9 August – International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples, 2017

Pauni Clinic

HERD Foundation & LM Hospital Out-Patient Cllinic Inauguration at Pauni

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 every year. The day has been marked out by United Nations to promote and protect rights of world’s indigenous population. It was first pronounced by the General Assembly of United Nations in December 1994. This event appears very important to us in India since we have only just begun to appreciate contributions made by indigenous people to align themselves to issues pertaining to environmental protection.

Today, as world bodies and social media celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, HERD Foundation would like to take a look at the realities of the Gond Adivasis among whom we have been working so closely for over a decade. Settled in the jungles around Nagpur, the Vidarbha region enjoys a rich history and culture of indigenous tribes. It was here in the hilly tracts around Nagpur that the first historically recorded Gond kingdoms came up in the 14th and 15th century AD.

Adivasi’s in India are known constitutionally as ‘Tribes’. The total Adivasi population of India is (67.6.million) which is round around 8.6 percent. The total population of Adivasi’s in India is larger than that of any country in the world. The word tribe is generally used for a ‘socially cohesive unit, associated with a territory, the members of which regard them as politically autonomous’. Often a tribe possesses a distinct dialect and distinct cultural traits. Adivasis or Gond tribes in Central India are the aboriginal or indigenous people of the land.

The Gond Adivasi’s earlier held their natural resources – agricultural lands, forests, pasture grounds, fisheries, or water resources jointly. No family was deprived of access to these and all members had rights to land for grazing by their animals on open ground that were the tribe’s terrain. The dependency of the Adivasi’s on forest land was primal and they lived very close to nature and forest. With the reservation of forest lands into Parks and Sanctuaries their existence became traumatized. The People-Park-Animal conflicts are a direct consequence with sore repercussions.

Later, even with gradual merging of Gond tribals into mainstream population, a good percentage continued living in rural and jungle areas with their lives dependent on forest and natural resources. With ever more urbanization and consequent displacement they continue to be deprived of food and fodder from forests. Gradual displacement keeps them in denial of the natural rights that they used to enjoy. A huge percent of the Adivasi population suffers from displacement and adjustment to newer settlements.

In an ever increasing escalation of infighting for their natural rights and coming to terms with governance issues, they face deprivation, displacement and discrimination. And now with the onslaught of liberation, privatization and globalization the Gond Adivasis have been subject to much exploitation too. As an aboriginal community that once had complete ownership of the natural resources – Jal, Jungle, Jameen (water, forest and land), present day modernization has left them bereft of their heritage and ancestral rights

Today as United Nations marks out International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the social media giant, Twitter has also come up with a campaign. This campaign will continue into September to mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However the United Nations also states that even after 10 years since its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not enough had changed. This is true in our case too. HERD Foundation that provides health care and medical referral facilities to these inhabitants, pledges its support and will continue to be supportive to enhance standards for their survival, dignity and well-being.

 

HERD Group Attends Vivek Bindra Motivation Training

 

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The collective concern of the MD’s of HERD Group (having imbibed the best academic learning from books, seminars, affiliations) is to be on the watch out for every opportunity to facilitate inception of new ideas and means to motivate team members. So also, HERD HR Department is forever on the lookout for providing incentives and motivation to employees to spur their contribution.

Motivational trainings are really very important for business success today. It is critical to develop leadership through training programs and talks from motivational speakers. So when the opportunity presented itself, sixteen staff members from the different units were identified to attend Mr. Vivek Bindra’s live seminar on Extreme Motivation & Peak Performance!

Mr Bindra is a motivational speaker of international repute who is also an established CEO coach. So when Nagpur city became the venue for his training program on strategic execution and performance maximization, HERD Group grabbed the opportunity to make the most of it. The company directors and senior managers had already attended Mr Bindra’s seminar earlier, and were keen that staff too be exposed to the speakers influential training.

This was a good chance for the company to facilitate employees to focus on personal aspirations aligned to business prospects that would work in conjunction for positive outcomes.  Mr Bindra is a well-known motivational trainer who can really inspire people to pull themselves together and feel reenergized to perform better. Since the speaker was in town, management went all out to make the most of his inspirational influence for the benefit of staff.

Mr Bindra’s pep talk was sprinkled with true to life examples and accounts of success stories that can work wonders on people’s psyche and boost their morale. The exercise could prove to be valuable to get the group together to help identify and resolve roadblocks that perhaps hold them back. The talk was of course very well enjoyed and would definitely add to the unlocking of latent potential. HERD Group decidedly felt that such exposure will be supportive in enhancing performances.

Mr Bindra’s talk illustrated how motivational speakers can offer huge enthusiasm and drive so as to enable participants eager to offer their best. The motivational speaker assisted in enabling employees to comprehend their inner power, that sometimes we lose sight of in the face of regular routine work life. It was a great evening with staff experiencing stimulating ideas.

