Monday, October 13, 2014

Maximum Governance and Minimum Government: A Distant Dream

How Difficult it is do Business in India?
An example of the difficulty faced by the common Indian man to do business in India.
This personal experience is penned down to bring to the fore the difficulties that an honest taxpayer faces!
Background to the incident
I bought an office to extend my firm’s operations, about ten years ago-two offices of approx.2500 sft + 500 sft, in the course of the year, 2006. Around the time I took ownership of these, there was a conscious decision taken, to down size my business due to difficulties faced (read harassment) from Service tax authorities (I have already written widely on this issue in yahoo groups earlier). This decision came as a result of a realization that it was futile to do business, just to ensure payments to insensitive and corrupt government officials and in the process, face bureaucratic hurdles. Most of these interactions gave ample opportunities to these officials to trouble honest tax payers!
 I estimated that for every Rs 100 that I earned, over 60% goes to government in some form or the other. These included Income tax, service tax and every other tax that I had to pay when I purchased anything.  I was also of the opinion that it was not worth ‘earning’ for the government post retirement. I down-sized the company operations and as a result, I practically closed operations in Ahmedabad and kept only the Bangalore office open. Till date the Ahmedabad centre only remains as an R&D centre with no income. Coming back to the purchased property, I did not use the two units purchased- they are locked up and in the small office of 500 sft, where some of my old files from IIMA are stored. These documents were important to me, as I had no heart to throw the files away after I left IIMA and as I was carrying them from one place to another, it was an easier option for me to store these in the small office.  The ordeal started when I received a ‘fat’ tax notice as property tax, which was due to the incorrect entry of occupied area by the municipal office. I had to send someone to get the details corrected and consequently the right tax amount as the property was an un-occupied space. This was all after my discovery in 2014 about the high taxes that we were paying from my Bangalore office. They did not know that for vacant space the charges are reduced by almost over 50%. Since I have literally no staff to assist me at TVRLS Ahmedabad, I took the onus to get this sorted out. I narrate below my ordeal which is indicative of the difficulties in doing business in India. I describe below the various trips made to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Office (AMC) to get what is due to the honest taxpaying citizens of Ahmedabad.
The real Ordeal begins…A detailed narration.
Trip 1: I met an officer to explain the issues faced. He suggested that I meet another concerned officer (or clerk- I will use the term officer with respect), who was not there on his table.
Trip 2: I met the concerned and showed him the tax bill. He advised that I purchase and fill a form for Rs. 2 with the requisite electricity bills.
Trip 3: I attached the bills and met him again. He saw the bills and said that I have applied for only one year while I am eligible with retrospective effect for all the years the office was vacant. He asked me to take another application and apply. He also directed me to the place where I had to deposit my application.
Trip 4: I had to do a lot of scouting to get all the bills of last five years and finally I completed the forms and took to him to confirm if all were in order. He checked quickly and said that theyare okay and gave me his cell number for assistance. My cell number was in the application submitted and he said he will call me whenever the issue was decided and until then I should not pay taxes for the current year as a lot of refund is due and it will cover all the taxes.
Trip 5: I did not get a call for several days. I didn’t want to call him on his personal cell number but decided to visit the office and find out the status. I went there and unfortunately, he was not available, post which after three to four phone calls he said that he was reviewing the case and would take a decision soon.
Trip 6: I went again to personally meet him to impress on him that the fine period has started for the current year and that I was eager to pay off the property tax. He asked me to come after a week.
Trip 7: I visited him again, after a week. I was told that the area has been assigned to another person. He gave me the number of the other personnel and asked me to meet him.
Trip 8: I met the new officer. The New Officer (NO) said that he was aware of my case and that he would do the needful and that I should contact him after a sometime as he has just taken over.
Trip 9: After a couple of weeks I went to see him. He said that the premises had to be inspected.  I brought to his notice, that there were bills with zero electric consumption which were attached for his perusal and that this was sufficient to proof that the place was vacant. He said that it was important that the place be physically verified.  I requested him that the office was locked and if he has to verify he should give me a call so that I can come and open the locked office and show him the property.
Trip 10: Two weeks later I again visited him, to request him once again, to visit the office and complete the checking. He said he will call me. He did not call me for another few days and all I could do is to send him reminders.
Trip 11:Finally, I got a call from him, asking me to come within 20 minutes as he was inspecting the nearby offices. I rushed and found two people- the concerned officer and his boss. His question was why I did not use the property, all these years or rent it out. I mentioned that, I did not want to give it on rent for the first few years and now when I want to give it I am not getting any tenant.  His officer saw the files lying in the small office and concluded that the office was in use. I argued with him that they were all old files and I could have dumped them and vacated the room if I wanted to be dishonest. I was also told that he would go by his rule book and as per the rules if any unused material was found in the premises it would be counted as a used property, even if there was no electricity consumption for the last five years. However I added that I would pay the tax, if he still felt that this was not vacant, as we had paid for it in the past. It was also important to note that, the condition of the 2500 sft office was bad and it had leaks and worn out tiles. It did not need any intelligence to come to the conclusion that  this was not in use. The same was true with the small office. I was told that I will hear their decision at a later date and that electricity bills could be faked. This was the reason that they could not come to a conclusion immediately. They also asked me why I did not inform them earlier and also mentioned that the claim could not be entertained for the previous years as there was no guarantee that it was not used earlier….  I had nothing to say!
Trip 12: I waited for their call and it never came. The property tax interest rate was going up meanwhile which increased my eagerness to pay it off. I called him again, twice to be told, that the officer was on leave. Losing my patience I went again to his office to be told that he was still on leave and that he had asked his colleague to sort out the matter if I visited them again. I was impressed that the new officer was nice enough to instruct his colleagues to sort out the matter. His colleague checked some files and mentioned that I had to give an affidavit on a 100 rupee stamp paper, stating that the office was not in use and in case anything contrary to it was found I will repay the amount of concession given to me. I argued with him that I have already made over ten trips and was losing patience. He took me to the boss of the officer who inspected my premises . Both of them had arguments among themselves and after trying to see my payment dues in the computer and hearing my argument that the interest on the property tax is going up as the last date is over, they said that for the small office of 500 sft there will be no concession as it would be treated as property under use. However the next one will be reduced and I should pay 50% of the tax for the bigger office, just to save myself of the interest burden.
Trip 13: I went to pay the amount indicated three days later as it took time to get the cheque from Bangalore office for the amount. The day I went to pay the payment, the receiving clerk mentioned that the amount on the cheque is Rupees 10 less, as the interest had gone up and if she accepted the money I would lose all concession, to be given on the matter. She refused to accept short payment. On the second case of 50% also she said the same. I then called my Bangalore office and asked them to pay off on line for the small office which they did. Prior to this, I would also like to add that when I called the officer to mention that I was misguided by his colleague, he replied back that it was my mistake to ask him for guidance as I should have come to him directly, as I was eligible for refund. As far as the small office was concerned, it was good that I paid all the money as I would not get any concession. For the bigger one I had already moved the papers and it was lying with the final authority and I would get a huge benefit. I also mentioned to him that if the need arises, I could take it up with higher authorities in AMC for which he said that there is no need.
Trip 14:A few days later I got a call stating that “ Your office was disconnected by Torrent Power” and that I would have to submit a  certificate for the period of disconnection stating that the office power connection is disconnected. I proceeded to the Torrent office to request for the certificate. There at Torrent Power I had to wait in the queue for 30 minutes to get an entry pass to meet the concerned officer. Finally when I met the officer she mentioned that I need to apply for it on a separate form to get a certificate of disconnection and it would cost Rs 500 each within a time period of 3 to 5 working days.
I don’t know how many more trips I have to make to Torrent and to AMC to prove that the office is not in use for the last seven years, in order to get the concession I deserve from the money that I have paid to AMC like an honest citizen.

