Videocon Int'l Ltd is India's future\

Videocon Int'l Ltd is India's future
-Chandra Bhan Prasad

The recent job reservation debate in the private sector has mirrored the
character of Indian society than ever before. The unpolished, private
sector did not care to maintain minimum demeanour in rejecting the issue,
and went on insulting the collective Dalit genius.

Quotes like "we will loose the competitive edge", "our productivity will
suffer" and "merit will be compromised" flew around. So belligerent was
the campaign that the Congress party, which raised the issue, timidly ran
away from the debate giving a walkover to the "captains" of industry.
However, against this extremely hostile background, Venugopal Dhoot, the
chairman of Videocon International, told a business daily on June 2, 2004:
"We welcome the move and will follow the law." He was asked a straight
question on job reservations in the private sector. Dhoot's gesture shows
that not everything is lost. The private sector is not socially as insane
as we may have thought, there are some rays of hope, which, if pursued
sincerely, could lead to capital democracy becoming a reality in India

The story of the Videocon group is as fabulous as the social conscience of
the Dhoot family. With a turnover exceeding Rs 50 billion, 18
manufacturing units, and 10,000 employees, the Videocon group is a market
leader in consumer electronics and home appliances. Through a technical
tie-up with Japan's Toshiba, Videocon produced India's first world-class
colour TV. The company's product range is highly diversified - it makes
TVs, washing machines, no-frost refrigerators, air conditioners, VCRs and
what not.

It has braved competition from multinationals like Whirlpool, LG, Samsung
and other giant corporations. In fact it has taken the battle right to the
MNCs' home turf - Europe! According to a web magazine, Appliance "Today, many refrigerator brands sold in Europe have
compressors made by Neechi Compressors, a Videocon subsidiary." Strange as
it may appear, Videocon, which was founded only in 1985, is one of India's
youngest companies to touch a turnover of Rs 50 billion.

Its founder, the late Nandlal Madhavlal Dhoot, did not come from a
traditional business house. A successful sugarcane and cotton grower,
Nandlalji established a sugar mill in Maharashtra's Gangapur in 1955. He
initiated his three sons: Venugopal, Rajkumar, and Pradeep into the
business, and they envisioned Videocon International Ltd in 1985.

Thus, what is clear is the fact that the Dhoot clan did not inherit their
business or corporate positions. Rather they built it up on their own and
grew in the face of thick competition. This aspect is very crucial in
decoding the secrets of India's corporate world. Those industrialists who
had inherited their businesses and positions, and did not face any
competition, tend more to talk about "merit", "competitiveness",
"efficiency", etc and those who created their empires, and emerged out of
competition, tend to be more idealist, liberal and honest in their social

This is clearly demonstrated in Videocon's mission statement when it
declares: "The Videocon group is committed to create a better quality of
life for the people and furthering the interests of society, by being a
responsible corporate citizen." Do we ever hear a Indian corporation
talking of "furthering the interests of society?" The Videocon statement
on reservations has come just a month back, but this mission statement has
been around for years.

Thus, what we can conjecture is that, this wonderful company has a
philosophy comparable only to American corporates. In any country, the
"interests of the society" rests on its "prosperity with social peace".
That happens only when there is an atmosphere of "competitiveness, fair
opportunities to all, assignments accorded on the basis of qualifications,
and not on the basis of birth or inheritance".

This only shows that the Videocon group is not afraid of competition, and
is prepared to extend opportunities to those social groups which have been
historically denied access to social contacts, so fundamental in
placements in the private sector. What private sector has in its mind, and
which it is not prepared to publicly confess, is the fear that their
social domination and stranglehold over industry and the capital market
may erode.

The private sector is witness to the phenomenon where, within five
decades, the traditionally suppressed social groups have made their way in
institutions under the State. The private sector should not get
unnecessarily worked up with the fear that their future generations will
become unemployed. As the economy grows, there will more opportunities for
all. As a responsible corporate sector, the private sector should
emancipate from narrow caste considerations, and think on how best to earn
a place of pride for India in the global family of nations. That can
happen only if India becomes a major player in world market, which is not
possible unless the private sector allows social competitiveness in

In that sense, Videocon is India's future, as it thinks like American
corporations. The rest can follows, or even excel it.

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