New India, New Opportunities: Skill and Quality – Anirban R. Banerjee Interview

New India, New Opportunities: Skill and Quality – Anirban R. Banerjee Interview

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As India celebrates its 70th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on the biggest reform journey to make India knowledge and quality driven; we talk to emerging professionals and experts from field of Knowledge Management. Our first such interaction is with Mr. Anirban R Banerjee.

Mr. Anirban R Banerjee is a Learning and Development expert, author, and columnist. Mr. Banerjee has been awarded Best Learning Leader at the National Awards for Best in Class Learning and Development – 2017 by World HRD Congress. He is also listed among 100 most talented Learning and Development Leaders in India by World HRD Congress & Times Ascent.

Our editor Mr. Mritunjay Kumar discusses— “How India can be a talent hub for the world through focus on Learning & Development and Quality?” with Mr. Anirban R Banerjee.

Anirban Banerjee

MK) What are the key leadership and People Development related challenges that Make in India and Digital India campaign are facing?

AB) The Institute of Human Resource Development projects stated that this year the number of youth in the age group of 15-29 in the workforce is 153 million. This number would rise to 156 million in 2020 and to 158 million by 2025. A multiple set of jobs would be needed under the Make in India banner. While some would clearly be niche high-technology opportunities, there will be lakhs of jobs anchored around vocational trades and fundamental engineering. The quality of skills is still a challenge. The emerging defense industry in India will emerge as one of the major employers requiring diversity of talent and skills. Of the 14 million people that enter the workforce every year, barely 2 million are formally and professionally trained. A huge upgrade of the skilling infrastructure is an obvious requirement.

 MK) What role does Learning & Development play in the overall Indian’s Growth story?

AB) According to Hay Research, 73% leaders in the manufacturing are creating a demotivating climate of work environment for their team. To put it in perspective, the corresponding numbers for service sector is 59%. Similarly, leaders are found to respond with leadership approach that suit the immediate or short term but do not sit well with long term capability or capacity building. According to Randstad India, the major obstacle that we face in form of people and leadership related challenges is not being able to delegate enough, not being able to leverage enough power of teams and is focusing too much on immediate results or ability of managers to coach .This is what L&D must work on. L&D plays a crucial role because the need for diversified set of skills is continuously increasing. For growth of India, skills and knowledge of people has to grow. For example, now companies need people trained in Analytics, Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Sensitivity.

MK) What are the key changes that you see in coming years in Human Resource Scenario where Learning & Development will play a vital role in creating solutions?

AB.) According to Randstand India’s HR Game changers survey 2016, a majority of HR Leaders in India feel that HR needs to be aligned with business and make every manager a “People Manager”. I feel Learning & Development will play a critical role in development of people and that can play a strategic role for People Development. The more our Human Resource becomes qualitative, the greater will be the growth of Business. If we are not addressing knowledge and leadership issues then we go the Nokia, Blackberry and Yahoo way.

MK) In what way does the learning mindset of the national workforce play a role in national economic growth in India?

AB.) One of the reasons why even smaller nations like Israel and Singapore have been able to build talent culture is the focus on People Development. The ability of people to contribute to the society through the use of their talents provides them with great satisfaction. The World Happiness Survey 2016 shows the nations who emphasize on People Development are doing well. India’s demographic dividend is of great significance but only if we are able to convert all the humans into resources. Just a large population is of no significant value if it does not have quality .Quality of our population is the key to growth.

MK) Previously, Indian companies were more inclined towards driving profit from proximity to government and change of policies rather than focusing on Knowledge and Quality. What are your thoughts on it?

AB) I strongly believe that the only way to grow is focus on capability building and grow intra-entrepreneurs and then provide them the opportunity to become entrepreneurs. In long run, it will be knowledge and quality that will count. Post 2014, we are seeing a gradual shift in focus from this crony socialist model of business to building capability – quality and knowledge. The Academia, Business and Government all must create an entrepreneurial ecosystem for new business to take birth and sustain. In the same way, we must encourage intra-entrepreneurial culture for the existing business to thrive and reach the next level.

 NGI) You mentioned about engagement and its critical Impact on business. Why engagement is so crucial for business growth in today’s context?

AB) Approximately 250 million people are working in Indian manufacturing and service industry. According to Gallup research, about 20% of those surveyed are engaged and inspired at work. The research shows that the top 25 % of the teams, led by the best managers has 41 % fewer quality defects in comparison to the bottom 25% of the teams. Engagement levels in organization directly impact the organization’s ability to sustain the market connect and thus impact its business growth. According to ASTD survey study conclave, it stated that “learning and on the job development” is ranked first amongst the factors that positively influence engagement.

