Capital talk: Of value and service

  • Madhusheel Arora, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 13, 2015 19:31 IST

What is business is a fundamental question that has troubled us all since times immemorial? Here’s what could be a possible explanation that might lead to an answer using the concept of value.

There is an economic value attached to all activities. Business and entrepreneurship is meant to maximise this value and ensuring that all stakeholders benefit.

So, there are two broad components to any business activity around us.

The first is the superstructure or the hardware. This is the age-old triad of land, labour and capital. Of course, land remains the critical resource and has always been available at a premium. The second is the human element of education, training, motivation, marketing, customer relationship, selling and so on.

For a successful business to take shape, there needs to be synergy between the two in terms of time, meetings of desires of business and customer and so on.

Once these two activities are in sync, fruitful and powerful economic activity results and there is profit or capital generation. Having lived in Chandigarh for over two decades now, one of the striking things about the tricity has been the mismatch between these two ‘life-forces’ of business. Land availability is restricted. However, commercial activity on parcels that are available is also limited.

Starting a business remains a fearful prospect for property owners (leaseholders in case of commercial property in Chandigarh) and this major problem ends up in the bottling up a lot of the energy of the tricity’s youth as there are very few available jobs.

Another striking thing about the business scene in the tricity is the overemphasis placed on the softer skills, when the market simply does not offer them the opportunity to exhibit the softer domains of a work-environment, like public-speaking and English speaking — the ‘personality development’ classes and so on.

However, of what use is a teacher with good communication skills, when government school recruitment is held-up for superfluous reasons or because of the whims and fancies of a babu. Another ‘weak zone’ in the tricity is services, even as sales across categories remain a headache. This is in spite of the periodic fairs and conferences.

Healthcare is another critical area, where the tricity needs a huge stepup. There are not enough sweepers, even at top-end private hospitals. It is also a ‘torture’ to get a relative treated at a government hospital with the patient’s attendant having to take office leave, just to get an OPD examination done, unless one can get the registration done through bribing the clerk or one knows the doctor.

Private OPDs remain an option, but are equal to a day’s wages for a labourer at around Rs500. In-patient services remain average, though the quality of nursing is good.

So, in these less than ideal situations, should one just stop doing business? Of course not, as even inactivity has an opportunity cost attached to it.

Money, by itself, dries out over time. There has to be that flexibility in the system to ensure economic activity is fruitful and this can come through labour, hard work, diligence and patience. All of the ‘software’ mentioned at the top of the article.

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