Embracing a hybrid life!

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We are living in a completely different world, a world where technology plays a huge part in our lives. It has even spurred the startup ecosystem to bloom extremely well despite the raging pandemic. And three Covid waves later, India is on a path of recovery and growth. At least that is what we would like to believe, but the complex underpinnings of the economy leaves much to imagination. Retail inflation raced to a 17-month high in March led by a sharp spike in the prices of food and manufactured goods. Energy and commodity prices have shot up due to the Ukraine war. Inevitably, the stage is set for an interest rate hike.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
A new phenomenon is now the talk of town: Non–fungible tokens or NFTs. NFTs are quietly making an impact in a short period it has been around. These are blockchain-based digital assets. With Amitabh Bachchan being the face of this trend, NFTs are becoming the next big think in the digital world. It is only a matter of time that the people would embrace this tech space.

Back-to-office: Hybrid is the way forward
Back-to-office! While many enjoy the banter and comfort of having face–to–face communications in office, others miss the efficiency and flexibility of working from home. I understand that many corporate professionals have easily slipped back into their pre-pandemic office routines, while others struggle with the commute and being around people. People are already missing the flexibility of taking a break to do their household works, the comfort of eating freshly cooked meals, and the luxury of working more refreshed. However, adjusting to the routine is easier in the hybrid work model—the most valued outcome of the pandemic work environment. Transitioning from work-from-home to the hybrid model has been smooth for many as it brings in flexibility and accessibility, thereby helping balance work, health and family.

Data privacy in India was a concept that only a few knew about a decade ago. Frighteningly, very little is still known. Our mobile numbers and addresses may all be available for a price.

The hybrid model is challenging even for the CEOs and Senior Management: they have to make adjustments in how they carry themselves, how they communicate and interact with their teams. It calls for a progressive blended-leadership style that is dynamic enough to tweak work styles multiple times in a day to build and retain talent in a gig economy, to dole out warmth and competence in equal measure, to create a culture and to meet the goals of the organization. The agile approach and timely pivot without losing momentum are testimony of the adaptive and nimble attitude of the leaders. Life coaches say that the skill sets needed to survive at the workplace are changing rapidly, but employers are not ready for change. Consequently, many careers are becoming redundant.

The events at MMA are carefully curated to ensure that we address these issues for the benefit of leaders to understand managing expectations around remote work, handling fast growing digital transformation, and implementing new initiatives to meet the aspirations and expectations of employees. Please do join us in person or online to benefit from our events. Log in to our website http://www.mmachennai.org to know more.

We are also happy to present an article on the theme “Overcoming Personal Challenges for Professional Growth” by Ms Meena Chabria and on “Goal Setting for high Performance” by Ms Sangeeta Shankaran Sumesh with embedded videos in this issue, which are very relevant and inspiring.

Data Protection Act 2021
Data privacy in India was a concept that only a few knew about a decade ago. Frighteningly, very little is still known. Our mobile numbers and addresses may all be available for a price. Earlier, the leaked data was used by the product and services companies for cold calling. Recent instances show data breaches can cripple peoples finance, and prevent them from availing financial product. While there are systems in place to deal with data breach violations, they have not been fool-proof. People do manage to get hold of important KYC documents to commit fraud. It is not out of place to mention here that the European Union (EU) has another first to its credit. It has unveiled the Digital Service Act, which aims to hold big tech firms accountable for hate, fake news, ads aimed at kids and other harmful content on their platform. The EU is also the first to enact the digital privacy law to safeguard people. India, therefore, needs a strong Data Protection Bill. After it was tabled in 2019, the personal Data Protection Bill was sent to a joint parliamentary committee which submitted its recommendation last November. It is understood that the Government is planning to daft a fresh Bill to address data privacy issues. The Data Protection Act 2021 has already made its entry as Due Diligence under ITA 2000.

To say that India needs a robust data privacy law is an understatement. In this context, MMA in association with FDPPI and KAS organized a one day seminar on the theme “Data Protection Act 2021 – A Compliance Perspective” on 23rd April 2022 at MMA Management Center. A galaxy of thought leaders shared their insights on this important issue, which was thought provoking and informative. This initiative of MMA is a small but significant step towards better understanding of Data Protection Act 2021 and its implications. I am delighted to present a brief article on the event in this issue. Please read on and do watch the video and enrich yourself.

