Kochi Chapter of BBG Chennai met at Casino hotel Willingdon Island on 24th April – the Chapter has 12 members. The Guest Speaker was James Joseph (ex-Microsoft) who spoke on his recently published “God’s Own Office” (in best seller list) based on bank of river Periyar in Aluva (www.GodsOwnOffice.com).
James has also established a unique business – jackfruit all-year-round : visit www.jackfruit365.com . It was an inspiring story over 20 years of lots of “downs” and some great “ups” which brought this native of Kerala through the US and Europe back home. Dr Philip John, BDHC Warden and Sijoy Thomas, recently appointed BDHC Regional Advisor were also present.

Hufriz Wadia (Partner, Kochhar & Co.) was among six women achievers awarded the ‘Women Achiever’s Award 2015’ by the Rajalakshmi Group of Educational Institutions at an award ceremony on March 10, 2015 celebrating the exemplary achievements in the world of women.
Hufriz was in august company with the other awardees being Padma Bhushan recipient Mrs. Sudha Raghunathan, Dr. Kamala Selvaraj, Ms. Srinidhi Chidambaram, Ms. Srimathi Shivashankar and Mrs. Pushpa Kansasamy.

Given that we have just come to the close of our financial year 2014-2015, it is prudent for each of us BBG Chennai members to look back and check whether each of our companies and organisations have met with a few important compliance requirements as under. Please consider it these have been followed by your Company and if not, it would be advisable to set about ensuring immediate compliance with the same.

1. In relation to the law on Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace:

a. Constitute an Internal Complaints Committee with a minimum of four members, of which one must be a non-employee member with relevant expertise in law or social service or from an NGO;

b. Ensure that your company has a written anti-sexual harassment policy. In addition to this, ensure that the names and contact details of the Internal Complaints Committee members and the penal provisions under the law are clearly displayed on notice boards in every office or unit;

c. Train all your employees on the provisions of this law. This should be undertaken at 2 to 3 times a year. Also ensure you provide training to the ICC on how to conduct proceedings.

d. Annual Reporting – Certain details on sexual harassment complaints received need to be included in the Annual Report of the Company and in the report to the relevant District Officer. Ensure this is done.

2. In relation to CSR requirement under the Companies Act:

If your company has a net worth of Rs.500 crore or more, or a turnover of Rs. 1,000 crore or more or a net profit of Rs. 5 crore or more during any financial year, the Company needs to have in place a written Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy, form a CSR Committee from amongst the Board of Directors and ensuring that the 2% of its average net profits for last three years are spent on CSR initiatives (as specified in the Companies Act and rules). The spending should have been completed by 31 March 2015.

3. Resident Director:

Every company is required to have a resident director. Please ensure that the company has at least one director that is resident in India.

4. Woman Director:

Every listed company is required to have at least one woman director on the board of directors. It is prudent to ensure this appointment at the earliest if not already complied with.

In case you have any questions or comments on the above, please contact the author.
Authored by:

Hufriz Wadia, Partner, Kochhar & Co.

Director and ICC member of a few private companies.

Late Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first Prime Minister of Singapore, always managed to provoke with his views on India, famously saying once, “India is not a real country. Instead, it is 32 separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line.”

During the South Asian Diaspora Convention in 2011, he was asked, “If someone were to give you India today, can you do to India what you did to Singapore over the last three decades?” This is what he said in response.

“First, no single person can change India. You speak 320 different languages. Manmohan Singh [who was the Prime Minister then] can speak Hindi – I am not sure if he speaks Punjabi, I think he can, but at any one time you would only have only about 200 million people out of a total of 1.2 billion people understanding him, so that is a structural problem which cannot be overcome.

If you compare that with China where over 90 per cent speak one language, and when the President of China or a leader in China speaks, 90 per cent understand it. So, it’s a much easier country to lead than India.

Secondly, as I have explained, India consists of many different dialects and nation-groups. There is no connection between the history and development of the Tamil language or the Telugu language and [say] Punjabi. So, India is a creation of the British Raj and the railway system it built, and therefore it has its limitations.”

He was also asked to share what according to him were the fundamental rules of good governance. That is quite simple, he responded:

“First, integrity, absence of corruption.

Second, meritocracy – the best people for the best jobs. And

Third, a fair level-playing field for everybody.

We were lucky in Singapore, because we started with a plastic, young society, so we chose English as our working language, which was a neutral platform for everybody. Nobody had an advantage.

Secondly, it’s a small country and you can have your edict run throughout the whole country. India is very different: you can say something in Delhi and somebody in Bangalore decides differently, and that’s there. So, I do not think it’s possible for anybody to do to India what it takes to develop quickly. It is diverse and therefore it has to work at its own speed, its own tempo, where each marches to its own drumbeat.

And it took me a long time to understand this, because I had many issues with British Empire history, and I thought India was more than just a concept. India was India. But as I grew up and I went to India, I realised that there are many different Indias – and it is still true today.

Yes, you have the English language which binds the English-speaking Indians, but that’s only up to a point. I think the English-speaking Madrasi and the English speaking -Bombay is probably the only place in India where the various groups meet and feel at home with each other. So if they can make the whole of India like Bombay and Madras, then you’ve got a different India.”