From tiffin carriers to Marutis

Assessing employee performance in the 70s was scarcely a developed science or art in India - HR departments as we know them didn't even exist

Kanika Datta

The black-and-white photo captures a moment in a corporate performance awards ceremony in the late 70s. The recipient, a middle-level employee, is shown receiving a stainless steel tiffin carrier, as a performance award of some sort. Illuminating the photo is not the shiny oblong receptacle in the centre of the frame but the 1,000-watt smile of pure joy on the face of the recipient.  Seriously, a stainless steel tiffin carrier as a performance award? That, I was told, was what was specifically requested. And judging from the unalloyed delight of the employee, it was a coveted ...