WEEKEND LIGHTER: "A WORLD OF THREE ZEROS"

WEEKEND LIGHTER: A WORLD OF THREE ZEROES
 (September 30/October 1, 2017)
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com

Section III Leisure: Three good human beings


I

Cover Story

A World of Three Zeros: Muhammad Yunus
The book on my table is “A World of Three Zeros: The new economics of zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions” by Muhammad Yunus, who asserts:

"We owe it to future generations to begin moving towards a world of three zeroes: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions. A new economic system in which social business plays an essential role can enable us to achieve this goal."
-Muhammad Yunus
Excerpts from a write up on the book:

Muhammad Yunus launched Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which made capital available to the poor, especially women. As he writes in his new book, A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions, the impact of microcredit in enabling millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty helped to expose the shortcomings of a traditional banking system. As he travelled across the world, Yunus found that low-income people in the world's richest nations were suffering from the same problems the poor faced in poorer nations: lack of institutional services, health care, inadequate education, substandard housing, and so forth. Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, argues that problems of poverty are failures of our economic system.
An excerpt:
“For too long, we’ve tolerated the persistence of poverty, unemployment, and environmental destruction, as if these are natural calamities completely out of human control, or, at best, unavoidable costs of economic growth. They are not. They are failures of our economic system — and since the economic system was created by human beings, these failures can be corrected if human beings choose to replace that economic system with a new system that more accurately reflects human nature, human needs, and human desires.”

M G Warrier

II

Recent responses

India's growth prospects
This refers to the report "Can You See Sensex at 100,000?" (Economic Times, September 28). Even conceding, the report covers only a couple of aspects relating to GDP growth and Sensex, one is able to decipher a quick diversion being taken by the analysts from a consistent negativism to a neutral stance or willingness to factor in positive thoughts about India's growth story, post-demonetization and after GST came to central stage.
This is a welcome change.
GDP growth may be important for purposes of comparison. But, GDP growth as an indicator of economic development may lose some credibility, once the theory of netting GDP by reducing ingredients not beneficial for normal life (exclusions include manufacturing ammunitions and preparing for war) put forth in "World Of Three Zeroes" by Yunus becomes popular. Also, think of CSR going up from the present 2 percent to 20 percent or 50 percent, and/or India deciding to exploit the country's domestic assets for economic development.
Changes can happen any time and hereafter they can be for the better.
M G WARRIER, Mumbai

HR issues in PSBs

Vinson Kurien’s story “Reducing indents for clerical recruitment in PSBs worrisome, says unions” (HBL, September 27) covers only one aspect of several HR-related issues confronting public sector banks which have become the whipping boy for all the ills of the Indian economy.
Across sectors, from farm sector to IT, trade unions have succumbed to political influence and different vested interests have abused them and made trade union leadership inefficient over time.
HR issues in PSBs which have been there for decades, from board level appointments to recruitment of clerks are the main contributor to the chaotic situation these banks have landed as of now.
Inadequate attention to recruitment, training and In-house up-skilling of staff and large scale outsourcing (read engaging service providers to get work done in piece meal) was one of the factors that messed up things during November-December, 2016, post-demonetization.
Banks cannot work efficiently without depending on the trust and loyalty of staff and these cannot be hired through service providers. Different from other sectors, in banking, there is a ‘human face’ in each deposit account and every loan ledger. To handle banking business, therefore, banks need more workforce than, say the staff needed to manage a Mutual Fund portfolio or a stock-broking firm. And the bank staff need on the job skill development on an ongoing basis.
M G Warrier, Mumbai




Tenures at the top

This refers to the report “Rajiv Mehrishi takes charge as new CAG (HBL, September 25). Actually, time is appropriate to review the procedures, processes , skill requirements and tenures for appointments to top positions in government, statutory bodies and public sector organizations including PSBs. Except where tenure gets reduced for valid or unforeseen reasons such appointments should be for a tenure of 5 years or more. What is coming in the way is the expediency and comfort level of politicians and bureaucrats to work with people who are on "temporary appointment"
By the same logic appointments of High Courts and Supreme Court also should be made tenure appointments for 5 to six years giving relaxations in age limits. After all, the present age limits were fixed long back when life expectancy and fitness levels were different.
Institutions are made of people and successful institutions have talented and efficient people providing leadership at the top. This is equally applicable for government departments and organizations in private and public sectors, irrespective of their age or size. Recent experiences in India give enough supporting evidence to prove this.
Since 1950’s India has recognized the prominent role public sector need to play in economic development and supported development of strong public sector organizations in core sectors like banking, oil exploration, defense, space research  and so on. Success stories of PSUs in India conflicted with the commercial interests of the private sector in India and abroad. 1970’s and subsequent decades saw conscious moves by the rich and the powerful lobbying against PSUs and tasting success in weakening the institutional structure in the public sector.
There was no better way to make PSUs weak than making their top managements spineless. Top positions in PSUs and even regulatory bodies like RBI became pre-retirement transit homes for senior bureaucrats. These ‘yours obedientlies’ accepted briefs from GOI forgetting the mandated roles of the institutions they presided over. In the banking sector, with the exception of SBI, no PSB was allowed to retain own identity and were pawns in the hands of junior finance ministry officials.
Occasional emergence of one Vinod Rai here or a Raghuram Rajan there asserting their rightful positions were deftly handled by vested interests (read money power) with the help of an obliging media and subservient political leadership. This explains the short-term tenure appointment of individuals in top positions in PSUs. Many accept the positions either to improve their CV for the next assignment (sometimes abroad) or as a reward for ‘favours showered’ earlier. Interests of the organisations they preside over, normally is not one of the top priorities that weighs in their selection.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
III
Leisure
Three good human beings
 In this year's Onam Special Issue of Mathrubhumi Weekly, I came across conversations with Manu S Pillai (Author of Ivory Throne), Arun Shaurie and Malayalam writer M Sukumaran (with whom I've worked in AG's Office during 1964-68). 
Manu tells, the word "Hindu" was popularized during 18th Century by Britishers with ulterior motives.
Arun Shaurie living in the midst of several personal struggles, in his 70's has a personal life which will choke one's throat...

Sukumaran, whose four stories became Malayalam movies, after facing several challenges in life is talking Communism and philosophy in the same breath, sitting in his 1bhk flat in Thiruvananthapuram.

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