Attending this training had staff going through their individual mental morale building workout.  The speaker offered fresh perspectives on roles and responsibilities, thereby rebuilding confidence and passion. Breaking the complacency of everyday routine life, employees were made to comprehend fresh insights that will surely empower them to explore possibilities.

The speaker’s vigorous training helped in sharing his expertise that would in time spring them back into action and spur them on to their goals. Such interactions also help in easing out internal personal issues that often take precedence and obstruct team work. Mr Bindra certainly came to the rescue to provide guidance on a number of issues that prevent people from giving their hundred percent.

HERD Group of Companies is keen to achieve success and that is only possible with a committed team. The speaker’s expertise and ability to transform mindsets will go a long way in helping the team to dream big and perform well. Mr Bindra did wield a magic spell that provided the needed impetus for participants get set on the road to achieving their objectives that will ensure future growth. This was a well spent investment in terms of time, money and sensibilities.

“Adding Scholarship to Teaching”

 

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Sunday, August 6, 2017 saw HERD Foundation attending the Annual Conclave organized by The Hitawada – a leading newspaper of Nagpur. The media-house has been organizing the event for almost a decade in a bid to head-start advancement and progression in the field of higher learning. Entitled “Adding Scholarship to Teaching” the convention included the upper echelons of the teaching fraternity of Nagpur and few surrounding towns of Vidarbha.

The Hitavada is the largest selling English daily newspaper in Central India. It was founded in 1911 by freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whose portrait took center stage at the dais.  Sitting down to hear the speakers spell out their views on how teaching could be enhanced to indoctrinate and instill scholarship in students, the fairly full gathering appeared keen on the offerings that were to follow.

The erudite crowd gave their ear to the submissions of the five speakers invited to share their opinions and insights. Aside from the Chairman, Shiksha Mandal who provided some general interpretations about what it meant to add scholarship to teaching, the remaining four eminent speakers (Amravati University, IGNOU Nagpur, Institute of Science and RTMNU) were actually mulling about teaching-learning methodologies coupled with thoughts on scholarship norms.

A visibly disheartened Chief Editor of the newspaper attempted to salvage and reconstruct the theme for the benefit of the audience. His focused interpretation of scholarship in terms of erudition, knowledge, learning, literacy, education soon made it clear that what was expected of the speakers was to chart out ways to inspire and motivate academic attainments from students. As also, to enumerate the role of teachers in doing so. Sharing influences of teachers of yore, on minds of students, he went on to elaborate how present day teachers could begin to tap the minds of young academicians to bring out enquiry and original thinking.

Apparently the invited speakers had been caught up with their interpretation of the term ‘scholarship’. The first known use of the word scholarship in circa 1536 had of course meant serious, detailed study for academic achievement. Synonymously, it is now understood to pertain to learning of a high order for attaining the character, qualities, and activities of a scholar. The current meaning of scholarship is more commonly understood as an amount of money or grant given by a school to a student to help for the student’s education. Somewhere between these two definitions the convention took off at tandem to make it all inclusive. Of course they did elaborate on the subject in its entirety by adding practical and experiential dimensions to explain teh finer nuances of teaching.

Had it not been for the chief editor’s elucidation, the conclave would have been bereft of the serious nature of the thematic issue at hand. It was his inferences on how a fund of knowledge or learning could help draw out the scholarship (read scholarly quests) of an avid student that lent the right context to the pursuit of this intellectual enquiry. Hopefully the understanding of the theme filtered down to the audience after his simplified description on this serious question of notching up scales in teaching to inculcate scholarship.

“Adding Scholarship to Teaching” was a first-rate attempt at reviewing and making projections for best practices in assessing the teachers role in value-addition to the student’s learning. The goal appears to be refining active learning. Let us work together to ingrain enhanced features that will inspire research and contemporary designs to foster systematic, intentional changes in teaching and learning outcomes. The mission here could be to leverage research among university educators to create appropriate value addition in order to provide orientation for original thinking in students.

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Recording Biometric Attendance

There was naturally some trepidation when six months back biometric attendance recording system was introduced at HERD Group. Introduction of any new process changes at any workplace is bound to create a flutter among employees. TecSol Private Limited, the in-house IT unit became instrumental in sharing accurate, clear information about recording of biometric attendance to assuage qualms of an initially nervous staff. Changes were definitely going to involve the stragglers. It was certainly going to create unease regarding usage of the newfangled attendance system.

