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Current Issues in Management Many companies are starting to monitor and manage key indicators.

Substantial evidences prove that addressing such issues can directly cut cost and save money. As such, these can evaluate the application of management theory and how company are putting those in practices specifically those that can have impact on the companys reputation. 1) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) The corporate social responsibility concerns the social environment and a changed social contract. Many argued that organizations must consider the societal impact of their decisions and actions. Furthermore, the organizations must act to protect and improve the welfare of the general public. The organizations must aim not only on organizational effectiveness but on existence to address the needs of society (, 2003, ). According to (1985), the social contract follows the obligation between the organization and the individuals, groups and other organizations, government and the society as a whole. These are set of written and unwritten rules and assumptions in a corporate manner. Such obligations discuss behaviour patterns among various elements of society. The obligation to individual includes equitable wages, salaries and remuneration packages and suitable working conditions. In return of these obligations, the duties and responsibilities must be carried-out by the employees. The obligations to groups and other organizations require the company to compete within acceptable means. In effect, the competition must be carried-out with respect to mutual rights and obligations of trading partners and other businesses and companies. The most notable feature of governmental obligations of organizations is the existence of mutually beneficial exchange evident through tax payments and implementation of health and safety standards. Societal obligations deals with law-abiding activities of the organization like the consumer group (, 1985, ). The underlying issues, however, are the changing values of government, business, education, religion, work force and society. Over the past 50 years, the government tended to get more powerful, more oppressive and more righteous. Many social ills are needed to be rectified and be improved upon. Businesses do have responsibility to society and likewise the society has some responsibilities to the corporate world. These obligations include: setting clear and consistent rules, keeping economically- and technically-feasible rules, making proactive rules and striving at goal-setting rules (as cited in ., 1989, ). If the government will honestly implement and adhered to by the government and industries, there might be a possibility of a much effective relationsh ip. As to all of this are considerable talk and lip service, the cooperation between business and government will be a big challenge. The continuous foreign and domestic takeovers, imbalance between export and import, the high value of dollar and inflation changes the pace of the business sector and it affects the consumer behaviour and the society. However, it can be minimize through involvement of the worker-business to hep increase productivity.

The knowledge in history, geography classics and government are poorly integrated in the educational systems. Aside from this, other areas such as morals, social concepts and values and how business works reached the bottom level in recent years. Some universities and educational institutions are somewhat neglecting their purpose of educating the minds of the people. Through judicial rulings, the work ethic and ethical-moral standards are not prospering under religious principles. The government are not realizing the impact of this on business and societal processes. Labor will be more demanding upon management in the future without a large influx and unless industry is able to expand rapidly, said . (1989, ). He relates that the rapid growth of the 20 -44-year-od age groups and the small growth of the population in the 1-9-year-old bracket will create serious managerial problems 10 to 20 years. The stakeholders demand on businesses to grant their desires more than what they really need and deserve perceives the societys need and demands from the business sector. Immediate changes over a relatively short period will do no good to the company and eventually to the society (., 1989). 2) Business Ethics Some major corporation faced scandals and unethical acts which lead to public distrust in one time or another. The word ethics means character or customs. As such, the organizations codes and by -laws must convey moral integrity and values in serving the public to avoid misgivings and scepticism. However, other organizations are concern with the greater specificity, usefulness and consistency of ethics (, 2003, ). Ethical behaviour deals with the morally-acceptable and commonly-held values which are consistent to personal perception of values. In an organization, many would question the rightfulness of different acts such as: Is it ethical to do personal business on company time? Is it unethical to ask someone to do a certain job that might not be good for their career progress? (, 2003). Thus, we can define business ethics as perception of right or wrong in the behaviour and practices of the business. It is divided into two as normative business ethics and descriptive business ethics. A growing misconception is the difference of the two. In business context and practices, the normative business ethics deal with establishing ethical from unethical. It concerns with what ought to be and what ought not to be. Descriptive business ethics, in contrast, is the comparison and contrasts of different moral codes, systems, beliefs, practices and values. It is learning about real occurrences in business organizations, managers, and specific industries regarding behaviour, actions, decisions, policies and practices (, 2003). The distinction between the two perspectives must be clarified once and for all. So that the prevalence of a particular practice of a certain organization that is perceived to be true and acceptable by other organizations wont be justified rather be corrected. Aside from this, questionable deeds of organizations will be addressed on individual, organizational, industry, societal and international levels (, 2003, ).