My request is…..Modiji are you listening?? Is this “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance” which is being professed in your own Home state and in a Municipal corporation that is administered by some of the most efficient civil servants??
Post script:
I called the concerned officer a little while ago. He said that he will be in office this afternoon and I may come to see him. I told him on phone that I am left with no patience and energy to give him any documents and keep proving to every one that the office space is vacant and keep making trips to AMC and Torrent power. I also mentioned to him that  I am going to write to  AMC and also to PM Shri Modiji as I think this is not an exception and this is the way things are. He said, " if you are sick and can't come to AMC office and meet me I will come and meet you". I told him that I am not sick but sick of the procedures and bureaucracy and I have nothing against him or his colleagues, If any they have been helpful. Only they are not consistent and perhaps it is not their fault and that is the way the system is. The system is based on total mistrust of citizens and all services for which the citizens pay themselves don't trust them even in collecting money and giving what is genuinely due to them. 
I am not writing to Modiji but am hoping some one who sees this blog sends it to his office more as an indication of the cleaning to be done in India. Perhaps the new Commissioner of AMC will simplify life to make citizens not to waste their time. A private company like Torrent will make life of their customers easy. Why can't we get details of all disconnection or  connections on line if necessary for a fee and we have to cross so many hurdles to even know the procedure for getting a disconnection or re connection certificate. 
Cleaning India requires cleaning our offices of this mistrust and accumulated over decades. It is not easy but we need to do this on a war footing to make easy and a pleasure to do business in India.

Labels:Maximum Governance, minimum Government, Bureaucratic hurdles, Indian Bureaucracy, Municipal Administration, AMC, Doing Business in India, Trust.

Friday, September 5, 2014


11 Leadership Lessons from Narendra Modi for Corporate India
T. V. Rao

In the last 100 days Indian Prime Minister Modi has done a number of things that have shown what true leadership is and how to win more hearts as a leader. I wish to draw the following lessons from him:

1. Celebrate Leadership Change by Inviting your neighbors to participate in celebrations. Top level leadership changes should be celebrated ceremonially by inviting your neighboring organizations in the same city or elsewhere. Events should be organized internally  to welcome your new team and introducing them to all the members of the organization through web casts, video-casts and the like. Technology facilitates the same. Use technology for such celebrations. Involve the whole organization. 

2. Visit your neighbors irrespective of whether they are your customers or suppliers or indifferent people. When you take over as a CEO win the hearts of your neighboring organizations by visiting them and learning from them and offering collaboration. This requires your understanding them and their strengths and needs. Good relations with neighbors may go a long way in building good-will, peace and self confidence.

3. Plan and prepare for your trips to other organizations and countries to learn from them and show respect for their culture. Visiting schools, historical places,  and participating in various functions both in Nepal, Bhutan and in Japan Modi has demonstrated many things. The way the visit was planned and the right schedule was prepared is a remarkable thing. Plan your visit to other organizations or countries by finding out the most important and strategic places to visit, groups to interact and lessons to learn back home. For example you may meet new era employees (Gen Y) when you visit another organization or address a Chamber of Commerce meeting or a professional body. Learn, learn and learn. 

4. Gift small things but right things that talk about your culture and values. Gifting Gita is a  good gesture. It is also the Japanese way of Giving small mementoes that make a big difference. Rarely we gift books and such documents. We still aim at big (in size perhaps) gifts. I still remember when some visitors from Hungary came to visit BEML in 1978 they met groups and gifted their annual reports and picture books on their country and not any big handicrafts etc. Disseminate things that you are proud of while visiting others and receive the same from them. You can build on each others' strengths.

5. Foster collaboration with powerful people and get them to your side by opening your doors and showing your willingness to be influenced. The collaboration being fostered with Japan and the way it is being fostered indicates the same. 