For starters, Jigar Joshi, IT Manager with HERD TecSol worked on focusing on the facts, since he realized that misinformation would probably do more harm by breeding resistance. HR too apprehended that sharing usage norms could play a calming role in raising morale. Since staff was already used to signing the muster-roll it would hardly be problem to facilitate them to adapt to the biometric time clocking system. All one needed to do was touch the screen of the biometric machine to record and clock their attendance.  HERD Group started the biometric time recording system because it wanted to avoid negative fall-outs of muster recording and at the same time deploy biometric time-clock technologies cutting across several establishments in order to support organizational culture and business needs.

However we do continue with signing the muster along with jabbing the finger on the machine. This is because HR department needs to double verify employee attendance data. The biometric/fingerprint or facilitates automation of salary calculations with up to date leave, late-comings or overtime records. Having grown from a small office of handful of employees to our present multi-location stores and offices we no longer have single point attendance record keeping. Admin and HR managers need to know details of all locations to track the hours worked by the employees.

We noticed that initially employees were a bit hesitant about the biometric systems. But this was mainly due to their unfamiliarity with the machine. Soon with ease of practice their distress generally disappeared after simply being given a brief introduction as to its use. We now have biometric attendance data at all our locations. After close follow up and clear instruction of usage the biometric verification has been working for us. Initially there were some teething troubles but after demystifying it all everyone uses the machines habitually now.

It is true when it comes to biometrics at first there are certain myths like concerns regarding potential invasion of privacy (fingerprinting) and hygiene to be reckoned with. However biometric attendance data allows HR department to gain official records of hours of employee work which they then calculate to pay employees accordingly. Barring a few slackers in most cases we did not encounter resistance. Most concerns were eliminated as soon as the employees were educated on usage. Once they learned how to operate the biometric reader and in time realized how easy it was, there has been little resistance.

Sourcing Candidates

 

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Images – Courtesy Google

A small but potent HR team within HERD Group keeps track of manpower needs and undertakes planning for the same. HERD Group follows established recruitment planning process by regularly estimating and projecting requirements of staffing needs for the different projects running presently. Some units, like for instance the pharmacy division, experience regular requirements for which an ongoing database is maintained.

Our manpower planning takes in factors like how and when we have to keep adding new employees, as and when required. The entire procedure is accomplished while keeping the vision, mission and goals of HERD Group in mind. We also bear in mind the future prospects of the particular business as well as by tracking industry trends. This helps in keeping systems in place and for us to be better prepared for future staffing needs.

Today, we stand at a point where we are definitely aiming for the top. In line with the projected targets for business prosperity we are keen to band together a strong team. It is for this purpose that we need to ensure that inbound incumbents be high achievers and disciplined. As much as their intelligence and skills, it would be their personality and attitude that would be helpful in moving forward successfully.

It is for this reason that the HR department is watchful about escalating experiences of newly inducted employees. HERD Group is moving ahead with confidence having adopted the best business practices. Recently every single staff member was apprised of the regulatory compliances to be followed in line with stipulated policies. Staff is also periodically provided with the motivational trainings by recognized motivational gurus. This helps instill a fervor in them to excel in their aspirations, at both the personal and work-life spheres.

In line with planned projections for spearheading the varied business dynamics, we know for sure that there will be increasing requirement of staff with focused skill-sets. HR department therefore regularly anticipates expected manpower needs for the company. Other than this they have devised processes for staff development in order to keep new as well as existing workforce in a stimulated state.

HR diligently examines the background, skill-set, qualification, attitude, aptitude etc., of existing and incoming work force so that they can take care of the pool of talent to nurture for the company. In line with the business needs of the units they understand the type of employees that would be best suited in the organization. Their competency has them examining and evaluating the types of employee workforce that they can build up.

Selection of candidates has them culling out and identifying appropriate shortlisted aspirants for required openings. Obviously they pick candidates who are better qualified, have needed skill-set, and experience to invite them for interviews. It is in the direct interactions that they usually assess suitability and long-term feasibility prospects. Once on board they are then trained as per organizational needs.

With such planned moves it is possible to groom work force to become prepared to adapt to the company culture and business practices. We follow an established system to induct employees and extend on-the-job-training that is an essential process.  Now that we are gradually growing, our workforce is also expanding likewise. With businesses at different locations and in different domains we cannot afford to be lax in our human resource management.

HERD Group welcomes the interested to join in for excellent career opportunities. It’s your personality that would play the most critical role. How you communicate with others, how well you handle interpersonal relationships in a team and social environment, and how emotionally intelligent are you, are factors to determine career growth. In fact, if one demonstrates excellent soft skills and get the quantum of tasks done to satisfaction – who knows you could be our operations head!

