Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Less Known Story of National HRD Network: An Autobiographic Account

The Untold story of NHRDN

1985 March 2:
Last session of the Workshop on Recent Experiences in HRD by XLRI Centre for HRD and L&T. As the session was concluding I had a sense of satisfaction that we shared very frankly and openly about HRD its understandings, misunderstanding, implementation, lack of it and so on. I have already decided to return back to IIM Ahmedabad from XLRI. Fr. Abraham also wanted to come to Ahmedabad to peruse his Ph. D. at Ahmedabad. No one was going to be left at XLRI CHRD. Fr. Abraham decided to continue the work while at Ahmedabad with the HRD Newsletter and other activities. 

The question arose: do we learn from each other like we have learnt in the last four days only if XLRI or L&T or IIM or any other such institution organises such National seminars. Is HRD not at an evolving stage we need to continuously share our experiences and thoughts irrespective of facilitation by XLRI or L&T or IIMs? The answer from the audience was “Yes” We should continue to share these experiences and make sure that we learn from each other.

Then I posed another question: should the 37 of us be the only ones to learn from each other? Should we not include others? The answer was yes. We should have many more.

Then I posed another question: Should we meet only once a while or meet more frequently. The answer was: more frequently.

Then I posed next question: Should we not do all this in our respective cities? Should we not disseminate what we have learnt from each other to others in our cities? The answer was yes.

How do we do that? Can we not from a body informally or formally to do this? The answer was “Yes”.
Rajen Gupta from Jyoti’s  ( now at MDI) suggested we call ourselves HRD Network as network has a meaning of being connected with each other and forming at the same time a whole.

The Network was  thus conceived on March 2nd, 1985. I took the responsibility to lead and asked for volunteers in each city. Kishore Rao and Prasanna volunteered from Bangalore, PVR Murthy and Chandrasekhar volunteered from Chennai. Rajen and perhaps Saurabh Dixit for Baroda and I agreed along with KK Verma for Ahmedabad. We decided to request P K Sanangi for Delhi. T P Raman and Mohan volunteered for Mumbai. Later Kantha Rao latter wrote to L&T and subsequently to me to start it in Hyderabad. We went on discussing this for the next few months in IIMA corridors. S Chandrasekhar was a frequent visitor to push this idea. My consulting work with L&T ECC got us to interact more frequently. In fact he managed to get the South Indian regional Chapter inaugurated by Madras Management Association. Dr. Thyagarajn readily agreed and facilitated as President of MMA. We created an occasion for it by organising a joint seminar by NHRDN and XLRI on performance appraisals at Madras. Fr. Abraham continued this through HRD newsletter from CHRD at XLRI  from Ahmedabad.

We used CHRD to mobilise funds for the newsletter. The deal used to be that any sponsor will give an article highlighting their HR practice. There will be an academic article and several case studies and news items and snippets. We gave the privilege to be the first sponsor to L&T. We did not ask any additional funds but used the surplus from the National Seminar for the first Newsletter. The next one was financed my good friend T Shanmugam from State Bank of Patiala, the third from PVR from Sundaram Clayton, and the fourth from Hindustan petroleum here I was consulting from IIMA. The next one from MMTC when Mr. S V S Raghavan visited IIMA. It went on free of cost. We printed a free membership form for HRD Network and mailed to people. Fr Abraham mailed it too about 2000 every issue. There were no e-mails in those days. All surface mails. St Xavier’s Loyola students sued to help Fr Abraham to p writ envelops insert the newsletter in to the envelops etc.  It was printed here in Ahmedabad except the first one at Jamshedpur  and a few years latter all shifted to Jamshedpur.

We planned a conference in 1987 and wanted it to be a benchmarkable one. I  learnt a few lessons from the International conference held at IIMA by Prof Khandwalla and a few others from ISTD I used to attend. We wanted it world class. The L&T culture at Madras (Chennai) helped as Chandrasekhar will be the program manager. He organised everything meticulously. We got  Economic  Times devote a full page for the conference. I requested the editor Manu Shroff who was my colleague at IIMA and he readily agreed. 

For all these we registered NHRDN in December 1986. Mr. K K Nair Executive secretary of AMA got the memorandum papers cyclostyled made documents and took me on his two wheeler to Charity Commissioner’s office for registration. It was decided in a meeting held at my house No.  424, IIMA where all founder trustees came and my wife served some nice snacks and rasgollas. For registration  we gave the address as my own office address Wing No 15 IIMA.  IIMA encouraged such institution building activities as a part of professionalization of management. In fact when the Academy was started by NHRDN, M R R Nair wrote to Director IIMA (Prof. N R Sheth) for sparing my time for it as an Institution Building activity. Director IIMA formally approved my being Honorary Director of AHRD and the only requirement he ahs d was that I should document my experiences and make it available as a part of the Ravi Matthai centre.


The real birth of NHRDN began with the successful conduct of the first Conference. This conference  distributed a book on the first day containing conference papers, had a CEO conclave attended by most famous CEOs of that time ( M V Subbaiah, M V Arunachalam, Deenadayal, Dr Krishnamurthy, K K Nohria etc. ) and a well attended General Body meeting that laid the foundation for next few conferences and their philosophy. I remember a comment made by on Meenakshi Khasliwal (Nair) in the AGM that the discussions were too manager-centric and we seem to have forgotten workers. HRD can’t be focussed on managers alone. We decided that the next conference will be on workmen. MRR Nair made this happen with all his contacts two years later. Arvind Agarwal, Shashi  Khanna, P K Sarangi, Anil Sachdev, Rakesh Kumar played very significant roles and M R R Nair took over as second President of NHRDN. 

2 comments:

anil kaushik said...

Yes..past glory but what is at present now....many HR professionals have something in their minds but not able to speak openly...what would be the future of this forum....We have to take it forward...and ensure that the institution built by people like you and others does not dilute its basic values/principles and leave the path designed by founders...

T. V. Rao said...

After M R R nair took over as President, heoffered SAIL office to hosue NHRDN secretariat. Rakesh Kumar worked as joint secretary. CII offered us office but to facilitate clsoe work with the President we took up SAIL office at Lodi Road. If we accepted it the history of NHRDN perhaps would ahve been different. SAIL has done a lot to faciltiate the functioning of NHRDN. G P Rao is one such contribution. There were many silent workers from SAIL till 1998-2000 when Mr. Arvind Pande wasthe President of NHRDN.