With KFA employees at lurch and its maestro’s apathy filled attitude towards the dismal condition, I am forced to recite an incident that happened in France in the 18th Century. France, then was an autocratic state with a despot at its helm all lost in its opulence. The hoi polloi was tightening its belts under hunger and starvation. When they went to the king asking for help: “My lord, we do not have even a loaf of bread to eat. Please help us out.” The queen, with attitude full of hauteur, replied: “What if you don’t have bread. Buy a cake instead.” She shooed away them with such imperious answer.
Being a professional, I understand the importance of one month’s salary in life of a person. Envisaging the situation of not being paid for one month will bring in consternation, that too when I am not saddled with any responsibilities and can call for parent’s help when in need. These employees, being parents themselves to school going kids, are victims of a mismanaged company whose head is a flamboyant frantic. Their plight can only be imagined. They have long standing loan payments to bank, whose recovery agents call them with intimation, kids in school, where school management threaten them to cut off their ward’s name from the list, etc. Last month, wife of a KFA employee committed suicide citing the dearth of money as a plausible reason. The employees have their salaries due seven months with festive season coming near. All will be dark at their homes in this season of light.
All these would have been accepted at least, if not criticized, had the supremo been empathetic to the situation of unpaid employees. In case of KFA, the employees have stood hard with patience to revive the company from its woes. Working more than ever, they have tried hard to see the airline fly once again. But the captain of the sinking ship is absconding. He is busy in a junket, discerning F1 races and cricket teams. He has failed to change his lifestyle with changing times. The son is busy in descrying beach beauties, hunting for calendar girls and having gala time at disc and pubs. On the contrary, the employees are tightening their belts, shifting their children to lower rank schools and mortgaging jewelleries to sustain these difficult times.
While the no-hopeÂ story of mismanagement of the company is something the business pundits are concerned with, what I am concerned with is the future of these employees. The greatest irony of nature is that banks are pondering over to write-off the part of debt of 7,500 crore lend to KFA. But will these banks (especially PSU, funded by public money) forgive the loan payments or for that sake even forgive the interest of these grief ridden employees? They will forgive the debts of the honcho, who will continue to lead profligate life serving liquor of millions to his high profile friends and owning sports teams. But they will recover each and every penny from this deplorable lot who will find hard to make even two ends meet and give proper education to their children.
Such acts of sumptuousness at the cost of someone’s necessity should be harshly criticized. The practitioners of such acts should be ostracized, constantly reminded of their acts and responsibilities they owe to their employees. The fear of social stigma is more appalling than legal ones. On this dusshera, if we need to burn an effigy, it is not one of Ravan, but of the insensitivity and indisposition towards other’s situation. The only emotions left within ourselves are the ambition and passion to earn more, desire for new branded items and enjoy all the materialism of the world.
P.S.: What matters is not how much you have but what makes you feel secure.
( Courtesy: Prof. Debashish Chatterjee, IIM-K, author of the book “ Timeless Leadership”)