“Various Indian industries have been having quality programs had quality circles for about the last two decades”, a friend of mine once asked me “, yet the overall quality of Indian goods is far behind the world standards. What’s basically wrong with us? Why cannot we as a nation produce top-class goods even after 70 years of independence? Why cannot we beat the multinationals at their own game? Why cannot we create so superior quality goods at such rock bottom prices that the Japanese and U.S.Industries are forced to ask for protection from their own governments! Are we culturally inferior or there some other factors involved? “
His anguish was very much palpable. He was a proud Indian who was deeply disturbed at the abject lack of not quality but of world-class quality in our products. He was right in feeling so bad. After all, ours is an ancient land in which the general quality of living was so high that it was once upon a time called the
“ Sone ki chiriya” our sages showed us the highest quality of living through yoga and meditation. We gave so much to the world in the fields of mathematics, health, and economics. We were truly the world leaders then.
What happened to us thereafter?
Before I give the answer to all these questions, let me first share with you two sad historical facts :
In the year 1747, India’s share in total world trade was 25 – 30 %. Around that time, the Englishmen took over the political power of the country. For 200 years they ruled the Indians claiming that they gave a rule of law and modern thinking to the illiterate stupid natives and that the Indian society at large should feel grateful to sahibs that they did so much to bring some order to a diverse and divided society.
By the time they left India in 1947, India’s share in the World trade had dropped down – hold your breath – 0.5 %! Yes, you read right, zero point five percent. A fall of 250 times in 200 years! No wonder the British felt very proud of what they did to the Indian economy.
After all, when the Indians were claiming one-fourth of the World Trade, the Indian economy must have been in those days at the same competitive position where the American economy is today in the twenty-first century. It was no mean achievement indeed for the British to destroy the World’s best economy in just 200 years.
Our highest quality standards
This position undoubtedly couldn’t have been reached by non-quality products being produced by some illiterate and stupid native worker. Obviously, the Indian economy was strongly competitive. Our products were of the highest quality. This World-class quality was not due to a few pockets of excellence here and there but because the whole land was inhabited by people who believed in giving their best to their customers.
India’s share in the World trade today
After independence, our share in the world trade did not go up. In fact, in 1997, 50 years after the British left us, India’s share in the world trade was only about 0.25 % – a further fall of 50 % in 50 years! So what went wrong this time? It was currently not due to socialism alone. After all, the same system has also done a very good job in the field of computer software, space, missiles, and nuclear science, all at the cutting edge of modern technology, requiring extremely high-level quality jobs. And don’t forget our achievement in becoming the number one producer of milk in the World, becoming self-sufficient in food, having eradicated smallpox, and score of such other remarkable achievements.
No, we currently cannot put the blame of failure on the doors of the politicians. They are a product of the same society that has produced you and me.
The cause of our problem
The problem of our failing share is only because of one reason. That is the highly competitive and quality-conscious modern World economy, the majority of Indian goods of shoddy quality and did not sell so well as compared to other countries products.
But another question now comes to mind. Why the hell are Indian goods still non-comparative and of poor quality even after 70 years of independence? Why can not we do a Japan to our Quality? What prevents us from doing a Singapore to our economy? What is “ that” thing? the real thing that stops us from occupying our rightful place under the sun on this planet?
The cultural root of our problem
The final answer, the root of the problem, my friends, is not out there in the world market and our corrupt politicians. It’s here, within you and me. Right here in our culture of today, in our mindset, in our lack of
Consciousness about quality. It’s the whole culture with a “ Chalta hai” attitude. A culture that worships poverty and glorifies suffering.
But then, why do we have this “ Chalta – hai” anti-equality culture? The fact is that hundreds of years of subjugation and slavery have eaten away our self–pride like cancer. That cancer of our mind has spread its roots so deep that we as a nation have a very low self–image and self-pride. We have stopped believing in ourselves. We have even stopped dreaming that we too DESERVE to live in abundance, that we too deserve prosperity and a very high standard of living.
