No Unity in Diversity
Almost all of us know the story about Indians and their crab mentalities. For the benefit of the minority, let me reiterate the tale when an assignment of live crabs reached the US with the name of the country from where it originated. As the US customs department opened the crate, they were debating amongst themselves on how to find the origin country. Sensing an opportunity, some crabs were trying to crawl out of the container through the sides; at the same time, some of the other crabs instead of utilizing this chance of escape got busy in pulling the others down. The Customs officials heaved a sigh of relief and concluded the consignment was from India.
Unfortunately, this typical Indian malaise manifests itself prominently in the IT channel fraternity. Probably that is the reason why most IT channel associations are unable to function properly, especially in lobbying matters; and, more importantly no national channel association in the lines of Nasscom has got formed notwithstanding several aborted attempts.
Recently, I got another first hand experience of this symptom. One prominent channel association of a major metro raised lots of sound over uncalled for Government harassment in the name of Income Tax raids. An emergency meeting was convened, media was summoned and various suggestions were mooted including hiring a lawyer, a PR consultant, splashing it in the media and a memorandum to the CM.
Most importantly, a decision was taken to do no sales or billing on a particular day throughout the city and accordingly a note was sent out with the consent of all the IT Channel associations confirming their participation in the strike. However, the very next day one senior Governing Council member of another prominent association of the same city categorically told me they are not participating in the strike. He also argued that the raids were routine affairs and were being unnecessarily hyped up.
Finally, there was no strike apparently due to the lack of consensus. Even more surprisingly, considering the picture portrayed of the raids being so draconian in nature, nothing much has happened till date. Last heard, a memorandum to the CM was still being contemplated.
I do not want to argue on the merits of this case, as frankly I am not the best person to judge whether they were severe or damaging enough to necessitate the initial agitation. But my point is why did the storm just brew over the tea cups (and plates of biscuits) and then fizzled out mid way. Was it because of lack of co-ordination amongst different associations? Was it because some of the apparent victims (who were aggrieved enough initially) have second thoughts later about a mass public agitation?
Whatever be the reason, it symptomizes the general trend that whenever one particular partner feels his business interests are being compromised, he will have no qualms in killing off any public issue. The whole community therefore suffers in many cases, be it fraud cases, raid cases, taxations, government policy related matters or vendors not complying with services or warranty agreements.
This is precisely the reason that the channel has never been able o form a Nasscom. I am not saying that Nasscom is the ultimate example of corporate governance, but at least in the initial days (fissures are now showing there too) it took up all causes in a single voice. Infosys, Wipro or TCS were and are even today fierce competitors, but at least on common interest issues they arrive at a common ground. A lack of even this basic understanding will always throttle the growth of a lobbying power group from the IT channel. I hope all the partners are listening.