Another management challenge is the teachability of business ethics and the learnability of the employees in accordance with their personal perception and values regarding business ethics. According to , business institutions cannot taught students something as fundamental as moral principles and ethical values as a kind of professional add-ons (2006). What is the sense of putting ethical components on standard curriculum? What is the theoretical extent in comparison to business reality of such teachings would be? The impact of such observation points toward the relative interconnection between business schools, business theories and business realities. The ability to impart morality and inculcate virtue to future mangers is their job. In reality, business ethics is viewed by many, including and ten , as sentimental common sense or a set of excuses for being unpleasant, at best window dressing and at worst a calculated lie (as cited in , 2006). In s point of view, business ethics can be taught and learned, but the choice on what they ought to do (2007) lies in the hands of the company and employees. There is an urgent need of a workplace revival and education and training in ethics and professionalism is the key. The CEO and the senior management must consider the ethical dilemmas in the workplace. A well-written and well-communicated acceptable code can help but it is impossible to regulate non-existence of unethical behaviour. The bottom line is there is no legal requirement to behave ethically (, 2007). The challenge herein is the approach to disseminate the information about codes and to avoid concentration in a certain management level. It must be from top to bottom. If not, the result would be clogging on continuous professional development, an open workplace culture and a clear and explicit code (, 2007). 3) Corporate Governance The concepts of firm and the interests it govern contribute to the understanding of the issues faced by the corporate governance. Since the term governance implies the exercise of authority, corporate governance, then, is the study of the allocation and exercise of such authority (, 2004). The challenge, by and large, is the extent of authority-intervention on managerial matters and how it can affect the prevalent activities of firms and organizations. Another issue to deal with is the dispersed structure of organizational ownership (, 2004). The separation of the equity holder and the management creates problems, according to Blair, such as: 1) the management efficiency means having enough courage to take risks, make strategic decisions and take advantage of investment opportunities and the management cannot submit every decision to shareholders affirmation; 2) the control-rights of shareholders with large total of shares has a power that must be restrained; 3) the commitment of time and resources of investors in monitoring the affairs of the organization; and 4) the reliability and accuracy of information-needs by the investors/shareholders (as cited in , 2004, ). The power and position of both parties must be guarded to avoid abuse and taking unfair advantages over one another. The primary goal of the organization as a whole is somewhat overlooked the more as the location of authority is becoming more blurry.

The three elements that contribute to the efficiency and inefficiency of the corporate governance is the existence of strong public sector governance including a network of corporate law and securities legislation, strong internal governance practices and independent auditors who are neutral and objective-driven (, 2002). The corporate governance deals with the role of financial performance, chief executive, top management, shareholders and board of directors. Herewith, the management threat is the responsiveness taken by each. A more balanced and responsive corporate governance system will eventually be the challenge. Since in a competitive environment, the authorities must intervene according to their position and power if the management failed to respond to economic changes and challenges ( and , 1998, ). Another aspect to explore regarding corporate governance is the implications of globalization. The scale and scope of international business activities have significant effects on the international scene. Usually, corporate governance is practiced within individual companies and its focus is normally internal (, 2002). The readiness of such companies to engage in international economy might alter the prevalent cultures and practices of the company. points out that the critical aspect is the increasing potential damage once the company involved itself in the international economy (2002). 4) Quality of Work Life and Quality Circles The quality of work life (QWL) is essential for continuous attraction of future employees and retention of current employees. The QWL is a comprehensive company-wide program which aims at the improvement of employee satisfaction, strengthening of workplace learning and helping employees to have a better change- and transition-management ( and , 2006, ). Regardless of position or status in a company, many employees are experiencing dissatisfaction towards work. This conforms to the complexity of problems as it is very difficult to isolate and identify all aspects that contribute to affect the QWL. The issues confronting the management are employer behaviour and the lives of employees before, after and during work. QWL is a very dynamic and multidimensional concept. It is oftenly viewed as a movement, a set of organizational interventions and a type of work life by the employees. It includes concerns of job security, job sustainability, reward systems, training and career advancements opportunities and participation in decisionmaking ( and , 2006, ). and (1993) define QWL as the workplace strategies, operations and environment. It promotes and maintains employee satisfaction, improve work conditions and organizational effectiveness. The consequence to be faced by the management is the incorporation of QWL in policies, procedures, leadership style and operations. Broadly speaking, the identification of elements of QWL may be organization- and context-specific. The duty of the management. therefore, is to determine such elements which affect the efficiency and quality of work life of the employees. The creation of quality circles in shop-floor level involves the attempt to engage employees on collective quality improvement. The small groups are consistently given advice and take decisions on immediate work

