Monday, March 16, 2009

Recession? Humbug!


"Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control. " - Tom Landry

There are inappropriate things people do at totally inappropriate times. Take the Holi bash of Vineet Jain, Managing Director of Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), publishers of the Times of India for example. Touted to be the biggest and the best bash in Delhi circuits, the photographs of this party were splashed all over TOI, even in the Pune Times. 

I am shocked.

BCCL is one company that amongst the other affected industries such as IT, has been cutting jobs left, right and centre. At the TOI Pune edition, people are being given pink slips as the management cites 'revenue falls' as a major reason. I have seen several people being given a couple of days notice to leave, amongst them people I have closely worked with over the past 18 months or so. The fear of more job cuts weighs heavy on the minds of the other staff, as performance is no longer the criteria. 

My brother who was employed with Zoom TV (a BCCL product) was given the pink slip a few days ago. 'Cost cutting' reason was cited. He has also been given less than a month's notice to look for another job. 

My brother's girl friend who was employed with Timesjobs.com was caught in a similar predicament and was given just one week to pack up and leave! This, when she was one amongst the top performers in her region. She didn't share a good rapport with the immediate boss and when he was asked to cut his team down, he simply axed her. 

It is common knowledge that some of the BCCL ventures such as indiatimes.com are also in the red as far as revenue figures go and it is only a matter of time before more jobs are cut.

Losing a job is not simply about losing your source of income. You lose your self esteem, your confidence and your optimism when you are asked to resign because the company claims it can no longer afford to keep you on it's payrolls. In these tough recessionary times, finding another suitable opportunity is an uphill task. Meanwhile, your sense of self worth takes a battering, affecting your mental and emotional being.

How then, can Vineet Jain justify throwing such a lavish party when all the companies under his wing are chopping people's jobs to 'cut costs'? Shouldn't he set an example by cutting costs himself? Or is this 'loss of revenue' or claims of the effects of recession etc a mere garb to cut down expenses and lay people off? Does this also uphold the startling reality that employees of such companies are just coming to terms with, that the recession has hit THEM and not the bosses and owners of companies, whose lifestyle and expenses remain as they are?

Even if for a moment we assume that the man has the right to have a party for such a 'special' occasion (and yes, I am being very sarcastic here), should he splash the pictures all over the media? Isn't it a blatant subversion of the basic principles of decency?

And quite frankly, aren't all of India's corporate bigwigs, who are laying employees off as a matter of right (samjha karo bhai, recession hai), subverting procedures and contractual obligations such as mandatory notice periods etc (just because the employee will not seek redress in a court of law - who has the time or the money?) in their madness to 'cut costs' just as guilty as Jain? Aren't they victimising the employees claiming its "RECESSION"? 

"Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel." - Sam Walton

Clearly the corporate biggies of our country are not one of them.
 
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