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Entrepreneurial boom!
New venture registrations are up, but this could also reflect self-employment driven by job losses. What we need are ambitious start-ups that can recruit people in ever larger numbers. What has motivated this rush of entrepreneurship is not easy to assess. To the Government’s credit, starting a business has certainly become easier than it used to be. And as opportunities and big ideas keep sprouting, we could well see success stories in most sectors. Plus we have Start-up India and other initiatives in place, but we need to go beyond slogans and the ease of starting up if we must catalyse value addition and job creation. In this context, MMA-KAS in association with TiE Chennai organised an event on the theme “Understanding the Nuances of Deep Tech” on 18th April 2022. The insights shared by the speakers are very critical for the success of entrepreneurs. I am happy to present the article with embedded videos for your reading and viewing.

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Students are back in school!
The increased public dependence on Government schools is an opportunity for the State to regain its pre-eminent role in education. However, with almost two years of absence from schools and with students having spent most of their time at home with either semi structured or no educational activity, the school premises could be a strange sight for many of them. In this context, an MMA CSR initiative supported by ACSYS and Super Auto Forge helped schools in resuming structured educational activities and infrastructure development. We work with government-aided schools and schools for poor children. I am delighted to share that the donor, ACSYS Investments Ltd., has approved our recommendation to focus on children in primary schools to inculcate in them modern learning methods right from the start. This initiative’s impact will be improved learning outcome, which is a measurable impact and can be tracked and monitored. The objective is to provide children from low income families an equal opportunity to succeed in life.
I welcome your support and suggestions please.

The passing of Mr N Sankar, Chairman, Sanmar Group, and Past President, MMA, is an irreparable loss not only to the corporates but also to the world of sports. History and posterity will mark him as a stalwart, a pioneer and a resolute and determined human being who led a comprehensive life and has now passed on to immortality.

Stay safe and stay healthy!

A good year despite the times

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FY2021-22 was an eventful one with a flurry of activities and conventions organised by us. A good number of people attended these events in person, and these events were graced by a galaxy of reputed speakers. Organizing these events wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our members. A recently organised event still lingers in our memory. It was about the war in Ukraine.

The Ukraine war is spilling over and is seriously impacting poor countries. It has spurred the biggest price shock in decades and choked the imports of basic commodities in many countries. Some 50 or more poor nations import 30% or more of their wheat supply from Russia and Ukraine. The two countries together provide a third of global cereal exports.

The Ukraine war: We should hedge our risks
The west is up against not only Russia but also other adversaries. We are all uncertain how this war will take shape in the coming days. We should hedge our risks. India’s abstentions at the UN on the Ukraine issue are not based on nostalgia but on facts and reality of protecting its own national interest. As far as the US is concerned, it needs India in Indo-Pacific to counter the rise of China; US’ strategic interests lie more in Indo-Pacific than in Europe. In the emerging geopolitical world order, irrespective of the outcome of the Ukraine war, it is important to have a multi-aligned foreign policy. As we found after 1991, the Western model is a good assurer of prosperity, but we live in Asia and the dictates of security means we must hedge our best. Let’s stay non-aligned!

With the stock prices of new age start-ups significantly lower, is it a good time for invest? New age stocks have been badly beaten down.

In this context, MMA with the support of KAS organised a national conclave on the theme “Ukraine Crisis: Is Global Focus Moving Back to Europe? on 22 March 2022. A galaxy of eminent speakers including Mr Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary, shared their thought-provoking insights. I am delighted to present an article on the event with embedded videos.

Indian economy, oil & inflation
Emerging data offers some comfort on the health of our economy. The numbers suggest there was only a limited damage due to the third Covid wave. Exports have bounced back smartly. We must ensure that tariff barriers do not get in the way of greater global trade integration. However, the threat of inflation is also always at hand. Crude oil prices have gone past $110 per barrel; a tough policy decision is expected soon. With too many economic variables up in the air, there is a nagging sense of uncertainty. To contain inflation and stagflation, it is imperative that the Government—for the time being at least—absorbs higher oil subsidies and passes on the oil price increase to consumers gradually. There should be no compromise in fiscal consolidation over the medium-term in following this policy option. It is also important that we manufacture what we consume; our current account deficit is also very high. Policy makers also need to ensure that our journey towards a $5 trillion economy is equal for all. We need to find a framework or support system for MSME and other sectors as well.

The IPO celebration is over!
With the stock prices of new age start-ups significantly lower, is it a good time for invest? New age stocks have been badly beaten down. Investors who would have bought stocks in these companies at their highest price post the listing would have lost close to 55% as on date. Consistent returns may be achievable only thorough competitive advantage. Investors need to be cautious in their approach. Entrepreneurs of Indian great tech wave should build products for the globe, as they might find it difficult to sustain the wave with only India as their market. A few start-ups specialize in making Do-It-Yourself (DIY) toys using concepts from Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM, also STEAM with an ‘A’ for Arts!). Such toys keep children away from the screen, improving their motor and cognitive skills. They also enhance the kids’ problem-solving skills. MMA through its CSR initiative ensures that poor children are not deprived of these opportunities; courses on Robotics and other advanced topics relating to STEM are made available through this initiative.

