Interim Budget 2019: Corporates demand wavier in taxes; upskilling programs remain vital to accelerate employment growth in India

The Interim Budget 2019-20 will be significant in many ways. 2019 being the election year, Modi government is expected to present a rational budget that can woo the voters. Few months ahead of the general elections, the NDA government will present its interim budget on February 1. 

In the past few years, India has benefitted from technological advancements and created new jobs across various verticals. While IT, FMCG, retail and automobile sectors tapped new talent, demand for talent in agriculture, healthcare and BPO sectors has gone down. As per Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. (CMIE), India’s unemployment rate shot up to 7.4% in December 2018, which was the highest unemployment rate in the last 15 months. 

A sustained investment in upskilling programs holds the key to bridge the skills gap and accelerate economic growth in the country. TimesJobs spoke to industry experts on what they expect from this budget and here are some industry insights on the Interim Budget 2019-20: 

Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, SYSKA Group said, “In the past year, we have seen tremendous growth in the Indian FMCG market as consumers are becoming more aware about environment sustainability. In this year’s Interim Budget, the Government of India could look at augmenting the manufacture of consumer durables through a further hike in import duty for this sector while reducing the tax rate for domestic manufacturing.” 

“2018 was a great year for the fintech industry in terms of new technologies and innovation. The continued focus from the Government for expanding digital penetration also saw a promising growth in the adoption of digital platforms across metro cities and tier-II markets. In the near future, digital guide the budget.

Any benefit to the leather industry will be indirect through benefits to the small scale industry (most of the leather goods industry in small scale), which is an unhappy large vote group. The long promised labour reforms will surely not be touched as it is a political minefield. The indirect effects of an election year increased spend should lift all of us, including the leather goods, but we don’t expect our major issues such as labor reform or reduction in GST to help compete against Chinese synthetic imports to happen.” 

Growing adoption of new age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, Data Science etc. have set the stage for new jobs which might not be very common today. To leverage this opportunity in the near future, government should prioritise re-skilling and up-skilling of not just the existing workforce but also the students in India’s schools and colleges,” said Anil Pant, MD & CEO, Aptech Limited. 

Harshil Mathur, CEO & Co-Founder, Razorpay said, “With the upcoming budget, I wish the government addresses problems being faced by startups over taxes levied on angel funds.Also, it’s important for the government to recognise the immense potential that fintech lenders hold in furthering financial inclusion and credit penetration and should encourage them with prudent policies to benefit the sector.” 

“With the government’s commitment towards skilling 10 million youth by 2020, the budget this year could focus on skill development. The number of under skilled resources is directly linked to the rate of unemployment in a country and it may prove to be a stumbling block for an economy aiming to boost overall growth. While the allocation to skill development has increased considerably in India in the past few years, the issue of optimal utilisation of resources needs to be addressed”, said Rachna Mukherjee, CHRO, Schneider Electric-India. 

Sampad Swain, Co-Founder & CEO, Instamojo said, “The much-awaited interim budget 2019 will determine the extent to which the Government will help MSMEs sector to expand. The past four years have witnessed the implementation of several measures to uplift the MSMEs sector. With digitisation disrupting the Indian ecosystem in multiple dimensions, one can expect a hike in the rate of digital adoption by MSMEs, when given the right amount of funds and focus to secure their transactions and businesses online.” 

Rachna Mukherjee: The techno- HR mind

Rachna Mukherjee: The techno- HR mind

By Prajjal Saha | HRKatha – July 25, 2018

Rachna Mukherjee, CHRO, Schneider Electric, an engineer turned HR professional, has stayed relevant and crucial for the business, even without a formal degree in HR. There was a role in HR, in a newly-launched telecom company, that completely gelled with her profile. She took it up as a challenge, and has never ever regretted doing so. 

Rachna Mukherjee is not an HR professional by default. This engineering graduate from BITS, Pilani spent a significant number of years in engineering—designing and developing software—before she plunged into HR. 

In the mid-1980s, after attaining her degree, Mukherjee began her professional journey with Blue Star, a Hewlett-Packard company. It was a hardcore techie’s job. At her next destination, government-owned National Informatics Centre (NIC), she continued with her technology profile. At NIC, she got a wider exposure of leading projects, managing the technology team and also training the workforce. 

As luck would have it, an opportunity came knocking when in the mid-1990s, the Escorts Group forayed into the telecom sector. The Company needed a person for leadership development; someone with a technological bent of mind. It was a new sector for the Group, which was known for manufacturing tractors and motorcycles. Also, telecom was at a nascent stage in India. 

Though Mukherjee was initially reluctant to take up the job, once she did, she never regretted the decision ever, even for a moment. 

