Saturday, May 28, 2011

Banning large denomination currency notes

I just watched an interview of Swami Ramdev to NDTV. He had an incredible idea that we must ban notes of rupees 100, 500 and 1000. Before I could finish laughing at it, something did seem rational in the argument. His argument is that all shady deals are carried out with cash. Once large denomination currency notes are out of circulation, it would be very hard to make those deals under the table. Regarding the inconvenience to the public, he had a point that most of the poor anyways do not make use of such large denomination currency notes. While those who use such notes very frequently also do have a bank account along with a cheque book, credit and a debit card. Thus, all it would do is to make every financial deal leave a trace in the system. It does not seem a bad idea at all. May banning 100 rupee notes is too much but I do find some merit in banning 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Rather as a beneficial side effect the greater use of electronic cash will help bring down the cost of such transactions and make banking more accessible to the poor. It is an idea worth thinking about just as the one from Dr. Basu to tackle corruption by making giving a harassment bribe legal. Dont let the saffron robe color your opinion about the merit of the argument.

On the bench? Teach for India.

I have often come across the phrase 'on the bench', while interacting with friends from IT sector. The tech consultancy firms across the world and especially in India hire people well in advance so that they can start on a new project quickly without having to wait to hire more professionals. This often leads to a portion of the employees of a company to stay on the bench for a while. They draw a salary but do not have a project to work on. If this is a company strategy to pounce on new opportunities/ contracts quickly, then I am assuming that all times a fixed percentage say 2% of the work force of a tech consultancy is on the bench. (There are about 2.5 million professionals working in the IT sector in India.)

This resource can be put to good use in a variety of ways. One may suggest short training for the employees. Another idea may be to have a small vacation in that time or just take it slow for some period to compensate for the slogging period which shall inevitably come very soon. I propose that such talent should be used to help the education sector in the country. Professionals can go to various schools right from elementary school to engineering colleges and pitch in to narrow the large deficiency of teachers in almost every country. The innovative tech companies can come with an arrangement with schools across the country to have their professionals teach for a small duration a portion of a course in a place of their choice. This shall help the companies in the long run as the general quality of the work force betters and the academia is more in sync with the industry. Also the more direct benefit for the company is to spread its brand among the populace and practices in the academia so that the new hires are more comfortable in working there. It is good for the employees as they get a much needed break from work with a feeling of contributing to the community and following their likes. Also as a wise man once said that teaching is the best way to learn, it shall definitely hone the skills of the employees. What a better way to learn how to pitch ideas to the public than to teach school children and one woudl definitely have better tech skills after teaching engineering students. This is a win win for all.