Clean India – Green India

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The Clean India Mission launched by the government is a laudable mission. Although begun with zest and passion with suitably amended systems of efficient garbage disposal, we still fail to keep our environs spick and span. For one, we have loads of natural debris free-flying all over and second, lack of civic sense makes matters worse. We Indians may be the cleanest of people within our homes but when it comes to keeping public spaces clean and spruced up we fail in every sense of the word. No brand ambassador can possibly get us to take up the cudgels unless we have been prepared for the task early-on.

Cleanliness and hands-on cleaning lessons should be made mandatory for children in school so that a whole new generation imbibes the importance of spotless surroundings. Both The USA and Japan teach young children in school to work at keeping sanitized bathrooms, ready for subsequent use by fellow classmates. Kids there feel no shame or repugnance in rolling up their sleeves, donning gloves and cleaning up toilets. It is our predispositions and learned susceptibilities that stop us from doing the same. Plus we have the luxury of cheap labour available to do these jobs.

Waste management of odds and ends in India has always run systemically through recycling, making it a sustainable business. We are again fortunate for having the ubiquitous ‘raddiwallahs’ doing the rounds and helping us get rid of clutter of all kind – old newspapers, old clothes, used bottles, tins and everything in between. Along with municipalities getting into the act for garbage disposal these ‘raddiwallahs’ too assist in restoring cleanliness in our homes. However present day over consumerist societies are losing the balance and disrupting these trends with the new culture of everything-throwaway. From plastic bags to online merchandise packing we are throwing paper, cardboard and plastics out the doors for someone else to collect.

The ever increasing waste materials have become a by-product of modern living. Despite norms and legislation for regulating disposal of waste, the unsightly heaps of overflowing rubbish mounds continue to abound. Even with licensed outsourcing of tasks and civic rules in place, compliance appears to be lax. This is especially dangerous during monsoons leading to clogged drains, gutters and nullahs, as well as posing serious threats for foraging animals and rag pickers alike. The recent shocking deaths of gutter-cleaners raised a big hue and cry on following days but ended a natural death. After all today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s rubbish!

As India celebrates 70 years of Independence, it is time to take stock of the rapid urbanization in our country that is making waste management to be such a big challenge. “Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites”. These statistics are as per Down To earth environmental magazine. Solid Waste Management is still one of the most basic and essential services devised to keep our cities clean.  Yet the truth is that municipalities simply dump garbage outside city limits. There are no checks and balances on proper disposal.

Of late some cursory measures that are still to be followed systematically have begun to ensure due segregation of waste at source. Again here the people have to make sure that they do this conscientiously.  Since we already sell ‘raddi’ to the recycling industry it should not be an unusual task to segregate waste on a daily basis. This will ensure less waste reaching landfills. It should be the responsibility of the municipalities that just as they have set up a system for collection and transportation, like wise they should have good follow up mechanisms for processing and proper disposal.

With nearly 100 cities slated to be converted into smart cities, the first smart move should be implement effective waste management strategies and challenge people to adapt lifestyles accordingly. Aside from municipalities, schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate houses, government institutions should be made the first line of hand-holders.  A good move planned is to do away with landfill sites and replace them with compost pits for organic waste. Community participation will be crucial and they will have to be made aware of other kinds of waste like e-waste, bio-medical waste and so on. The way forward would certainly be to go full scale with Clean India and Green India as we step into the 71st year of our Independence.

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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!

Retail Therapy – God is in the Details

HERD Pharmacy division offers a wide range of goods other than medications and health products that are all offered at retail pricing. The expanding workforce is provided with training, business information and advice as to how to go about making sales that hit the roof. The recent Maha Bachat Mela at the pharmacy located at Khamla is a case in point. Newly set up a few months back, the team needed to build up a retail customer base.

We have learned it along the way that retailing cannot be looked upon at, on an as-is-where-is basis. Proactive customer service to create a positive retail customer experience is going to be vital for establishing presence in an open market. And completion is right across the street and everywhere. This is why the focus has always been on a coherent and practical retail service model that would differentiate us from the others.

The sales staff at the front-end and back-end as well as from management level from top to bottom follow the essentials to help deliver exceptional customer service experience. We continuously drill the minds of our sales staff to exert themselves to befriend and convert customers who walk in through the door. Our salespeople have been ingrained to not just inform but also inspire, educate, and instill confidence in them so the next time round they want to walk in for another wonderful shopping experience.

We do not allow disengaged employees because such will become risky propositions. What we aim for is that when a customer walks in our sales staff should push himself/herself out of their comfort level. Whether they want general medicines, cosmetics, or a health product sales staff should be helping them make their purchases in a manner that will make them return back for more shopping later.

