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Zia clarifies his timing of declaration of independence

What Mujib Said

Jyoti basu is DEAD

Jyoti Basu: The pragmatist

Dr.B.R. Ambedkar

Memories of Another Day

Memories of Another Day
While my Parents Pulin Babu and basanti Devi were living

"The Day India Burned"--A Documentary On Partition Part-1/9


Partition of India - refugees displaced by the partition

Monday, May 29, 2017

#BEEFGATEঅন্ধকার বৃত্তান্তঃ হত্যার রাজনীতি ও জীবন জীবিকা বিমুখ প্রযুক্তিনির্ভর বিজ্ঞান যুক্তি বিরোধী বেকারত্বের শিক্ষা নিয়ে কিছু জরুরী কথা! বিকল্প শিক্ষা ব্যবস্থার পরিকাঠামো নিয়ে কিছু চিন্তা ভাবনা! Palash Biswas

#BEEFGATEঅন্ধকার বৃত্তান্তঃ হত্যার রাজনীতি ও জীবন জীবিকা বিমুখ প্রযুক্তিনির্ভর বিজ্ঞান যুক্তি বিরোধী বেকারত্বের শিক্ষা নিয়ে কিছু জরুরী কথা!
বিকল্প শিক্ষা ব্যবস্থার পরিকাঠামো নিয়ে কিছু চিন্তা ভাবনা!
Palash Biswas

India may be the world's fastest growing major economy, but the benefits of that growth do not seem to be percolating down to the masses.This is the problem of development not discussed at all.

Beef gate yet again the best tool activated to divert the urgent discussion on economic crisis,employment,education,health and environment which helps the politics of demography, religion,violence,ethnic cleansing and Apartheid,Patriarchy!

Total failure of governance,law and order, fiscal management covered with rigid blind nationalism of Hindutva and beef ban helps to dismiss every mandatory question.

Thus,India politics as well as people of India have been arrested within the tap of a cultural shock created against the majority of Indian demography,970 million to implement the corporate Hindutva agenda of ethnic cleansing!

Ban on sale of cattle at markets for slaughter: Citing federalism, West Bengal, Kerala object to Centre's order

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan as well as West Bengal CM Mamata Banjeree opposed the ban and appealed to his counterparts in other states to object to the "covert attempt to usurp powers of the state legislature in guise of rules under a Central Act."

Hindustan time reports:

Where are the jobs? Being in denial over unemployment woes won't help Modi govt

To begin with, it is imperative that the government and the ruling coalition acknowledge the challenge, and not be dismissive about it. Ambiguous expressions such as "promoting self-employment" do not help.

 Please read:
Business Standard reports:
On May 1, the annual workers' march in Bengaluru to mark the Labour Day saw for the first time a group representing employees of the (IT) industry. It was probably an ominous sign of things to come.

The past few weeks have seen several hundred people let go of by IT services firms joining the Forum for (FITE) or the (NDLF) Wing, two unions claiming to represent tech workers fighting for their rights.

FITE has led the charge by filing cases with the labour departments in Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai against firms such as Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Cognizant, saying engineers were wrongly terminated by these 

Nitin Sharma (name changed to protect identity), for example, was one such worker who reached out to FITE after being let go.

Sharma, an employee of a large IT services firm, got a promotion last year after four years. When a set of new employees joined his team at a lower pay scale, a senior informed him about his imminent exit. A few days later, he was asked to resign. "I have documents to prove I showed consistent performance. Suddenly, I was given the lowest performance rating available. They said the HR (human resources) department gave me this rating," said Sharma. 

More such people are reaching out to trade unions for help. The have said people were let go because of weak performance as part of the annual review exercise. But this has attracted attention this year as the sector faces its worst crisis in a decade — primarily because of rising protectionism overseas and increasing automation.