A governance body for startups?
India now hosts the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. Startups in India have grown remarkably over the past six years. The numbers have increased to over 14,000 in 2021 -22 from a mere 733 in 2016 – 17. A record 45+ startups have achieved the unicorn status in 2021, taking overall tally of unicorns in India to 83. However, unicorns are facing hurdles after a successful run. The booming India startup ecosystem is set to face some head winds after two straights years of runaway success. Entrepreneurs must find a way of balancing spends and resources. Cash-guzzling startups may not be able to raise as much equity in 2022 as in 2021. The need for governance in startups is coming to the fore. The solution is to set up structures for better corporate governance with robust processing, internal audit committees, and meaningful and qualitative boards.

Sustainability & environmental concern
IPCC’S latest report offers a grim scenario for Indian city dwellers if the world fails to arrest climate change. The Prime Minister’s Net Zero pledge for India announced at COP–26 in November shifted the context for Indian businesses. It means that businesses must set out sustainability plans of their own. Companies that take a long-term view of both opportunities and risks and begin preparing for the Net Zero transition stand a better chance of thriving amid major changes in the years ahead. In this context, the discussion organised during the MMA Annual Convention 2022 on the Future of Sustainability was thought provoking. Experts shared their insights on the important issue. You can watch the entire interaction by clicking the link below.

Mental well-being
For years, it is strongly believed that talent attraction and retention is a top priority for organizations. Post-Covid 19, it has become crucial for corporates to understand that mental well-being is more than just an issue faced by individuals. Organizational culture and practices impact the mental well-being of employees. Management teams at work need to be a little more understanding and supportive of their employees at the workplace. I strongly believe that managing physical health, emotional health, social connections, and spiritual practices would help to stay positive. You can change how you look without changing how you feel, and you can change how you feel without changing how you look! In this context, the talk organized by MMA on the theme “Toolbox for Emotional Coping” by Dr Prithika Chary is very relevant and informative. We present you on the article with embedded video. Read on and get emotionally fit!

Celebrating Women’s Day
MMA Women Managers Convention on the theme “Marching Ahead – Inspire Change in Humankind” was held on 26th March 202 at MMA Management Centre. Through this annual event, we present women achievers from different fields to inspire a large number of women professionals. We are excited to note how women are tackling their problems and changing the world. We interacted with the founders of the first women-led unicorn from India. If you have missed watching the convention live, here is the link for the recording.

Covid, covid, covid!
With Covid cases in India down to their lowest level in about two years, it is not a surprise to see public spaces get crowded and masks slip. The world is going back to work! But Covid isn’t gone yet. The virus has lost virulence in 2022, but that is not a reason to believe that we are in the clear. There is no need to panic, but let’s be realistic.
Stay safe, stay healthy!
Happy reading!

A lot to watch out for this March!

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India’s latest economic survey offers a healthy revival picture and projects 8.5% growth in GDP for 2022-23. The fiscal situation is comfortable, thanks to buoyant tax revenues and successful post-pandemic recovery initiatives among others. The budget attempted a balancing act in a competing domestic and global environment. This increases the challenges and trade-offs confronting monetary policy. Keeping this in mind, this year’s MMA Annual Convention will focus on the key issues that underpin India’s ability to deliver on its promise.

Annual Convention at MMA
The MMA Annual Convention has been conceptualized over the course of three exceptional sessions and through conversations with several prominent industry experts/economists/thought leaders. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Suresh Raman, Chairman, MMA Convention Committee, and our Knowledge Partner, McKinsey & Company, for tirelessly working over the last few months to make the convention a grand success. I also thank the sponsors for their support in organizing the celebrations of propagating management movement in this part of the country. Please watch the convention live on Saturday, 12th March 2022. Click to view.

We need significant institutional reforms if Corporate Governance is not to remain an illusion. The cause of investors trust must never get short shrift. It is vital to India’s economic success and faith in the process and systems.

MMA Women Convention
Come March, usually it is time for our women members to interact with the women thought leaders, entrepreneurs and corporate executives at the annual MMA Women Managers Convention. The event is a celebration of the spirit of women, and the many diverse roles they play. We, at MMA, believe that Women’s Day Celebration is not another shallow exercise in tokenism but is a celebration of spirit of women. The MMA Committee has decided to host the Women Convention in person on Saturday, 26th March 2022 on the theme “Marching Ahead: Inspiring Change in Human kind.”

