He was the first to start a marketing consultancy in the country. Walter Vieira has been described by Philip Kotler as one of the best speakers on marketing in Asia, and perhaps world-wide.
Mr Vieira met with AJIT JOHN following the launch of his latest book, The Impatient Manager, and spoke about matters close to his heart.
HERALD: As a Goan residing in Mumbai for decades, what is your assessment of Goa in terms of its business policies and the the economy?
WALTER VIEIRA: I am beginning to feel a bit disappointed. Tourism is going down, but I am not surprised. The place is dirty and paper and plastic litter the place. This was never there before. There seem to be no attempt made to clear it. There are machines available which require minimal manual labour. What is needed is a strategy to sort this problem out. I think it is also important to initiate steps to deter people from littering. There has to be strict fines which will dissuade people from ever littering again. With regards to tourism we have lost out on being an economical tourist destination. People are now over flying us and going to Kerala. There are also people overflying both these states and going to Sri Lanka. I was in Sri Lanka and it cost me 60% of what it would cost me to holiday in Goa. I could eat crabs, it was just wonderful. I am afraid we don’t seem to have a strategy. We need to have a strategy. Either focus on low cost or high-end tourism. We can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Today the authorities in the department just seem to focus on flying out, I believe studies have been done, but it requires political will and it is important that society also participate, as is the case in Sri Lanka.
HERALD: The State govt has released an investment policy and is keen on encouraging jobs to be created here but there is a problem with regards to employability of the students who pass out, what is your solution?
WV: This is an all-India problem. It is important that we improve the quality of the students passing out of college. It is of tremendous importance. We should focus on skill development instead of degrees. Degree holders require a mind re-orientation. We have to become employment focused. I think Germany is a perfect example. There are 8 times more people trained in a skill rather than just being a degree holder. There is a focus on being skill trained rather than just being a graduate. Recent studies in the USA have pointed out to a similar problem with graduates not necessarily being employable. They are trying to remedy it in India. We are not seized on the matter. We are adding one Australia to our population every year. Good education and relevant education is important. India however spends just 2% of its GDP on education. This cannot be handled in the short term. We are sitting on a powder keg. We have to look at small scale manufacturing, please remember manufacturing is 12% of the GDP. By just starting a skill development council, it is not enough. We should go down to the Panchayat level, which is relevant in Goa too. The Agnel institute is a commendable initiative which started 40 years ago. We need more of its kind in the country. India has one of the lowest per capita GDP in the world. In another 15 to 20 years with so many people unemployed there will be problems given that the Internet and TV are giving them aspirations but without the opportunity for perspiration. A lot more needs to be done.