Manpower security behemoth SIS (Securities and Intelligence Services) is under no self-quarantine lockdown. On the contrary, the Union government has listed the company’s fleet of security guards, cleaning personnel and drivers under the essential services category in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, to address the pandemic.
The Rs 7,093-crore SIS has deployed over 2 lakh security guards, cleaning staff and drivers across 630 districts in the country. Police departments of several states, bogged down by the unprecedented curfew burden, have sought roping in of private security firms to provide back-up when required.
“Early this week, the Union home ministry and labour ministry have directed SIS India not to consider reducing staff strength nor cutting their salaries at this juncture, as what they are doing are ‘essential services’. It is a pleasant surprise that the critical nature of the work is being highlighted, with even the prime minister giving an honourable mention to the hospital cleaning staff,” SIS Managing Director, Rituraj Kishore Sinha said.
SIS, with operations in Singapore and Australia, has leveraged its Covid-19-fighting lessons from Singapore, using its know-how in equipping people to address the pandemic. “The pandemic had hit Singapore in January and we had been called in to deploy our cleaning people and security people to man the queues at hospitals in February. The learning lead from knowing the rate and type of manpower requirements, hygiene protocol and the kind of disinfectant materials to use, culled from the Singapore experience, helped a bit in preparing the Indian staff for a similar emergency,” he says. In preparation, the company had speeded up the processes of purchase requests from its 312 branches across India.
Even while 2019 had seen a slowdown in several sectors, it had opened a window of opportunity for the manpower security giant. Whenever automobile factories or aviation firms were in trouble, their requirement for security and cameras to guard stock or vehicles went up. Sinha admits that a big chunk of SIS’s revenue in the current fiscal has come from Indian operations, while earlier the bulk of its turnover came from operations in Singapore and Australia.
In the cash logistics vertical, SIS is the country’s second-largest player, holding 20% market share. According to Sinha, “The Centre has categorically instructed the cash logistics players that the ATMS should never dry up, especially in this crisis,” he said. There is a surge in its facility management portfolio too. Speculations are rife that SIS may touch Rs 9,000 crore in turnover in the current fiscal, riding the colossal security demand. “I’m not looking at it from the revenue side now,” he says. “It is overwhelming enough that my cleaning staff is working 12-20 hours, in critical care rooms in hospitals, even wearing adult diapers for the extended hours and getting applauded for braving the risks. The goodwill, that we were with the people during bad times, is fair compensation enough,” Sinha said.