My sixteen years of career in leading organizations both in private and public sphere, my six years of studies and working abroad, my travels to fifty plus nations and my travels across the length and breath of India – none of these could have prepared me for what most Indian women do with élan and ease, that is to set up a home and run it smoothly for an entire family!!
A month or so ago, I got married and my husband and I moved to Bengaluru into our new home away from home. Not that I had not lived alone earlier, on the contrary I had lived abroad and in Delhi too, away from my home in Mumbai. But this was different. This wasn’t only my home; this was our home, my husband’s and mine. Hence, every decision was equal, and my husband’s views, likes and dislikes mattered too. And to be honest, I just didn’t know where to begin?
Should I ask him if he likes this table, or should I just buy it? What about the iron and hair dryer brands? Does he have favorites? What about bread? Is it multi grain or whole wheat? Which soap to bathe and what shampoo to shower with? Duhh.. this was going to need some serious planning! Then I remembered my father’s advice the night before our wedding. He looked into my eyes and asked, “scared?” and I was like “scared? I am petrified!!” His answer was simple, “look at what you have done all your life, you are an entrepreneur, so treat the marriage as a new start up and an enterprise and see if it helps.” I know this doesn’t sound like the typical advice of take care of your home, your husband bit, but then what will two entrepreneurs tell each other when they are on a emotional high?
So there I was in Bengaluru with this one expert advice in my pocket and looking at an empty gorgeous apartment. I decided to hold on to this raft of fatherly advice in my new storm and looked at what I needed to do set up our home. First principle of enterprise set-up is to determine what is essential for production and service and how to resource allocate for it? Answers were simple, Food, sleep and shower. Food came first! My husband, well you haven’t met a bigger foodie! And consumer profiling was key! Sorry for not following the usual – way to a man’s heart through stomach adage here, I kind of don’t relate to it!
Therefore, I started with the kitchen and went about stocking what is general inventory for food production and made provisions for most frequently moving items and kept additional inventory for them – read sugar, tea, salt, red chili powder, turmeric etc. Then came the need for machinery for manufacturing – read cooking. So I got all the necessary gadgets – blenders, pots, pans, toaster, knifes etc. Of course we needed energy and power, I mean this was going to be our little manufacturing plant, so I asked my husband to quickly get the gas connection transferred. After the processing plant was in place, it was time for manpower planning and I quickly contacted the most reliant placement service for such a job profile – the building security guard. And pronto we had our maid sent. Manpower allocation sorted I moved to packaging, read – food serving bowls, dishes, cutlery etc. Thankfully my husband had a huge inventory of these from his earlier stays aboard. I mean this was part of his larger “equity” contribution for the necessary capital assets!
But I was short of expert advice and needed my new manpower to be trained in the “family best in class” processes – read north Indian cooking. Hence, I promptly called my maid from Delhi to come over for a few days to help with the plant – read kitchen set up and training the new manpower. After all this I still wasn’t sure of Quality Assurance so I requested the in-house quality expert – my mother to fly down for a day to make sure we had done everything right. She of course did a super job of identifying the gaps and making recommendations for improvement. And like a true professional entrepreneur I stayed away from the plant location on the day of the quality audit and went abroad for a board meeting that time!!
Upon my return from a short trip overseas, I followed similar processes to set up the rest of the home and when I finally got done, I realized one simple truth – every Indian homemaker is a planner, is a production expert, is fantastic at CRM (Customer relationship management), is an outstanding resource allocator, is great at learning on the job. In short, she is a brilliant entrepreneur!! And the thought came to me that this is the inherent power that drives India’s homes! But this is also the force that is not valued or constantly undervalued.
I believe it is high time that gender parity dialogue is also about millions of homemakers in India who contribute immensely to the overall national productivity. Indian business is yet to realize the full potential of this consumer group, hence their recognition of the homemaker is limited to advertisements. The Indian government policy is far from realizing the contribution of women in nation’s accounting. When women led micro enterprises and female agriculture labor output is not counted in nation’s GDP, the days are far away for counting the contribution of millions of homemakers.
Not recognized and appreciated for her tremendous ability and breadth of knowledge and skills, the Indian homemaker is the most outstanding entrepreneur in the nation and unleashing her potential, recognizing her contribution is key to building a strong and powerful nation. As far as I am concerned, I am interested in something more, something that recognizes the inherent talent an Indian homemaker possesses and how can that be explored to create a million home-run enterprises. What I am kicked about is How can we take Make In India to a another level? How can we unleash the power of “Home Made In India?”