6. Keep away from controversies. In his address to teachers and student community on 5th September he mentioned that he has become very sensitive to what he says, as he is worried that some times, what he says may create issues or problems. That is the only difference he found as PM and CM. He cannot take liberties as PM as much as he did while he was CM. I witnessed his awareness of this when he mentioned during our discussion on 360 Degree Feedback several years ago while he was CM. He said some times he speaks his heart and makes comments from the heart and immediately realizes that it has not gone well - the way he intended. As PM he is more cautious. I have seen CEOs making many comments, speaking from their heart. Some times it spins off rumors as many people are waiting to give interpretation to what the CEO says, the way they like him/her to be projected than what he really is or feels. CEOs should be sensitive to the impact they make at the same time they should be expressive.

7. Be proud of your country and culture when outside and focus on its issues and problems when inside. The Independence day speech is filled with priorities of the nation. The priorities focussed on the mental  state of the nation and the intellectual capital of the nation. CEOs should focus on the internal needs of the company to make it stronger and attack fundamental value and cultural changes required.   PM's independence speech has a lot of reflections for every citizen. CEOs should address such issue than mere financial and market priorities.  

8. Mix with your people and particularly the young ones in the making, as future managers of your company. By choosing to talk with the children and parents and answering their questions in a open and frank way he has won the hearts of the most important section of the society: the children. This is  preparing the country for the future. CEOs should periodically meet all their new employees and future managers in large numbers and interact with them. That is a good way to inspire them and acculturate them with the strong points of the organization.

9. Encourage questions from your employees in open houses and  share your views freely and frankly. The openness shown in the Teachers day address by the PM and the spontaneity in his answers has a lesson: When addressing your own future leaders speak from the heart and focus on long term values and lessons. Also create some lighter moments by frankly sharing your own life stories. 

10. Work hard, harder and harder. PM has made it clear that he works hard and suggested to all his civil servants and others that he will  always work an hour more than them. If you work for 11 hours I will work  for 12 etc. Set an example for others by your own behavior. Reflect about your experiences and share them with others. When a students questioned the PM- which one does he value more "Education or Experience"?, he answered that "experience without education is direction less and both have their own place". 

11. Do not give up the habit of reading and reading outside your syllabus. Most CEOs don't read nor do they encourage their line mangers to read. Line managers also have given up reading. Having good reading habits is essential for growth. I wish corporations gift books and periodicals to their managers and also distribute them as monthly incentives for good work. For example L&T IDPL distributes "Perfect Professional" magazine for their line managers and expects them to present lessons periodically in their OD seminars. This magazine has many interesting life sharing and shirt articles on issues like Delegation, Team Work, Happiness at work, Managing your Boss, Leadership et. and shares experiences of experienced line managers (see: Many interesting books can be ordered from flip or

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lessons from PM Shri Narendra Modi for HRD ..1

Some thoughts from the First Few Days of our New PM Shri Narendra Modi

The appointment of Principal Secretary and also the National Security Advisor :  Both these are retired officers with good track record and talent- competent and committed. 

Lesson for HRD Ministry: 

Competent people are a great resource to the country. Retired people, if competent and active carry with them a lot of experience and wisdom. As they are senior citizen's and have achieved all that they wanted to achieve in life, they are less likely to be greedy and more likely to put larger interests ahead of them. University Professors carry a lot of wisdom when they retire. Once they retire, they cease to be Ph. D. Guides and also are not allowed to lecture. Which means the country is losing a lot of wisdom by its bureaucratic processes. Can we change the rules of the game and show respect for the wisdom of the competent professor. Most Universities have Ph. D. programs which have not taken off, for want of guides. Can the Universities appoint the senior Professors as Professors of Eminence and encourage them to guide and also offer courses and share their wisdom. Catch could be about compensation. If they are on pension there is no need to pay them big salaries and they could be made honorary.  I know for sure many IIT and IIM professors and others are more than happy to serve their institutions for free. All that they need is the recognition of services and their wisdom. Even if they are not on pension they could be given a place, an office, a common facility and perhaps some incidentals to take care of their travel etc. or a token honorarium. The Universities and higher education institutions get a lot in return.

Lesson for PSUs and Public Sector Banks:

In one of the PSUs I was working with, several retiring Deputy General Managers said that once they retire they are jobless. They have a lot of technical knowledge which will be wasted. They also said if some of the MNCs are allowed to be in the business in which their company is, they could be taken by the MNC corporations with five to ten times the salaries. Imagine the number of Banks and other PSUs who were not recruiting officers till a few years ago. They face a situation where a large number of top level managers are retiring and there is no second line. The young officers recruited lack experience and also are job changers. Under these circumstances it will be wise to screen out competent retirees and senior citizens of these corporations and use their wisdom. They could be used as mentors and advisers etc. Most of them are on pension. For example it is said that in some of the Public sector banks, there are as many pensioners as the employees and most HR effort goes to serve the pensioners. It is a legitimate expectation of the organization from the pensioners to serve their organization with a small incentive. This way the PSUs and PSBs will benefit a lot with low cost.

Lesson For the Country: Department of Personnel and Adminsitrative Reforms and HRD Ministry

The HRD Ministry so far very rightly concentrated on the HRD of young people from child to college graduates.  Human Resources Development means not only spotting, nurturing, and developing the competencies (knowledge, attitudes, values, skills etc.) of people but also utilizing them. In all these, the current scope of HRD is limited to only education of the youth. Can it now extend to all categories of people. Can it treat the entire country and its people as a resource and focus as much on utilization of human resources or talent of people besides developing their knowledge base.  Is it possible to develop a information base of competencies of older people and senior citizens from various professionals and make it available for use by the any one who needs them.  This can be monitored by a cell specially created for this purpose. This may be a great source of support to the HRD Ministry. They can be used for various nation building purposes and also to monitor and guide various schemes and projects in HRD. Like the Performance Management department of the Cabinet secretariat is suing retired IAS officers and civil servants to monitor the Result Framework Document (RFD), HRD, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms can use such senior citizens forums for assistance in implementation of various projects.