More recently, the burden on women has become heavier, owing to the pandemic. The result is a non-stop, high-stakes juggling act. Today there is some light at the end of the Covid tunnel, and we are here to explore what awaits! How do we march ahead and rise to the occasion to aspire for greatness?

In this context, the Convention Committee headed by Dr Ranjini Manian and knowledge partner, EFL, are putting together a great convention with a galaxy of outstanding speakers. The convention content and structure have been finalized with great care, keeping in view the aspirations and expectations of our women delegates. Look forward to seeing you at the convention and you can also watch it live.

A step closer to the Olympic dream!
It isn’t the medal, but the honour nonetheless. In 2023, India will host the annual session of International Olympic Committee in Mumbai. It is inspiring to know that at this year’s conclave in Beijing, India received 99% of the votes for hosting the meeting after a gap of 40 years. What Indian sports enthusiasts are keen to know is whether India would be in a position to make a winning bid for an opportunity to host the summer Olympic Games. I strongly believe that India would have the added advantage of being a major economy which could swing a few votes just based on this fact. Hopefully, India will project a well worked out proposal that IOC members will find attractive and award us the hosting of 2030 Winter Olympics. Let’s hope for the best!

The Ukraine war
After the end of Cold War, many former Soviet Union nations have joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Russia is concerned by the security implications if Ukraine too were to join the bloc. Ukraine made a strong statement that any military escalation could bear a heavy cost. But ignoring global pleas, Russia launched a multipronged invasion of Ukraine. The Russion aggression is a danger to the world. While we may have defence and other ties with Moscow, India must act now, at this moment, in a sensible and logical way and as an exponent of non-violence. With Russia and China enjoying veto power, any UN resolution considered against Russian interest is bound to fail.

India has advised its citizens, including students living in Ukraine, to return home. The free world calls upon the Russian President to re-consider and withdraw his troops and start dialogue with Ukraine leaders and other world leaders. At the moment, peaceful co-existence should be the top priority. In this context, MMA in partnership with KAS and ORF is organising a conclave on the theme, “Ukraine Crisis: Is Global Focus Moving Back to Europe?” with a galaxy of international experts, including Mr Kanwal Sibal, Former Foreign Secretary, Government of India, sharing their insights on 22 March 2022 at Hotel Leela Palace, Chennai.

Corporate governance
There is never been a dull moment with issues of corporate governance in India. Board room and chat rooms have been equally spellbound by the latest revelations emerging from the country’s premier bourse, National Stock Exchange (NSE), that an outsider was said to have guided its Management with business and regulatory advice. Despite the total freedom and authority granted to the exchange’s top executives, the board members betrayed the trust of shareholders whose interest they had to protect. Hopefully, regulators will not resort to a routine approach to governance issues, but will seek to balance flexibility and accountability with iron hands. Convulsions of outrage after a particular episode will not take us very far. We need significant institutional reforms if Corporate Governance is not to remain an illusion. The cause of investors trust must never get short shrift. It is vital to India’s economic success and faith in the process and systems. In this context, I am delighted to share with you a proposal under consideration to set up an MMA Centre for Business Ethics to focus on how to build ethical leadership to strengthen ethical culture in organisations and promote ethics research in India. This quote of Mahatma Gandhi is very relevant: “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” To spearhead that change process in ethics and business, I am sure that the MMA Center for Business Ethics will play a vital role. I am also delighted to share in this issue an article with an embedded video on the theme, “Ethical Blindness: Why ethical awareness is the bedrock for success and sustainability?” Please do share your view to strengthen our endeavour to promote ethics and trust as a culture in our society.

Not even a tulip
In her budget speech, the Finance Minister introduced a 30% tax on income earned from transfer of virtual digital assets. The budget’s move was taken as an implicit admission of the legitimacy of crypto token as an asset class. In this context, the RBI Governor’s flag of caution deserves attention. Urging investors to recognize the risk of putting money in crypto, he said, “The crypto currencies have no underlying (asset) not even a tulip.” This was a likely reference to a 17th century bubble of tulip prices inflated by a frenzy of buying in Europe that left many speculators with huge losses after it’s inevitable burst.

A crypto ban would be hard to enforce, given the secrecy with which password “Keys” can be held. Moreover, why forgo a loss of tax revenue? People should be left at liberty to buy the tokens they want. Caveat Emptor.

Young professionals giving back to society.
I am delighted to note that a new generation of wealthy Indians with a desire to give back and build a better country is driving philanthropic activities. The world giving index ranks India 82nd.. The US, which experienced significant wealth creation in the early 20th Century, is ranked first globally. As philanthropy grows, advisors and facilitators are needed to assist givers in creating an enduring and sustainable impact. There is no harm in enjoying wealth, but many of us have more than required, so why not we use some of it to help others? And to start asking ourselves how are we paying off our debt to society and our planet?’

