We are our own worst enemies. We have created a business process outsourcing (BPO) industry that has been setting global standards in Gurugram for the last 20 years. The Haryana government has recently decided to reserve 75% of private sector jobs ₹Rs 50,000 per month for those with state residency certificates only is a regressive call coming to the forefront of this world-class industry.
Gurugram in Haryana and Noida in Uttar Pradesh have emerged as global BPO powerhouses. Many of the large buildings in Gurugram have migrant white collar workers who work there and stay there, get married and have children there. These families visit its malls and help the city’s local economy. When I started working in Gurugram almost 20 years ago, all its fancy malls and buildings were just green fields. Now, even its urban villages have been transformed. We have world class offices, residences and shopping arcades.
The Haryana government honored me for setting up the BPO industry there a few years ago. In my acceptance speech, I said that it is really unfortunate not to train local people for real BPO jobs. Did not create local educational capabilities to teach our youth. Unfortunately, locals only get blue collar jobs like drivers and security guards, which requires a minimum of education. In the BPO or Information Technology-Enabled Services (ITES) industry, workers are paid less than average ₹50,000 or. They graduate to higher salaries, but the entry point is less than that number. I suggested that the government should focus on creating educational institutions to produce the manpower needed for better paying jobs. There is talent, but we need educational and skill institutions to polish these uncut diamonds so that the youth can realize its potential and Gurugram will consolidate its position as a world class service provider. It lays the foundation for expansion to other cities in Haryana. The ITeS industry does not cut and polish all diamonds at its own expense. Companies need to hire staff based on capabilities and not their source. If we in India do not meet the global needs of talent, the industry will shift to other countries.
Haryana’s new rule has made the management of companies much more difficult. Many people started looking at options outside Gurugram. A real estate broker recently told me that the ITES industry is in the process of shifting to Noida. We have attracted businesses to India but have not provided adequate access to the vast pool of Indian talent. Our goal is to create a good workforce that can get a global job based on local individual merit.
One would not dispute the need for jobs for local residents. We are with the government and the people on this. But this cannot be done without thinking about the necessary steps. Rome was not built in a day. No overnight jobs in Haryana. The state should create learning institutions and support the children who go there. This could be through scholarships or free / subsidized education or by attracting talent to these institutions. Companies also need to educate their employees. I often say that I run a “mini university” in my companies. In one, we have 40 training rooms for 25-50 people each, running three shifts a day to train people to hone their skills to world standards. Government policies can promote a private-public partnership model or give incentives to private industries to create the right learning environment.
The greatness of our country is that we have amazing raw talent. If we train people like their international rivals the Indian workforce will become world class. But if uming imposes a provision and it creates a mechanism to reach the desired goal it will hurt the industry and prevent other companies from investing in the state. We need to see the comprehensive development of human resources in the state.
Only the State Sector Skills Council has been successful on the security that helps create a trained pool of security guards. However these are low paying jobs. What about creating programmers, BPO workers and talent for fields like Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain? These are the capabilities needed for tomorrow. We should have a 3 to 5 year plan to immerse school dropouts in such training. The IT, ITS industry is willing to work with the government. Arbitrary decisions to create ‘local jobs’ hurt the industry and have the opposite effect of the intent of the policy.
This effect is already in evidence. Based on my interaction with industry leaders, I can say that most companies’ plans for expansion in Gurugram have been put on the back burner. Most of the office space was vacated due to the epidemic, but businesses were negotiating to take over most of it. For Gurugram, negotiations were largely halted. For Noida, they have accelerated.
Government and industry must work together. With the ‘us and them’ approach, we will only stand to lose as a nation (and as a state). As Peter Drucker puts it, “There is nothing so useless as to be done with great efficiency.” Let’s talk about control capacity in Haryana. Instead, let’s re-examine what is needed to create an efficient world of labor.
Raman Roy is the Chairman and Managing Director of Quattro, IAN Co-Founder and Former Chairman of Nasscom