis”.


Now, issues constituting second part of your question are crucial, poignant and present a paradoxical picture at the same time; issues which impacted or is impacting the economy needs to be divided into two parts; short term and long term. Short term issues are the policy decisions and long term issues are collateral effect of some other major domestic and transnational events.


You will agree with me that Indian economy, despite demonetization in 2016 is still largely a cash economy.Since ages, few individual who knew or probably still know how to leverage their connections with higher echelons of decision making bodies pockets the benefits meant for all. Incumbent government took certain policy decisions to streamline and make business activity transparent. Some of the decisions can be debated for its necessity or effectiveness, but rather than getting into details of the decisions, let’s understand what happened after that. It will help us to speed up our discussion.


Let’s begin with short term issues.


On 8th November 2016, Government of India took a humongous decision of calling back all currency of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 from the market. Whether objectives set by the government were met or not can be debated separately, but it led to massive cash crunch for SME and MSME sector which we agree or not, but were largely running on cash economy. This impacted the overall economy because money from the market were getting sucked in, demand of everything except necessary food items slowed down and job were cut on massive scale.


Before economy could recover from the impact of demonetisation, Goods and Service Tax became operational from 1st July 2017. GST Act is an excellent step by government of India to boost the ease of doing business in the country and bring in more transparency in the Indirect Tax regime. It was needed not only to remove friction in business operational activity but bring more and more business transactions under tax net.


But shift from one policy structure to another of such a humongous nature needs at least few business years to settle down and is implemented when economy is growing, not when it has slowed down. Here, government introduced not one or two but three policy changes of big impact in quick succession.


During this period itself, on 10th March 2016, Upper House of the government passed Real Estate Regulation and Development Act (RERA), which became effective from 1st May 2016. By this time, out of 92 sections, 56 were notified. By 1st May 2017, all the sections were operational. Real estate sector before bringing this act was unorganized, which was not only leading to exploitation of home buyers but restricting investment in this sector preventing credible and rated developers from sourcing money from the market.


Unregulated market was allowing many developers to manipulate the home buyers by channelling fund from one project to another without completing the earlier one, working on multiple projects without availability of required fund and many things more. Since there were many such developers and many such projects, this sector proved to be one of the leading employment providers, which it actually is, along with textile industry and after agriculture sector.


After implementation of RERA Act, many real estate projects were shelved and many developers defaulted.


Demonetization had maximum impact on SME, MSME and real estate sector the most because it dealt in cash the most. Implementation of GST forced them to put their business in a structure to be system compliant. Again I would say that it was good step but it delayed the sales activity. Since this sector makes a huge contribution towards employment generation as well, not only it had clear slowdown impact on economy but growth in unemployment as well.


All these policy decisions have not only stretched the business environment straight in the country but has also brought banking sector under lot of stress, which anyways is under lot of stress due to NPAs and toxic assets under control of banking sector.


That’s why I told you in the beginning itself that issues which led to slowdown are crucial, poignant and paradoxical at the same time. While decisions taken by Government of India are on solid merit points but Indian economy has never been in such a shape to absorb body shot shocks in such a quick succession.Though these decisions were right but the timings were questionable.


If we expand this discussion a bit more and go ten-eleven years back, then we see that world economy suffered a body blow due to US sub-prime crisis. Though it did not impact the Indian economy much but how can it remain unharmed because it is not insulated from the world economy. Efforts were made to boost the purchasing power and economy was on revival path, but many scandals tumbling out of government’s closet led to massive anti-corruption movement in the country. This movement brought in a kind of policy paralysis, where decision makers became afraid of taking decisions.


Mukul Bhartiya: Here I would like add something; there are many estimates of total business and employment losses due to US sub-prime crisis. I have read somewhere that business losses stood around USD 15 Trillion and employment losses around 80 Million. Further, in my opinion, Supreme Court gave the body blow to whatever was left after the impact of this financial crisis and policy paralysis, by cancelling 122 licenses of 2G telecom spectrum in February 2013. Foreign investors had shown their faith in Indian economy and telecom scam was the internal matter of the country. Without providing adequate relief to the investors or even thinking about them, Supreme Court gave harshest blow to the economy.


