By- Dilip Ghosh : The theme for this year’s National Productivity Week which is being observed from 12th to 18th of February, is ‘Prosperity through Productivity’. But, how are productivity and prosperity linked ?. It is common knowledge that these two are directly proportional. The more the productivity, the more the prosperity. But, then the gains in productivity are also dependent on competitiveness.
Therefore, to achieve prosperity through productivity, one has to examine the notion of competitiveness. The products and services of a country, region, business organization or individual will stay in the market only if it or he has efficient means of production and its or his goods and services are cheaper and of better quality than similar products and services available in the market.
To motivate micro, small and medium entrepreneurs and farmers to upgrade their products and, produces and increase their share in the domestic as well as overseas markets, the National Productivity Council in collaboration with the Government instituted National Productivity awards in 1982. Keeping in view that an effective nation-wide award scheme provides the basis for every organization to periodically assess the progress, the awards provide a stimuli for quality and productivity improvement in Indian industries and agriculture. There is a Best Productivity Award which includes a silver cup and a citation. In the Second Best Productivity Award, there is a silver salver and a citation. Then there are certificates of Merit given to those units which have shown good performance for sustained productivity effort. The aim is not just to encourage innovation of new designs and technologies but also to propagate a culture of productivity and quality consciousness among the small and medium scale manufacturing units.
But, what is culture of productivity ? It is a mind-set. The focus is on creating and encouraging human capital that can help in throwing up innovative ideas. It can be in the form of new designs, new technologies or new business strategies. An organization has to develop the ability to harness the creative energies of its own workforce. Basic to this approach is the conviction that there is no limit to improvement. Even the best can be improved. The crucial ingredient is the preparedness of the human mind to achieve higher and higher productivity levels. Therefore, workers, managers, policy makers and all others involved in the production to marketing chain, should be ready to continuously and collectively work in every economic activity for the prosperity of the society as a whole. Needless to say, as the society graduates further into knowledge era, traditional methods and principles will become increasingly ineffective and there will be need for augmenting productivity both at micro as well as macro level to realize a global competitive edge. Today when the world economy is slowing down, adopting productivity as a culture of bringing about continuous improvements has become all the more important because now goods and services that are to be marketed should not only be at an even more competitive cost but they should also be more customer friendly.
India’s share in world trade, including trade in merchandise and services sectors, is increasing. According to statistics released by the WTO, India ’s share has gone up from 1.1% in 2004 to 1.5% in 2006. Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Kamal Nath expressed hope that if the current rate of growth of merchandise and services trade continues, India’s share in world trade may almost double the level of 2004 to cross 2% in 2009. But, this does not give room for complacency. The Minister of State for Commerce & Industry Mr. E.V.K.S. Elangovan in his address to the 45th Workshop meeting of the heads of NPOs has said that under the emerging WTO regime, subsistence farming in developing nations faces poor economic prospects. He said, therefore, it is necessary to focus on large-scale productivity improvements in the sector, particularly in post-harvest operations, by avoiding the huge losses incurred annually because of the lack of adequate storage and transport facilities. While effecting productivity improvements, however, care needs to be taken that the production process does not damage environment. Mr Elangovan cautioned that the productivity movement in Asia needs to view environmental threats far more seriously than in the past. Renowned agriculture scientist Dr. M S Swaminathan has also emphasized on the need for sustainable agriculture. Pointing out the vast scope for productivity improvement in Indian agriculture, he said that the gap between potential and actual yields is high in most farming systems. Even in the case of rice and wheat, the present average yield is just 40 per cent of what can be achieved even with technologies currently on the shelf. He called for an integrated approach to remove the technological, infra-structural and policy constraints responsible for the productivity gap. The National Productivity Council of India which was set up in 1958, has been successfully promoting productivity through consultancy, research, training, and institution building. As today’s economies are knowledge driven , there is greater need for investing in skill development and innovation. Keeping this in view, the business organizations will have to improve their performance to ensure their survival and growth. This improvement will come about only if the focus is on production of quality goods, in a cost effective manner and by generating enough surpluses to plough back into the business to further improve productivity. And this must occur continuously, to create an advantage in the market place, which is what productivity is all about. Productivity, thus, will have to become a mass movement. Increasing productivity has to emerge as a new national priority, where the efforts of all converge to accelerate the process of economic growth and raise the standards of living of the people.