The Development of Human Resources in India

India is Amazing and Complicated   hr india

I visited India in 2007 on a business trip.  I went to 5 cities in 7 days.  The sites were overwhelming and astonishing.  The cities filled with riches and poverty.  Very few places that I have traveled have impacted me so much immediately upon arrival, or left such a lasting impression.  I hope to go back someday and spend more time there.  Since that isn’t in this year’s travel budget, I try to stay connected to the country by utilizing social media to build connections over there.  My wife still does business with a few people  there, and I have many connections through LinkedIn and my blog.

It is through one of those connections that I bring you today’s post.

I am happy to post another post as part of the “Over There” series of guest bloggers I am trying to present.  This week, we travel to India to hear from business consultant and blogger, Gautam Ghosh who brings us a some history on the development of the HR function in India.

Human Resources in India

HR in India is a comparatively new function – in fact, the free capitalist market in India is a comparatively new idea.

It may be tough to imagine, but capitalism was seen as a vehicle of oppression by Indian freedom fighters. That’s because colonialism arrived in India under the guise of a trading firm – The East India Company.

That is why India’s freedom leaders embraced socialism and government owned enterprises were the organizations that thrived between 1950 and 1990.

However there were some large private organizations which had existed from the 19th century which were Indian owned – traditional trading houses that had ventured into manufacturing and marketing goods. One of them particularly, the Tata group ( ) was a pioneer in people management principles. The Tatas looked after their employees, often building civic amenities where their Steel and Motor plants existed.

Eventually with the dawn of competitiveness in the 1990s – such paternalistic measures had to be cut back, but yet the human hand of such firms is quite visible.

However, it was the Public Sector Units (PSUs) which in the 1970s explored cutting edge OD concepts starting with T-Groups and Organizational Change initiatives – driven by HR thinkers like Udai Pareek, TV Rao and others. In fact, Dr. Pareek was one of the first people to be certified as a facilitator by the NTL of the US. As he writes ( some of the OD stalwarts from the US –  like Doulas McGregor, Warren Bennis and others were involved in the development of HR and OD as a discipline in India.

Post 1991 when liberalization took place – liberalization being the word for opening up the protected economy and letting external businesses come in that businesses and along with it HR really took off.

New Indian organizations started in the 1970s and 1980s suddenly took flight, particularly in the area of IT and the new business of Business Process Outsourcing. Old MNCs like IBM and Coca Cola (which had been kicked out by an extremely socialist government in the late 1970s) came back to the country – and along with them came the blue chip Investment Banking and Management Consulting firms.

When the times boomed India faced a perpetual talent crunch, the same talent being vied for by different industries – young, English speaking – they wanted to mould that talent to meet their needs and money (as usually happens) became the differentiator for people to join – along with the promise of heady growth.

HR today in India stands at a cross roads – primarily driven by the HR talent shortage – which is caused by very few good institutes offering HR education (

Larger MNC and large Indian firms can afford and pay for highly talented HR professionals – and HR salaries are climbing to new high levels

However there is a huge market in the Small and Medium sized enterprises whose growth is being hampered because of critical HR competencies/ talent missing

Some organizations are looking at building their own HR talent pools – specially those with a huge internal recruiting workforce, since in India for an undergrad recruiting is easy to start a HR career – and in looking to get higher level managers from other functions (like the CFO !) to head HR

So if you’re an HR professional looking at your next career challenge- why don’t you head to India? We’re still growing at around 6% of GDP  J and some industries are still clocking double digit growth!

About the Blogger  – Gautam Ghosh

Gautam Ghosh is a HR consultant and social media geek. He blogs at and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Before turning a consultant he’s worked in various Learning & Development and OD roles in organizations like Hewlett Packard, Dell and Deloitte in India.

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