RIP Lata Mangeshkar
An era has ended. Lata Mangeshkar’s voice transcended generations and it remains eternal. In a way, she led a full life and let us cherish the lovely moments she gave to this country. That she could rise to impossible heights in the world of music in those days where sound technology was at its nascent stage by dint of her hard work and sheer discipline sends a message to budding singers and management professionals. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music,” said Aldous Huxley. Lataji has exemplified this truth in her music journey. The magic was her mellifluous voice.

As always we would be happy to hear your view, comments and suggestions.

Stay safe, stay healthy and keep learning!

Let change prevail…

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Now, Omicron has added an element of uncertainty to the global economy. But when it comes to emerging markets, the unanimous view is that the prospect remains bright. India’s GDP rebound (from the previous year’s pandemic contraction) does not necessarily mean than an economic recovery is underway; our economy was slowing well before Covid! The Government’s challenge is to not only ensure a revival of growth but also make sure that it is broad-based. Only then the real incomes of most Indians can rise. It will require policies that facilitate employment generation and increase the real income of a worker. We need to begin the process of structural reforms to undo the damage done to the large majority of informal workers and enterprises. The labour market remains disrupted like never before, and some of the changes might prove permanent. Many workers are wondering whether their jobs are even worth it.

The policies we choose now will have consequences for decades to come. We may have brought an end to the pandemic roller-coaster, but in 2022 we must act just wisely and quickly to enact strategies that will lead us into a better future. We are indeed delighted at the appointment of Dr V Anantha Nageswaran as the Chief Economic Advisor for India’s Finance Minister. An outstanding economist, he will surely provide the recipe for high growth, reviving investments and containing the budget gap. We have had the privilege of Dr Anantha Nageswaran addressing the members of MMA last month during the conclave on the theme “Participative Leadership”. An article on the thought provoking address is published in this issue with an embedded video. Enjoy reading the inspiring address on “The Traits of Great Leaders” by our CEA.

Leaders should use all their resources to generate awareness and push reforms that are aimed at keeping the skill-sets of the workforce up to the mark. It is critical for leaders to work with everyone and create a mechanism that encourages innovation and adaptability.

Change is the only constant
As the proverb goes change is the only constant. The field of technology has been evolving at a rapid pace that many of us find it tough to keep up. It is rightly predicted that the post-pandemic era is going to witness a shift in global dynamics. The heads of state and corporate executives will have to evolve and rework their strategies. Leaders should use all their resources to generate awareness and push reforms that are aimed at keeping the skill-sets of the workforce up to the mark. It is critical for leaders to work with everyone and create a mechanism that encourages innovation and adaptability. It is the endeavour of MMA to carefully conceptualise and curate its programmes to meet the aspirations and expectations of our stakeholders. In this context, we organised a number of conclaves / seminars in December 2021 on varied themes for the benefit of our members and management professionals. The recording of these high profile events is available for your viewing.

Indian economy & reforms
The state in India is not large relative to the size of the country, but still it spreads itself aggressively in doing many things. It fundamentally lacks the capacity to do all things well, ending up with poor governance and delivery of essential public services. Hence, it is critical to strengthen state capability to do those things well, whether it is for delivering public services such as education, healthcare, infrastructure development, law and order or enacting regulation to protect the environment. In that light it would be better to focus on a few key reforms, strengthen state capacity for reforms and leave the rest to the invisible hand of the market. In this context, MMA – KAS organized a conclave on the theme, “Robust Public Policy for Business Transformation.” The thought-provoking keynote address by Mr P R Ramesh, Former Chairman, Deloitte, is published in this issue with embedded video; please click to read on and get inspired!

Back to school
Over 200 million children have lost at least two years and we risk having a ‘learning lost’ generation. After a long gap, schools have finally opened their gates to enthusiastic learners. With in-person learning in place, classrooms are going to brim again with the chatter of students. Offline learning although familiar also comes with post-pandemic demands. Students and teachers need to take care of themselves and should not drop their guard. We strongly believe that educational space provides the best opportunity for promoting these lessons among children to foster a strong sense of responsibility in society. The MMA CSR initiative supported by ACSYS Investments and Super Auto Forge would focus on these areas to ensure students are provided with the best possible educational experience. The future of in-person learning in schools is bound to be bright and highly satisfying. There is hope because there are remarkable people unseen, unnamed but holding the world together and moving it.

