One analyst chose to stay put in office. "Most people in my office had decided to stay back rather than venture out," said the analyst wrapping up her dinner in the office cafeteria. She is not alone. Many executives of India Inc opted to spend the night in office following the heavy downpour that got Mumbai to a near standstill on Tuesday night, August 29th. In yet another case, a young CEO was unable to reach out to his son stranded at school. "It is a pretty bad situation," he said. He finally got his son back home at 3 am on Wednesday. Happy, the school was cooperative, he added: "My son was taken care of by the school, which had chosen to hold back some 300 children who needed to travel far." In yet another case, the HR head of a leading pharma company accommodated some of his colleagues at his home since they were stranded but could reach his place.
In the twitter world, Anand Mahindra had been putting out tweets and video clips, including one taken from a train window, asked: "Mumbai local train or hovercraft?" And in one tweet, sharing a video clip sent by his daughter in New York showing Mt Mary Church, in the Bandra suburb of Mumbai, inundated in water.
However, by morning, water levels had receded and stranded employees started returning home. The government offices were shut on Wednesday and though banks were operating, attendance was thin so all electronic transactions happened but where physical intervention was needed there were challenges. India Inc left the option open to its employees to report and allowed many to operate out of home.
In August 2005, when Mumbai was hit with a heavy downpour, that many recalled on Tuesday night, the business in city had suffered losses, real and notional, to the tune of over Rs 20,000 crore. It is anybody's guess what the impact will be this time.
Though, there are two important factoids that suggest the impact may not be as severe as in 2005. One, the IT networks have not been damaged and most importantly, the timing. In 2005, business leaders recall rains and flooding had starting from around noon where as this time it began around 4 pm. Even then, some from the industry who suffered the downpour even in 2005, feel, it may not be wrong to expect losses to the tune of at least around 40 per cent of the toll it took in 2005 and this being largely by way of man days lost despite a lot moving to the digital medium.
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