In Businessworld on why organizations follow a herd mentality:

A lot of opportunities spring up when a new sector is opened. Many try to exploit this. Since the sector is new, there are no benchmarks. Capability issues arise only later.

The retail sector, for example. More than 95 per cent of the sector is unorganised. The organised players think that even if they capture 5-10 per cent of the unorganised market, it would be great business. But there are too many unknowns. The strategy that worked in other developed markets may not apply in India.

And in Business Line on how HR education and HR professionals are developing:

Companies do look for trained HR professionals to handle HR roles. More often than not, if the role is assigned to a non-HR executive, the reason is not because of the quality of HR professionals, but the dearth of HR professionals.

Most companies do try to provide training to non-HR people through job-shadowing, nomination to HR courses and so on when they are given HR roles. In fact, this need has also sprouted some innovative partnerships between industry and academia. For instance, at XLRI we have two such partnerships, one with Accenture and the other with L&T, to conduct long-duration certification courses in HR. I think one of the challenges for the education sector will be to keep pace with the demand for HR professionals, both in terms of quality and quantity.

As a fast-growing economy, the HR exposure that India provides is unthinkable in more mature Western industrial economies. To deliver value in the contemporary scenario, HR managers have to think out-of-the-box and innovate new practices and systems. I think it is this requirement and capability, which differentiates the Indian HR professionals from their Western counterparts.

In more developed economies, HR requirements are comparatively more stable and, correspondingly, the role of HR professionals more process-driven. In comparison, Indian HR professionals have to be innovative and build HR processes around those innovations.

The changes in the demands on HR are not just in knowledge-based industries. HR requirements in the manufacturing sector also are no longer what they used to be. Earlier, the primary task of HR was maintenance of the system because manufacturing companies themselves were stable, showing slow growth or change. What we see now is a spurt of restructuring, mergers, international forays through expansion and acquisitions and upgrading of technology in the manufacturing sector. In addition, there is a migration of talent from manufacturing to the service/ knowledge sector, just when the sector requires them.

even at a very conservative estimate we are looking at least 5 million new jobs in the next five years. And a quick calculation would show that even if we need one HR professional for 1,000 employees (which by itself is a pathetic ratio), one needs at least 5,000 new HR professionals.

On the supply-side, the situation is far from comfortable. Among the few educational institutes that provide specialised HR courses — XLRI, TISS, SCMHRD, MDI — the total number of students do not add to more than 250-300 per annum, and many of them join HR consultancies rather than industry.

This is one big gap which the HR fraternity, in industry and academia, should be worried about. I don’t think it will be feasible for educational institutions to suddenly scale up their numbers to meet this demand.