Kashmir Observer has been criticized by certain quarters for highlighting misdemeanours of Khyber Agro Farm Ltd. In the main, it has been alleged, washing the dirty linen of a native or local company that has over time morphed into a brand is wrong. Moreover, it has been alleged that drubbing Khyber amounts to creating space for outside brands and firms. There are faint echoes of nativism and pride involved here. But both are misplaced.
Khyber over time has indeed evolved into a diversified quasi conglomerate. This is heartening. But what is alarming and worrisome is that the local, native company was involved in egregious malpractice that hurt or more potentially hurt consumers- if the Government version is to be believed. Khybers motive in taking recourse to malpractice stretches reason and credulity. If the firm wanted to increase economies of scale, and thus market share, there were legitimate and perfectly legal and ethical means to do so. Moreover, the firm- even though we have not had a look at its accounts- appeared to be growing in terms of market share, market power and its concentration ratio suggests there are little competition to it. The firm could have grown by way of organic growth- increased output, sales, new product development and improved time to market and, of course, diversification. These strategic management options are still open to the firm. It needs to be stated here that Khyber is not dead; it is alive and there is a future for the firm.
Our premise for highlighting the misconduct was in the nature of taking the information into the public domain in public interest. Our approach was not slanted. That is, we were not singling out Khyber. A wrong has been done; obfuscating or blacking it out amounts to impropriety and downright immoral and unethical behavior. This, however, is not the only reason. Being part of the local media-scape and its conscientious members, we did not want to leave the pickings ripe for outsiders, so to speak.
Does this mean we are hostile towards business activity? No. Not at all. We are very much mindful of the need for business, commercial and entrepreneurial activity to both take root and expand in Kashmir. But we also understand and vigorously believe that while commerce and economic activity is great, it cannot and should not come at the expense of the people. We, by highlighting Khybers misconduct, also wanted our businesses and firms to be more ethical and stakeholder friendly. This may sound counter intuitive given that we highlighted Khybers misconduct but the point here is that, in the final analysis, ethical and sound business practices, matter and are key to sustainable wealth creation.
Corporations, across the world, are realizing and moving beyond mere shareholder value to sound, healthy, prudent and ethical business practices. Good ethics, crudely put, are good business too. This is also one reason why we chose to bring Khybers misconduct in the public domain. We want our businesses to understand and internalize the value of business ethics and good corporate conduct. We will not for the sake of vanity and misplaced pride disavow or choose to ignore or gloss over misconduct. In the interests of propriety, ethics, larger public interest and good, and in order to spur our business firms, enterprises and entrepreneurs to prudent and ethical business practices, we will not hesitate in doing what is right.
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