procedures. , , and argue that the effectiveness of such process is poorly carried-out. When, the employees realized that they really have little real influence on the organization, the employee will start to feel indifferent. Since the organizations are purely hierarchical and the principles are centralized, the process appears as an instrument for manipulating the employee opinion (1998, ). If this is the case, the management must struggle at inculcating the sense of involvement among employees in decision-making. Another area of concern is the motivation scheme and its significant benefits directly to the employees of the organization. Some organizations thrive at grouping of employees who meet regularly to tackle improvements within the workforce of a certain organization (, , and , 1998, ). The idea is the how effective a small group in voicing their concern regarding the work and their environment. Another thing to consider is the reflection of opinion of the group compared to the whole work force. Such issues regarding the quality work of life and quality circles may appear to be very broad but still they are waiting for recognition and immediate solutions. 5) Workforce Treatment and Workforce Discrimination The work treatment and the work discrimination per se have three dimensions: the formal vs. informal, potential vs. encountered and the perceived vs. real. These dimensions transcends across all status, race, gender, and etc. describes work discrimination as unfair and negative treatment of workers or job applicants based on personal attributes that are irrelevant to job performance (2001). The nature of work is very mul tifaceted as it can be experienced in pre- during and post-levels of work. The framework of formal discrimination is based on institutional policies and decisions regarding hiring, firing promotion, salary deductions and job assignments. In contrast, the informal discrimination deals with interpersonal dynamics and work atmosphere such as verbal and non-verbal harassments, lack of respect, hostility and prejudice ( and , 1984). The second dimension involves the potential and encountered discriminations. The former deals with actual discrimination in sexual orientation disclosures, for example. The latter refers to encountered discriminatory practices. However, the distinction between the two is subjectivity and objectivity viewed from neutral terms (, 2001). The third dimension is derived from the concept occupational opportunity structures of (1980): the ideal, real and perceived discriminations. In ideal, there is no discrimination. The comparison between perceived and real discriminations varies from perception of individuals. The neutral situation may be interpreted and misinterpreted as a discriminatory practice where in fact, the situation is just a result of

misconception/misperception. 6) Transparency

Generally, transparency is critical in corporate accounting and statements. The companies must practice publicizing in order to gain and regain the confidence of shareholders and consumers in all aspects of business. The benefit of the people around and within the company is the avoidance of misleading informations and false announcements (, 2001). The management, as policymakers, must clearly provide the people truthfulness regarding their operations and activities. In effect, the credibility of the corporate governance will be respected by the employees and the consumers. The continuum of economic growth includes a transparent corporate governance structure. The interaction, without this, can lead to financial deficiency. In this regard, the financial transparency and the corporate governance system are the key factors to encourage investors and to create a sustainable business (, 2007). According to (2005), transparency scares business. The switch to a more open accounting can be daunting said , vice-president of Delta Private Equity Partners. The management struggles at the significant cost in paying consultations regarding elimination of shady schemes. The profits will be cut and may erode business competitiveness. Not all entrepreneurs, in addition, are interested in legalizing their financials.

FDI in Retail: What it entails?

