Progress for all the people

I said I would at some point return to the subject of my recent trip to India. No let us not talk about the unforgivable situation with our bags! Whilst in ‘the South’ I was amazed about the construction of new petrol/gas stations. Take a look at some of the photos that I took:


There is a famous management case study in the field of Comparative management. The subject concerns exploring whether there a difference in management styles according to the country the manager resides in. To explore this supposition, the learner is asked to consider multinational corporations. The basis being that any variation could be exposed / explored. For this exercise you need to close your eyes and imagine that you are staying at for example, the Holiday Inn in London. When you arise you will be in another country. The question is, how long will it take for you to realise that you have indeed woken up in another country? For example, India. NB For a while you are not allowed to look out of the window; all you can access is what is in your room. The answer is that it may take sometime before you realised that corporate standards cannot completely hid the cocoon you are in. For example, the menus, staff and decor do not give the game away.

There is a reason for mentioning this case study. In India there seems to be big money in selling petrol/gas. When you are on the forecourt, unless you looked around you would think that you are in any town or city in the west. The corporate logos, signage, quality of each shiny pumps and floor tiles is consistently of high quality. It is not until you look at the surrounding buildings, does it suddenly dawn on you that you are indeed inside a cocoon. Where does corporate responsibility start? It appears that the masters of cocoon ignore any opportunity to help the locality. On some parts of the new highways, there are service stations being developed. Right next to them will be shanty towns. The same concept could be applied and said of the giant flashy offices of Bangalore. Electronic City, Bangalore is a classic example. The buildings are hi-tech and many have links to rich western IT firms hoping for profit. I was truly amazed at both the pace of construction and the size of transformation taking place in selective locations.

On the plane ride home I sat next to two computer programmers who were transferring from Bangalore to Denver, Colorado. One complained about the hidden charges he kept having to pay. For example, to transport his motorbike by train from Bangalore to Salem he would need to pay a number of middle men?! I suggested that maybe the locals (who were poorer) were not benefiting from the expansion of the Indian information technology economy. The programmer suggested instead that he was seen as a new higher Indian earners, being an easy target for extra cash.I wonder if there is a danger that these cocoons could lead to elitism and a failure to carry local development with them. The last thing we want is the rich to get rich and the poor to both get poorer and be left behind. An inappropriate revolution/revolt needs to be avoided. It is time that greater consideration is given to taking all of the people with a country as it develops. Progress needs to be applied to all the people of a developing state and both government and corporations have an opportunity to work together to achieve this.

Categories: 2007, Anti-Poverty, Corporate Responsibility, Ethics

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