Here's a short story I wrote a long time ago that has just been published by Rupa as part of a collection of Indian short stories, Why We Don't Talk…
The art of government, he had learnt early in his career, is the art of confidence. A government servant may not be in charge of a certain situation – but he must pretend to be. The public looks to the government to control the economy, to maintain law and order, to make sure everything in its cities and towns works. Often, governments may have no control over these things – and little understanding of them. Still, people have blind faith in governments, and if that faith is broken, all is anarchy.
So when a crisis comes, you need to signal to the common folk that you are in command, and are taking action. Make statements in the press; institute a committee; issue a show-cause notice to someone; or, if nothing else works, distract the media by raiding a dance bar. Do something.
The fact that the level of dissatisfaction is so high that people can empathize with someone who endangered others should make companies look closely at how they have treated employees.
In the recent economic slowdown, a lot of companies have taken advantage of employees’ scarcity of choice. Rampant and sticky joblessness in the US has palpably changed the balance of power between company and employee. Companies, spurred on by Wall Street’s inexhaustible urge for higher earnings, have tried to pare costs to the bone, and employee benefits have been easy targets…As a result, the social contract between company and employee…may now be on the verge of collapse. Many employees can rightly feel that they have been short-changed by their managements during the downturn.
The manner in which managers achieve savings is often overlooked. Reducing employee benefits, which saves a small fraction of the cost, is often the path of least resistance.