Business Today

Cover story | March 8, 2009

Time to talk

Strategies to fight the downturn can be effective only if they are communicated well to the employees. Here’s how a few companies are doing it.

Job loss: Are you next?

Employees as well as employers are struggling in this financial downturn—the employees to find jobs in a market where very few companies want to hire and employers to carry out layoffs as gently and painlessly as possible, and failing miserably. Saumya Bhattacharya reports. 

Thereā??s life after layoff...

And it can be quite fulfilling and productive if you do the following. The only assumption we have made in listing these options is that creditors are not after your blood.

Drop in campus recruitment

Companies aren’t just laying off employees but have also become cautious with new hiring. The result? A steep fall in the quantity and quality of new offers on the campuses.

5 Lakh to 50 Lakh

That is the range of estimated job losses among blue-collar and informal sector workers. Both the magnitude and the consequences are way higher than the white-collar layoffs.

Dealing with your first slowdown

India Inc. faces an internal acid test, as bosses and managers try to help GenX graduate from fairy tales to real life. Anand Adhikari writes.

United we stand

Communication with stakeholders such as shareholders and suppliers pays when it is proactive, aimed at providing transparency and solutions.

Veterans in the downturn

Jagdish Khattar recounts his bumpy ride at Maruti’s wheel when BT asked some industry veterans like him to share how they survived severe crises in times of economic slowdown.

In This Issue

Job loss: Are you next?

Employees as well as employers are struggling in this financial downturn—the employees to find jobs in a market where very few companies want to hire and employers to carry out layoffs as gently and painlessly as possible, and failing miserably. Saumya Bhattacharya reports. 

'More satyams will continue to happen'

As an it industry insider, i felt, like many of us, a personal sense of hurt by the Satyam episode. As an idealist, I believed that it was time for all well-meaning individuals to stand up and be counted in order to salvage the country’s corporate image.

Special

BT-NASSCOM-Perot survey

The third annual survey of visitors to the IT sector’s annual congregation captures the uncertainty that has enveloped the industry.

BT-NASSCOM Round Table

It’s time to be bold, think big and make a profound shift—that’s the prescription of a five-member panel of experts on how to haul the IT industry up by its bootstraps.

Silicon power

Semiconductor demand in India is increasing, but manufacturing of semiconductors remains a distant dream.

Editor's Note

From the editor: March 8, 2009

For the first time in India, the economic interests of employers and employees are at loggerheads on such a large scale. Though not deliberately, companies are securing their future by making the future of their employees insecure. The hunt is on to root out "excess" staff from the payrolls and emerge leaner and meaner to take on the challenges of the economic meltdown.

Noted

Ranked

Ranked: Mukesh Ambani, CEO of Reliance Industries, as the third richest CEO by Forbes magazine, in a list of 10 wealthiest CEOs.

Deal Watch

Carma CEO watch

India’s and the world’s most talked-about CEOs in December

Book

Understanding depressions

Krugman gives us a lucid tour of history’s worst slumps. Unfortunately, he also proves that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Treadmill

Welcome to the abs factory!

It was almost 11 P.M.— closing time at the gym—and I was on my way out when I suddenly heard sounds of commotion coming from the workout floor.

Printed Circuit

Mobi-browse

Tired of your phone’s pre-installed browser? You have options;more, in fact,than on a PC.

People

Lessons from Brockovich

She needs no introduction. Erin Brockovich, 48, took the world by storm when, in 1996, she spearheaded one of the largest direct action lawsuits in the history of the US against PG&E, a utility company in California.

Leadership Spotlight

In the hot seat

It can’t be easy being the CEO of a company whose erstwhile promoter is in jail, whose cash position is uncertain and whose clients and employers appear poised to fly the coop.

Trends

Graphiti/ McKinsey blobal survey

McKinsey blobal survey

Misleading indicator

PM’s Economic Advisory Council expects 2009-10 to be better than 2008-09—pleasant news in the current gloomy environment. But what underlies its optimism?

Instan tip

The fortnight’s burning question.
Is the government being realistic in claiming that GDP growth in 2009-10 will be higher than the current year’s forecast of 7.1 per cent?

Mortgaging hurt the economy most?

Nicola Horlick, CEO of Bramdean Asset Management, spoke to Anamika Butalia on the economic crisis and how the East must learn from the mistakes of the West.

Numbers of note

Rs 33,400 crore: The amount of investment in infrastructure projects approved by the Union Cabinet in February, including a metro rail network in Chennai. It also approved the widening of 1,410-km highways

Where ethics rule

A global ranking of the world’s most ethical companies could be a source of worry for Asian firms.

Up and down with Satyam

Mutual Funds’ sale and purchase of Satyam shares in the last two months reveals an interesting pattern.

Asia races ahead

More and more Asian companies are sponsoring sporting events, clubs and teams in “First World” countries.

The Google latitude

It is something to do with Geography? Well, not quite. It is a mash-up of Google Maps, positioning technology and Google’s social media services such as Google Talk.

Flower power

Even as the slowdown affects most industries, some enterprising farmers in the districts of Uttara Kannada and Shimoga in Karnataka are smiling all the way to the bank by farming orchids.

Fashion takes a beating

The slowdown has claimed another victim: designers across India are reporting a drastic fall in orders.