Air India back in the Tata Group hangar
The Air India deal made all happy. This was the toughest company to divest. A loss-making venture and a debt of over Rs. 60,000 crores was a deterrent for any potential buyer. But Air India has some of the best aircrafts and routes. Tata’s prevailed and paid just Rs. 18,000 cores including cash of Rs. 2,700 crores only. It was a home-coming for the Tatas: The government was happy to get the company off its hands. The Rs. 42,000 crores debt was transferred to a special purpose vehicle. Everyone wins. The entire story must serve as a lesson for the management of other public sector companies—how undertakings large and small should not be allowed to go sick. The travel space now is crowded with many private airlines. It is up to the Tatas to ensure that passengers can reminisce the Air India of the good old days.

Budget 2022
India completes 75 years as an Independent nation this August. The Finance Minister will present the annual budget of the Union against this backdrop. There is a lesson to be taken from the past 75 years.

The Indian economy has broken free from many of its old structural constraints. The Finance Minister will present the new Union Budget at a time when the economy is recovering from the Covid shock. The recovery in domestic demand is still uneven, inflationary pressures are building up, global economy is preparing for higher interest rates and crude oil prices are close to their highest level in seven years. Budget 2022 will obviously focus on these challenges.

Women in leadership roles
Gender diversity across the Indian start-up ecosystem narrowed only a little in 2021 even as start-ups managed to raise record funds at high valuation during the year. A recent report showed that about 70% start-ups in the country have less than 20% women in leadership roles. While gender diversity in start-ups and tech has started to get a lot more attention lately, it continues to be a challenge. In this context, we are delighted to present to you in this issue an article on the theme “Gender Diversity & Inclusive Board Room” based on the thought proving address by Dr Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, Managing Director, The Sanmar Group – Corporate Division during the Conclave on the theme “Robust Public Policy for Business Transformation”.

We are also delighted to know that start-ups inc have begun 2022 with a bang: over 3.5 billion dollar investments in January 2022! Record funds amid downturn in global markets signals sustained investor interest. I strongly believe that it is a show of continuation of the long term investors belief in the Indian tech capability and success. We are indeed delighted to present the article on the event organized under the start-up series – Mr V Shankar in conversation with Mr Jahabar Sadique, Co-Founder & CEO, Chai Kings, on the theme “Chai Kings – Rising from the Ashes”.

The Russia-Ukraine crisis
As tensions heighten between Russia and Ukraine, Moscow is gambling a stand-off with the West. In this context, two major questions are of particular concern. Is Mr Putin rational? And can he be deterred? It is probably also wrong to suggest that Mr Putin cannot feel threatened by NATO because it would never invade Russia. A strong NATO with more members, especially in the East, would make Mr Putin look and feel more constrained, hence Mr Putin’s anti-NATO demands shouldn’t be seen as a sheer manipulation. May be NATO could have signalled earlier that the membership of Ukraine was unlikely. Let statesmanship prevail and hope for the peace!

Wishing our readers once gain a brighter 2022—raising a toast to those who adapt and change forever during the New Normal.

As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments and suggestions.

A New Year’s Gift…

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2021 has certainly been a year that has made each one of us to sit up and look toward tomorrow. Despite the times, we tried to keep up our spirit and morale. At MMA, we did this with numerous innovative programs and events, which attracted more than 3.5 lakh people. It enabled us to upgrade our digital infrastructure with state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities and make our auditorium one of the finest equipped for conducting quality hybrid programs. Our members supported us in each of our endeavours during this period. It is, therefore, only fitting to reward them with a gift. A New Year’s gift!

The MMA Managing Committee and KAS have decided to upgrade the MMA-KAS Library for the benefit of our members. We have just elevated facility to provide 2000 e-books on management; members can just log in and read. We have also facilitated the provision of 1.4 million electronic thesis and dissertations from more than 320 universities around the world for reference, study and research. All this would be totally complimentary to our members.

The New Labour Codes
Four new labour codes are likely to be implemented in 2022 -23. With Labour being a concurrent subject, the states are putting in place the process of publishing draft rules for these reforms that will be a key driver of improving the ease of doing business in the country.

The simplification of 29 labour laws into the four labour codes is expected to be a breakthrough moment for labour reforms. India has a web of labour legislations: over 40 Central laws and 100 state laws. The Second National Labour Commission recommendation for simplification to bring about transparency and uniformity in labour laws is an important milestone for labour reforms in India.

As the pandemic variant continues to spread, it appears that we are stuck in a loop of uncertainty. We are, however, hopeful that the new year will be a very different one.

Labour productivity is likely to improve with both employees and employers developing a sense of partnership in wealth creation. In this context MMA in association with NIPM and KAS organized a seminar on the theme “Driving Business Growth in New Normal with Cohesive Employee Relations” on 28th December 2021 to provide insights on the importance of cordial relationship between employee and employers for success in business. Please click here to watch the video recording of the event.

