Sunday, July 22, 2012

Maruti Unrest

The incident at Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki has been highly disturbing. I wrote in Times of India's comments the following:

"'This is a litmus test for India. India's response to this would tell the world as well as India's own entrepreneurs and professionals how things will shape up for India in future. This was not an unrest but a systematic, criminal, brutal, and highly damaging attack. Such attacks do not take place without political groups being deeply involved. India has allowed its politicians to operate with massively corrupt and criminal practices that can manipulate state and non-state machinery. Enterprises of all sizes have had to contend with pressures from them. This is one time when India needs to unequivocally respond to the conspirators and perpetrators and show that rule of law stands supreme. Governments should be held directly accountable and a failure on their part to allow this situation should disqualify them from power. Parties with involvement like this should be banned from elections individually and collectively. The deterrence needs to be that strong. This violence is striking at the very root of India. India's future is at stake. And, India needs to be decisive."

And, then I saw another comment of an ex-employee of Maruti who referred to the pent up frustration of the employees who are required to follow a very strict discipline in Maruti. Having lived in Japan for nearly half of my career I am aware how strict that discipline can be. And it can also be rather insensitive, even cruel. However, when that is mixed with Indian style indifference it can become suffocating. This person claimed that the canteen in Maruti is 20 minutes away when the lunch break is 30 min.

The Japanese systems are designed for harmony. Everybody dresses the same, acts the same, differs in the most muted ways. But India is diversity personified in every sense of the word.

So, while I have no sympathy for the conspirators and perpetrators of the violence I think Maruti's challenge is not how to move from Manesar to Gujarat but to find the right balance between the working cultures of India and Japan.

I believe that both cultures stand to gain if an honest fusion is done.

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