FROM THE ED­I­TOR-IN-CHIEF’s DESK…

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Is the In­dus­try ready to take on long-term chal­lenges?

With the ru­pee fall­ing against the dol­lar to his­tor­i­cal lows…, there is a sense of un­easi­ness. My team was in Dhaka re­cently and ev­ery ex­porter they met wanted to know why this slide was hap­pen­ing and how ben­e­fi­cial it has been for the ex­porters.

No one re­ally ex­pected the ru­pee to cross 70 against a dol­lar and that too when we are con­sid­ered a strong econ­omy, but the re­al­ity is for all to see. Yes, ex­porters have been ben­e­fited as of now, some more than the oth­ers, but this is a false sense of com­pet­i­tive­ness and will not last for ever. In­ter­nally, the re­al­i­ties re­main the same and once this ex­change ad­van­tage so as to say passes, the fac­tors that mat­ter for long-term sus­te­nance will again raise their head.

Is the in­dus­try mak­ing prepa­ra­tions to re­main a pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion or is it only bask­ing in the cur­rency ad­van­tage… it is hard to tell. While some com­pa­nies I hear are get­ting back to the draw­ing board to re­work strate­gies, oth­ers are busy col­lect­ing or­ders, in this un­ex­pected boom.

But what is for sure is that or­ders are mov­ing out of China and busi­ness over­all is go­ing to in­crease…will In­dia get its share is any­one’s guess. De­bates are cen­tred around ques­tions like – do we have the ca­pac­ity, are we com­pet­i­tive enough, what are the prod­uct cat­e­gories that can be of­fered etc. What I am wor­ried about is the ‘in­tent’… is the in­dus­try and its gen­er­a­tion next in­ter­ested to re­main in this in­dus­try. Are com­pa­nies ready to make the nec­es­sary in­vest­ment to up­grade both tech­nol­ogy and peo­ple… Do they see a sus­tain­able fu­ture?

All these ques­tions need an­swers… and it has to be a col­lec­tive de­ci­sion. No in­di­vid­ual com­pany can sur­vive for long on its own strength un­less the eco­sphere of growth is cre­ated on a big­ger and more mean­ing­ful level.

And I am not talk­ing of Gov­ern­ment sup­port. That will come and go, like the cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tion. But what will stay is the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the in­dus­try to be­come a force to reckon with on all fronts.

Our com­peti­tors are pre­par­ing them­selves for the ad­di­tional busi­ness and one can sense the pur­pose­ful­ness of their strat­egy that is not for to­day but for the next 10 years.

Good fac­to­ries are not only about sat­is­fac­tory in­fra­struc­ture and beau­ti­ful, clean in­te­ri­ors. They are also about bet­ter tech­nol­ogy, more train­ing, new sys­tems, worker mo­ti­va­tion, sharp re­source man­age­ment and at­ti­tude of the man­age­ment. When­ever we talk to the buy­ers to­day, their top pri­or­ity, while de­vel­op­ing a new ven­dor or defin­ing a pre­ferred sup­plier, is the at­ti­tude of the man­age­ment/own­ers… if the top brass is re­cep­tive and will­ing to make the changes, noth­ing can stop the com­pany from grow­ing.

Ef­fi­cien­cies have to im­prove and bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of all re­sources to save on wastages, is the only way for­ward… and these can be achieved only if the top man­age­ment in­vests time and money in the right di­rec­tion. Just do­ing busi­ness for to­day is not a so­lu­tion that will keep peo­ple in busi­ness for­ever. The most crit­i­cal re­quire­ment to­day, is the be­lief that there is a fu­ture for the in­dus­try and only we can make it hap­pen!

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