Suraj Sharma: There is no denying fact that impact of US sub-prime crisis was huge, but I would refrain from giving specific numbers in the want of accuracy or lack of it. What you said about the impact of Supreme Court’s decision on cancellation of license of 2G telecom spectrum and coal license cancellation may be right.


Though India was not influenced much by US financial crisis, but credit easing did happen here as well during that period. Most of the power, infrastructure, steel and other big projects were financed during that period itself. And because most of these decisions got entangled in court cases, projects either failed to start or got delayed putting humongous stress on the banking sector. Most of NPAs of Rs.14 Lakh Crore which is being talked about were financed during this period only. On top of it, this IL&FS crisis has adversely affected the business sentiment. In 2018, 40% of the incremental consumer financing was done by NBFCs and not the banks. Since mutual funds used to buy NBFC papers and give them money. A good share of NBFC money was coming from mutual funds, but IL&FS scandal turned the applecart upside down.


Look, every other business sector’s health depends on the health of financial sector. Though NPA problem has been resolved to certain extent but challenges are still there, NBFC crisis arising out of IL&FS scandal, freeze on payments to the account holders due to scam in PMC Cooperative bank, low capital ratios at Yes Bank and how it went unnoticed for so long, continuous defaults by real estate and infrastructure sector etc. have put banking and financial sector as a whole under huge stress. Government needs to see that how quickly it brings the economy out of this rut.


But we are seeing growth quarter-to-quarter basis, though slowed down andthat’s why we can’t call present situation an economic crisis.


Mukul Bhartiya: What should government do to reverse the situation and increase the opportunities of employment?


Suraj Sharma: Government has taken many steps to revive the situation but if things don’t start improving in next eighteen month or so, then as I mentioned earlier, it will trigger bigger crisis.


Infrastructure/real estate/industries/power etc. projects should not be financed by commercial banks. Instead, they should be financed by long term investors through debentures .You tell me which bank accepts fixed deposits for 20-30 years and which infrastructure project becomes cash positive in 5-6 years? Even residential projects of real estate sector take more time to complete than that.


Apart from bringing in RERA for removing the frictions of real estate sector and pave the way for more legitimate funding, Government has created the necessary rules and policy structure to encourage REIG(Real Estate Investment Group) investing to clean up the real estate investment, bring more transparency and make real estate projects more viable. Recently announced Rs.25,000 Crore Priority Debt Fund to revive stalled real estate projects is a critically important decision. It will give relief to much aggrieved home buyers. All the steps taken by government will bring synergy between investors, developers and sellers and foster growth. Now, only thing is to be seen is how quickly all these steps fructify result.


Barring 4-5 banks, all nationalized banks have come out of NPA mess. To make liquidity available in the market, government is aggressive on repo and other fiscal rates.


Boldest of all the step is corporate tax to be levied on new manufacturing set up to come up after 1st October 2019, which is 15%. If you add cess and all, then it will not be more than 17% and it is lowest in the world. Government might have done so keeping US-China trade war in mind, expecting companies flying out of China may land up in India for setting up their infrastructure. I can’t comment right now about its impact on fiscal discipline.


Helping banks to clean up NPA mess, recapitalization of banks, aggressive interest rates, aggressive corporate tax, reduction in base corporate tax, creation of fund for interest subvention scheme for GST registered MSMEs, holding hands of real estate sector through RERA, REIG etc., government is doing many right things.


Though government has taken many steps in the right direction, but all of it has to bear the result very quickly. A lot of time has already lapsed and things can’t be delayed anymore. Liquidity crunch has prolonged for too long and media sentiment has been depressed for too long. Remember that negative business sentiments have domino effect on overall business scenario and one fall triggers others to fall. Liquidity crunch does not happen just because of unavailability of funds in the market, it also happens because of unavailability of intent and courage among the investors. If it continues, then SMEs and MSMEs will start defaulting and since most of government’s lending are to this sector, it will create the challenge which no one has ever imagined.