The biggiest lesson form Shri Modiji is competent and commitment to country do not have a retirement age and competent and committed people should be used for the benefit of the country. 
Hope our new Ministers will use this wisdom.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Encounters with Shri Narendra Modi

My Encounters with Shri Narendra Modi
I share here three encounters (rather opportunities for interaction and observation) with Shri Narendra Modiji. The first one was when I was invited to speak on Human Resources Management in Government at Vadodara almost a decade ago in one of the Chintan Shibirs. I gave a talk. What started as a 90 minute session went on for two full hours. He was the only one among all his Ministers and Bureaucrats to sit through all two hours and patiently take notes. At the end of it during the tea break, he said "Raoji aap ko time bahut kam mila" - indicating that he was willing to take more. This was followed by some of his IAS officers making attempts to start 360 Degree Feedback in their departments.

The second encounter was more as an observer, a few years later, when I was invited for a function of Pundit Deenadayal Petroleum University. I was among the audience. There were many dignitaries on the Dias including Mukesh Ambani, Governor, and other Ministers. The program began with a prayer dance. While the prayer dance was going on, one of the dancing girl’s pallu caught fire from the oil lamps (diyyas or lights) put up there. The moment he noticed the fire while all others were watching from a distance he instinctively rushed (ran) from the Dias down to the girl to put off the fire. None of the others had such a great presence of mind. Status barriers etc. did not matter to him.

The third encounter a few years ago and a few months before he was elected as CM for the third time. An Industrialist friend of mine took me to him to suggest a 360 Degree feedback. This Industrialist friend was apparently very close to him in his child hood schools days. He said that Modiji is a great person with high potential. He will become PM one day. We should do a 360 Degree feedback and help him at this stage itself to recognise his blind spots. Your methodology seems to be a good methodology to do that. So let us talk to him. Both of us along with one of his CEOs went to meet Shri Modiji. We made a presentation to him at his home in Gandhinagar. He gave us almost over three hours. The way he was dressed reminded me of the day I met N T Rama Rao garu when he invited me to start a Institute of Professional Education in AP. Dressed informally he had arrangements for a ppt presentation at his home. He listened attentively to all we said about Leadership; competency building and how 360 helps in the same. At the end of it he said’ Raoji, I am very happy and open to this 360 degree Feedback. However let me tell you that as soon as I took over as CM, your IIMA Director Dr Dholakia and Indira Parikh have organised a feedback session with my ministers and civil servants. I was asked not to be present so that they could discuss freely and frankly. In the afternoon they asked me to come and listen to their feedback. I was expecting to hear from them something I could improve. To my surprise none of them had anything negative to say. They told me the obvious things and full of praise. So I am not how much people can be really frank. I speak from my heart and many times soon after I speak I get a sense that I should not have been that outspoken. But the damage is done by the time I get this insight, and the press has already picked up. However I am open to such feedback. I can write to Advaniji and others requesting them to give their feedback. Please go ahead.”
We did not do it as the state elections were due in a few months after that and we were afraid that this will go to media and they will see this as an election stunt etc. We dropped the idea.
In all these encounters I experienced Shri Modiji as a very genuine learner, patient listener and respectful of academics and receptive to useful ideas. He is instinctively a caring person as illustrated by the incident where he rushed to the rescue of the girl, from fire on the stage.
I am happy that such a person is going to lead the country. I can also see that in Gujarat many of his initiatives have not fully taken off with speed. A CM or a PM can only do certain things what is perhaps needed is that everyone in the implementation machinery needs to work with devotion. His victory speech at Vadodara is an excellent speech.  He said that development should become a revolution and it should occupy the minds of every one. Like in the days of freedom struggle every one worked for India’s freedom, everyone should feel that they are working for development.
My colleagues like Pradip Khandwalla and Bakul Dholakia had many more interactions with him and were lucky to have shared their thoughts.  He listens to academics and thinkers and values their views.

I think if he fails it is the failure of all of us and failure of India. I hope we can all work for real change. No one person can do it all alone and this person is providing the leadership needed. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ravi Matthai's Jawaja Experiment

Jawaja Project of Ravi Matthai
T. V. Rao
(a short version of this appeared in IIMA Alumnus)

Jawaja started as a project in Educational Innovations in Rajasthan and not a Rural Development Project. Eventually it got to be known as a Rural Development Project and Ravi (Matthai) did not object to it as the “Rural Development Group” at IIMA started taking interest in it four years after the project was initiated and they worked closely with Ravi. In my view it still is an Education project and it makes a lot of difference how you view it. I give below a little bit of history to put things in the right perspective before the memory is lost.
After Ravi stepped out as Director, he was interested in perusing professionalization of Management to Education sector. I was recruited to work in this sector. The Education Systems Unit was formed at IIMA in 1973 with Ravi Matthai, Udai Pareek and T. V. Rao as members and Udai Pareek as coordinator. Ravi and Udai had their own ideas of Professionalising management of education. I thought they meant to make education systems more relevant, innovative, define their goals properly and achieve them well with the involvement of all faculty and perhaps using the lessons from managing IIMA which by then was a great success story.
The team of the three of us deliberated for a few months about the work we should be doing in Education and identified the following priorities:
1.       To work with a University and explore professionalising the Management of the University
2.       To work with a college, a school or other educational institutions
3.       To work with a state department of Education and initiate innovations.

