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Quality of integrity cannot be strained

I have been a regular reader of Indian Newslink for the last three years.

The newspaper’s style reflects its readership which, highly regarded and hardworking Editor Venkat Raman describes as “100,000 plus GST” folk of Indian ethnicity living and working in New Zealand.

I assume that would be about 115,000 after October 1.

That style includes parish-pump news about all visitors, festivals, celebrations and crime reports affecting the Indian community.

There is well-balanced reportage of all parts of the political spectrum.

And considerable outrage at Paul Henry’s foolishly xenophobic views on what a Governor General should look like, and at his crass schoolboy humour in mispronouncing an Indian surname.

Controversial issues not avoided include New Zealand’s tricky relationship with post-coup Fiji and the impact on our many Indian immigrants from Fiji who still have relatives there.

With its pages of entertaining and colourful advertisements for foodstuffs and services targeting the Indian community, Indian Newslink is a thoroughly good read.

Insight of significance

However, it is my involvement as Chairman of Judges for the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards (IBA), now in its third very successful year, which has given me an insight into the Indian business community.

A highly experienced member of our judging panel expresses the view that to have a successful Business Awards programme, you must have several good finalists in each category and one excellent winner. On that test, IBA have succeeded each year.

For example, in the last two years, the top companies were: In 2008, Magson’s Hardware, Vinod Kumar’s outstanding company which operates four Mega and Mitre 10 Hardware stores in Auckland and in 2009, East Tamaki Health Care which swept all before it with their rapidly growing innovative patient care business model.

However, the really difficult part is persuading good Indian businesses to enter.

Venkat has been extremely persistent and successful in getting a large number of entrants each year, from throughout New Zealand.

Most of the reasons given for not entering are that same as those in the wider business community – businesspersons are busy with the day-to-day requirements of surviving tough business conditions and hence do not have the time.

Assured Confidentiality

But there are a few reasons given which are particular to the Indian business community; there have been concerns expressed that confidential information will get into the wrong hands, that celebrating success in business attracts the wrong sort of attention, and that the judging process will be subject to influence.

I recall a category winner in 2008 confessing in his acceptance speech that he did not expect to get an Award because he thought they would only go to friends of the judges. The very large Indian-Kiwi audience fell about laughing.

And this year, an entrant suggested that perhaps he should not enter because he thought only large companies which advertised in Indian Newslink would do well.

I can assure you that is not the case.

There are well understood positive reasons for entering the Awards.

The entry form is a good review of a company’s business plan or a vital planning exercise. It there isn’t one, it is an opportunity to involve the staff as a team in an exercise on how well the business is operating; it is an occasion for the very best kind of publicity, and finally, winning a very nice trophy in front of your business peers is a great experience.

But let us deal with the objections raised.

Firstly, consider confidentiality of information, and influence.

The entries are sent directly to me as Chairman of Judges, and are never shared with anyone in Indian Newslink. The judges are handpicked by me for their integrity and capabilities, and each signs a confidentiality agreement.

The Panel of Judges picks the finalists and winners based on a rigorous process, and Indian Newslink is advised of the finalists and winners only as the Awards Presentation is about to commence.

‘Indian’ Reticence

Secondly, addressing the objection about exposing successful entrants to public attention: What is not to like about that? There seems to be a bit of ‘Indian reticence’ combined with ‘Kiwi tall poppy syndrome’ going on here.

Successful businesses have a duty to inspire with their stories of rewards from hard work and return on capital invested.

Unlike Governments, successful businesses create real jobs and wealth for reinvestment. It is successful business, not Government, regional or national, which will grow the economy and improve New Zealanders’ standard of living.

And it is absolutely essential that these businesses are widely recognised as the economic heroes of our society in order to encourage employees and entrepreneurs to acquire the education, skills and courage to participate in that economic growth.

Indian Newslink commenced a marvellous initiative with the IBA in 2008.

The Awards are part of an important Kiwi initiative to foster and encourage business success in New Zealand and Indian business success in particular.

Chad Wilkie is a well-known and experienced business consultant and Chairman of the Judges for the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards.

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