Further, government shall bear in mind that Indian economy has never been in the stage where policy decisions of such a humongous nature can’t be implemented in such a quick succession. Implementation of GST will take at least three to four business years for everyone to see which direction it will move. Business community will get adapted to its implementation and government will be able to plug the holes and explain it clearly to them. Similarly, real estate sector will take time to work on the lines of guidelines set by RERA.


Government and RBI shall see that credibility and reputation financial sector is restored and that also on priority basis. They must see that without any delay depositors’ interest is protected and they again repose their faith in country’s banking sector. Business decisions can fail but business decisions quite adverse to very common business sense shall not be acceptable. Promoters shall not be allowed to have executive position in private banks and no executive should be allowed to hold the top position for more than 10-15years or so. Government and RBI shall see that executives holding highest position in banking industry must get enough time to execute their decisions but must not get time to be synonym with the organization itself. Government shall also see that individual account holders shall have insurance cover of at least Rs.10 Lakh or even more for the deposited money with a bank; right now it is Rs.1 Lakh and it is very less. Government and RBI shall work towards rebuilding trust of depositors towards banking and financial system of the country. If it doesn’t happen, then nothing will happen.


Mr Suraj Sharma On his expectations from Budget 2020


On 31st December 2019, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched a massive push for infrastructure development with the commitment to invest Rs.100 Lakh Crore in different infrastructure projects in the ratio of 39:39:22, where 39% each will be invested by Central and State Governments while 22% will be invested by private parties.


Since Budget 2020 was just two months away, this huge announcement, though welcome step, made me ask one thing; of late, has budget been reduced to glorified annual event or does it still hold some relevance. Not just this singular event but at regular interval, Finance Minister herself leads from the front and interacts with media about policy and strategy interventions.


I asked Mr. Suraj Sharma, CEO, Punarvasu Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. about his expectations from upcoming budget, open discussion about regular policy and strategy interventions by Finance Ministry and prospect of India becoming a $5 Trillion economy by 2025.


Suraj Sharma: In my opinion, during second term of NDA government, annual budget looks like becoming more a celebratory affair of long practiced routine. Government, by intervening from time to time and interacting with the country through media has made annual budget more for middle class customers to see what is in store for them, like tax breaks and cost of household and daily use items going up or down. But I must say, it is doing the right thing. It helps in making two things very clear that government is ready to listen and it is always willing to take corrective steps.


Finance Minister’s announcement of Rs.100 Lakh Crore National Infrastructure Pipeline for next five years is a welcome step towards ushering country to $5 Trillion economy. Even if government misses the timeline by a year or two but $5 Trillion economy is not an unachievable dream.


I would be keen to see from where this money to fund these projects will be generated and where are the private partners to work on these projects. I am saying so because almost all the companies working in big government infrastructure projects are already heavily debt laden.


Mukul Bhartiya: I was listening to Ms. Geeta Gopinath, Chief Economist, IMF at Indian Economic Conclave 2019. She was worried that India’s private consumption is down, investment has slowed down and whatever growth we are seeing in last couple of quarters is due to the government’s spending. Core inflation is at 3.5%, which along with weak import is also a sign of weak private demand. That’s why, IMF will revise India’s GDP growth forecast drastically negative in their report to published third week of January 2020.


Suraj Sharma: I have a little different opinion than experts on the topic of sluggish growth in private consumption. Indians by and large were never of extravagant nature. So, I have my doubts firmly placed about decline in core consumption items.


Let’s talk about the most talked about item in the slowdown discussion; cars. If auto industry is facing the challenge of slowdown, then how come KIA and MG Motors are ramping up the production? Indian companies needs to be little bit more accepting towards their inefficiencies and the point that every time they can’t run to government to bail them out. Why should government, at public’s expenses, bail out the corporates for their inefficiency. Let me give you one example without naming the company. The amount of time a leading steel manufacture of India takes in producing a quantity of steel, china takes less than one third of that time and it is reflecting in the total steel production of both the countries as well.


Indian consumers are willing to pay but for the quality. Old companies can’t rely on old ways to win new customers. They will have to deliver the quality. They can’t keep cribbing about slowdown in demand.