Primarily, there were two reasons why Mukherjee was hesitant. First, her children were still young and she thought working in a newly born company, would be rather hectic and demanding. Second, in those days, it was considered a mindless act to quit a secure government job for one in a private company, that too a newly launched one. On top of that, the role offered was in an unfamiliar territory. 

Despite all odds, Mukherjee took up the challenge with some determination. It’s here that she emerged as a true blue HR professional. The Company not only allowed her to upskill and build her capabilities, but also enhance her knowledge and understanding of HR. It gave her the opportunity to experiment, work, learn and turn things around. 

At Escotel, she captured the expectations of the customers and worked on a system and process for employees to achieve customer satisfaction. 

Life at Escotel for Mukherjee was full of experiences, and till date she considers this to be the most fulfilling job of her career. It is here that she realised how important it is to understand the business, so that interventions from HR remain critical and idealistic. 

When Mukherjee plunged into an HR role, she realised lacked a degree in HR and that could hinder her success in the sector. Circumstances did not allow her to quit her job or take a sabbatical to pursue a full-time course in HR. Instead, she found ways to gain knowledge through smaller capsules of learning. She attended short, week or 10-day long modules to clear her understanding on HR. 

Wherever Mukherjee worked, she maintained a close proximity with technology. From Escotel, she moved to IBM Daksh and then to Microsoft, where she was head of people and organisational capability. She spent around five years with these two companies, but was back in the telecom sector with Aircel. 

Aircel was at that time emerging to capture the national market from being a regional player. The Company launched its services in 13 circles within a very short time span. 

The challenge here for Mukherjee was multitasking and achieving multiple goals, all at the same time. She had to hire people, develop talent and also make them ready for the market almost instantaneously. She had to achieve all this while keeping in mind the harmony of various cultures, as the workforce comprised people from different geographies. And binding them together into one organisation and a uniform culture was no easy task. 

In her current role at Schneider Electric too, she stays well connected with technology. 

Her mother has been the greatest influence in her life. A career woman herself, Mukherjee’s mother taught her to be determined in what she wants to achieve. 

Mukherjee believes it is the individual who has to set expectations and work hard and contribute towards it. 

She enjoys gardening and loves to spend her spare time with her plants. She also plays table tennis and badminton, besides enjoying swimming. 

Understanding and nurturing the millennial workforce for an overall organisational growth

TIMESJOBS0AUG 18, 2018 Rachna Mukherjee

Millennials are among the most important segment of the overall workforce of any organisation today. Given the demographic skew of our country, millennials will remain the key component of the workforce in the future as well. Our world is getting shaped by digitisation, connectivity and rapid communication. Organisations across industries are aligning in a way in which they can adopt the technological advancements to bring-in efficiency, improve productivity and stay at par with the standards. Millennials are the new age workforce that believes in rapidity of communication, decision making, innovation and growth while contributing to a higher social purpose. Most importantly, they are the digital natives born in a ‘Digital Era’. We believe, nurturing the millennial workforce in the right way should be considered as a key business strategy, and specific initiatives should be designed to harness the ‘generational diversity’ while ensuring a healthy collaborative workforce. 

Millennials largely seek three strategic elements in employers- a meaningful/ higher purpose career growth, flexibility, and work-life balance. The vast opportunities available in the overall ecosystem, infuses the sense of enthusiasm to learn and adapt more. So, 

a routine profile without good learning opportunities leads to monotony, low performance or even greater attrition risk among millennials. Hence, the task at hand for organisations is to align organisation’s roles and processes to cater to this millennial orientation, rework a bit on their strategies to create and maintain an engaged workforce. 

Developing a strong millennial workforce: A strong millennial workforce that blends well with the organisational culture and goals and at the same time brings in new perspectives, creativity and innovation can be developed with a few basic strategies that works as a win-win for both employees and employers. Some of them include: 