More than two decades after the first wave of reforms were introduced in the year1991; the countrys socio-economic health has by no means become better. In the midst of these galloping problems, the announcement by the UPA government about FDI in multi brand retail comes not as a relief but as a matter to be given a serious thought. The debate so far is threefold: (a) one section which is drooling over the reforms and projecting huge surge of investment in infrastructure and thereby increment in the employment levels. (b) The second group is the one which is sceptical about the opening of markets for foreign retail giants like Walmart,Carrefour, Kmart etc. not because they fear that it would affect the overall development of the economy. Rather, this group fears competition from the big foreign companies which have deep pockets to procure products from the world market. Thus, it would affect their profits by a huge margin. (c) The third group comprises of the unorganized retail sector which fears its elimination from the market in the long run. Various claims made by UPA seem to fall flat on any reason if we take into consideration the outcomes of previous reforms. Employment in formal sector has not increased by any count since 1991, informalization of labour in the formal sector is a clear indication of this fact. Productivity in agriculture, where almost 54 per cent of the population is dependent has declined. It is no longer a profitable venture as the input costs have gone up in the post green revolution phase. Rise in the phenomena of rural to urban migration, rural non-farm employment, farmer suicides, show what precarious condition agriculture has landed into. Gradual shift of the economy from agriculture to industry, as expected in the prospects of reforms, has proven to be a fallacy. Instead, the existing industries have become more capital intensive leading to the displacement of labour on a mass scale. Trade liberalisation has given the global players a free hand to rein the economy. As a consequence rate of inflation is rising unchecked as the price of crude oil is fluctuating globally. These examples showcase that reforms and liberal policies have not led to the overall development of the economy.

In the light of the above observations, announcement of FDI in multi brand retail does not give much hope. The Indian retail sector is not only very vast but also varied in its composition. The huge population of the country, the rise of the middle class and its purchasing power and a huge market for foreign investment in India are factors that have invoked the interest of the foreign investors. But, it becomes imperative to see what this FDI would entail for the retail sector when it is analyzed by keeping the informal economy at the centre of the debate. When only 4 percent of the retail trade in India comes under the organized retail it becomes essential to evaluate or assess the viability of FDI taking into consideration not this 4 percent but the 96 percent which belongs to the unorganized retail sector. The unorganized retail sector is not a homogeneous category, it comprises of peddlers, street vendors, kiosks, push-cart vendors, weekly traders. It is not unknown that the majority of those engaged in retailing at the lower end of the economy depend on the small and medium enterprises for their supplies. It has been reiterated time and again, by many economists, how and under what conditions the unorganized sector has risen to such heights in India and other developing countries via the route of the neoliberal regime. Indian retail market is quite diverse in terms of scale, culture and structure. Some reasons for this diversity can be attributed to the divide that exists between rural and urban India. Traditional forms of marketing (neighbourhood markets, mandis, and periodic/weekly markets) coexist with modern day markets (supermarkets, hypermarkets, Single brand outlets etc.). Decline of the rural economy coupled with lack of employment in the manufacturing sector (organized sector) created a vast pool of surplus labour in the country in the post reform period. This multitude of labour started migrating to urban centres in search of employment and many of them landed up with self employment in the service sector of which retailing forms a huge part. Annihilation of small scale and self employed lower middle class will lead to large scale poverty and destitution because the unorganised sector is absorbing the shocks of migration and rural distress. It manages by catering to middle classes in the metropolis. If this market is gone, they will all be unemployed. On the one hand the government is trying to convince that FDI would not harm the local trading practices and on the other hand various traders associations, vendors are fearing its exit from the retail market in the long run when various multi brand retail giants with their deep pockets and marketing skills would create direct contacts with farmers and producers of essential commodities. Whether its a small vendor selling fruits on his bicycle or a trader who has a kiosk in a neighbourhood where he sells grocery or a weekly market trader who sells garments, all three of them depend on a vegetable mandi, grain mandi and wholesale market for garments respectively. With the entry of the multi-brand retail giants in the market two possibilities emerge (a) these retail giants are expected to procure 30 percent of goods from medium scale enterprises (but it is not necessary that these enterprises should be from the host country) thus, in case it decides to capture the domestic market it would create direct contact with small and medium enterprises and get commodities at the lowest possible cost and take benefit of the economies of scale. In case this happens, then the retail giants would slowly gain hands and monopolize the market and dictate the prices of essential commodities in the domestic market. This would slowly displace small vendors who dont have enough working capital to compete with retail giants. These vendors who till now were able to purchase goods from the wholesale market by proving their credit worthiness would no longer be able to give cash and carry goods to the retail market. (b) Since multi brand retail stores have the liberty to buy products from anywhere in the world and they have enough resources to conduct market research, it would explore the world market and invest wherever they would be able to maximize their profits through final sale. In this scenario, small vendors and traders would continue to have access to the products which are