What I am more bothered about is the infrastructural capacity to handle frictions in life journey of the business and their tracking mechanism.


Let’s take two example; NPA of one liquor to aviation conglomerate and another one is cut in corporate tax. Despite the first case hanging in air for so long, we are not aware when will this case be done and dusted. This is not single case to bother about; there are many. So, these cases need to be resolved and closed on priority.


The next example I mentioned is of corporate rate tax cut. When you cut the tax, there are obvious two outcomes: i) Growth in the business ii) De-growth in tax collection. Tax cut only make sense when tax collection due to growth in business and subsequent tax collection offset the de-growth in tax collection due to tax cut. But this data is not available. Government must have the capacity to measure every metric it sets out to take economy towards growth and $ 5 Trillion GDP by 2024.


You can also read Mr. Suraj Sharma about his slowdown on Indian Economy Is Indian Economy Under Slowdown or Crisis


Mr Sanjay Kumar Thakur Chief Data Officer Saudi Investment Bank of his expectation from Union Budget


I reached out to Mr. Sanjay Kumar ThakurChief Data Officer and Head-Treasury Product Control, Balance Sheet Analytics, Fund Transfer Pricing of Saudi Investment Bank to know his expectations this Union Budget 2020. Mr. Thakur is Ph.D in Portfolio Risk Hedging and Management from Shailesh J. Mehta Institute of Business Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Chartered Financial Analyst from ICFAI, Hyderabad, Post Graduate Diploma in Banking, Banking & Treasury Operations, Credit Analysis & Comm. Lending, Banking Laws and Accounting Practices from University of Pune and MBA(Finance) from Center of Management Education, VAMNICOM, Pune.


Sanjay Thakur: This budget should be clearly targeting few themes: (a) Employment (b) Consumption (c) Reforms for growth revival  


A. Employment: I think govt will and should do anything and everything on employment front. I expect huge focus on MSME and Agriculture sector as 93% labour is still depend on these sectors and this time even rural economy is hit. Next would need clear focus be Infrastructure (there is enough political and economic reason that, construction may get infrastructure tag) and Textile. There must be a mechanism to revive NBFC model with more prudent regulation around it and I expect bold announcement on building a bank-nbfc-developer mechanism for guaranteed housing project completion. Textile needs immediate care and gems and jewellery as well as leather sector needs clear support as export is down by 3.27% and not great silver lining in near future thanks to Coronavirus now.  


B. As corporate tax cut was already given late last year, some thrust on corporate lending should help build environment for capital investment rate which has halved by now. Govt capital expenditure will have to lead the way though as it has been lesser than expected. To boost consumption, I expect some relief on individual income tax like increase in slab for zero or lesser tax rate. I also expect higher investment limit than Rs. 1.5 lac under 80c. The same goes for medical insurance and investment in NPS to get (e-e-e) status. After so many pay-commissions, I also seek a need for some kind of parity between tax treatment of benefits to govt and private sectors employees. I expect LTCG to get removed as it was almost nonsensical decision. These initiatives either encourage saving and investment or increase consumption immediately. I expect some relief to Auto and Telecom sector as well. 


C. Reforms for growth revival is something I expect to see. Thrust would be on Land reforms, selectively on labour reforms and legal side of ease of business. Inflation particularly food inflation has started appearing due to wrongly RBI focusing more on growth than inflation which is actually govt primary domain. I expect some clear thrust on SEZ type work-around, startups to support make in India and digital India initiatives. What are the do's and dont's you are suggesting to Mrs. Sitharaman? =) I hope she will loosen the fiscal deficits targeting at least by 25bps. She shouldn't worry too much for it right now. She must also not continue the LTCG at any cost and taxation on dividend income should be eased as well. As there is chance of reduction income tax slab for common man, there is a possibility to re-instate Estate tax to tax wealthy people which is not good idea. It may bring less in value but may send negative vibes to the wealth creators.


