Friday, May 26, 2006

Raha, ONGC, Government - subverting business

It was announced on Wednesday, 24th May 2006 that there would not be any extension of the tenure of Mr.Subir Raha, CMD of ONGC India even though he has still almost 2 years of service period left. This is not quite the normal norm which is followed in the PSU sector where the government is charged with delay in action and going with the status quo. This was a rare case in point where they removed a head of a company even though he had time on his side.
Government said in business terms, Raha’s contract as CMD of ONGC has not been extended. They also said that this was nothing unusual and was not done to teach him a lesson for his past acts. We as law abiding citizens and passive followers of events have not uttered anything as this is neither illegal nor immoral. But, I guess there is something more to look into this from a totally different perspective to judge government’s action.
This was a case where government has terminated the responsibility of a CMD who has been credited with transforming the business of the organization he headed. ONGC earnings had increased from Rs.22,841 Crore (approx) to almost Rs.50,900 crores during these 5 years. Profit has become more than double (from Rs. 6,197 crore to Rs.14,175 crore) and also it has transformed itself into one of those behemoths in the Indian industry which generated enough funds for the country. Also he has been responsible for transforming ONGC Videsh Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of ONGC into a successful venture (having generated a streamline cash flow of Rs.4.19 billion for the next 4-5 years from 21 different countries), which, before his tenure was on the verge of shut down. These are in business terms real achievements and do not vanish like promises of political parties in India. The amount of wealth he generated for our country and especially for the PSU in question is real and through fierce competition.
Alas, government turned the other way and put emphasis (unofficially though) on his differences with higher authorities (read, former oil minister Mr.Manishankar Ayer and the then Oil secretary) as he rubbed them the wrong way. This was done because Raha, as a CMD, thought he owned his decisions and asked the minister not to interfere in business.
Any novice in business would understand that this is how business leaders work and make their company world class. To create a world class business behemoth you need to have business acumen and also strong mind. All business people would vouch for that. But our government is more concerned with meek subordination of bureaucrats to the ministers and is against building the country to a stronger, wealthier nation. This also shows their inflexibility and short-sightedness on their part. We expected better deal from a prime minister who understands economics and business much better than most of us and prefers to be known as an intellectual rather than politician.
Time and again government has acted on whims and vendetta, over the years they have shifted and altered the bureaucracy according to their personal choice to suit their political goals and never thought of excellence and competition for betterment of PSUs. They prefer to have rather underperforming but blind "jo huzurs" instead of excellent and straight minds. This has once again proved why best brains do not prefer to work in PSUs and also why performance oriented people does not like the set up we present to them as a country and society.
It is time we strive for excellence and performance instead of typical government clerical mentality of just surviving somehow through the odds by increasing salary and trade unions. It is time we pause and take a calculated look at our future to get a rude shock. Else we would be in real danger of loosing all the glories we are generating as an effect of globalization.
Probably, that would not be the India we would want to live in.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dividedly united !!!!

For the last few days India has been witnessing a nationwide furor over the reservation issue in all central (and consequently state) aided or governed educational institutions. Other than serious difference in whether to promote merit or social equity the larger issue has been the division that it has created within the society. Our political fraternity has been of the opinion that caste system has created a social divide in India for the past numerous years and hence social upliftment of these sections through reservation is a necessary process. As expected, the supporters of merit are opposing it.

Up to now whatever I have written is not a precursor to my subject. I am not going to debate on this issue as I am neither competent nor neutral enough for that job. There could be an element of biasness in case I dwell upon this and hence natural justice doesn't allow me to do that. But my main concern is to look at how much as a society we are divided and what conflict of interest could do. I would try to paint a picture which many of us might not agree with as I am not the best person to write about these. Yet, I am penning them down as they came to my mind.

If we look back through indian history (of which, I am a follower but not an expert), then it is quite clear that almost from the time of starting of history, the division within the society was present in India. Even during the gupta periods or at the time of mughals this division was clear and visible. Precisely because of this reason the anti Hindu movements and propagation of Buddhism or Jainism has come into our history. The idea of "exclusively inclusive" society made the habitat segregated based on cast, if not religion. Later during the Muslim era this phenomena gathered more strength even under tremendous religious pressure. These were possible because there were no conflict of interests as Lord Buddha or mahavir or Tansen was never judged on the basis of percentage of population they represented. Neither were they given concessions.