produced by the small scale industries but at the same time these enterprises would face severe competition from cheap commodities imported from elsewhere. In the long run it is speculated that the prices of their commodities would fall in the markets and sooner or later these domestic small enterprises would be forced to quit. For example, T. Vellayan, president of the Tamil Nadu Federation of Traders Associations gives the example of how the import of palm oil and soyabean oil for edible purposes proved ineffectual to the oil manufacturing units. Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore and Villupuram districts had several stone oil presses. But these traditional oil mills closed down. In Pudukottai district, oil mill premises have been converted into marriage halls ( Frontline, Dec.2011). Another justification given by the government for allowing FDI is that it would stabilize the inflationary trends that the Indian economy is witnessing for the past two years. This logic seems to be a wishful thinking because rising inflation cannot be controlled by the multi brand retail giants instead the prices of food grains, fruits and vegetables and essential commodities would only increase once these retail outfits will make a market for their products in India. Price of diesel and petrol has been exponentially hiked up; this is going to affect the cost of production both in agriculture and manufacturing. Farmers are not going to benefit in any way as they would continue to be exploited by the multi brand retail giants in the long run. If in this context we see the large unorganized retail sector, we can observe how small vendors of fruits and vegetables are able contain the inflationary pressure by offering lower prices. One round of a weekly market in the neighbourhood of Delhi or elsewhere would show that the margins between the prices at which weekly traders sell their products and the price at which any supermarket sells the same thing varies by more than 20 to 30 percent. Multi brand retail giants would not only affect the price of food grains at the national level but it might also result in the disappearance of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees which keep a certain minimum check on the price of the foodgrains coming to the grain markets. Thus, corporate capital would get a free reign in the indigenous markets of India and the process of primitive accumulation would set in as predicted by C.P. Chandrashekhar, Prabhat Patnaik et. al. This would have direct impact on that section of the unorganized retail sector which is employed in the lowest level of the market hierarchy who do not have ready cash to invest and whose livelihood is dependent on the recycling of debt for a day, a week, a month or a year because the prices are going to rise in the long run and so will the interests on the borrowed sum. The adverse impact of the FDI would befall the unorganized retail sector with great intensity if the State makes more stringent rules of zoning and regulation. I have been researching the local weekly markets of Delhi for the past three years. These markets are very prominent feature in all parts of Delhi and NCR. There are around twelve hundred weekly markets of which only one fourth are recognized by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (consequence of zoning). Approximately 2.5 million people are employed through these markets. This figure would just double if we take in to account additional employment that is created around these markets. Various own account and household enterprises are producing commodities on a daily basis for such low end markets. Local weekly markets provide a very easy channel of distribution of commodities produced not only in local small scale industries but also in the neighbouring States. For instance, rubber chappals and shoes made in Agra, sarees made in Surat, hosiery made in Coimbatore, woollens made in Ludhiana are all sold at affordable prices here in these very markets. FDI in multi brand retail would either displace various wholesale markets or the size of such markets would shrink. Today the local markets run on capital which has a fluid or floating nature. But with the coming of multi brand retail stores this floating capital would freeze and small retailers and vendors will be evicted from the market.

