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The road to zero tolerance

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DQW Bureau
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It was the second time that week in Europe that I heard this: 'We really

want more Indian students here,' the provost of a leading university said,

“but we have to scan the degrees carefully...especially of students from

Andhra Pradesh”.  That's not

just a blot for that state, but a problem that can get in the way of India's

tech superpower story.

This time Dataquest covered the crackdown by tech companies on breaches of

integrity, from bloated CVs and doctored degrees to medical or leave travel

claim. It's an issue that can affect India's future tech growth:

credibility, and security. The rarest of 'breaches' makes waves in global

media that are way out of proportion to the incident.

Now, tech companies in India have begun clean sweeps that include scanning

resumes and claims of people who've been in the company for years. And

they've terminated staff, even senior managers and top performers.

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Intel was in the news last year for its 'clean sweep' action, bringing in

US-based auditors to scan every employee claim across several years. Here's

what we found:

One, most industry persons we spoke to lauded the action, and wanted to learn

from it. A few had 'been there, done that'. Others said this needed more

consistent action, and perhaps better implementation.

Two, it hit morale, even if Intel doesn't admit it. For months, employees

lived in the shadow of those audits and 'written warnings', wondering

who'd be next. From the relaxed Indian flexibility on things like medical and

leave travel claims to a sudden, brutally-enforced zero tolerance was a jarring

move. Nothing beats having clear guidelines that spell out the zero tolerance

regime at the outset, and reinforcing it.

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Third, many of the people who left Intel due to the crackdown, voluntarily or

otherwise, got jobs with other major tech companies-many at big increments.

Did those companies discover the issues? Weren't they worried? (Ultimately,

Intel itself was hit harder by the forced attrition than the employees were.)

A part of the answer may lie with Nasscom's NSR (NationalSkillsRegistry.com),

a database of verified resumes that could become a necessary filter before any

hiring, and which will “make India the gold standard for security, as we are

today for quality”.

The NSR should make life easier for recruiters who have to spend time and

money on validation, and suffer when they discover problems later. It won't

guarantee 'integrity', but taken together with the zero tolerance regime

that many companies are striving for, it could mean a more solid foundation for

India's future tech story: a meritocracy founded on ethics and integrity, a

“gold standard” the world would have faith and confidence in.

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