IF we flip through the 18th-20th century period under British raj the division was quite clear. The British made a concerted effort to fuel this and more so, on the basis of religion than probably caste. Even today, at the beginning of 21st century we are yet to conceptualize the concept of inclusive society. This might sound bad but then truth has always been bitter. Let’s face it squarely.

Now that I have hopefully succeeded in implanting some ideas about existence of division within society from long past let's face the other side of the coin. I would divert the attention in judging how much this has hampered the progress of the backward caste or society as a whole.

I will start with the presumption that we believe indian civilization or history is better than most of the others. I will dwell upon some of my views and thoughts (which I think are similar situations, "not same") to arrive at a more confused state so that people who read this have something to think.

I believe the division between north and south, between dravids and aryans, between foreign attackers and son of the soils has contributed to our richness. Both these cultures, as they were totally opposed to each other, developed on their own indigenous ways and flourished to our advantage. We should keep in mind that even though they lived in the same country and aryans initially had a superior social status or power, neither of them ever encroached upon each others (though political invasion was always there) social territory. Precisely because of this we are fortunate enough to have great gupta or magadh dynasty sharing the limelight with the cholas, chalukays or Vijaynagar kingdoms. Same is the case with anti hindu reformist movements. These religions as well as hindus have lived and prospered enough to come to today's state in india. History has showered equal praise on these vastly opposing and different cultures and has not measured their impact on how much percent of a society they represented.

If we look at the British period, which in my view, showed tremendous bonding across religious lines because of national sentiments had its share of divisions within society. Hindus and muslims became nearest and dearest even though social difference and tension was there. Dalits and other backward people contributed as much as the upper castes in freedom movement and never was caste an issue in independence struggle. In fact, reservations for different caste and religions were the reason behind the split up of the social fabric and weakening of the freedom struggle. People respected merits and excellence and never measured contribution in percentage terms. Probably this was the reason why we had fewer riots during those days than we have today even though now on paper we have a better system in place.

There is bound to be a division when people of different socio economic background exist in the same horizon. Even within a family people having different earnings do not live the same way. But these things never contribute to the lesser person being handicap or in his/her progress.

What my contention is that we cannot erase division neither should we try to put everyone on the same path, because that is not for us to direct or decide. What we need to do is to form an inclusive society where hatred is excluded. Variations and divisions have contributed to richness in terms of language, literature and history. We have different dialects and habits because we are different.

Government representing India should not propagate hatred by favouring some caste over the others in the name of social justice as history has proved this to be counter productive. What we need is a broad based society where people are not judged by the mass of the population he/she is representing. If we believe that our divided past has not produced any results in terms of social upliftment then we are dangerously disrespecting a huge contribution of rural India. We are presuming that economic upliftment would erase social tension, which I am sorry to say is a proven wrong, because otherwise more than half of India by this time would have been living in a social heaven. Our history and society is all about contradictions, divisions and confrontations. These have added to our richness and aptly represented all sections irrespective of caste and religion. We need to remove the hatred not the caste.

We have seen that having a common vision makes the strongest division irrelevant. But at the same time partition of India has shown what conflict of interest could do to us, and I fear, that is the path we are treading ahead.

That would probably not be the India where even the backward classes would like to stay.


Monday, May 22, 2006

My 1st year @ MBA

A MBA is so common now a days in India that after a few more years it would probably lose its charm. Before I joined my alma matter a year back I had never thought of doing MBA that too from one of the top b schools in India. Even now I do not know how I have landed here and if it has added any value to my life except probabaly and hopefully when I vie for a job in some corporate houses next year. But it has taught me something other than academics in life. It has presented life to me as a tuffer proposition than I thought and challenged me to come out with flying colours. Time would tell if I have succeded in doing that but I have till now enjoyed my journey here.
So much has been written and said (U cud find n number of blogs also) about life of any B-school graduate that there is nothing new to be added. Yet the fact that life presents itself differently to different people makes it all the more interesting to us. And this is where I can add value.

Yuppiee...I have already started using MBA lingo. This is one area where all MBAs could not desist temselves. Hence no apology.

My first year started with tests,quizzes and assignments. As the time progressed only the volume and frequency of these things increased and pour souls like me, who have spend their whole past life (including engg degree years) without even knowing what an assignment means started worrying about submissions, deadlines and GPAs. Thank god that I knew swimming else drowning would have been the inevitable under this pressure.

