Special Issue
Quality will be key factor in the future

he past couple of years have truly been years of excitement, action and achievement. Quality is no more a buzzword, more so in the service sector, which is fast assuming a dominating role in the national economy. Needless to say, quality is going to be the key factor in building competitiveness in this sector in the same manner — the way it did in the manufacturing sector. The telecommunication service is a ready example, which has witnessed widespread application of quality tools, as it opened up for fierce competition while being driven by market forces. The hospitality industry, to a lesser extent, has experienced the same. We, however, do not have very many examples from the rest of the large canvas of the service sector, most of which fall within the domain of public services.

The history of the quality movement in India can be traced back to the 60’s when the public sector led by the Department of Space, Atomic Energy and later followed by BHEL and SAIL initiated formal quality measures. The 1980s witnessed large-scale application of quality tools in the private manufacturing sector through various industry associations, viz, ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI. The principles of Total Quality Management including quality tools like Six Sigma as applied over a span of 30 years in the manufacturing sector, need to be adapted and applied in the service sector. The Quality Council of India is working on a roadmap to facilitate some constituents of the service sector to achieve quality benchmarks in a fast forward mode.

It is very promising to know that the new government at the Centre has put forward the 100-days agenda with quantifiable goals. The Quality Council of India was invited by Mr Kapil Sibal, Hon. Union Minister for Human Resource Development, to showcase QCI’s accreditation model for schools and how it could benefit in raising the standard for quality education. It was a very heartening experience for me and my team, as for a good 45 minutes, the Hon Minister interacted and arrived at action points, as if we were with a corporate chairman. If this is going to be the trend in the working of the Government, we should be prepared for many a pleasant surprise in time to come.

During my recent visit to London, I had very good meeting with Mr. Roy Stephenson, in the cabinet office, Government of United Kingdom (UK). It was a good opportunity to understand the UK Government’s standard on ‘Customer Service Excellence’ in regard to the quality of public services. It says: "The Government wants public services for all that are efficient, effective, excellent, equitable and empowering — with the citizen always and everywhere at the heart of public service provision”. This programme operates under the aegis of the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) wherein once a department achieves compliance to the standard, it is issued with a commendation letter, signed by the Prime Minister. While the cabinet office administers the scheme, the compliance is assessed by four designated agencies duly accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation services (UKAS), which is a counterpart of the QCI in the UK. I was assured of full support and cooperation by cabinet office, in case we wished to launch a similar initiative in our own country. This is very much on the agenda of the QCI, as we are working on the criteria for monitoring/ measuring public services rendered to the citizen.

 

It has been over five years that I joined Quality Council of India. Having spent 25 years in the discipline of quality out of 38 years of my career, it has been a dream come true for me that I got an opportunity to be part of a national initiative on quality. My association with quality goes back to year 1979, when I took up assignment on Airworthiness Assessment & Quality Certification of Military Aeroplanes with the Defence Research and Development Organization at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (1979- 90), involving application of quality in the state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary and complex manufacturing sector.

The next 14 years were equally exciting which I spent with Government, establishing test and calibration laboratories, supporting industry through product development, counselling and training on TQM including quality management standards and quality tools like Six Sigma and balance scorecard. What has been even more fascinating is that we at QCI have ventured in applying principles of conformity assessment for National Well Being. In all humility, it has so far been an extremely satisfying experience and it has given me a sense of pride that some of our initiatives have been aimed at improving life of common man. I wish to dedicate the forthcoming years in consolidating and institutionalizing these efforts.

Tailpiece: I was invited by the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences to hand over certificate of accreditation for its 1200 bed hospital. Mr AK Antony, Hon Union Minister for Defence was the Chief Guest. In the evening I was privileged to have a personal audience with Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) at Amritapuri Ashram. I experienced in Amma, SAKHYAT love and compassion personified. It is amazing is the way Amma is transforming the lives of countless people in such a simple yet powerful way.



Dr Girdhar J Gyani, Secretary General, Quality Council of India handing over NABH Hospital Accreditation Certificate of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, to Mr A K Antony, Union Minister of Defence and Dr Prem Nair, Medical Director, AIMS, Kochi. Also seen in the picture ( L to R) Mr K. Babu, MLA, Kerala State Assembly, Prof K V Thomas, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Swami Amrita Swarupananda, President, Amrita Viswavidyapeetham.
Girdhar J. Gyani is the Secretary General of the Quality Council of India and editor of Quality India. He can be contacted at sg@qcin.org.  
    Girdhar J. Gyani