IT's new destinations

After Bangalore, technology is focussing on other Indian cities.

Counterfeit wars

India’s fight against the fake currency racket isn’t getting any easier. Counterfeiters hitherto had limited printing facilities which made it easier to detect fakes.

Current

Spicing up a dull market

A handful of low-priced, low-volume stocks saw their prices spike up sharply for no apparent reason. What was at work?

The omerta followers

India Inc. sees a spate of resignations of independent directors, but mum’s the word for them and company managements.

Losing grip

By its own admission, the UPA presided over the best 5-year period of the Indian economy. But why doesn’t its financial management reflect this dream run?

How long can we last without eating

… We have already defaulted on salaries. We are on extra time. Just persistence is allowing survival,” is how R. Subramanian describes affairs at Subhiksha today.

Why pledging got a bad name

Borrowing funds against shares for the purpose of enhancing shareholder value may be noble, but why weren’t promoters being transparent about this?

Taking guard in a downturn

Pay top dollar for the best, and go easy on the rest—that seemed to be the motto at the player auctions for the second season of the Indian Premier League.

When promoters cry foul

Managements blame bear cartels whenever their companies’ stocks get hammered. BT looks at the psychology behind it.

Features

Managing bankruptcy

No working mechanism to deal with personal insolvencies and bankruptcies exists even though EMIs have replaced MRPs for most big consumables. It’s time India introduces an efficient mechanism to deal with personal bankruptcy cases. Manu Kaushik reports.

Back to basics

As equity remains in the dumps and debt an expensive proposition, private equity finds its place in the sun. But in today’s sombre times, the rules of the game are different, and decidedly in favour of investors.

It's an emotional recession

A big dip in confidence is causing consumers to stay at home and spend less. They are severely affecting not just businesses but themselves too.

Power-hungry

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power has bagged three of the four ultra mega power projects that have been awarded by the government. Has it bitten off more than it can chew?

Star treks on crowded turf

It’s still the leader in terms of eyeballs it attracts but STAR doesn’t dominate the way it once did, thanks to increasing competition from a clutch of new kids on the broadcasting block.

Back of the Book

Not so rosy

The current economic crisis has exposed the Indian floriculture industry’s over-dependence on Valentine’s Day and the demand for roses surrounding it. N. Madhavan checks out the scenario.

Jobs

Want a job, go rural

At a time when urban jobs are dwindling, microfinance’s many economic enterprises are generating significant direct and indirect employment, mostly in the rural areas—provided you have the right skills and aptitude.Saumya Bhattacharya goes into the details.

Letters

Hold the auditors to account

Just as Satyam has dented the image of the Indian IT industry, Price waterhouse Coopers, the auditing firm, has sullied the fair name of the accounting profession (BT cover, February 22).

BT More

Gallery girl

At 26, Roshini Vadehra is already one of the key figures in the art world. She knows her way around a Chinese menu, too.

The books that shaped my llfe

Every issue we ask a prominent businessman about the books that made them who they are today. This month: Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the founder of InfoEdge (Naukri.com and Jeevansathi.com).

Iced iced baby

The controversial nightclub that spawned the Long Island Iced Tea may have faded away after its founder’s death in 2007, but the legacy promises to be around forever.

Appetite

Featuring Tetsuma, Punjab Grill and F Bar and Kitchen.

Parvathy Omanakuttan 21

Each month, we ask a beautiful woman about men, sex and relationships. This month, Mumbai-based Parvathy Omanakuttan, first runner-up at the Miss World pageant, reveals that she’s not dating anyone at present because men aren’t brave enough to ask her out.

The mall and me

You’ve heard of a weekend break within the city—nothing new there. But within a mall? Anumeha Chaturvedi reports.

The first golfer

Raising the sail

The most demanding sailing event in the world stopped by Kochi last year. Anamika Butalia went to find out what it takes to be a part of the action.

Design you home

Litigation, divorce and armed security guards—there’s no limit to what can go wrong if you don’t choose your interior designer wisely. top interior decorator and artist, Pinakin Patel, offers some cautionary tips.

10 Classic chairs

A room is often defined by its furniture, especially chairs. Today, the humble chair stands at the forefront of design and adds just the right amount of chutzpah to any space. Don’t take our word for it, just check out these fabulous designs!

Shine a light

A house becomes a home when it’s lit right. Amit Gupta, Director, Vis-a-Vis, throws some light on how to bring your house to life.

The easy life

Before the launch of the new Aman hotel in Delhi comes a book celebrating the group’s 20th birthday.

March 2009

What’s new and what’s happening this month.

Men in suits

Something unprecedented is happening with superheroes. They’re getting a personality.

The Decemberist

Paul McCartney is a Knight. He was also a Beatle. And in the final act of his long career, he has re-emerged as a fascinating recording artist.

An Indian summer

Anna Zegna, Image Director at Ermenegildo Zegna, speaks about the new Menswear line and its international ad campaign shot in Jaipur.

Letter from the Editor

Amitā??s bar

When it comes to creating luxury furniture for the stupendously rich, the House of Raro leaves no stone unturned. Sanjiv Bhattacharya reports on a bar that raises the bar on ostentation.

Laptop face off

The new Vaio versus the Macbook Air presents the age-old trade-off—useful versus sexy. (Isn’t it always that way?)