So how do they do it? Staff puts on a supportive attitude and encourages shoppers to try out new things apart from what they actually came in to buy. Overtime they have been trained to learn how to form customer-centric relationships. Offering the team members a certain leeway to chat up with clients, we know for sure this little bit of extra time acts as a fillip to approach and engage often times with total strangers!

New shoppers who venture into the store are happy about the exceptional experience. They are instantly at ease with the friendly atmosphere, attitude and manners of the attending staff. Soon in good time we hope to make them regulars. The Maha Bachat Mela held last week brought in very many new customers. The success of the three day event makes us plan for more such events on occasions.

HERD Pharmacy has been offering very simple concessions to drive home the point that we mean business. The one way in which we engage with them is over the counter or through a call to engage with them and assist them make their purchases. Simple gestures and free home delivery is to really attract them to respond to our customer service. We follow the simple dictum – make the customer happy.

Staff has been trained to employ measures that ensure a few norms in place. Like for instance greeting customers in a way that makes them want to buy and keep coming back. We pay attention and let repeat customers know that we recognize them. Anything goes to start a conversation – politics, cricket and the weather! And a bit of conversation is always good to set the ball rolling.

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GENDER APPROACHES – HERD GROUP PHARMACY DIVISION

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Pharmacists, more commonly known as chemists in our country, are healthcare professionals who practice in a pharmacy. It is a field of health sciences that focuses exclusively on the safe and effective usage of medications. As health care team members they are directly involved with patient care. To be able to do this they have to undergo university-level education to understand all about biochemical drugs, drug uses, therapeutic roles, side effects, potential drug interactions as well as be cognizant of monitoring factors for using medications.

It appears to be a good idea to staff pharmacies with women team members, particularly at the store counters. This would be especially useful to interact and respond to women customers walking into the medical store. It has been seen observed that women customers are generally more comfortable to talk to women on the workforce team. Such suggestions have been going around in the sector, emanating from several quarters. It’s been given to understand that the presence of a lady makes female customers (already be troubled by disease and patients back home) instantly comfortable.

Aside from it being a great idea to increase the sales process, it would also work for enhancing the much needed gender equity in the pharmacy sector. In our country very often advice is sought from pharmacists regarding medications to be taken for general ill- health conditions. The best of us may have done so at some point. Since most medical stores are run by men there are hardly any women present to quell doubts arising for women customers. So it’s a good idea to have women pharmacists to tackle issues faced by female visitors.

More often than not in case of mild ill-disposition like common fevers, cold, coughs, and headaches, it is quite common for pharmacists to be quizzed for suitable remedies. If a pharmacy is closer at hand than a doctor many people simply walk up to the medical store and seek guidance as to what medicine should be taken. In the case of women customers having female pharmacists across the counter may be a sound idea to counsel such women as to the best course forward.

By and large, although sizeable numbers of females pass out of pharmacy education each year, a pharmacist’s job is not yet considered as an ideal job for women. Such conservative thinking and traditional opinions continue to plague the sector that keeps women largely out of it. HERD Pharmacy plans to recruit women with the aim to induct willing female pharmacy staff to enhance their diverse roles and to make the best use of their skills. We are keen to make our pharmacies women-friendly so that women customers may approach comfortably and be able to share whats on their mind.

“The feminisation of pharmacy is a fascinating insight into the overall make up of the pharmacist workforce…” ~~ Anas Hasan

HERD Pharmacy – ‘MAHA BACHAT MELA’

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A very enthusiastic HERD Pharmacy marketing team is geared up to deliver as promised at the three-days ‘Maha Bachat Mela’ or Huge Saving Event organized at Khamla for June 9-10-11, 2017. The medical store will have on offer medicated cosmetics and general health products at discounted prices to build up its customer base. Khamla Pharmacy was set up only recently and this is a tried and tested marketing strategy being executed by the experienced team.

The good thing about the HERD Pharmacy team is that the pitch includes everyone – from top level Operations Head to Managers, Communication-designers, Market-campaigners, Event coordinators, and Marketing-specialists along with pharmacy staff. Everyone joins in responsibly to highlight the brand image of the establishment. And what makes HERD Pharmacy stand out from regular pharmacies is the fact that it is affiliated to a large hospital.

This allows health issues of patients requiring more care and expertise to be directly referred to the hospital. In fact the Maha Mela is also conducting a free general health check-up for interested people who walk into the pharmacy during these three days. The team has arranged for experienced doctors and nurses from Lata Mangeshkar Hospital to undertake check-ups. Other than create awareness in the area the point HERD Pharmacy is making is that this is a specialty pharmacy that goes beyond merely responding to prescriptions.