Even though I had decent results, I never knew that I was such a hopeless student until the concept of relative grading bombed before me and before I could realize or react I had alrady joined the rat race to beat my fellow class mates (though I was unsuccessful in beating most of them). I have hated this concept of result throughout my life as I always thought that teachers never gave me marks that I wanted and never realized what did they do with those marks they took away from me.

The day used to start at 8 o'clock in the morning and end was nowhere near the usual sleeping times. We were constantly getting sandwiched between exams and submissions and the only time we used to sleep was during the lectures. It meant that we never heard what was taught and hence it became compulsory to stay awake till late night to catch up with the prof. No wonder that still we do not know the city very well except few resturants and multiplexes. If I had given half the effort during my engg days that I have been forced to during the past 1 year, I would have broken all academic records there. So much so for something which was not planned in my life. No wonder people with meticulous plans succed in life.

Other than normal study we had to do a lot of other works. All students were part of some activity commitee or the other and these things were graded. Hence no escape during weekends too. I have probably looked at the calender only three - four times during the last 1 year. I only realised that I have grown older when the results came out a few days back.

People work here harder than they could have imagined in worst dreams yet there are cases of failures and not so good results. They have tried as much hard as we have but probably luck was not with them. I realised how lucky I was when I saw the admissions of my juniors and even luckier that till now I have sailed through without any hiccups.

God must have been partial to me during the unplanned journey of my life. Now I need to know how to thank god in simple terms because I have forgot simple speaking and jargon less chattings.

Hope thy god remains with me throughout this journey to bring me back where I was as a person before I came here...


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Me and my Kolkata

Kolkata erstwhile known as Calcutta is in mumbai terms "thora hatke" city. It is not half as fast as mumbai,neither it is as plush as other metros in India. Yet it remains very close to my heart and I miss my city very much. Not because I am a die hard calcacian but there is something I always like about my city. Its warmth, its relentless effort to embrace everybody in and around and also its own way of creating life and fun out of nothing is invaluable. These are probably not valued or required in morden life but then I have never been a die hard fan of present condition of life. It taught me to enjoy every small things in the world, it showed me that festivals have colours which can paint everybody's world irrespective of cast,creed, religion and gender. It gave me a great history and also a not so great present. Yet it never stopped surprising me by throwing small presents every now and then.
I have travelled at least to all metros and big cities in India but nowhere I found such appreciation of things which is of no value in life. it has its own share of negatives and problems but then that is part and parcel of every city in India. Everybody loves his/her own city and I think it should be so because we sould never forget our roots but somewhere I feel my love for my city is different.
Calcutta is changing too now a days and trying to be like others. But I detest that change. You do not need to be changed to New York to be NY.
Probably nobody could answer this as change is inevitable. But I wish my city could have remained the same at its core.



Life is a huge yet beautiful subject to speak about. It crosses everybody in all its form.Sometime it showers purity but at times it sparkles black to suggest a yawning hole around. It started for me almost a quarter century back and till date I must say it has by and large fascinated me. It embreaces all who comes in its path and dares to challenge death in all its glory. From the time we scream for the first time till death does us part life serves us like a genie who grants ur wishes meagerly yet throws enuf surprises to carry along.
Life is not gene, life is not chromosome. It is neither a challenge nor a childs play. It can never be a dull movie but at times it might put someone tantalizingly close to desparation. I have experienced some of these and I admit that its better if we all experience those finer moments. It throws us in a sea to swim across knowing that there is nothing to be attained at the end of the journey. Life is for those who asks nothing from it, life is for those who sails not to survive but to enjoy the swimming. Life is for those who belives in nothing yet knows there is a reason behind everything. Life is for those who knows how to stop yet never stops. To enjoy life we must enjoy the journey more that its destination. To enjoy life we must ensure purity in whatever we do and belive in what we say.
It does not behave equally to everyone and manifestes its cruelty in its ugliest form to shatter myths around it. Yet it remains the greatest friend forever and becomes the best friend, philosopher and guide.
Its been a great teacher and I must admit that none has bettered life in teaching the nuances of it. With almost little knowledge of spirituality and human kind it still remains a wonderful journey for me.