Mr Sumit Agarwal Founder Cap Mantra Wealth Consultants Pvt Ltd on his expectations from Union Budget 2020


The way I see random people, who probably may fail to spell word ‘economics’, throwing the words like slowdown in GDP, economic crisis etc. I remember the quote by famous statistician, risk and probability expert and author of Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Skin in The Game and many more Mr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  


He says, “It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than be alone in the right one. Those who have followed the assertive idiot rather than introspective wise person have passed us some of their genes. This is apparent from a social pathology: psychopaths rally followers”. 


A friend of mine suggested to read the business journey of an Indian business giant involved in consumer electronics to DTH to petroleum and energy business. To my surprise, this company acquired 15 companies in 20 years time and changed the structure of organization 30 times without showing sustainability and positive cash flow without manipulating the operations in any of the business. It financed the business by borrowing funds from commercial banks and invested in the business of energy and natural resources which are highly capital intensive and requires investment for decades. For their consumer electronics items, if news from leading newspapers is to be believed, then it suggests that credit tap for distribution channel partners never dried up. When this business house filed bankruptcy, shamelessly its owners blamed the demonetization. A clear cut case of crony capitalism cried victim when asked to straighten up. And this is not the isolated case.  


I talked to Mr. Sumit Agarwal, Equity and Derivative Strategy expert and Founder of Cap Matra Wealth Consultants Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, who, for last fifteen years has been having his finger on the pulse of Stock Exchanges in general and Indian stock and commodity exchanges in particular. 


Though my focus was to know his demand from Finance Minister in this upcoming budget, but I stretched the scope a bit tried to have his opinion on what is going right or wrong with the economy and what are his expectations from the budget. 


Sumit Agarwal: Let us retrace few of the many steps taken by present government in the recent past.


Government has been raging battle to bring in transparency to clear this NPA mess created mostly between 2008-13. Now at least it is clear that which bank is carrying how much toxic and non-performing asset in their balance sheet and efforts are being made at feverish speed to clean that up. Close to Rs.90,000 Crore NPA was cleaned between 2018-19. Though it is still standing at around Rs.8 Lakh Crore, but government’s effort is visible on ground. Even small borrowers are being asked to pay up their long due loans. I can’t tell you the formula of payment being recovered from them, but I assume that they are being asked to pay up the actual loan plus some cost, but they are being asked to pay. 


Second action which is commendable is streamlining NBFC finance. It was faulty from the beginning itself. NBFCs used to raise finance from commercial banks and mutual funds using short term loans or selling short term commercial papers for a period of six months and then giving home and car loans to consumers for period ranging between five to twenty years was not making commercial or legal sense, it required continuous refill of money and it made absolutely no business or legal sense. Since it was bringing in growth in retail consumption of consumer durables and other sectors, everyone was riding along. But this bubble had to burst and it did burst with IL&FS. Now NBFCs are finding it tough to raise money and it is reflecting in consumer market behaviour. 


Along with RERA, another decision which is proving be great in “Insolvency and Bankruptcy Act”, which is forcing crony capitalists pay up. As far as RERA is concerned, it is definitely a much needed step by the government. We can’t forget implementation of GST here which was again need of the hour to bring uniformity in taxation and increase the ease of doing business.  


Though above mention steps have slowed down the economy due to implementation woes, but you will agree with me that you can’t live with cancer for too long and when it is operated, it will slow down your speed drastically till you fully recover.


So, coming back to second part of your question about what should be done to bring economy back on the high growth trajectory, which is required to make India a $ 5 Trillion economy by 2025, I think government needs to take many steps but I will list out my preferences here. 


First and foremost, government must do everything what it takes to increase private investment in SME and MSME sector. This sector is under tremendous stress. It was unorganized, mostly driven by cash economy; GST and demonetization proved too much for it. Where the line of good or bad gets blurred is the fact that SME and MSME sector drives India’s growth story and provides maximum employment. So, while GST and demonetisation were much needed step, they brought in the separate set of challenges. India’s import from China is somewhere around $ 60 Billion and most of them replace items being manufactured by these SMEs and MSMEs. For a country like India and the nature of economy it has, it can’t continue to have this huge import bill and nature of import from any country. 