For the Universities,  we were asked by the then newly formed Gujarat Agricultural University (V. R. Mehta Vice Chancellor invited us) to help them to study their decision making systems and organizational structure and suggest mechanisms to make it more integrated. GAU was formed with merging of three campuses and each campus had a Director campus and there were many issues of integration. The work went on for nearly two years and some small experiments were done and this was followed by MPKV Agricultural University in Maharashtra. The MPKV project was done by Udai, Ravi, SP Agarwal and Ranjit Gupta. The details of our work in both the Universities are given in the book on Management Processes in Universities by Ravi Matthai, Udai Pareek and T. V. Rao (Oxford & IBH).
For colleges we did some work with St. Xavier’s college in preparing themselves for autonomy which they did not get until many years later and the project had to be dropped after some initial work. We also organised a program on Institution Building in Education and research attended by Kamla, Yash Pal, Alag, Nayudamma, Ishwar, Dharni Sinha and many others. The book is published by AIMA. We also started a program for Heads of Institutions on “Managing Change in Higher Education”. Ravi was also helping NCL, Pune and NID at this time. We did a self- renewal workshop for Sanawar School and also shared with the Indian Public Schools Association. Shomie Das actively promoted this work.
It was the third type of work that lead to Jawaja project years later. We were looking for people from any state government to invite us to undertake this work. The three of us were invited in 1974 to attend a meeting at the Asian Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (now known as NIEPA University, Ministry of HRD) a New Delhi sponsored by UNESCO. The same workshop was also being attended by Mrs. Chitra Naik then Director of Education in Maharashtra and Anil Bordia Joint Secretary Education,  Ministry of Education, New Delhi.  Ravi and Udai knew all these people and expressed their desire to work with a State department. We had a meeting with J. P. Naik, Anil Bordia, Chitra Naik and the three of us to discuss the plan of action. The meeting took place in Connaught place in Nirulla Restaurant over lunch as we had to go out from the seminar for the discussions. During the meeting Mrs. Naik offered Maharashtra as a place for our work. We did not know what exactly we wanted to do but merely said we like to assist in professionalising management through some innovations. It was during this lunch Anil Bordia offered that Rajasthan is a ripe place for our work . As there is already a “High Power Committee” in education with the Minister of Education as Chairman and they have already submitted a report of educational reforms in Rajasthan and there is a lot of scope for innovations in Rajasthan. He suggested that he can get the Government of Rajasthan to extend all support and if we can study it and help them implement it will meet our objective and the State department’s. J P Naik (member Secretary, ICSSR) offered to support it as a Research Project.  The meeting ended with the agreement that the work will be done in Rajasthan and the task will be to help the government of Rajasthan to implement the High Power committee report and the project will be called as “educational Innovations in Rajasthan.” A steering Committee was also formed with Ravi, Udai, T. V. Rao, J. P. Naik, Chitra Naik, Anil Bordia, Inderjit Khanna (Director Education) at that time to keep meeting once in a while and review the progress.
A sum of Rupees 50,000 was sanctioned by ICSSR to the project “Educational Innovations in Rajasthan” to meet the travel and living expenses of the Education Systems Unit form IIMA with Ravi Matthai as the Project Director.
We all met again in Delhi first and again in Jaipur to begin the work. The High power committee identified many issues which are still issues: these included low school enrolment and high drop outs, poor enrolment of girls, location and up gradation of schools, teacher transfers and transfer policies, quality of teachers and teaching, supervision and guidance to schools by educational administrators etc. After studying the report we identified the school drop outs and quality of education as major area. The three of us chose the Ajmer and Jaipur districts of Rajasthan to understand the situation.  We interviewed the top level Administrators and also visited many schools and villages. We concluded that the educational administrators had little time to guide the teachers as they are mostly busy in administration and particularly teacher transfers and appointments and rarely visited the schools to see what is happening. We also discovered that the schools are not seen as places of relevance and villagers questioned the kind of education given to the children. In fact they said that school education the way it was being given was responsible for the unemployment as their wards who went to school stopped working in the farms and also cannot get any jobs. We concluded that if school enrolment has to be improved as desired by the High Power committee the education and especially what is being taught has to be made more relevant.
We worked out a three pronged strategy to help high power committee recommendations implemented. First was to release the administrative burden of the Educational administrators by forming right policies and the use of Technology. Prof. T. P. Rama Rao and I worked on developing a computer model for teacher transfers and also for location of schools. The Dharampur Project experience came in handy for location of schools.  The Minister of Education Rajasthan even visited IIMA to see the Dhrampur model and understand how teacher transfers through computes can ease the administrative burden. Of course the government may not have been convinced as perhaps using computerised (MIS)  for teacher transfers is not desirable as it is losing control over teacher transfers. We in fact explained that every teacher transfer is accompanied by three to four unnecessary transfers due to limited and faulty MIS. This remained only as en experience and the reports are still available in IIMA of the two projects.
We were set out to turn and study three districts of Rajasthan but we got a clear picture after a tour of Ajmer district and Jaipur City. We did not even get to tour the other districts.
Ravi said that education has become irrelevant for the villagers. It has to be made more relevant and our  work should be to demonstrate how to make education more relevant to people in rural areas. It is this issue that has led to a series of other questions. Ravi also felt that to make it relevant we have to identify local resources and create value addition in ways that the people can experience the same. It has to be done by and through the education department. We felt that this cannot be done by mere recommendations to the government as they already have plenty of them but through demonstration. We should demonstrate to them how to identify local resources, how to add value and how to make education linked to economic activity.  Ajmer was chosen to demonstrate this. I still remember Ravi making a comment: We will demonstrate this in Ajmer District in six months and extend it to the remaining three districts in three years and leave it for the Government to extend it to the rest of the state. I was too young to have any views on this plan. It was an experience to work with Ravi and I used to hear him and watch with admiration what he is  trying to do.