 

HERD Pharmacy Adopts Staggered Approaches

 

IMG-20170730-WA0010Since launching HERD Pharmacy two years back, HERD Group has been following a conscious decision to adopt a staggered approach in rolling out more outlets after due checks and balances. In some instances it makes complete sense to go for a full rollout. Like for instance the recent inauguration of the HERD Pharmacy and Clinic outlet at Saoner on August 1, 2017. HERD Pharmacy at Saoner is the first set-up outside city limits of Nagpur. It is a small town located north of Nagpur on the bank of Kolar River and is about 36 kilometres away.

In case of opening stores within the city we are yet following a more cautious approach. We feel it is better to make use of a staggered rollout adopting a gradual spread out process. The pharmacy team believes this approach has some advantages for us, at least for the time being.  The present scenario of market demand, property location and competitor’s positioning, will have us deciding only after minimizing risks and to continue making important improvements in engaging customer support.

A staggered rollout decidedly reduces risk while facilitating changes before you make the next important move. For instance when we plan to open more stores, we will do so by reducing risk by thoroughly checking out criteria like location, static traffic, visibility and competition in the area. After such evaluation and market viability will we make informed decisions on where and when to launch the next store.

We also believe that a staggered rollout will allow us to make effective changes in different areas. We will have to test things as they go, including customer percentages and need for improvements. By the time a new store is established it should be made user-friendly and operational from day one. For this we will have to transfer experienced staff to newer locations. Also new locations will have to seek out direct customer interactions, perhaps door to door initially so as to introduce the set-up.

HERD Pharmacy is fast emerging as a very visible health-care provider in the city. With its well-known backdrop of having been inducted by medical doctors and trained pharmacists, our chain stores are experiencing increasing traffic in several locations. Initiatives designed by a proactive HR department bring motivated health care providers to offer their best services taking customer care to greater heights.

HERD Pharmacy is considering additional locations and the marketing division is keeping a tab on locations and options. The next few months will be critical to step up retail-based clinics along with pharmacies. The gradual expansion plans will of necessity focus on recruiting staff and undertaking training for seamless health-care provision.

“Our attempt is to try and make it easy for shoppers and patients to really get the right care in all our locations, in quick time” says Dr Amol Deshmukh, promoter of the chain stores. “Especially in outlets attached with clinics we hope to focus on treating allergic reactions, common colds, coughs, earaches, stomach aches, throat infections and so on.” The clinics will provide physical examinations as also be offering referral services.

‘Cloudy with a Hint of Rain’

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Images – Courtesy Google

The weatherman’s forecast seems to be going awry. It’s bright shiny warm weather at the start of the first week of August! The regional weather warning bulletin is very quiet with a blank ‘Nil’! Rainfall forecast spells out weakly for the districts of Vidarbha – ‘in isolated places’. No agro-met advisories either. Highway forecasts get a clean chit.

It is worrisome for HERD Organic Farms manager Anil Khare. ‘Nine day gone by and no rains…’ he murmurs over lunch at the office café. After a seemingly stable start after mid-June the South-West Monsoon has suddenly stalled. This is now triggering concerns among the farming communities in the region who are getting affected in this rain-fed sowing season. Work appears to be at a standstill.

Even though HERD Organic Farm has secure, established water resource, the worried countenance of marginal farmers around us facing the unexpected deficit, thus far, has us concerned. We hope this is a passing phase and that soon enough the water laden clouds will spurt forth making August drench the fields to make them ready for cultivation.

Understandably the rainfall deficit as it enters the second week since July, may just be an unsuspected gap in the normally heavy rainy season that goes on until September. But now we see that contiguous districts in Vidarbha have been facing a shortfall by varying margins. Worryingly Vidarbha traditionally remains a water shortage area and we have often suffered consecutive droughts in past years. This deficit gap therefore leaves us all apprehensive.

The erratic monsoon may affect the sowing of key field crops such as paddy, pulses and more staple varieties of the season. The lack of rains appears to be going on. Farmers ready with seeds and saplings are getting nervous as there is little rain water and even reservoirs and canals have diminished levels. And therefore the sowing is getting affected with roughly only about 30 percent being done as against the norm of 51 percent that ought to have happened in this period.

The erratic rains could impact yields. Rainfall deficit of 30-40 per cent being witnessed is definitely a cause for concern. Besides affecting ground-water recharge, it will also affect cultivation. One can only wait and watch how the weather turns up.  Very light to moderate rainfall has been occurring in few places over Vidarbha. Also there has been no large change in maximum temperatures over Vidarbha.

We are therefore dependent on the rain gods to be merciful and pray that contrary to the meteorological department forecast of deficit rainfall, hopefully deficit districts in Vidarbha region will receive heavy showers before the end of this month. This brings us back to the moot enquiry as to whether Indian agriculture will forever continue to be dependent on monsoons!