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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Crafting an Ace Sales Team

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HERD Pharmacy sales managers and marketing team comprising of Prasanjeet Dhepe, Sachin Salunke, Suresh Poonia and Stawan Bhujbal know it is very essential to create singular, effective sales people. For this purpose they ensure scrutinizing every single reason that goes into motivating each person of the formidable over-seventy sales team. Pharmacy managers have been drilled to never allow the slightest lapse in losing a single sale. If at all such an untoward incident were to happen by a front line sales staff, then it becomes the responsibility of the manager to rescue the deal.

It is here that the manager becomes accountable to teach and train the sales team to learn how to effectively deal with various issues that may affect their proactive sales techniques. Problem resolving in an effective, convincing and timely manner are key skills that have been inculcated to make sure they do not falter when it comes to making smooth sales. Herein the managers have been made proficient to continually tutor sales staff by coaching, reviewing, mentoring and offering motivation.

The series of on-going trainings that began with Dr Amol Deshmukh’s critical workshops on importance of customer-care are now a well imprinted roadmap. The team has learned to focus on additional critical aspects with the view to increase sales, enhance customer base and create brand value for the retail chain-stores. Of late the attempt is to focus on the significant functions of sales with an eye on performance management. Herein inputs like setting goals, evaluating performances, chalking out reasons for non-performance, and appreciating success become necessary.

Top level management does not hesitate to chastise staff members when they fail to perform optimally. This is really crucial so as to keep performance levels in line with set management targets. What this also actually means is that performances need to be kept sharpened. To this end management is always ready to provide more effective coaching. The past two years have seen no dearth of training inputs that very easily can be said to be the key to present levels of achievements.

As stated earlier, it is the projected successes for the sales team that creates the pulls and pushes for their constant coaching. The monthly debriefing sessions help in assessing and evaluating training needs of the staff at all levels. Such joint debriefing sessions help in bringing everybody on the same page and eager to go forward together. It is also a time to take stock, get emotional and then plan ahead for the subsequent phase. It is also the time to make commitments and work out improvised strategies to pitch forward.

Ultimately it is the Pharmacy sales managers who form the crux of the marketing team. Their contributions in spearheading the sales team’s successes cannot be negated. They are the nucleus that gets the entire sales team motivated to be on their toes to see business remains brisk. The pre-planned schedule and manner of approach for creating a sound customer base helps in enhancing effective sales. Herein the managers’ belief in the actions of the sales staff becomes vital for positive outcomes.

Important steps taken all the time by managers include – taking responsibility, distributing responsibility, giving clear communications, evaluating performances and most important of all  setting high standards of performance. Finally it is their sense of accountability that actually determines the outcomes. Presently we are moving ahead with expansion on our mind  and aside from opening medical outlets in new locations we have to continue to make sure that existing stores keep achieving their goals. With an experienced Operations Head, Mr Rahul Agarwal having very recently brought on board, it will not be long before HERD Pharmacy raises the bar responsibly for the business at hand.

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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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!

 

‘Cloudy with a Hint of Rain’

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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!

Make Infant Seats in Vehicles Mandatory

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It was as late as in October 2014 that the Government of India made it mandatory for car manufacturers in India to equip cars with provision for installing child seats. The safety measure was to facilitate safe placing of child seats in cars and permit car travel to be safe for kids inside cars. The move was to ensure car travel safe for children.

However we do not see this provision being followed by all car makers. As a result several cars have no such facility for cautious parents to be able to fit child seats. With the increasing spate in cab riders in the country the provision of child seat certainly needs to take priority.  What is required is addition of anchors and tethers to be installed in the back seat of cars.

While this mechanism is standard provision in developed countries it is still not happening, in practice, in our country. The child seat allows a child to be securely fastened on the back seat of a car. The child seat supports a child in case of mishaps and sudden brakes or jerks. Even though India has a huge car market we still do not implement rigorous safety measures in our automobiles.

Maruti Kizashi maybe one the few that offers the ISO fix-child-seat anchorage available. But then why is it that only an expensive car has this facility. With the ever increasing rise in Ola and Uber cabs, should not the provision be made mandatory in all cars.  By implementing compulsory child seat provision the government should make car travel safe for infants and kids.

