Sunday, December 27, 2009


This is a question going rounds among many people who were assocoated with ITI for years. Once a magnificient behemoth now weathered by time and circumstances. A parallel question is Should ITI be revived? What used to have around 25,000 employees at one time has hardly few thousands now. As widely felt I dont think that ITI was a victim of policies but of the changing scenario that caught the world and ITI offguard.

I for one have always believed that ITI can be revived and should be revived. ITI seems to have lost its way and needs to find it in the new economy. There were many such cases of large organization dwindling in importance over time --like the swiss watch industry of the 60's which used to employ scores of people but only to vanish when quartz was used to make watches as against gears. Managerial weakness of some kind can be seen in the way ITI was run in their inability to prognosticate the future and react to it accordingly. Success is sometimes dangerous -more so the windfall type because communities forget to do one most important thing--predict the possible future ,its concerns and vagaries. Top management must always do this activity of forseeing the future and warn the organization of pending eventualities. Very few people of this nature exist in top management of today is by itself a weakness of the system which goes more by status quo than by the needs of the organization and its future.

How then can ITI be revived; I have the following suggestions though may not be perfect but can go some way in keeping the morale and optimism badly needed at this juncture.
  • First of all beleive that ITI can be revived. If every one goes by the general rhetoric and chorus that ITI is doomed there is no scope and possibility of revival.
  • ITI needs to be awakened from several dimensions, which just one team or person cannot fully comprehend. The person who is holding the post of CMD must be chosen carefully and given a minimum period of atleast five years at a stretch on the job unless he voluntarily decides to abdicate for reasons best known to him.
  • Unfetter the CMD and his team from administrative or buerecratic shakles and give him a fairly free hand with some control from the government to operate.
  • To take full advantage of the modern realities ITI must be renamed as Indian Telecom Industries as against the present name.
  • Divide ITI into various zones with each zone taking up manufacture and fabrication of telecom equipments and products.
  • One of these zones could totally focus on being a backend outsource partner for telecom giants around the world.
  • ITI must be a platform where tasks involving manual labour and professional labour are given sufficient importance. The next generation ITI must have say 20,ooo manual workers and say 10,000 professional workers who involve in activities like software development.
  • Synergise the resources of ITI with other public sector giants and defence institutions.
  • Create a telecom institute inside ITI on the lines of the IIT's to focus solely on telecom education and management.
  • Never privatize ITI . The government must take the onus of reviving this institution by basically reorienting things and asking fundamental questions. ITI needs a vision and mission statement to stay its course in the era that unfolds.


There used to be an annual sports event of the Indian Telephone Industries during our times. This used to be a full fledged flood-lit tournament held in the pre-midnight and was an event every one looked forward to. It was a very rare and unique feature of ITI with no other public sector conducting such an event in this scale ; will full fledged preparation and co-ordination. I think these games were discontinued somewhere in 1986 or almost immediately later to this year when ITI went ito a down swing. Every summer the matches would commence during the end of march and progress till the middle of may . They used to commence some where at about 6:30 in the evening and last upto about 10:00pm. It was a national event and many participating teams would arrive from all over the country. By around 6:00 crowds begin to flow into the stadium and the stadium would be full a little later. It should be pointed that this event was absolutely free for all with no fee being charged from the spectators and was open to any one who wanted to view it.

There were three games played namely basket ball, Volley Ball and kabaddi as a rule year after year. I think the public favoured these games in this order with crowds largely dwindling for kabaddi matches. Baket ball was highly watched sport because of theaura it created and the pace of the game. Beagles; Bharath; HAL;HMT were all local teams along with the hosts ITI for basket ball matches. the teams from outside the city would be TISCO; Western Railway; Indian overseas bank; Madura coats - to name a few as year after year the teams participating would be different. Number 13 Arvind of Bharath and Somashekar no.14 of ITI team are names I remember from bangalore who were favourites with the crowd. There was a person Abbas and An arjuna award winner Kataria from western Railways. I think some of these teams who came from outside walked away with the rolling trophies during some years of these matches.

This event had a special significance and meaning to the boys growing up in the locality; the urge being to make basket ball posts and play with some improvised form of ball and also several rounds of meetings held among these boys of what name should be given to their teams and some of the over-enthusiastic boys swaering to continue playing with absolute determination and some of them vaguely trying to act and behave like players they saw at the tournament. Strategies were discussed and swords were drawn and there the many elders who passed the way whomhad to pacify the boys telling them they were not playing an imternational match and only one that too in the bylanes of where they stayed with hardly any defined court. This was the heat these games created in the kids only to die away when the sporting event was over and to be revived and remembered the next year. The tournament at ITI in the summer was not just a game - it made kids behave in weird ways and parents were drawn into this fever invariably.