  1. Meaningful purpose – Along with regular business, involving the millennials for a social cause that aligns with their role or even independent of their roles, is a good way to engage with them. Organisations have started thinking in this direction and are empowering employees with voluntary leaves that gives them the flexibility to take up meaningful activities outside of their regular work. 
  2. Learning and growth opportunities – It can be a business initiative where the millennials of the organisation are given an opportunity to independently work on a key project with a mentor from within the organisation. This not only gives millennials a chance to constantly learn but also allows them the required exposure with the seniors. They also get to demonstrate leadership skills. These projects could be then presented to a larger management team that provides recognition and a sense of achievement among the young deserving employees. 
  3. Flexibility of work and well-being – Studies have proven that millennials of today look for organisations that ensure their well-being and believe in flexibility of work hours. At Schneider Electric, our flexible work policies ensure employees can manage their work-life balance. We believe well-being boosts performance and performance boosts well-being, and hence our programs are designed in a way that ensures employee well- being throughout their journey with us. Flexibility at work also allows millennials to pursue their passion with ease. 
  4. Creative engagement- In today’s competitive world, the ability of an organisation or an employee to weave in innovation and creativity in what it does is the only mantra that can set it apart from the clutter. It is important to understand that creativity needs fostering and encouragement. It is the outcome of various aspects, especially the freedom to innovate and be unique in their thought process. Other critical factors that enhance creativity includes, the overall culture of an organisation such as trust and openness with its employees, ability to take up risks and challenges, developing interactive employee engagement programs which are fun, inclusive and help in generating ideas. And most importantly accept and learn from failures. 

In a nutshell, Generational Diversity needs to be built in as a business strategy. From campus hiring to instilling organisational values among the millennials, and finally nurturing their strengths in the journey with the company, organisational programmes must focus on empowering and creating a cohesive work environment. This generation is likely to want leadership to share their concern about the social values embodied by the business and help create fulfilling jobs to get the best pick of the talent pool; making sure that the emphasis is on purpose as well as on profit. 

The author is CHRO, Schneider Electric India 

Progressing the Governance Standards Role of HR

Article Published by Rachna Mukherjee in

NHRD Network Journal 12(4) 339 ̄343, 2019 © 2019 National HRD Network, Gurgaon Reprints and permissions: permissions India DOI: 10.1177/2631454119873155 

Abstract To have a robust governance standard become a practice in an organisation requires both a lucid stating of the principles and code of conduct along with creating a culture where a respect for these principles is acknowledged and positively reinforced. The human resources team plays a critical role in this scenario by offering a cogent professional conduct template as well as fostering a sustained culture, reflective of this, given the interventions which HR can facilitate across business units and different sets of professional segments. 

Keywords Cogent professional conduct templates, sustained culture, lucid CoC, change through emotional appeal, DNA of an organisation, ethical culture, principles of responsibility 

Theme Will formulating a code of conduct (CoC) be enough or is there anything that needs to be done more to progress the governance standards? Can culture be at the heart of corporate governance? How so? 

For any change to become embraced widely and also reflect in altered human behaviour, can be a long drawn and complex process. The critical thing, however, is the knowledge that behavioural change has to be inspired through an emotional appeal. This applies to corporate governance standards as well. I believe firmly that organisations must adopt a two-pronged strategy to build corporate governance into the DNA of an organisation. One is clearly replicating a CoC and building it into policy while the other is about creating a culture where acceptance of corporate governance norms become a way of life gradually. Clearly setting up a CoC is just a first step from where we have to build a commitment from leaders to frontline managers down the administrative chain to demonstrate the CoC expectations in their behaviour. It is here that the human resources (HR) function in an organisation plays a critical role. 

Multinational organisation like ours and others too are constantly interacting with our stakeholders all around the world. Our borders are constantly expanding, our environment is changing, and our business activities and corporate responsibilities keep on multiplying. Our challenge is to live up to the trust our customers and other stakeholders place in us. To achieve this, it is imperative to have a strong corporate governance in place consisting of rules, processes and applicable laws to protect the interest of the organisation and interests of company’s stakeholders, including investors, customers, suppliers, government regulators, environment, employees and the management.

HR plays a critical role in formulating policies around corporate governance and implementing these. This is a critical function given that we need to ensure the policy covers and stays relevant to current and next 1–2 years’ requirements. The policy needs to be kept simple and easy to adhere to, and one that connects across all geographies. Moreover, HR needs to ensure that the policy creates and supports a culture of speed, trust and collaboration. Internal employee communication too needs to have personalised element, which connects across the organisation to share and communicate expectations of corporate governance. 

CoC is a tool and just the starting point in identifying and defining organisational responsibility towards both internal and external stakeholders. There is more that is required to support a framework of governance standards. 

Externally the evolved Company Act is playing a good role in better corporate governance. In fact, the HR functions have been further streamlined and made robust through this and this supports better governance. The 2013 Act, through its provisions like those related to independent director, key managerial personnel, appointment of board and corporate sustainability, has empowered HR professionals to implement best practices within their organisations. Some of the aspects which are facilitating good governance. 

Organisations can do well if they successfully incorporate into their culture some of the following points which can set the movement for imprinting this in an organisation’s DNA as mentioned earlier. 