Not only that, government must take the responsibility of technology and marketing communication of products manufactured by this sector. Not many of them can pick up the art of communicating features and benefits of their products. Government needs to do it in domestic as well as international market. Government must go out and tell everyone that why products manufactured by our own SMEs needs to be purchased. We all know how Chinese business operates. We need to pump up our business if not protect them.


Next step which government needs to take is ensuring smooth coordination between the center and states. I am very well aware that India is federation of states and state has autonomy in certain aspects of their existence and may have interest different than the nation, but government will have to ensure that.  


You know that market few years back was unstructured, but with the entry of big technology and online retail companies, price discovery of each and every item has become much easier than it ever was. With smart phones in every hand, it is reaching in every nook and corner. Technology is making the market structured and with this, market is losing the incentive unstructured, unorganized market offers, because consumers are at ill to know what could be the actual or standard price. So, if lack of coordination between center and state government will only complicate the matter for the business. While consumers will know at what price they should buy the product, friction between state and central government will increase the cost for manufactures, making entry of foreign players easy and thus circumventing the growth or even existential prospects of domestic companies. Individual small players can’t keep running and coordinating between state and central government. 


GST, despite all its benefits has become a big challenge for micro and small business units. What we have seen is this government is very poor at communication of acts passed in the parliament and schemes launched in the budget or otherwise. There are enough people who are supposed to help these micro and small business units to understand and help with taxations indulge them more into scaremongering. What I expect from the government is continuous training and information dissemination till this entire GST thing is streamlined and drilled down in every possible and prospective businessperson’s mind. Tax filing should be made as simple as possible. 


Stock market is the indicator of economy; health of economy reflects here. From January 2018, Small Cap Index is down 40% and Mid Cap index is down 22% and clearly indicates that Indian economy is under slowdown. My expectation from the government is increase the slab of no income tax from Rs.2.5 Lakh to at least Rs.5 Lakh. It will put more money in the hand of consumers and help boosting the consumption. 


Second point is government should rethink its position on Long Term Capital Gain Tax and Dividend Tax. Dividend tax is clear cut case of double taxation, though may be unintended but is negative element of tax legislation. Long term capital gain tax is holding back individuals from staying invested in capital assets like real asset or holding stocks for longer period. This way, government is stopping companies from raising long term fund and if companies find raising long term capital unattractive or difficult or costly, then how will they fund their capital expenditure. 


Last but not the least, I want government to check what it is the outcome of its expenditure on agriculture. I know agriculture is tricky subject to touch but at least there should be some calculation on how much is being spent on agriculture, starting from the input to irrigation to output to infrastructure building to food processing and what is the productivity of this spending. I don’t think government can in anyway reduce spending on agriculture, but it can definitely know the outcome of spending. Further, I would also request government to make all possible effort to stop the leakages in different welfare schemes and subsidies doled out to the people of this country. 


You may also like to read Mr Sanjay Kumar Thakur Chief Data Officer Saudi Investment Bank of his expectation from Union Budget


Sanjiva Jha Founder CEO BroadArk Technologies on Covid19 Impact


Often it takes some calamity to awaken us, makes us live in present and see all the mistakes we have committed. When it has been suffered, first thing to be remembered is how much has escaped and how to move forward with that in the new direction.  


COVID19 is overwhelming for all. World is under lockdown; either stated or federal mandated. Everyone is joining hands to fight this challenge together in whichever way they can. But at the same time, everyone is also curious to know how post COVID19 world will be. 


So, I requested Mr. Sanjiva Jha to guide me and my readers about it. 


Mr. Sanjiva Jha is Founder-CEO of BroadArk Technologies Pvt. Ltd. His company owns the brand Y&NOW and works in the field of Education and Skilling. But this is just a small part of his illustrious career of around 28 years at leadership positions with LabourNet Services India Pvt. Ltd., Tata Teleservices Ltd. Reliance Retail Ltd., Boots Healthcare, Cargill India Ltd. etc. He has Masters degree in Management from IRMA and Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering from BIT, Sindri. He has led cross functional teams during growth, massive organizational restructuring post US subprime crisis and merger & acquisitions. So, who could be better than him to guide us and see this current situation in right perspective? Here we have his views


 The Covid Impact: 

 

What has been the most striking impact or consequence of the Covid pandemic?