After touring round Ajmer district we chose the Jawaja block for the following reasons: it is backward and at the same time had some resources like agriculture (tomatoes used to be sold at Rs 2.5 a basket of some 5 to 10 kgs), sheep, tendu leaves etc. which were amenable for economic activity. Local occupations like weaving, leather work is on traditional methods and is amenable for modernisation.  These and other details are documented in some of the case studies (See for example the case study on Educational Innovations for Rural development by T V Rao) and the book on “The Rural University” by Ravi Matthai. When we presented our ideas to the ICSSR Committee in the District Collector’s office in Ajmer (R. S. Kumat was the District Collector), the committee including Anil Bordia were not convinced but said that Ravi and team should go ahead and do whatever they felt right but this may not help the High power committee much. Ravi argued that there is no easy solution to implement the committee report unless the basic issues are settled. I think it is at this time the ICSSR committee started losing their interest except J. P. Naik who worked all his life on education issues. I remember JP visiting IIMA a few years later and my taking him out to Vishala for a dinner and having a long chat on these issues.
We were set out to use Jawaja as an experimental Block to demonstrate how education (primary and basic) can be made relevant to masses. We tried many experiments including forming farmers; cooperative in Agriculture Produce, Dairying, Beedi making with tendu leaves,  teaching new weaving skills to a group of defunct weavers form cooperative society in Beawar Khas, and training a group of leather workers in leather processing suing modern methods and making new types of products etc.  In all these experiments the Education Department including the teachers and Deputy Education Inspector of Schools from Beawar used to accompany us. Many workshops were conducted to motivate school teachers to participate in the economic activity mobilisation and curriculum development. For example a number of them participated in conducting night classes in villages for mobilising Farmers producing tomatoes to form a Society and sell their produce directly to City markets. Of all these, what stayed on was only skill building of a group of weavers and leather workers. These are the products which get even today exhibited by AAJ (Artisans alliance, Jawaja).
Ravi suffered a heart attack during one of the exhibitions of the Jawaja products in Mumbai. Subsequently the need for developing the marketing skills of the NID developed artisans to market  their products, teaching them accounting, managing their accounts helping them take loans from banks, working out repayment schedules, etc. became main tasks. Both Udai and I dropped out from active involvement of the project and Tushar Moulik and Ranjit Gupta started participating actively in it and working with AAJ. Finally only Ranjit stayed and from NID it was Ashok Chatterjee who continued to involvement in Jawaja passionately.
I think Jawaja is experiment. It is an experience worth going over again and again to learn lessons. Years later Anil Bordia after retiring from Civil service started a project called Lok Jumbish trying to mass replicate some of the aspects of what Ravi Experimented.  
I have personally learnt many lessons from this. Many may not know that Ravi was Chairman of SWRC Tilonia which was being managed by Bunker and Aruna Roy at that time. We visited them in 1975 and it is their continued effort and continued presence that has lead to the current status. Jawaja did not have any presence of its people in the place like Tilonia had Bunker and Aruna. It is because Jawaja was not an experiment in rural development but an experiment in Educational Innovations and solving educational issues by making education more relevant to masses using local resources. Recently even Inderjit Khanna tried out with the help of Mittal Foundation to do similar things with college students. I understand that it could not be extended the way it was planned. This is because we live in a complex world. We need to learn lot. Experiments should not be treated as successes or failures merely on the basis of some prejudged outcomes expected and the learning should in any case be not undermined.
Jawaja produced many people who learnt a lot from it and are helping others. Mehmood Khan, Brian Pinto, Subramnaim (MIDS), Arvind Khare, and several others associated with Jawaja have contributed in their own ways to the society from their earnings. NID continues to get involved in the same.
Perhaps if Ravi was set out to do rural development he would have done it definitely in a different way. He was struggling to give a new meaning to education for masses and for the poorest of the poor and make education more relevant through economic activity. He did not have much of an idea when he was set out what it means to make education more relevant to masses. For that matter even those like me who were born and brought up in rural areas and even the government does not have much of an idea of how to design and manage education to make it more relevant to masses and how to create economic activity at local level. There are only experiments and thoughts. If any government or any NGO or any agency had a workable solution to this issue they would have done it long ago. There are experiments and experiments and no comprehensive and quick solutions to this issue. 
The concept of self-reliance was at the heart of the Jawaja experiment: education that could help those whose lives are directed by others to take greater charge and make choices, and then realize at least some of the choices they make --- and do this without even greater dependence on others. The article “The Rural University” written by Ravi at that time explains the education system he had in mind very succinctly. This article was circulated by many Vice Chancellors in those days to their entire faculty. The fact that there was no one based in Jawaja unlike Tilonia was deliberate, and the fact that the artisans managed for many years without IIMA and NID support is also significant --- self-reliance, genuinely. The fact that those Ravi chose to work with were at the very bottom of a highly discriminatory social structure is noteworthy.  Jawaja experiment had a lot of influence on so many others --- The ‘bottom of the pyramid’ thinking is said to have begun with Jawaja.  Vijay Mahajan was deeply influenced by Jawaja experiment in starting and managing Pradan. The project learning had a ripple effect beyond the IIMA family into so many institutions that have altered the course of development thinking in the country including Pradan, Utthan, NID and many others including the Crafts Council of India and so many others through the demonstration as well as ‘Jawaja alumni’. As Ashok Chatterjee former Director NID puts it  “the impact on NID was profound, influencing the way design education has been structured ever since. Ravi’s involvement with NID is another whole story. It might not have existed today but for him, and his contribution is scarcely remembered beyond the Jawaja connection. In Jawaja, he gave NID a chance to test the relevance of design at the gut level of Indian poverty --- the single most important demonstration ever, to date. The demonstration came at a time of institutional crisis where the self-worth of an institution was at stake. And that of course was one of the intentions of The Rural University idea: to test the relevance of new disciplines emerging in the country and of young professionals from management and design to serve India’s most basic needs of livelihoods and dignity”.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Management Education: Industry-Academia Interface in HRD