MK) You talked about the quality of Human Resource in India, what according to you are the strengths?

AB) I was very proud when I recently read three stories about very young people achieving something through the use of their capability. The first one was about the students from Pune Engineering College making satellites for ISRO. Second is about a 14 year old boy from Gujarat who signed a MOU of Rs.5 Crore in the vibrant summit. And third one is, 10th standard students from Jaipur getting funding of 3 Crore for their startup. They are India’s future. We all should be proud of them. I strongly feel, we should encourage our youth from North East India Sikkim Uttarakhand, Himachal and Ladakh.

MK) You have written about the Indian education system and its lack of ability to cater to the Human Resource Development of India. How does it impact the learning culture of organizations? 

AB) I think what ails our education is lack of focus on holistic growth, lack of focus on soft skills, failure to raise curiosity and explore. According to AICTE, more than 60% of the 8 lakh engineering graduates from technical institutions across the country every year remain unemployed. Less than 1% of engineering students participate in summer internship and just 15% of engineering programmes offered over 3,200 institutions which are accredited by the NBA. According ASOCHAM report we have more than 5000 management institute in India and 97% of pass outs from this institute are not of employable quality. We must address the issue of quality of the teachers and management of education. The condition of our schools both private and public needs attention .The teaching methods needs to change specially in schools for the kids. The poor quality of academic staff and research all ultimately adds up and hampers economic growth.

Best Learning Leader Award 2017 c

MK) You have in past said “Just a large population of humans is of no value” what exactly do mean by that?

AB) Large population is of no significant value if it does not have quality, we need to develop our human resource and empower them with knowledge, skill and focus on their fitness levels. If our youth is not physically fit and have social skills they will not be able to be productive. We need to remember what Swami Vivekananda said, “We must develop strength of character. Lack of physical fitness and social skills are a matter of concern.” The quality of our youth in the days to come will determine our future. A nation with youth with little ability’s will be liability. The quality of the quantity of India’s population will be crucial.

MK) You have written and spoken widely on introducing “One nation One Education Policy “ and military training in our education system, do you think that will help ?

AB) It is time India adopts “One Nation One Education System”. Introducing military training in school and giving more importance to sports and teaching our National History will lead to holistic development of our youth. We need a more qualitative and National Integration oriented system. This will help develop a national character and sense of discipline that will help our youth reach their potential. It’s very important to inculcate a sense of unity, equality and belonging-ness to society. We need to develop them through an engagement oriented education system. That will help them to evolve intellectually, physically and socially to meet future challenges. Our youth will be more equipped to lead and collaborate.

MK) You talked about social skills, emotional intelligence becoming critical for people Development?

AB) Many experts argue for a change in the way we educate our youth. I feel we need to move away from a bookish and mugging-up model to more experiential and creativity driven model. Change has to be introduced from a mode of testing what a young mind does not know- to bringing innovative ways of teaching-to ensure our kids are given time to explore and experience. I feel very happy to see my son take as much interest in outdoor sports as in studies. One of the things absent in many children today is awareness and understanding of nature and animals and sense of caring. To be a good father one needs to be a good son. To be a good Business leader, entrepreneur or manager one needs first to be a better human – a man of quality and knowledge.It’s very important to know our Nation’s history and contribution of our ancestors.

MK) In your view, is learning only about studying and books or is there something more?

AB) Research in the field of behavioral science has time and again pointed out that more we get exposed to our history, take part in sports activities and get the opportunity to interact with experienced people; the more we develop as a human. We are able to work and lead people. As our Emotional and Social Intelligence Quotient improves, we become better humans who are more at ease with our environment. I feel proud when I see my son Ishaan talk in his own way about these values. We must encourage the young generation to explore and focus on all round development rather than just impart bookish knowledge.

MK) Your father Mr. R. N. Banerjee was a firm believer of Quality in all that we do, How to develop this culture?

AB) I feel happy whenever I see people involved in building excellence trying to drive Quality and focus on developing a national character. My father taught me the importance of Quality in life, He worked relentlessly to bring in quality consciousness, and he was among those who felt quality comes first. He is my role model in life. My father was a firm believer in National He taught me to respect people from all parts of our country- to be an Indian first. We must like what we do and do what we like that’s what I learned from him.

MK) Lastly, what motivates you to be in Learning & Development & Organizational development?

AB) People issues are directly proportional to service and product quality. India has demographic strength but until and unless they are trained and developed we will not be able to reach our potential. I feel proud of the fact that I got an opportunity to contribute to our country in my own small way through my work in Learning and Development.

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