COMMENTING on COVID-19 and its impact on Indian Industry, Management Counsel Dr Anant Sardeshmukh, told Shriram Shinde, editor TechTrail by CRB Tech that post-COVID, the need to reduce dependence on international suppliers will gain further momentum…
COVID 19 was the most unexpected, unprecedented event for the Governments, industry, and society. Since nobody anticipated the event, all were unprepared. As it had no precedence, there was no tried strategy to formulate a new one. All actions and reactions were, to some extent, knee-jerk reactions. Of course, some of them were indeed necessary, but in the hindsight, one can surely say there were some other ways of handling the pandemic.
The total lock-down brought everything to a grinding halt, the industry, and consequentially, the economy. The total disruption left the industry with a complete stoppage of production, huge work in process as well as finished goods ready for the market. The closed markets suddenly pushed the demand to almost zero levels.
Since the entire industry, banking, as well as the economy, came to standstill, there was a huge accumulation of debtors, and the money supply, cash flows stopped. Industry and the economy are like a huge wheel. Once the wheel loses its motion, to set it rerolling, needs a very major force, energy. Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide the necessary energy and force so far.
The industry on an average will definitely see a major portion of its top line and also bottom line vanishing. An estimate could be anything between 30 to 50 per cent. Large corporations could have the muscles to withstand the pressures and strong forces but the MSME segment barring a few will yield to the external and internal pressures during the entire process.
We have observed a phenomenon in India way back in 2008-09 when the global industrial slowdown or the recession hit the world economies and industries. Many SMEs, especially those which had deficient management, strategies, and policies succumbed to the slowdown and were forced to lock down permanently. At that time, we saw many global players, multinationals who came to India insisting on quality, assured, cost-effective supply of products, components, parts, and services. This required competing units to seek global quality, operations certifications and those who could meet the stringent global norms and practices of manufacturing could only get such certifications and entry on the shop floors of multinationals. They could survive the slowdown because they changed and got adjusted to the needs of the new scenario.
More or less the same situation prevails now. To recover the lost position, the wealth and also learnings of the COVID 19 shock will compel all businesses to streamline, reorganise their operations reducing whatever fat they can, bring down expenses and become most competitive in the domestic market. This necessitates the tier one, two, three suppliers to fall in line, otherwise, perish.
Post-COVID 19 the need to reduce dependence on international suppliers will gain further momentum and the thinking like “Atmanirbhar Bharat” will gain further currency, though it’s very easy to think of Atmanirbharta than practice it.
In fact, as mentioned earlier, only those units which are really managed well and could come out of COVID 19 crisis successfully and which survived the unparalleled pandemic will probably be the really good MSMEs and if supported well could be the best candidates to be developed for Atmanirbhar Bharat programme.
COVID 19 has reset all business practices in every respect of it. Be it manufacturing, services, or any other area of it, the practices have undergone total change and in the future, they could be the dynamic, sustainable practices.
Recurrence of COVID 19 like pandemics more frequently could not be ruled out and hence the sustainability of the new normal post-COVID 19 practices.
Highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on new jobs/recruitment in India, Dr Sardeshmukh said, job loss has been very severe during this pandemic. Once reduced it is very difficult to regain its pre-COVID position. New jobs would be created and offered but the skill set requirement will differ. Digitisation, automation, and the prevalence of artificial intelligence will change the job market and the profile of job seekers.
One has to be attuned to the new digital system of working. The demand-supply will drive the need for human resources and with the enactment of fixed period employment like regulations, the terms of employment will change drastically. Life-time employment though not that common now would disappear totally and a job seeker will have to move more frequently from organisation to organisation and from one skillset to another skill set. This again necessitates lifetime learning and skilling, reskilling.
To come out of the ill-effects and repercussions of COVID-19, organisations will have to think of new strategies, plans, and actions. These are dynamic in nature and will need constant evaluation and assessments as also tracking and retracing, course corrections. The Pandemic also created new needs and necessities for the consumers and customers. To meet and satisfy these as well as changing needs successful enterprises will have to follow innovation continuously.
The organisations will have to assume thin structures and cost-cutting at every level of activity will have to be an effective habit.
There is a serious threat to globalisation. Hence, there could be several restrictions on operations in international markets. Though they will not vanish, the market places, needs, and practices could be different.
Fortunately, with regards to India, we have a very large market, and envy of outsiders. The domestic players if adopt to good innovative, quality products, practices and deliveries would have an insatiable market before them. The market is expandable many folds hence the opportunities.
The fresh engineers, technicians, graduates need to reorient themselves to the changed circumstances, conditions, businesses, and practices. It would be necessary for them to study them carefully maybe for an extended period and research what the industry wants and how it wants. The new set of skills such as ever-changing technology orientation, adoption skills, digital, analytical skills, critical thinking, decision making, ability to learn, and pick up fast, presentation skills, will have to be acquired. More importantly one has to be a self-starter, self-learner, and initiative taker.
A simple example in this context would be that you should be intelligent, wise, experienced enough to approach your boss with a problem, and possible solutions rather than approaching him with only the problem. I think that explains the situation more clearly.
I see openings in almost all segments provided you have the right skills, aptitude, and attitude. The economy needs traditional sectors albeit in a new form as well as new, emerging sectors. And each sector would need manpower, again may not the same type what we had earlier .so if they are the changed kind opportunities could be aplenty.
For youngsters, the main objective is to be a successful entrepreneur or intrapreneur. Go beyond exams and its results be after knowledge, skills, and that is never-ending. I think CRB Tech Solutions can play an important role. Their expertise and skills can create the right human resource for tomorrow.