In fact the Road Transport Authority should strictly enforce the rule in place to improve road safety measures, particularly for the safety of children. Our country with its high rate of road accidents, bad road conditions and unruly traffic should definite look into this matter with concern.

It is also lack of awareness that even the public is not sensitized on this grave road safety issue.  In our country we even need to spell out insistence on helmets for people riding cycles for transport. It is simply the lack of knowledge and very poor governance about road safety that makes us impervious to the necessity for such safety measures.

HERD Foundation would like to lay stress on the need to raise awareness on this critical road safety issue. Especially since many drivers do not hesitate to use their cell phones while driving. What is required is a very forceful safety standards implementation drive, with the government leading the way through a strong will and sense of direction.

In present times when parents remain focused on raising one-two child families it makes it all the more imperative to implement strict norms for children’s safety. Yes, smaller families’ means babies and children are that much more precious. Hence it will only be the will power of the transport ministry to push the agenda for child seat anchorage to be made compulsory.

The need for child safety in cars needs has to be highlighted in a big way. Child safety ought to be made a major parameter in our country’s ratings. We have to give up on age old practice of children riding on mother’s laps. As a general rule, just as child locks in cars have been made compulsory so also child seat facility should be made mandatory. Violations should be subject to heavy penalty. It is time that we stopped being silent on safety of children travelling in cars.

Vision 2017: Access to All for Basic Schooling

What is vision? It is the faculty or state of being able to see. In terms of organizational vision it is the ability to think and plan the future with imagination and wisdom. What is a world vision? This would mean comprehensive view of the world and human life. Presently HERD Foundation’s aspirational vision is keyed on meaningful humanitarian plans intending to serve the future course of envisioned humanist values to facilitate access to basic education.

Having been in the education field it pains us to see that cutting across the country there is still lack of equal educational opportunities for all. More especially for the underprivileged; this leaves countless children bereft of schooling opportunities even at the basic primary education level. Education in India is provided by public sector as well as private sector. The Indian Constitution offers provisions for free and compulsory education as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14.

Provision of quality education is dragging at different levels. What is more apparent is that schooling is being transformed into a human supply chain schooling system centered round education becoming a business. We still have hackneyed curriculum and modes for teaching even as we move towards a world thriving on the information boom. Despite India emerging as an outstanding force in the IT sector, we yet grapple with transformational aspects to be introduced in the basic primary school education system.

The current challenge remains that of building up quality and quantity for primary and basic education schooling. Since we all agree that education is a human right, therefore like all human rights we cannot allow it to be taken for granted. We need to take up the responsibility to ensure that boys and girls everywhere get the chance to study a well planned course of primary education.

Such an undertaking is certainly daunting. But the high numbers of children out of school, for reasons beyond their control, make us more determined to find resources for our vision and to include them in our intentions for delivering it to them. Our vision is to improve the quality and learning outcomes for these children so as to provide an education that adapts to the required changes with the wherewithal needed.

Years of being in the business of social change makes us understand that there is a decided connection between access to quality education, and economic plus social development. Lack of access to education to boys and girls, leaves communities with lopsided educational development. It is only when accessibility to education is ensured that we will we be able to reap subsequent benefits relating to health, equality, and employment.

Children today need modern day skills and knowledge, more so ones who come from low income groups and underprivileged communities. Current teaching methodologies and current requisite education has to focus on inputs like reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and digital literacy that is the need of the hour. Even young children need to be familiar with new technologies and cope with rapidly changing educational environments.

We therefore aim to work in constructive ways to improve the quality of education. Innovation has to be brought in with like-minded partnerships that will be forged. Simply financial aid cannot replace domestic-resource mobilization; however donors do play an important role. More so in supporting initiatives needed in these directions. It is for this reason that we look for newfound educational patterns to develop a new order of basic primary education.

Our focus is going to be on intensifying efforts to rope in the poorest and difficult to reach children and ensure they have access to education. Since education is a right for everyone – all girls and all boys should be facilitated to have it. It is a right for the countless out-of-school children and adolescents. Regardless of where you are born and where you grow up, it is time we ensure that primary education has to be made accessible to all.