Obama visit: What does it imply for people business?


Obama’s promises are expected to expand the job market exponentially. However, this would mean enhanced skillsets for new and existing workforce. Is India Inc. ready to roll?

There was a lot of ‘pomp and show’ over the visit of US president Barack Obama to India. He went back with several promises which once incorporated should spell good news for the business world and percolate down to the people business as well.

On one hand, there is sense of excitement and optimism in the business fraternity, while on the other, there are some lessons for the human resources fraternity and need for preparedness as well to achieve those objectives.

The announcement of investment worth $4 billion of new initiatives, which includes $2 billion of financing for renewable energy investment and $1 billion in loans for small medium businesses, is anticipated to give a boost to trade and economy. Besides, it has created opportunities in nuclear co-operation, defence production, ‘Make in India’ and the development of smart cities, which hold great promise to accelerate the GDP growth. Eventually, all of these are expected to create around 1 million new jobs in the country.

However, increased employment opportunity comes with demand of talent, and one has to match these demands with varied skillsets and that will be the key to success.

Dr. Ganesh Natarajan

“With over a million new jobs expected to be created, improving the skillset of the Indian youth has to be taken up on a war footing basis,” says Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, vice chairman and CEO, Zensar Technologies co-chair, National Knowledge Council Member – Chairmen’s Council – NASSCOM.

Many IT companies are already using a mix of training budgets and CSR funds to create employability across vast sections of the community. “It would be ideal if other sectors follow the same and equip their HR managers to take the lead in creating ready-manpower to meet the growth surge in the country,” Natarajan adds.

The responsibilities of developing skill have to borne equally by the leading educational institutes and the Indian corporate. “Our technical and management education system in association with corporates will have to churn out professionals who are employable and just not degree holders,” affirms, Rajorshi Ganguli, vice president – HR, global generics, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited.

Rajorshi Ganguly

Even the exiting workforce will have to undergo skill enhancement. “Companies will have to match the business requirement and ensure aggressive re-skilling and competency development of their workforce,” adds Ganguli.

Obama’s visit has brought renewed attention to this long standing demand of resolving issues related to H-1B visas and the US president has gone back with the promise of resolving them. Once implemented, it would mean that a larger number of Indian skilled workers even non-IT professionals would get to work in the US. This is significant as the Indian Information technology industry which earns billions of forex by sending Indian engineers and programmers to the US. More people in the US would mean more revenue for companies.

Ravi Mishra

“US investment in India which is expected to bring in sophisticated technology will also raise the bar and see an enhancement of skill of our workforce especially in the Manufacturing sector. The sharing of employees and business transactions will bring the two countries even closer,” asserts Ravi Mishra, regional head – HR, South Asia & Middle East, Birla Carbon.

Dr. Ganesh Shermon

Obama’s visit also has its share of learning for the industry. As Dr. Ganesh Shermon, lead partner – Human Capital Advisory Solutions (North America), TCS, puts it, “Obama has demonstrated his support for business unequivocally demonstrating his commitment to businesses that not only creates wealth but also stable jobs. For Indian businesses, particularly those that monitor their quarter to quarter shareholder value, it is an example of care and concern for people while building long-term lasting value.”

“President Obama stands for core American values – god, country, family, self – and has consistently practiced that through his actions. Businesses can draw some learning from his leadership style of sticking to the core values while leading their enterprise with a vision and purpose,” concludes Dr. Shermon.



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