Industry and Academia Interface: What is missing?
Valedictory address by  T V Rao of the NHRDN Jaipur and Fortis on 8th March, 2014

I thank Prof. Bapna, NHRDN Jaipur chapter  and Fortis Health care for inviting me to this conference. I have five points to make for your consideration. However t before I make them for your consideration I would like to say that the National HRD Network itself and its formation is an outcome of Academic-Industry Interface. The NHRDN was started by academics from IIMA and XLRI with support from industry. The very objective is to promote the HRD movement in the country which was conceptualised at IIMA and Larsen and Toubro found that it makes business sense and provided a platform to implement. The XLRI Centre for HRD, L&T and IIMA were instrumental in its foundation and the body was registered at IIMA with support from Industry leaders. In the initial years it was managed by academics from  IIMA, XLRI and IIHMR etc.  and subsequently HR leaders from industry. The NHRDN is itself an example of collaboration and interface. Academics are associated in getting papers and publishing them. The papers themselves are largely written by practitioners. In the last three conferences special attention has been paid to involve student community through special session and faculty by sponsored research. Academic Institutes collaborate in a big way in all these conferences. NHRDN has also started an academic wing called the Academy of HRD which is largely managed by Academics. The Academy used to conduct a distance education program for practitioners in HR to fill the gaps and subsequently started a Fellow program in collaboration with XLRI. The program has graduated around 25 Doctoral level fellows and they are all serving various institutions as well as industry as academics and practitioners.
There is always scope to do more.  I like to make five points for your consideration for enhancing the Industry academic interface taking HR profession as an example. These points are based on the assumption that there is always scope to do a lot more and are intended to help the same.
1.      In professional courses the curricula should be prepared jointly by academia and practitioners. It is true for all profession like Engineering and technology, management, social work, education, law. Medicine and all fields.
2.      All Institutions of higher education should undertake self renewal exercises preferably facilitated by practitioners with self renewal skills
3.      Practitioners should encourage internships summer, winter and project work etc. and fund them to the extent possible to ensure preparation of quality
4.      Universities and colleges should encourage and facilitate extension work or consultancy and research work collaboratively with the organizations.
5.      Practitioners should update themselves periodically by visiting Institutions of higher learning and learning the recent developments in theory and try to implement the same and share their implementation experiences.  
Point 1: Need for Practitioners’ involvement in curricula: Today standards of education are pathetic. My own experience of using fresh students indicates that they are nowhere near what we used to get prepared forty years ago. Unfortunately very one is working independently. The NHRDN, CII and XLRI are a case in point. Several years ago NHRDN held a number of seminars and conferences that generated competency list for HR. It is published in NHRDN books. The AHRD developed model curricula and passed it on to AIMA, XLRI, SCMHRD and a few other institutions. AHRD itself organised a few programs. Ten years alter the memory is lost as there have been changes in office bearers. They developed a competency model for HR professionals. It is good model but perhaps somewhat  ignored its own previous work and focussed more on HR competencies for IT professionals. However they consulted global knowledge forums. It is yet to find its way to academic institutions including XLRI itself and other institutions that collaborated with it from CII or NHRDN.  Today when I look for competent graduates in HRM the scene is disappointing. If I require 100 basic concepts sand 50 skills for handling HR function I hardly find 10% to 20 % of it in the best of the institutions. See appendix for the competencies of HR people and the academic preparation required. So it is high time that academic institutions involve practitioners in preparing academic curricula. This is true not only for HR but for all professions. The HR Compass of NHRDN or other models like the one evolved by us at TVRLS should find their way to academics institution. I use for example the model of HR competencies (see appendix) in the courses of Talent Management or Intellectual capital and HRD Score card at Institutions like IIMA.
Point 2: Here I like to draw my experiences from project IMPACT sponsored by the Department of Electronics, Govt. Of India, World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation. Five years after they have given liberal grants for upgrading electronics and computer education in Colleges of Engineering and technology and polytechnics with the help of IISc, IIT Delhi and Mumbai they found not all institutions are similarly disposed to using of the innovations. TVRLS conducted a study which indicated that adoption of innovations in higher education depended on a number of factors and significant among them is the “Institutional Environment” including its leadership, vision, and faculty processes etc. A tool was developed to bench mark the practices. It is now available for all (see the working paper series of IIMA, 2014 by T. V. Rao and Siddhartha Saxena on Institutional Environment).  These tools can be used by Institutions in the same city or same management and bench mark and improve themselves. Bodies like NHRDN could facilitate such renewal exercises. For example I recommend all Institutions from and around Jaipur to form a  consortium and have small group that can modify this tool,  administer this tool on themselves, benchmark with each other and keep improving themselves. One of the parts of the tool deals with use of practitioners in academics. This effort can also be facilitated by Jaipur HRD Network. It will make a good beginning.
Point 3: BPCL changed its Performance appraisal system a few years. While they paid large sums of money to train about 30 change agents with expertise from the west, for bringing change in their appraisal system it was initiated with a summer trainee from one of the local Management schools. Many institutions have productively used management schools and summer trainees for getting their work done and also to provide learning ground for students and faculty. In XLRI around the time NHRD was conceived, we trained tens summer trainees and sent them out across the country to document the HR practices. It later became a bench marking study and most of the students are HR leaders to day. These experiences indicate a productive way the summer training and industry projects could be sued. Rather than spending enormous amounts of money and getting big and expensive consultants to do work a lot of it could be done n by local management schools.
Point 4: To do these we need competent faculty. It is here that Universities and institutions should have specific grants for faculty development and encourage faculty to offer consultancy and research services to practitioner organizations. They also should encourage outside faculty and practitioners to teach in the schools. The teaching by practitioners makes the education more relevant and also less expensive. Most practitioners are normally happy to teach and are content with small honoraria.
National Professors Scheme of NHRDN:
In order to strengthen the academic inputs and make them more relevant to industry needs and also make available Prominent Professors and HR leaders to teach and share their experiences the NHRDN has started a National Professors scheme. In this scheme the NHRDN identified prominent professors and thought leaders both from academia and industry. Professors like Keith D’Souza and G. P. Rao, Dr. PVR Murthy, Dr. Aquil Busrai, Dwarkanath are accomplished professionals and thought leaders and have both industry and academic experience. They have all around 15 of them have agreed to teach in management schools that are interested in strengthening their student preparation. All that they need is an invitation. The academic institution should prepare half credit courses of 15 sessions across three days or so and allocate their won faculty to teach a part of the course. NHRDN could even think of certification of the students in the course. Jaipur Network can make a consortium of Schools and organises such course for a large number of students so as to maximise the use of the time of such thought leaders.  The next point therefore I like to make is :
Point 5: The National Professors’ Scheme stated by NHRDN serves many of the above purposes if the Institution takes the same seriously and works out a collaborative relationship with NHRDN and the visiting practitioner faculty. Many practitioners take pride in being called a professor or Doctor. The doors of Universities should be opened up for practitioners to register for Ph Ds. NHRDN and ISTD offer some good examples of the same. Several of their members are not Ph. D.s and some are teaching in B schools after they retire.  On the other hand Academic Institutions should become more open and liberal in encouraging those who like to do their Ph. D.s/ a large number of professionals today from industry re interested in doing their Doctorates. We have excellent examples in NHRDN itself. Three of the former Presidents got their Ph. D.s at a later part of their work life.  The AHRD stated a Doctoral level fellow program of AHRD continues. When I was on the Planning Board of Indira Gandhi Open University in mid eighties I proposed to Dr. Ramie Reddy the need for starting a Doctoral Program for practitioners using a list of about 100 Management Professors across the country as guides.  I gave the x example of the doctoral candidates from IIMA who get access to data from industry with contacts of professors like Udai Pareek, S K Bhattacharya etc. I mentioned that Indian Managers are sitting on mountains of data and if they are given a research orientation and guidance they will be able to convert them into thesis and produce far greater contributions than their western counterparts. Dr. Reddy agreed but by the time the proposal reached the University bodies he left IGNOU and the subsequent Vice Chancellors had other priorities. The proposal got shelved but we picked it up in AHRD and demonstrated with the help of XLRI it is possible to have a nationwide doctoral program with guides all across. AHRD still continues this crusade though its sponsor XLRI withdrew to promote their own program. I recommend Universities to become more open to such programs. It is ironical that some Universities stop recognising P the same Professor as a Ph. D. Guide once he retires at the age of 60. It should be the other way. At 60 you have a lot of wisdom, time and experience. You probably can guide and mentor students better. Universities should open themselves to recognise any established professor after sixties a Professor of Eminence and use his or her talent.
Jaipur Network has distinction of having a lot of Economists HRD Network members. The relationship between Economic development and HRD are inseparable. I hope Jaipur Network s wills how the way to others.
My Best wishes.
Appendix Notes:

Preparing HRD managers professionally.

The Academy of Human Resources Development in 1992 itself has prescribed the following minimum standards to qualify as a sound HRD professional: The candidate should have studied and passed a minimum of the following ten courses:

1.   Introductory Course on Organisations: Structure and Dynamics
2.   Human Behaviour in Organisations
3.   Integrated HRD Systems: Introductory course in HRD
4.   Performance Planning, Analysis, Review, Appraisal and Development
5.   Career Planning, Dynamics and Development
6.   Potential Appraisal and Development
7.   Training and Development
8.   Organisation Development and OD Interventions
9.   HRD Strategies and Interventions for Workmen
10. Personal Growth Laboratory

In MBA programmes the first two courses are normally offered as compulsory courses and hence the additional eight courses are needed to be completed to get qualified as a trained HRD professional.
In order to be a qualified Human Resource (HR) professional the candidate needs to complete the following additional courses:
For industrial relations competencies
♦    Labour Laws
♦    Employee Welfare
♦    Collective Bargaining
♦    Trade Unions
♦    Work Redesign and other HR Interventions for Organisational Effectiveness

For personnel management
♦    Recruitment
♦    Manpower Planning
♦    Human Resources Information System
♦    Wage and Salary Administration and Reward Management

Separate standards are prescribed from time to time through diploma programme run by the National Institute of Personnel Management along these lines.
The two-year programmes offered by institutions like the XLRI Jamshedpur, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Symbiosis Institute, Pune, etc., offer comprehensive programmes on HR including HRD, IR and HRM. The specialisation in human resources management may or may not include a full HRD component depending on the institution offered.

Competencies of HRD Managers
Recently TVRLS has listed the following ten competencies required by HR Managers
1. Business Knowledge: Knowledge of business (products, services, customers, technology, competitors, developments, R&D) and all functions (Sales and marketing, Production and operations, Finance, systems, MIS, logistics, services etc.), Knowledge of Business capital (intellectual+++) and its constituents and methods of building Business capital
2. Functional Excellence: (i)  HR Knowledge, (ii) HR Delivery including culture sensitivity, empathy, coaching and facilitation
3.  Leadership and Change Management: (i) Communication, (ii) Initiative, and (iii) creativity and (iv) Change management
4.  Strategic Thinking: Analytical ability, cost and quality sensitivity, Ability to spot opportunities, anticipate and find alternate ways of solving problems
5.  Personal Credibility
6. Technology Savvy: including HR technology and Research Methods
7. Personnel Management and Administrative skill
8. Vision of the function and Entrepreneurship
9. Learning Attitude and Self Management: (i) self awareness and desire to learn (ii) Time management, (iii) Networking, (iv) Research and analytical skills
10. Execution Skills: (i) Planning and Monitoring skills, (ii) cultural sensitivity, (iii) persuasive skills, (iv) Behaviour modification techniques and  group dynamics, (v) ability to  craft interventions for implementation, (vi) cost and quality sensitivity

Source: Rao, T. V. HRD Score Card 2500, New Delhi, Sage India, Response Books, 2008.