For nearly two decades, India's export-focused software industry saw rapid double-digit growth as western clients outsourced work to cut costs and improve profitability. The sector logged exports of $110 billion last year and employed 3.9 million people. 
As the industry matured, grew in single digits. Costs rose, too. But clients started cutting outsourcing budgets on traditional services and spending more on digital and cloud technologies. Lower-end work such as testing and maintenance, which employed a huge number, saw major automation. Then came the blow from abroad. Governments in the US, the UK, Australia and Singapore started restricting movement of inbound labour to protect local jobs. Indian then started looking at ways to cut costs. Non-performers or those who did not have the skills to migrate to new areas were let go. The started hiring residents in the country of operation to get around the governments' labour blockade.

While the industry remains a net hirer, said lobby group Nasscom, "workforce realignment linked to performance appraisal processes is a regular feature every year. Skilling and workforce realignment are essential to remain competitive in international markets. It needs to be appreciated that such workforce realignment is a normal part of the internal process of based on their own operational imperatives." 

Usually, employees let go during the annual appraisal cycles would be absorbed by other firms looking for such skill-sets. This year, however, people being laid off are not getting jobs. Engineers laid off in 2016 are still struggling to get jobs in the new environment. This has led to such engineers getting into unions or forming groups. 

For more than a decade, have largely stayed away from such groupings. High-paying salaries, opportunities to travel to client locations abroad and retention efforts by kept these people glued to the job.  

In 2014, Tamil Nadu saw efforts to unionise after Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) allegedly laid off a large number. The company had denied any such move. Three unions — FITE, a platform formed by the Young Tamil Nadu Movement (YTNM); NDLF Wing and Knowledge Professionals Forum — emerged and started taking up the cases of those who approached them.

Their fight got a shot in the arm in January 2015, when a woman employee got an interim injunction against a termination order issued by TCS. The employee, who was pregnant, was later reinstated by TCS, "as an exceptional case, in line with its practice of not relieving any employee during pregnancy".

Other employees, too, started petitioning the labour department. In June 2016, the Tamil Nadu government allowed employees of to form a trade union, saying labour legislations did not exempt in the IT and IT-enabled services verticals. Maharashtra, too, said the IT sector would get no exemption in this regard.

Maharashtra's Commissioner of Labour Yeshawant Kerure said, "As there is no special Act governing IT, we can only try to protect labour interests based on acts like the Industrial Disputes Act. We try to resolve disputes by inviting both parties to mediate. If that fails, then we advise them to approach the respective labour court. IT sector needs special attention, which is something we will be looking at. There is very little representation in terms of employee rights and that too from a single group". 

Industry response

The industry has played the survival card. When the going was good for companies, employees benefitted. But during tough times, they need to evolve to survive. Firms also say they spend millions of dollars to train and upgrade skills of employees.

C Prabhakar, president of Karnataka Employers' Association, and a labour law expert, said it could become a "question of survival" for IT if they retain surplus people who cannot hone new skills. "The quantum of employees let go of is normal, like before. In IT companies, unlike manufacturing, individual contribution of software engineers is important and there is scope for enhancing skills, too. Even if the management cannot oppose formation of unions, encouraging such unions may turn out to be detrimental," said Prabhakar, a former board member at Wipro. IT provide better service conditions than, say, a factory, he said. "should realise the importance of re-skilling themselves," he added.

Saurabh Govil, head of human resources for Wipro, said in a recent interview: "Unions come as a consequence of an economic reason. Here we are dealing with knowledge workers. They understand it is about being transparent, and fair. You can take a tough call. If you treat people with respect transparency and perceived fairness, then there would not be an issue."