It’s been only days that the Khamla pharmacy was set up and the team has now roped in clinical expertise. Other than this, pharmacy staff has been trained to be compassionate and to guide and support customers who come in. The team sincerely believes that true excellence goes beyond the call of immediate duty. HERD Pharmacy is therefore intent on seeing its brand image advance and thrive.

Operating three other medical stores in different locations in the city, the team is well aware that everything depends on exceptional customer service. And so the staff is trained to provide outstanding service to attract people to become regular customers. Undoubtedly personal attention and a supportive attitude is just the way to increase sales at the pharmacy. Every day the personnel is motivated to question themselves as to what it is that they can do better to enhance the customer experience.

Supervised by senior managers, the interns and new staff are regularly inspired to perform their best. Gaining direct feedback helps managers implement the needed changes that are required. HERD pharmacy will in time transform into more than just a place that sells medicines. The team is already providing convenience products, supplements, health food, health products and Ayurveda medications at the store.

The attempt now is to focus on integrating marketing techniques to create tailor-made sales strategies work out for the target population. In so doing they are concentrating on forming stable relationships with patients and customers. The marketing team is looking at past marketing successes in order to develop suitable approaches for Khamla Pharmacy. Knowing full well that healthcare is increasingly becoming consumer-driven, the team is deploying practices to tune into what patients want and desire.

This “MAHA BACHAT MELA” is all set to offer discounts to its growing numbers of valued customers. Discounts are being made available ranging from 5% to 50% for all general health products and cosmetic goods.  HERD Pharmacy Marketing Team understands what the customers want to buy and help them do so. They are not afraid of getting creative to experiment with ideas. This then is just such an event to attract customers, egging them on to buy products of their choice at discounted prices.

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Monsoon Games

 

1200px-New_Mexico_Monsoon_2011Nagpur. Still humid, muggy and sultry. The rainy season was supposed to start already. But it’s been days now. And no rains! The hushed under song of the early dawn brings in cool breezy winds. You almost smell the moisture laden atmosphere and you are still waiting. And perhaps imagine the earthy scent that is produced when rains hit the parched dry soil. Your senses are yearning for the sweet, fresh, powerfully evocative smell of the first rains. Yet they tarry and linger and the clammy days move on from morning to night with nary a drop from the heavens!!

Each morning the weather projections get broadcast everywhere. Even Facebook informs – “It’s going to rain. Take care and stay dry!!” But the past three days since June 5 when the monsoons were predicted to start their annual deliverance, are going high and dry. Insat weather imagery is also going awry. The clouds keep getting all skewed and out of kilter. The high resolution Insat images too are unable to keep track of the wayward clouds. Yet, still we wait…

Nagpur has been gearing up for heavy rains as monsoons this year are expected to be really heavy. With the rains projected to hit soon the civic administration has been attending to issues related to water logging and need for maintaining hygiene, especially in vulnerable areas. The authorities are busy scrambling to complete the sludging and de-silting works of ditches, drains and nallahs. The experiences of last couple of years have not been good. Flooding of homes in low lying areas and swamping of roads and open spaces created severe problems.

As a prelude to the heavy downpours that are expected the city has been ascertaining that garbage disposal is efficaciously carried out. With new norms of garbage collection citizens are being roped in to become accountable for cleanliness around them. This is very important especially in view of ensuing health issues and epidemics like dengue and malaria that must be overcome. Thus while rains are a natural phenomena, flooding and epidemics are certainly preventable. This is why everybody needs to pitch in to make the season safe and healthy.

So even as we wait for the rain gods to bestow their bounty, it has certainly been beneficial to have had city precincts undergo deep-cleaning and sprucing-up to face up to the anticipated monsoon onslaught. In the meantime we stay pinned with our hopes on the skymetweather.com prediction that the Monsoon 2017 will make its onset over North Maharashtra and that rains will increase gradually by June 10-12.

HERD Foundation wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable monsoon season. Here are a few tips to remember to stay healthy while weathering it out for the next few months:

  • Avoid street food.
  • Keep insect repellent handy.
  • Avoid walking about in the rain.
  • Keep umbrella, rain coat, and cap handy.
  • As far as possible eat hot food and drinks.
  • Children should not be allowed to play in the rain.
  • Dry feet immediately if they get wet.
  • Avoid colds and coughs by keeping your body dry.
  • Drink herbal teas often.