An Ethical Culture 

An ethical culture needs to be at the heart of corporate governance. HR function in organisations needs to act as facilitator and provide leadership by becoming role models. The HR function can create a model template of governance and also be early adopters themselves in creating greater uptake for these practices internally. 

It is also critical that leaders create a shared vision for the organisation with ethics at centre—we have done this at Schneider Electric through our principles of responsibility (POR). Post this it is important to inculcate ethical values among people by creating more awareness and driving employee participation in this acknowledgement. It is also important to formulate people policies and processes that promotes desired behaviour and trust in the organisation. 

This will need to be further strengthened by creating organisational processes and systems to support employees for driving an ethical culture. This can be further supported by the evolving role of HR professional and leader as integrity officer or ethics advisor. 

Finally, it is also important to promote and reward a robust whistleblowing management system which keeps the professional security of the individuals primary, post an event of whistleblowing. At the same time to allow this culture to be respected it remains critical to allow action to be taken on the episode/activity revealed once whistleblowing has happened. 

Robust Hiring Process 

A robust hiring process is critical in recruiting individuals with a right cultural fit given that recruitment is an entry point to the organisation. It is important to support this with background verification of our potential employees. People of undesired behavioural traits may put an entire organisation’s efforts at corporate governance at stake and this makes it important for hiring to be extremely thorough. It makes great business sense to filter future leaders through the prism of CoC. Along with creating this pipeline it is important for organisations to be able to develop the ability to assess potential risks in this space. 

Leadership Development 

Leaders are the brand ambassadors for an organisation and they need to embody the ethical practices. It is important for organisations to develop a mechanism of screening and grooming leaders with right ethical behaviour and leadership expectations. It goes without saying that organisations need to devote considerably more effort and attention to assess the honesty and integrity of decision makers. This can be supported by building organisational capability to take risk of termination or stop promotion of employees not adhering to ethical standards. 

Above all it is critical to keep the understanding about CoC going by continuously creating deeper awareness and understanding of ethics and consequences of non-compliances. 


Culture becomes more real, for those who are part of an organisation, when you acknowledge and reward behaviour which reflects the ethical core of an organisation. Therefore, acknowledging such behaviour assures that such behaviour is reiterated. 

So clearly while governance guidelines and imperatives are a good parameter, the CoC sets the direction, guides an organisation and its employees, on who we are and what we stand for. At the same time CoC cannot address every situation an employee faces at work, such as good judgement, shared responsibility and making ethical choice, which is all in line with the fact that CoC is critical for creating and sustaining a right culture which is vital for employees to exhibit the aforementioned behavioural expectations. 

Consistent push from the top, supported by right tone from the middle and leaders walking the talk, also makes employees believe and adhere to the CoC expectations. To achieve the above synergy across the organisational geography HR and other corporate functions play a key role in ensuring leaders, managers are trained to act like a coach and not as a manager, act like counsellor and not as a traffic warden to their respective teams, so that when in doubt employees do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. While the Companies Act 2013 has played a significant role in providing framework and improving corporate governance practices in India at large, HR can play even bigger role in making it an integrated part of organisational culture by creating organisation-wide awareness and deeper understanding and by deploying corporate governance-aligned people practices. 

Corporate governance infrastructure is like an iceberg: only around 10 per cent or lesser of it is visible. The culture is the hidden iceberg mass under the surface. The piece that is in plain sight includes values, strategies, vision, procedures and policies. However, it is the larger part under the surface that really drives the iceberg. This is what underpins the visible part. This is the unwritten cultural dynamic; the values, perceptions, traditions, beliefs and shared assumptions. 

Some of the major corporates which faced major regulatory and reputational challenges had the best of defined governance infrastructure, however, what they missed out is that 90 per cent. That is where it is critical to have culture be at the heart of governance, to know the pulse across the organisation, and what that we need to do to keep the culture across the company to be in sync with the corporate governance expectations. 

Declaration of Conflicting Interests 

The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article. 


The author received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article. 

Author’s Bio sketch 

Currently the Chief Human Resources Officer of Schneider Electric, India, Rachna Mukherjee has worked extensively in the areas of talent management, career/succession planning, organisation capability, change management, leadership development, employee engagement, compensation and organisation design. She also has a rich experience of managing HR operations which enhances her ability to evolve and implement long-term transformational initiatives. 

Prior to joining Schneider Electric, she was Vice President HR at Aircel Ltd. She has managed HR for the organisation through its exponential growth phase of doubling the employee base in a short span, she has driven the people agenda for the launch of an additional 13 circle operations and had led various strategic HR initiatives during the most dynamic phase of the organisation. 