Midst of a Start-up Boom
Against all odds, 2021 saw start-up capital investment growing to over 25 billion dollars and over 41 new unicorns emerging, eclipsing all previous records. India is in the midst of a start-up-boom, more than doubling its tally of unicorns to 54 (the third in the world!). Stock markets are in a frenzy, both on upswing and downswing. The recent listing of start-ups has added to the buzz. In this regard MMA is organising a conversation with Mr Jahabar Sadique, Co-Founder & CEO, Chai Kings led by Mr V Shankar at 06.00 pm on 3rd January 2022. Please watch the event live to hear about the journey of an entrepreneur who launched an innovative business model with success.

The Gig Economy
Early signs of hostility between platform companies and gig workers in India have already begun to surface and the fault lines would only get deeper in the future. The power of the platform model lies in being able to deliver a great customer experience by relying on a large number of gig workers who are not categorised as full-time employees. The European Union recently introduced a draft aiming to force platform companies such as Uber and Amazon to classify their gig work force as employees. It is unfortunate that technology has tilted the power of bargaining scale strongly in favour of the platform companies, and gig workers have little or no voice. It would be a good initiative if gig workers and platform companies discuss their issues in a cordial manner to find a middle path acceptable to all in the interest of the consumer and well-being of the nation.

Crypto is here to stay
Virtual currencies created using the blockchain technology have been the subject of great speculation and discussion in recent times. Before debating on whether to ban private crypto currency, it is prudent first to understand what crypto currencies are. In this context, MMA organised an event on the theme “The Economic of Crypto and the Way Forward” on 20th December 2021 at MMA Management Center. Please click to view to know more from the experts on crypto.

Stuck in uncertainty
As the pandemic variant continues to spread, it appears that we are stuck in a loop of uncertainty. We are, however, hopeful that the new year will be a very different one. We hope and pray for far less pain and loss, far more normalcy and happiness. While we look forward to big positive changes, we can’t overlook the fact that there are also many good habits that the pandemic has inculcated in each one of us. Many of these habits have made us better human beings, more effective, more efficient and more self-aware professionals.

Self-reflection and forgiveness could go a long way towards helping us heal. Life often throws many changes and challenges that hurt or disappoint us. Very often, we tend to judge ourselves based on external parameters. Outcomes may not be within our control, which in turn leads to a lot of regret and self-abasement. Introspection and letting-go will go a long way towards leading a better life. Reflection is a powerful tool that allows one to think back, observe and learn from them. We can improve our life by observing our thoughts, feelings and action. May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements and a lot of new inspiration in your life!

Keep learning and stay connected with MMA. As always, we would be happy to hear your comments and suggestions regarding MMA and its activities.

Happy reading….. and a brilliant New Year!!!

Some Changes Coming Our Way…

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The short story of this mega city: water scarcity in the city from January to October; water scares the city in November and December. It’s shocking to know that around 125 tmc ft of water drained into the sea these past two months. An expert panel should be constituted to manage aquifers in the state, propagate water conservation techniques, and redefine the criteria for recycling and reusing water. In this context, MMA is organizing a unique discussion on the theme “Watershed: How We Destroyed India’s Water and How We Can Save It” on 10th December 2021. Join us at MMA in person at 06.00 pm.
At any rate, November continues to be busy month at MMA. In addition to our numerous Professional Management Development Programmes, we embarked on implementing a CSR initiative in a number of schools where poor children are studying. This has been possible with the support of ACSYS Investments Pvt Ltd and Super Auto Forge Pvt Ltd. I am personally blessed to be part of such an initiative. We need to mount a well-planned and well-funded rescue mission to revitalize schools affected by the pandemic.

The implementation of Industry 4.0 requires a good knowledge of the critical value drivers, the key technologies, and the practical implementation steps to achieve this transformation and sustained growth.