That’s why when someone tries to bring some fundamental changes somewhere, our first reaction is,“ Sub chalta hai”, “Nothing is going to happen here, Yaar”, “ Nobody is bothered, don’t worry”. Because somehow we don’t believe that we too deserve very high standards of living, hardly enjoy working. We “walk” to our work and “rush” back home. Thus the fundamental reason is our culture’s and our nation’s basic negative attitude towards abundance and prosperity. It’s this negative attitude towards work that has prevented 30 years of TQM programs and training sessions from taking a majority of Indian products to world-class quality standards.
Our slow rate of improvements
Oh yes, we have improved the quality of so many products. But at what pace? If we have improved by 3 times, then the world has already gone ahead by 10 times and at places, even by 20 times. We seem to be perpetually lagging behind even teeny many countries. You see once again that today it’s not just sufficient to merely improve our quality. It’s very important now to produce extremely high-quality goods which are superior to the other countries product. Then only can we hope to complete in the world’s competitive bazaar, Otherwise, it’s going to be the same old Indian story of too little, too late, and far too few. When the world has already started implementing Industry 4.0 and Quality 4.0 for a decade now, we cannot now boast of implementing basic quality concepts and be happy. This kind of attitude is not going to work.
The role of training in Quality creation: A – S – K triangle
World-class quality can be created if we have world-class training given to both our management as well as workers. Every quality training has got to have an “ Attitude – Skills – Knowledge” triangle. Creating the right attitude in our people is the primary thing to focus on. Then only the imparted knowledge and skills are useful in the long run. Unfortunately, in my personal experience, I have hardly seen companies focusing on training on improving attitude, rather mostly focusing on skill or knowledge base training. I am not saying here that, knowledge and skills are not important, but without a proper attitudinal shift both of them do not have any value.
Solution for Quality Improvement?
Giving training to our workers at the knowledge level or at the skill level for a couple of days makes only a superficial difference to their productivity and quality. If there is no mental shift at the attitudinal level, then things soon go back to where they were before, with workers later becoming more demoralized and cynical as an extra burden.
The basic solution, therefore, is so simple and so obvious. Its TQM itself: Think Quality in mind first. It’s A.B.C second. Attitude leads to Behavior and Behavior leads to the Creation of Quality at the source itself. We have to start eating quality, drinking quality, and sleeping quality.
It’s all in the mind
A right attitude is a state of our mind. It’s an intangible “soft” thing, unlike the tangible, “hard” statistics of statistical quality control ( S.Q.C) program. The right training for cultivating the right mindset ensures that the workforce remains self–motivated to create quality at the source, do a self–inspection, and become self–reliant in making more and more continual improvements.
The difference that makes all difference
A small change can make an enormous difference to the quality consciousness of our workforce. That change is first the training of the boss himself along with the senior management. Then comes the training of the middle managers, followed by the supervisors. the worker’s training is undoubtedly important, but it can take place only after the senior management’s training, never before.
The commitment of the boss himself shouldn’t only be there, it should be there for all the workers to see. For nothing destroys the worker’s morale as quickly as the lip service paid to “the cause of quality” by senior management. Remember, the speed of the train comes from the engine and not the other way round.
No training, howsoever well conducted, can remove years and years of mental cobwebs in just 2 or 3 weekends. No manager, no worker, an imperfect human being that he is, can sustain his original motivation level after a couple of weeks of training in the generally prevailing “Chalta Hai” atmosphere. 30, 40 years of anti-equality thinking cannot be washed away in a washing machine by any trainer in just 2 – 3 days.
What we need is a system follow-up in our TQM training programs. The follow–up by the trainer has to be formal, focused, and frequent
(F –3). Then only does the investment in the training pay off in the long run and a new mindset of “Think Quality in Mind” and “Check Quality at source” can take root.
If our Indian industry has to stand up to the competition from the MNCs, we have no choice but to stand up with national pride. We have to start believing in ourselves. We have to become prosperity conscious and not poverty conscious.
We not only have to desire high quality, we first have to believe that we DESERVE high-quality output from ourselves. It all begins in the mind. The competition is lost or won in our minds, not in the marketplace.
PS: Do you agree on the curse of “Chalta-hai” culture in Indian Industry and the mindset of people. Do write your thought in the comment section down below and share the link to the article with your friends and colleagues.