It is argued by the government that FDI in retail would create employment opportunities. But employment for whom is the crucial question? It would create employment for those who are educated and have professional experience. Taking cue from my observation in the weekly markets of Delhi I would argue that majority of those now employed in these markets have minimal education and have no professional degrees apart from their marketing knowledge. Now if FDI in multi brand retail comes, it is not in any way going to benefit these traders if they lose their sole means of survival. I have observed in the course of my research that through weekly markets of Delhi hundreds of people have employed themselves who were displaced for one reason or the other. At the same time it has created a distinct market for lower middle class who would not go to a super market or a mall for shopping. Where will this section of population shop for daily needs with the entry of multi brand retail outlets in case it leads to the displacement of weekly markets? Instead of providing infrastructural facilities the State already keeps street vending, peddling and weekly markets at the helm by keeping them in that buffer zone where it is difficult to recognize their real viabilility for the economy at large. Often these are characterized as unlawful, black, or hidden activity. It is my contention that in order to make way for the private capital the State might evict street vendors, cancel their licenses, or remove tehbazaari rights for weekly markets in the times to come. Just as in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other metropolitan cities, the State, has from time to time uprooted slums and relocated them to the periphery of the city, to make way for the investment by private corporate builders in order to make the city slum free. Similar decisions if taken for the unorganized retail sector would gravely increase inequality and poverty.

Putting people on the map

Last week, the Survey of India (SOI), the mapping arm of the government, filed a police complaint against Googles Mapathon the first ever mapping competition in India. It alleged that Google, which had invited Indian participants to add their local knowledge to existing maps, is likely to jeopardise national security interest and violate the National Map Policy. It also threatened participants with potential breach of rules. In response, Google has stood its ground and said its activities are well within the rules. At the heart of this conflict are not legal issues as the SOI makes it out to be, but the shrinking role of the state in disseminating geographical information. Technologies have broken government monopoly over spatial data and are empowering communities to produce maps that are relevant to them. Bewildered government institutions, instead of embracing innovation and quickly adjusting to changes, are seeking the coercive power of rules to maintain dominance and stifle innovation. For more than two centuries, the SOI has been surveying the country and producing topographical and special maps of different scales. Of the two kinds of maps it publishes, Defence Series and Open Series Maps, the second are declared as unrestricted by the Ministry of Defence. These are the maps that can be sold to the public. Third parties can reprint and add value to them, but only after signing an agreement and abiding by the condition set by the SOI. However, maps of coastal areas, the region around national boundaries and of Jammu & Kashmir State are out of bounds.

Private enterprise These restrictions are inconsequential. Private companies sell satellite images and maps of Indian territories for a fee. For example, RapidEye, a private company based in Germany, offers high resolution images of three billion square kilometres of earth area including images of the western boundary of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, MapMart, the e-commerce division of IntraSearch, Inc. a U.S.-based concern, offers images, elevation model, digital vector maps and topographical maps of territories in India and other countries. Technology, as two geographers, Jeremy W. Crampton and John Krygier insightfully noted, is pushing cartography out of the control of powerful elites. Maps worldwide are accessible as never before. Probably, anticipating such a situation, in 2005, the Indian National Map Policy envisioned that the SOI would take a leadership role in liberalising access to spatial data. To promote this, the national policy recommended exploration of partnerships with all sections of people and work towards a knowledge-based society. But nothing much has changed. We are yet to witness collaborative efforts in the scale and manner needed. On the contrary, Google Maps and Google Earth, launched in the same year as the National Map Policy, have taken advantage of technological solutions and allowed users to freely populate maps with information relevant to them. As a result, they have leapfrogged to become the favourite and frequently consulted map services. The problem is that Indian institutions still hold on to antiquated views of maps as instruments of governmental-ity. Hence, they contain only information that is relevant to what the state needs for administration, security and surveillance. Everyday spaces and resources closely connected with active users have hardly been the concern. Counter-mapping Counter-mapping, a practice and term made popular by Nancy Lee Peluso, a political ecologist, has challenged such state dominance and indifference. For more than a decade, it has empowered communities to produce alternative maps that document local assets and enabled them to make rightful claims. From Indonesia to Nicaragua, these counter-maps groups have challenged exploitation, exclusion, and demanded democratic resource allocation. Closer home, Transparent Chennai, a project initiated by the Institute for Financial Management and Research and partly funded by Googles Inform and Empower initiative, helps Chennai citizens counter inaccurate government data. By collecting information such as location of public toilets and mapping them, local communities evaluate government performance and demand better services. Privacy issues Not everything is benign about mapping practices offered by Google. Commercial exploitation of data, invasion of privacy and illegal scooping of personal information in Google projects such as Street View are unsettling. Oliver Burkeman, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald on the dark side of digital mapping, remarked that Googles and Apples maps might not just observe our lives, but in some sense come to play a role in directing their course. They track use patterns, manipulate data and produce maps that stealthily serve commercial interests. Burkeman wittily observed that our search for the quickest route between two points in such map services may throw a result that passes through at least one Starbucks shop.

