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Letters: A 'rightsizing' effort

In reference to the report, 'Tata Motors to follow no designation policy for hierarchy-free culture'

Business Standard 

A ‘rightsizing’ effort

This is with reference to the report, “Tata Motors to follow no designation policy for hierarchy-free culture” (June 10). On April 1, 2000, Tata Steel announced the launch of the Performance Ethics Programme to delineate a code of conduct for performance. The primary objective of the programme was to increase focus on attracting, developing and retaining valuable human resources by rewarding high performers adequately and articulating a clear policy for developing and supporting underperformers.

It was realised that there was a need for a radical change in the mindset of the organisation, which was inured to the concept of lifetime employment. The proposed organisational structure had five work levels based on their impact on the company’s performance and key result areas were set for every level that defined clear measures of performance and targets as well as regularised performance reviews through a system of appraisals. This “camouflaged downsizing” led to a perception that that those who had access to special channels and used them to make representations were at an advantage.

However, the transition to the new structure stabilised with time and was culturally accepted by all, with the company continuing to excel on productivity and profit parameters.
Now, Tata Motors’ decision to do away with designations by moving to a flatter organisation in a bid to “create a mindset free of designations and hierarchy” is a déjà vu moment for the automobile giant. Fear of poor assessment of performance or decline in motivation levels within the company are, therefore, unfounded. Given past experience such a “rightsizing” process seems humane and business-effective.

Shreyans Jain, New Delhi

In aid of farmers

With reference to the editorial, “Farmers on the brink” (June 9), despite a plentiful harvest farmers are in agitation mode.

The primary reason for their misery is farming is unviable if average land holding is less than 0.15 hectares per head. Government planning in procurement was faulty if minimum support price and shortage of storage facilities are taken into consideration.

At the planning stage, the best pattern for cultivation includes making the right choices about crop, seeds and pesticides, and taking into account water availability. The farmer has to decide what to buy for the agricultural cycle and calculate how much money he would need. While asking for loans, he faces an additional threat because institutional credit is available for medium or large landowners, but small farmers lack economic support. Bureaucratic procedures are often an obstacle for obtaining institutional credit.

At present farmers depend on local moneylenders who charge huge interest rates and set stringent conditions. For example, if farmers are not able to pay back their debt, the moneylender can take over their land. This could have dramatic consequences, because, for farmers, land has not only commercial but also emotional value.

Small farmers should have better access to credit with low interest rates. Setting up self-help groups is a strategy that has already been applied, but it needs to be empowered.
The size of the land is a critical issue: It is most often too small to benefit from the scale of economies and to be more competitive in the market. Farmers’ cooperatives could help solve this problem.

This apart, most farmers practise mono-cropping because in that case the demand is higher and so is the margin of profit in selling cash crops. Planting two or three crops at the same time may reduce the risk of failure of the harvest or market crises. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research works towards imparting training and creating awareness programmes of integrated cultivation taking into consideration weather conditions and the type of the land.

Sushil Bakliwal, Jaipur

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First Published: Sun, June 11 2017. 22:45 IST