Vivan Sharan | in Oped/the Pioneer

Recent lay-offs in the IT sector call for the creation of a virtuous cycle of progressive policies which can lead to rounds of investment, innovation and consumption

Recent lay-offs of workers in India's cost-arbitrage driven Information Technology (IT) sector, and the Prime Minister Office's renewed emphasis on job creation have resulted in a much-needed public debate on the future of work. Automation threatens most jobs in India, according to the World Bank, which also maintains that the more widespread the use of technology, the more the impact on jobs. This argument can be challenged in the context of India's large informal workforce. Here, technological dispersion has created jobs through efficiency gains. Notably, in the case of the logistics sector, the use of tracking and communication tools (such as GPS-enabled mobile phones) has helped in the formalisation of supply chains, in unlocking value and in creating jobs. Indeed, very few deterministic assumptions are appropriate in India where 100 million broadband consumers were added in a short period between August 2016 and this February — denoting technological dispersion without precedent.

To grapple with technological complexities, policy-makers must look at the job discourse from a holistic vantage point. For instance, it may be tempting for them to pick winners when faced with technological uncertainties. Energy policy is an example of this — several international Governments have pre-empted technological choices of industries and consumers,with policies aimed at incentivising one technology over another. Empirical evidence, including from advanced industrial economies such as Germany, shows that this approach skews market incentives and yields suboptimal employment. For India, with limited technical resources and capacity of Government, a rigid approach is even more problematic. Our policy-makers must strive to be technology-agnostic while also continuously engaging with the private sector to address difficulties that limit value creation.

Instead of responding to new economic paradigms through knee-jerk protectionism, the Government should rapidly implement the many small, yet powerful interventions that can help the private sector survive technological disruptions. Generation of value and surplus — to invest into technology, upskilling and jobs is central to surviving disruptions across industries.

Inherently, resilient industries such as those within the 'creative economy', which spans the entire media and entertainment sector, offers a good illustrative template for this. The creative economy has propelled multi-billion dollar brands, enhanced India's soft power projection, engaged thousands of entrepreneurs, provided platforms for timely dissemination of vital information and news and contributed significantly to service sector growth. Although its impact is felt globally and it employs over 6.5 lakh workers, the relative contribution of India's creative economy to the GDP (0.9 per cent), is much less than what is seen in most emerging market counterparts; such as Indonesia (over 1.5 per cent), South Africa (over three per cent) and Brazil (nearly 3.5 per cent). Advanced economies of course are in a different league altogether. Illustratively, Bollywood's annual revenues add up to less than a tenth of the size of the Harry Potter franchise.

The anatomy of low value addition in the Indian creative economy illustrates several elements of the job creation conundrum. The television market has been disrupted by technological change globally — online video, Direct To Home and other technologies have disintermediated downstream distributors and helped spread video on demand. At the same time upstream broadcasters in India, who underwrite most content on television and account for about half the economic size of the creative economy, face onerous price regulations. Successive Governments have chosen to protect distributors under the banner of consumer protection instead of letting an industry with proven job creation ability operate on market terms. In a competitive television market with nearly 1,000 channels and no dominance by any one stakeholder or channel, there is no economic case to be made for price regulation. The Government's own attempts at justifying otherwise have never relied on any economic rationale.

Owing to an inability to monetise high value content, little surplus is available in the industry for requisite technology and infrastructure investments required for seamless distribution of video on congested Indian wireless networks. Moreover, because of the current regime, most of the creative content on TV is aimed at garnering maximum eyeballs to keep advertisers happy. This limits the versatility of Indian content and if data remains cheap, discerning consumers will eventually be left with no option but to cut their cords. At the imminent inflection point where mainstream Indian content creators and distributors are forced to compete with global peers, the creative engine will struggle to keep going. It will find itself hopelessly short of funds, infrastructure, and workers with the wherewithal to augment their output to match global standards.

Such a vicious cycle can play out in most industries that depend on technology in some form. The Government should begin thinking of the future of jobs in terms of a virtuous cycle. That is progressive policies and regulations can potentially create the much-desired cycles of investments, innovation and consumption, which can in turn generate new jobs and secure existing ones through upskilling. Creation of economic value should be the mission statement of Government and towards this, it must not pre-empt technological change.

(The writer is a partner at Koan Advisory Group, New Delhi)


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