She carries a diverse experience of over 25 years. She is a certified executive and life coach from International Coach Federation and certified to conduct a series of leadership and employee development interventions by organisations like Hay, Gallup, DDI, Covey Institute, etc., and is an achievement motivation trainer. 

She has played key strategic roles in organisations such as Microsoft, IBM, Escotel Mobile Communications, NIC and Blue Star, Hewlett-Packard. She is a recipient of the Businessworld Woman HR Leader of the Year award, 2016 and the HR Leadership Award, 2010. 

She is an Electronics and Electrical Engineer from BITS, Pilani and after an initial contribution to engineering roles, she moved to human resources. 


Women coming back to work after maternity leave face many challenges such as getting back to a professional mindset after many months away, managing a support system so that their baby is taken care of and juggling responsibilities at office. Brinda Sarkar gets experts to weigh in on how organisations can help returning mothers resume work smoothly post their maternity break

1 OFFER FLEXIBILITY Companies must offer flexible work options to all women employees returning from maternity breaks. This can vary with the needs of the individual. While work-from-home options may be suitable for one, telecommuting may be suitable for another,says Prajakta Shrikant Kulkarni, HR headdata centre group, Lenovo India


The onus is on companies to help employees returning from maternity leave manage their transition efficiently, depending on their role,says Rachna Mukherjee, CHRO at Schneider Electric India


Senior leaders should not expect returning mothers to put in great work from the first day. Dont put too much pressure on them by expecting perfection in everything they do after rejoining post-maternity leave, as most women will gradually pick up more and more work depending on their schedule,said Kulkarni


It can often be useful for companies to assign a buddy to returning mothers who can help them spend a few minutes each day getting uptodate with new trends and brushing upon industry knowledge prior to their return


Designated pumping rooms, option to get their baby to work and daycare facilities are some of the ways that senior management can make it easy for returning mothers to settle back, Says Pallavi Jha, MD. Dale Carnegie of India. 

When the BOSS gets tough..



Tough bosses often invite unsavoury monikers like Hitlerand other nicknames, but ask yourself this under which boss did you learn the most? If you had to name the boss who made you go farthest to improve your skills and performance, would it be the one who went easy on you or the one who gave you nightmares? 

Chances are, youve reluctantly pointed towards the boss who never let you take it easyThe truth is, if youre great at your work and youre ambitious about moving ahead, you have everything to gain from a tough boss and very little to lose. Elango R, CHRO and head, emerging geographies business unit at Mphasis, agrees, I love tough bosses. They bring creative tension, push the envelope and test boundaries. This helps the team explore hidden capabilities that might exist out of their comfort zones.He, however, cautions, Tough does not mean disrespectful or unreasonable; it means being firm, holding people accountable and not suffering fools gladly.” 

Often, the perception of toughlies in the mind of the employee rather than the behaviour of the boss.

Leaders do set high standards for their employees and this may make a manager look like a tough manager; however, that may not be the case. It is up to an employee to understand the requirement and perform accordingly,opines Rachna Mukherjee, chief HR, Schneider Electric India.

Ram Menon, founder and CEO, Avaamo, adds his two cents, The word ‘leniencybrings forth images of school and your teacher. This is not about disciplining employees and being tough or lenient. Its about helping each employee to reach his/her maximum potential and having empathy for other human beings.” 

However, bosses would do better to be tough in terms of the results they demand rather than the route employed to attain these results. Vimal Raj Abraham, head of branding and solutions marketing, Servion Global Solutions, points out, Most of us like to be given the long ropeWhen employees are comfortable with the way their bosses are leading them, they tend to respect them more and work harder. This, in turn, leads to strong business results.But he does agree that tough bosses are the ones who leave an impression, When I look back at all my bosses, my favourites have been the ones who challenged me intellectuallyThey created an environment of mutual respect and faith. They were available, assertive and knew when to suggest a course correction. Managers need to be cautious that they dont cage their reportees creativity and become a ringmaster.” 

A ground rule to being tough is be tough on the work produced, not on the persons themselves. Because thats when it starts to get toxic. Why do people quit? While there may be hundreds of reasons, see people quitting managersmore often than they quit companies. When we end up having bad bosses who dont know the difference between being tough and just being dirty we end up losing good talent. Bad managers cause billions of losses every year in the form of attrition!warns Abraham. Being tough, according to him, Is about drawing that firm linebeing a little distant from your employees and making them feel accountable for the hours they spend in office every week.” 

In conclusion, a tough boss isnt someone whos just out to make your life difficult. A tough boss, in the words of Mangesh Panditrao, CEO and founder, Shoptimize, Is just someone who inspires you to go beyond your limits to achieve goals for the company.