I believe some of the most striking consequences of this pandemic have been the game-changing impact on our social behaviour and patterns of economic activity. And yes, the economic impact will be rather severe and could be crippling for the economy if not addressed immediately but at the same time this will also present some opportunities! Speed, agility, and innovation are required from governments, businesses, and society in crafting responses to cope with this evolving new normal. 


Let’s look at where India stands in all this pandemonium caused by this pandemic.


One of the biggest casualties of the lockdown and the ensuing social distancing has been the informal sector - the daily wage earners, the migrant labourers, the gig workers and the contract workers. We saw some rather grim images of stranded migrant labourers in light of the lockdown. It was distressing to see migrant workers walking hundreds of kilometres to go back to their native place. We have witnessed a huge volume of reverse migration - workers rushing back to reach their homes from the Metros and mini metros. The government and other public agencies have been quick to act and organize relief measures and helplines to direct the flow of these people. Has it been enough, perhaps not, a lot more needs to be done as these sections do not have the wherewithal to withstand the prolonged period of lockdown and then there is the question of how do we get them back to work post the easing down of the lockdown situation? No easy answers here but surely a lot more needs to be done in terms of just providing basic relief and survival kits. We have seen a stimulus of around 0.85% of the GDP being announced by the government; this may need to be bumped up significantly. Sample this we have Germany which has pumped in around 8%, Malaysia at 16% of the GDP,(these are far smaller countries with a population of 83mn and 32 mn resp) agreed these are economies at a different phase not comparable to India but we do need to reach out to this section with more, the prolonged lockdown till May 3rd will only add to the woes..


The rising uncertainties in contractual labour will also impact the MSMEs. Exports, which account for a large chunk of MSME earnings, are expected to fall as the US and Europe are reeling from the impact of the coronavirus. 


Another impacted sector would be the non-essential items due to a steep reduction in the consumption. These include consumer durables like TVs, ACs, transport, communication services, Lux goods, Beauty salons. This is certainly the quarter these companies would like to forget... With increasing job losses and pay cuts across industries, non-essential spending will be hit further, and big businesses will be affected eventually. One of the worst hit sectors amongst the non-essential is the apparel sector which employs a sizable number of contract labourers. Not difficult to fathom, the lockdown has necessitated temporary closures of factories and lay-offs of low-wage earners. We could see a possible opportunity here, as the sector reeling under reduction in yarn exports and restriction on raw material imports will give a fillip to the local sourcing opportunities for garment manufacturers, which may prevent prices from going up once the markets open.


The other big industry which will continue to face the downturn and probably face extinction in the short run unless they innovate and move onto other business streams - logistics or the last mile delivery for instance, Travel and Tourism. The sector is reeling from large-scale cancellations and a complete pause on domestic operations. Both outbound travel and inbound travel to India are expected to be at an all-time low this year. The losses are estimated in the range of Rs.90-100 bn. 


Essentials will continue to be in demand and get serviced and fulfilled with the government taking an increasingly active role in ensuring uninterrupted supplies of ‘essentials’. Essentials include food, clothing, soaps detergents, soaps, detergents, housing, gas and electricity. A word of caution, any prolonged disruption of the supply chain might lead to shortages and thus inflation in the medium term. Ecommerce, retail and internet businesses would be less affected because most of their offerings fall under “essential items”.


So, what is the plausible way forward? Who are the winners and who are the losers in a limited sense here?  


