Friday, 1 July 2011

Inclusive Economy and the Unorganised Sector

In most forms of government, the state machinery’s stated goal is to serve its citizens. People are pivotal for the success of both corporations and nations. Nothing can be mobilised and no progress can be achieved in the absence of this essential resource. And yet when we as Human Resource professionals discuss issues of importance it is almost always with reference to the corporate sector. In the context of India, however, the corporate sector employs less than 10 per cent of the total workforce, and therefore development in employee benefits and social security in the area of corporate HR remains out of reach for the population that needs it more. The prevailing wisdom is that trying to draw up legislation to bring the large unorganised sector workforce under the regulatory framework applicable to the organised sector would create inefficiencies and market imperfections, which would, in turn, negatively affect our fledgling market-driven economy. Moreover, our cash-strapped government would have difficulties in financing the infrastructural and institutional requirements that an endeavour of this proportion would require. While the government would have to realistically play the role of a facilitator in trying to provide a safe and secure work environment to this population, it will also be to the benefit of the corporate sector to engage and uplift the employees in the informal sector. In this era of “inclusive growth”, if we fail to provide a semblance of social security and employment benefits to this large section of our fellow people, we might see our dream of double-digit growth fizzle out soon. This year we have already seen civil unrest across a large number of developing countries, both in the Middle-East and in South-East Asia, as well as in China. The root cause of these unrests remains the inability of the respective governments to give a secure and stable socio-economic environment to a large section of their population.

In this edition of The Human Factor, we have spoken to a large cross section of public policy and HR experts from academia and industry, in the United States, in Europe, in Japan, Russia, Singapore, China and India. We have tried to bring forth the experience of government and industry, in developed countries as well as developing countries, in dealing with developmental economics and human resource development. Our endeavour was to understand the impact of public policy on human resources around the world. There are stories of both success and failure, but there are learnings for both legislators and corporations, that should help us in developing a strategy to contribute to the upliftment of human resources in the unorganised sector.

The feedback that we have received from our last issue, from the entire fraternity, and especially from those involved with XLRI has been phenomenal. The legacy that XLRI has created cannot be covered in a single issue. In this issue we continue the XLRI story, featuring alumni who could not be accommodated in the last issue either due to constraints of time or those of space. We hope the community will find this issue equally engaging.

Happy Reading!

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