Be The Change

May 27, 2010 – 12:25 pm                                                                                            

It was 2008. No terrorist attacks, so far, no tsunami or major outbreaks. The last year of a rather adventurous decade! Things were peaceful to a point that there was almost a lull. And then it erupted. The shock-waves travelled far and wide, taking every soul in its menacing grip. 2009 saw, even the local tea vendor becoming increasingly aware of a global crisis termed ‘Recession’.
I was not an economist but I understood the basics. As America went down in debt, we saw all allied nations and ‘friends of America’ surge out in need of the inevitable. It was almost at the same time, that India started the panic. The honeymoon period was over for all our Information Technicians, as rows of seized cars dramatically decorated the corner street! It spread like HIV, taking all sectors in its vicious grip. The local ‘chai-wala’ those days, ran around with his ultra small cups of tea, branded obviously as the ‘recession-chai’!

"Be The Change"
The Indian Government claimed that 500,000 people had reportedly lost their jobs in India. Another 25,000 were making their way back to India after losing their international contract. Apart from the obvious loss of jobs, there were a few million others who were depended on the growing public sector industry, and they too had to shut down and face the heat. Manjunath of Bangalore had to sell off his Tata Sumo and go back to his village. He owned the cab and did the pick-up and drop for a major BPO. With the loss of employees at the BPO, his services were no longer required. Ritesh on the other hand was aspiring to make it big in the human resource consulting trade. At 26, he was already the proprietor of a booming trade; HR Consulting. His business of supplying manpower, jerked bumped and finally fizzled out. His pleas were suppressed with echoes like “our hiring is frozen” or “we’ll get back to you later” or you are not on our “Preferred Supplier’s List.” There were thousands of others who lost their livelihoods, but went unreported.
With IT contributing to less than 5 % to India’s GDP, the question now emerges, was India ever under recession? Or was it a well-structured corporate cacophony, to obligate the obvious. To be honest, it wasn’t all that bleak as Life Insurance of India had plans of hiring 45,000 people. BSNL had hired about 3500 odd telecom engineers. Google and Microsoft accounted for about 7000 people globally in that period. But it was obvious that the Fortune five hundreds were living in the luxury of downplaying the recession. Siemens India had already declared that it wouldn’t invent ways of laying-off; instead it claimed it had enough reserves to continue paying salaries till the 2050!, a travel portal, based out of Delhi set its foot in Bangalore in May 2009. They were on a hiring spree and by December, same year, they went from 5 to 50 employees, claiming that their strategies were plain and simple.  The CEO added “if you got to run a business, you can’t back-out on your people especially at a time when you need them the most.” Today, has not only survived the recession but they are poised to emerge even stronger. Surprisingly, their main economy boost came from American and European tourists visiting India during the recession! I reckon in India, most of the companies went on a hiring freeze, just to be on a safer side. But when midsize ventures like could actually dare to do the needful, then why couldn’t the big guns?
This act of faith gave me the inspiration to kick-start our latest campaign ‘Be The Change’, coz we can never bring change unless we are the change

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