Analysis: India's Business Community Is Angry Over Attacks
In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, it is time for India's business community to stop being polite to the nation's politicians and instead demand action on the woeful state of public safety and security, says Pramod Bhasin, chief executive of Gurgaon, India-based Genpact Ltd., one of India's largest outsourcing companies.
As told to The Wall Street Journal's Paul Beckett:
In the business community there is enormous anger and despair. Enormous anger because something like this happened and enormous anger at the politicians because they continue to factionalize, ruin, divide the nation, and focus on the wrong issues.
There is despair because we all know people who have died. And there is despair because if you talk to someone in the police or the armed forces they will tell you they are very woefully unprepared.
How do we influence the government and make them more effective? A lot of people say it is just through voting but the process of government doesn't work.
What do we need to do? Public services have to improve and we need to learn how to execute. We need far greater urgency around crisis management.
I watched Home Minister Shivraj Patil speak to the nation and I was comparing him to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on 9/11. Obviously that was a tragedy of far greater proportions and far greater ramifications. But Giuliani showed urgency and action. Patil gave no sense of urgency or crisis management. [Mr. Patil resigned Sunday.]
In the U.S., I think it would have taken less than a day to flush these guys out. Our police and anti-terror forces have no equipment. In Gurgaon, we don't have a fire engine that can go above the eighth floor.
Out of this, at least, the politicians will feel greater heat than they have faced in the past. Business will be more volatile and more forceful in saying what needs to be said.
Business in the past has been politically correct because the government can get upset and lots of us depend on the government in a number of ways. In the past we've been very cooperative and I should say the government is, too. But the fact is: We need to talk about how we are going to be able to improve public safety.
When Ratan Tata [chairman of Tata Sons and one of India's most prominent businessmen] stands up and says this is a disgrace and we can't take this lying down and be nice boys -- then we have to act. It's a question of engaging a lot more with state governments and the seats of power.
Businesswise, I don't think there will be a major impact but there will be if things don't change. You are already seeing every company talk about contingencies and country planning: how much concentration is there in one country?
We can show we are diversified but customers will focus more on that. They will look at us and they will want us to show we have damn good contingency and disaster recovery plans. And they will care a lot more about country risk. One of the things it shows is how vulnerable India is.