Clearly a massive round of stimulus would be required to ensure the marginalised sections sustain the lockdown and we build resilience in the economy. According to the Economic Survey of 2018–19, almost 93 percent of the country’s total workforce—an estimated 437 million people—is informal. This includes agricultural, construction, manufacturing, sanitation, and domestic workers. This sector contributes to nearly half of the country’s GDP. A tough balancing act considering the fiscal deficit is already under pressure and not in the best of health so to say


Who are the winners - Pharma, ecommerce, retail, fmcg, IT ITES, Healthcare, logistics

Who are the losers - Travel and Tourism, Inland Transport, Restaurants and Eateries, Consumer Durables, Banking and Finance


India has been amongst the first few countries to take up the Covid fightback plan early on, though the curve is yet to be flattened but shows signs of containment, with a well-planned comprehensive measure starting with testing, tracking, tracing, containment and enforcing social distancing it is expected that we will be able to build the necessary resilience, next two weeks would be critical. 


You can reach to Mr. Sanjiva Jha at LinkedIn Address


Sanjiva Jha Founder CEO BroadArk Technologies on Reigniting the economy


This article was written by Mr. Sanjiva Jha on Linkedin. Link of the article is here: Reigniting the economy


Mr. Sanjiva Jha is Founder-CEO of BroadArk Technologies Pvt. Ltd. His company owns the brand Y&NOW and works in the field of Education and Skilling. But this is just a small part of his illustrious career of around 28 years at leadership positions with LabourNet Services India Pvt. Ltd., Tata Teleservices Ltd. Reliance Retail Ltd., Boots Healthcare, Cargill India Ltd. etc. He has Masters degree in Management from IRMA and Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering from BIT, Sindri. He has led cross functional teams during growth, massive organizational restructuring post US subprime crisis and merger & acquisitions. 


Reigniting the economy 


We are witnessing massive changes in the workplace today due to the digitization wave to newer and different skill sets required to address the increasingly demanding Industry requirements. As we see, relevant skill sets isthe need of the hour and in this world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA)


Which are some of the sectors likely to need large numbers of skilled personnel to keep pace with the transformational change ? 


A recent McKinsey report on future of work estimates that almost 50% of work that one does can be automated and that in 60% of the cases almost one-third of the jobs can be automated with technologies existing today! While the impact on various sectors in different countries could differ depending on the labour sector wages, demographics etc. but the automation and digitization is all pervasive and by extension the impact on the skills required to respond to the labour market needs. 


It is estimated that 8-9% of 2030 labour will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before. Clearly there is a need to invest in relevant skills needed to transition to the new roles.  


India has a workforce of nearly 450 mn strong with nearly half a million people joining the workforce annually, it is the second-fastest digitizing economy after Indonesia, what are the likely areas of impact that we expect? How do we future proof ourselves against those changes? A quick peek at some of the key Industries. 


One of the sectors undergoing transformational change is the Information Technology & Information Technology Enabled Services.This industry is clearly seeing changes at both ends - reskilling as well as upskilling to match the growing requirements. We are witnessing requirements in the areas of Block Chain technology, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity specialists, Robotics, CRM specialists to name a few. Many roles will be created in the AI space as it touches our lives through multiple products and services. 


Healthcare has become one of India’s largest sectors - both in terms of revenue and employment. Healthcare comprises hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. It will employ 7.5 mn people from a current level of less than 4 mn. A high priority sector for the Nation, the skill sets required to manage this growth are significant considering the massive expansion and the cutting edge technology on which the industry works.  


Retail is another sector where we are seeing robust growth rates, higher consumer expenditure and unprecedented technological interventions on the move. This along with Ed-tech remains one of the few sectors which has been hiring when the reports last came in! The Indian retail industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries. It accounts for over 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around 8 per cent of the employment. The market size is pegged at US$ 950 billion in 2018 at CAGR of 13 per cent. The online retail segment is growing at a fast clip of 31%. This sector thrives on online platforms, cloud-based solutions, GPS, AI driven algorithms to unravel why you and I buy what we buy! We are talking about large numbers of workforce and newer relevant skill sets here to sustain the sector growth.. 


On a concluding note - To prevent a worst-case scenario which is, Tech change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality: Reskilling and Upskilling of today’s workforce will be critical. We cannot wait for the current school going generation to learn the requisite skills as they graduate, the current work force will have to be reskilled and upskilled. The writing is clearly on the wall, we need to adapt to the new skills at the same time reskilling and upskilling of the current workforce will need to move on a war footing…


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