One of the models worth looking at is New Yorks open data policy and the related BigApps project. The city has made it mandatory for government agencies to disclose data to improve transparency and governance. Since 2009, New York has been conducting competitions, which encourage people to use these data and create useful applications. Digital map applications are frequently among the prize winning ones. For example, last years prize winning entry, 596 Acres, is an online map application that helps communities find vacant public land and put it to common use. Unfettered use of data and free mapping possibilities alone have the potential to check predatory practices and state monopoly.

E-commerce in India Present and Future

Today, the market place is flooded with several e-commerce options for shoppers to choose from. A variety of innovative products and services are being offered spoiling customers for choice. Online shopping is no more a privilege enjoyed by your friends and family living in the US or UK. Today, it is a reality in India. In the last couple of years, the growth of e-commerce industry in India has been phenomenal as more shoppers have started discovering the benefits of using this platform. There is enough scope for online businesses in the future if they understand the Indian shoppers psyche and cater to their needs. Changing the game Indian e-commerce industry has evolved over a period of time with innovations that have changed the rules of the game globally. Cash on delivery (COD) is one such example. In a country where credit card penetration is much lower than other developed markets and where e-commerce companies are still working hard to build trust among shoppers, introducing cash on delivery has been one of the key factors for the success of the segment. At present, COD is the preferred payment mode for close to 55-60% of all online transactions in the fashion and lifestyle segment in India.

COD is here to stay owing to its convenience and its cultural affinity and will be a major part of payment mechanisms for at least the next four to five years. Executing COD efficiently and painlessly for the customer is critical to the success of any ecommerce player in the country. Delivering experiences Besides COD, e-commerce players need to focus on customer experience as a means to build trust and confidence. Customer experience encompasses every interaction a customer has with your service from placing an order to interacting with your customer service team, to the actual delivery experience. Providing a great delivery experience is one of the core aspects to delighting customers. This doesnt necessarily mean constantly pushing the frontier on faster deliveries. Being a day behind the fastest in the market isnt a big deal, but trust, consistency and reliability are more important. The more faith the customer has in your delivery service, the more likely he is to buy again. Delivering a good experience is critical not only to ensure repeat purchase from a customer, but also for building a good brand image and word-of-mouth publicity. Growing the base Online shopping has seen a lot of traction in the last 12-18 months. India has almost 130 million online users at present, out of which as many as 10% are engaging in online transactions. The online user base is expected to cross 300 million in the next 2 3 years and a larger percentage of people are expected to transact online by 2015. This large base will provide vast scope for e-commerce businesses to establish themselves in India. Growing opportunities Cities beyond metros are in the limelight for all the good reasons. On an average, almost 50 55% of our business come from tier 2 and tier 3 cities and I believe this ratio is similar across other ecommerce companies in the country. With metro markets reaching saturation, I believe tier 2 and 3 cities are going to be the biggest drivers for ecommerce businesses in India in the not so distant future. Building a robust supply chain is critical to efficiently fulfilling orders from these cities and tapping their full market potential. The e-commerce industry is growing at a rapid pace and changing the dynamics of the retail industry. In the coming years, e-commerce is expected to contribute close to 8-10% of the total retail segment in India. This growth is bound to continue provided e-commerce companies focus on innovating, building strong technology infrastructure and delivering the best customer experience.