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Kumar Mangalam Birla has a piece of advice for India Inc on future crisis

By Dev Chatterjee
January 21, 2021 13:02 IST
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While asking firms not to worry about sharp volatility in prices, Birla said companies must make sure they do not get caught in ‘comorbidities’.

The chairman of Aditya Birla Group, Kumar Mangalam Birla, has asked Indian companies to remain cautious and keep an eye on all the financial parameters to effectively face any crisis like the pandemic.

While asking firms not to worry about sharp volatility in prices, Birla said companies must make sure they do not get caught in ‘comorbidities’.

Birla in a webpost said the way Covid had hit people with comorbidities which were measurable and identifiable — diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure or obesity — the same analogy may be applied to businesses as well.

 

“Partly applicable, since comorbidities make businesses less able to withstand shocks like the financial crisis of 2008.

"But also different in that, unlike human conditions which often are beyond our control, there is no genetic predisposition towards comorbidities for businesses.

"The comorbidities are self-inflicted.

"The excessive financial leverage that provides sugar highs while weakening fundamentals in the long term, lax processes that lead to inventory build-ups clogging supply-chain arteries or most devastating, a lack of focus on building consumer and human relationships,” he wrote.

“These are comorbidities that can prove fatal when pandemic-type shocks rock the system.

"These dangers lurk beneath the surface during good times, and so it is imperative for corporates to be mindful of the first principles of good management practices,” he said.

On work from home (WFH), Birla said as India Inc prepares for a calibrated return to the workplace, it is facing a larger question on the future of work.

“Many have opined that WFH is going to be a mega-trend of this decade. I have a slightly contrarian view.

"The ‘Office’, after all, isn’t just a place where we come to work. It is a melting pot — of people, ideas, and conversations. The coming together with skills and experiences is what makes an office more than just a place of work. This is what defines culture,” he said.

Photograph: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters

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Dev Chatterjee in Mumbai
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