Towards Reducing the Cost of Supply Chain
The cost of logistics in India is approximately 14% of its gross domestic product, while that of developed countries is in the range of 8-10%. An improved logistics environment will foster production and distribution, generate better economics of scale, minimize cost per unit, and ultimately lead to lowering of prices for the consumer. The government’s aim is to bring down the cost by 5% of GDP over the next five years. A number of initiatives have been put in place by the government to achieve this objective. In this context, MMA is organizing a conclave in association with KAS and IIMM on the theme “Reimagining India’s Supply Chain to Improve Competitiveness.”
Join us at MMA in person or watch the program live.
Farm Laws: A Time for Flexibility
Hopefully, the decision to repeal Farm Laws does not effectively kill the much needed reforms in the agricultural sector. The government’s decision to form a Committee to address concerns would go a long way towards identifying actual pain points of farmers. There is a need for reforms in farming, including investing in agriculture and marketing agricultural produce. Farm Laws should reflect regional and crop diversity. In cooperative federalism, states have a major role; therefore, the ideal way forward is to invite all stake holders to achieve success. Farmers should withdraw protest and push for consultation in efforts to reform the sector. Flexibility is not a bad trait in democracy, which is about constant negotiations.
Industry 4.0 to Our Aid
MSMEs play a critical role in driving the economy. This segment can impact jobs, livelihood and growth; however, adapting to technology is still a pain point that negatively impacts it. The disruption due to the pandemic has impacted almost every manufacturing company. Some companies dynamically adjusted their production plan based on the changing market demands and availability of raw materials. This was possible because smart manufacturing enables devices and machines to communicate with each other and make effective decisions on production planning and actual production, based on triggers in the demand of the product, thus efficiently managing manufacturing and distribution. The phrase “Industry 4.0” describes this transition and explains how the production processes are organised based on technology and devices that can exchange information along the value chain. The transition brought on by Industry 4.0 can enable companies to reimagine production, sourcing and business strategies to remain relevant in the post-pandemic world. The journey towards Industry 4.0 of tomorrow must begin today. The implementation of Industry 4.0 requires a good knowledge of the critical value drivers, the key technologies, and the practical implementation steps to achieve this transformation and sustained growth. In this regard, MMA is organizing a seminar on the theme, “Implementation of Industry 4.0 in a Post-Pandemic World.” The seminar will include a unique mix of state-of-the-art developments and practical examples on Industry 4.0 taken from the direct experiences of practising experts. Join us on Thursday, 16th December 2021 at MMA Management Center or watch it live to know more about the implementing strategy of Industry 4.0. Click to view.
MMA Start-up Series
An entrepreneur’s journey is both a joy and a burden. In tough times, when your judgement is clouded, you should have a strong system of support to rely on. Entrepreneurship is a journey—a hard, lonely one that can drive one crazy at times but is equally rewarding and fulfilling. The start-up series lectures organized by MMA with successful and outstanding entrepreneurs provided interesting insights on this aspect of entrepreneurship. Listen to Mr Shankar in conversation with Mr Tarun Mehta, on “Ather – Electric is Here!” —Click to watch.
Crypto is Here to Stay!
There is a strong belief that crypto currencies are here to stay in different forms whether as floating currencies or stable coins, which are pegged to actual currencies or digital coins issued by the Central Bank. The rapid adoption of Crypto currencies has also led to them being recognized as a legal tender by countries like El Salvador and being regulated by US Securities and Exchange communications as a security asset. Our policy on digital currencies should be guided by an analysis of potential wide-range scenarios in India. We must also consider the gains that crypto-based enterprises can generate and be realistic about a genie that won’t get corked back in. The policy-makers have to come to terms with this new form of currency and dedicated awareness campaigns must be organised to sensitise investors about the legitimate and illegitimate ways in which crypto currencies can be used. A ban on private Crypto may not work, given their decentralized technology. Regulating them, however, could address the Central Bank’s concerns and would be a better option.
Race to Net Zero Carbon Emissions
Climate change is one of the most pressing issue that currently concerns humanity. It is expected that with the further worsening of the environmental situation in India, drastic changes are urgently required in its climate change policy. The solution cannot be left in the hands of a few and it is high time that the Government considers adopting significant changes in its current climate change policy implementation mechanism in order to meet one of the most changing realities of our time. Committing to Net Zero Carbon emissions is a tall order. India is a developing nation with a lion’s share of its energy produced through thermal power. The country should for now focus on gradually turning to relying on renewable source of energy.
Leaving Behind the Pandemic
India and Indian Inc. have adapted well and truly put the first and second waves of the pandemic behind. Nowhere is it more evident than in booming stock market and healthy corporate results despite the debilitating and ferocious second wave that hit the country. We are now confident to defeat any impending waves of the pandemic. India Inc. has shown how right Albert Einstein was when he said, “Amidst every crisis lies the great opportunity.”
I believe that the overall situation seems optimistic. It is still very necessary for each one of us not to let our guard down; it is essential to follow the covid appropriate behaviours—masking, distancing, hand washing and avoiding large crowds till we are absolutely sure we have conquered the virus.
In this issue, we present to you thought provoking articles. The insightful discussions with Viswanathan Anand and Viren Rasquinha will surely inspire you and equip you with sound knowledge to drive positive change in yourself and in your organization. Let me know what you think about everything that’s happening at MMA. You may contact me at ed@mmachennai.org.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep learning!