In bangalore those years there used to be an unwelcome shower in the evenings and it was the prayer of every boy looking at the clouds that it did not rain and the games could progress well. However I remember a volley ball match that was fully washed away between APSRTC and KTC (kerala transport corporation..Kunjalikutty was a key volley ball player for this team) by the rain. DDCSM (dharmapuri district co-operative sugar mills) and ITI were other contenders in the semi finals. There was a player panneer selvam who used to play for ddcsm and would single handedly turn matches in the favour of his team . Panner selvam used to play for ITI earlier. Ashwathappa was a retired and old player who was still at his guns for ITI.

Many guests used to come to inaguarate these matches. Mr. Karthikeyan who was commissioner of bangalore police at that time did the honours once. Mostly the guests were dignitaries from within ITI like CMD Mr. C S S Rao

Saturday, December 19, 2009



I have always felt something wrong with the way corporate India works. To a large extent success comes to societies when they organize their man power better. Human capital has always been more powerful than financial capital and the power to multiply financial capital lies in the organization and co-ordination of human capital. All our B School training notwithstanding there is a serious lapse in this front. Education seems to have done nothing more than provided a form of fixated labour who can execute task during their life time but drastically fail to see the whole and possibly the true picture.

To some extent the japanese proved to the world through years of systematic application what proper organization of man-power can achieve. The power so developed and applied by the japanese during successive years has brought many auto giants to their knees. B school education is futile if it only teaches students to look at things in discrete terms with no effort or ability at seeing the total picture. I see the concept of finding a job and getting placed as the mantra and end goal of many a student. Is our education distorting students and deforming them for a life time with a micro-focus which in turn effects their performance and approach to business.

The culture in most corporates no matter how distinguished is foul and and driven by fear and insecurity.What a pity. Corporates must bring in fiscal discipline . Fundamentally this means two things. At one end ensure that no one is underpaid and at thwe other that no one is overpaid. Both these dimensions have to be adequately balanced. Wrong behavior of any kind from any one must be punishable. This means largely the manner in which human beings at the work place behave and communicate with each other. Corprates must give adequate scope for people who would like to contribute to organizations through research and not just economical ends. In addition to tangible contribution companies must also have means and scope for logical contribution and lastly companies must have proper policies in the removal of employees and the circumstances under which they happen. no man must be kept in top management who does not necessarily take a long term view of things and does not have such orientation. Many organizations inadvertently suffer in the long run because of their collosal inablity in looking beyond the obvious. Years of wrong management will ruin business , some instantly and the others over a period of time.

Even the best of Indian corporates seem to have a scourge called groupism. Forming groups is healthy , but for what ends is the question. Whenever groups are made and designed for perfidious ends they destroy everything with it. You grow through organizations not because of the good work that you do but by the largesse of the group to which it belong. many managements are incapable of doung anything or are simply not aware of its existence. Groups are sub-marines that work without being noticed. People who lack competence at an individual level find it easy to partner with groups to get along. Well , nothing has been done on this front and to a large extent people who do not want to be part of such groups are in the receiving end.They possibly do not know what is up and the dynamics makes it impossible to pull on. Such phenomena may not be unique to the Indian situation alone but must be prevalent in many parts of the world too.

Human resources planning from a very conventional and stereotyped setting is of not much use to organizations , if it cannot get to the bottom of problems of organizations. Human Resource Development must understand that development of people can happen only through creation of proper setting. no doubt the conventional tools does take organization far but not far enough. the challenge today is in the creation of right work environments. For example , how should an employee be appraised ? First study his conduct through the organization and not the results. If the conduct has been violatory it demands appropriate action. Study the performance of a man both from tangible and intangible perspective. Corporates have to do this or else they land up loosing people who could have otherwise made laong standing contribution to organizations. it is through the force of conduct that good management is derives and it is through the power of conduct that business organizations get the natural and effortless ability to beget outstanding economic performance. I think there is no such concept as cheap labour but only a labour that is willing to do work and the other is half willing or unwilling.

Iam against the concept of providing targets and making people achieve them. targets are fallacious and they put organizations on a reverse gear. It does not call upon people to put in all their effort much above the call of duty but makes people do just enough and very often the wrong things. For example a territory might be crying for customer service for years and the person concerned is focussed on augmenting customers and the end result being that you loosing customers and endangering organizational survival.Intent is more powerful than performance.

I still beleive organizations should have some kind of people development indices. In the era we are entering business must look at challenges and issues through radically different perspectives so that organizations can handle the challenges of the new era. Technology and people will be the key drivers of modern economy but people as always will be the most important. Leadership is all about building people into organizations that perform. People development involves inspiring people into performance and not merely coersion.It revolves around making strong people networks. Chaotic situations will result if no effort is made in this direction.

The word performance has been largely misused by many business societies and seems to be a take-off from Drucker's concept of Management by objectives. The problem is the proper measurement of performance and the indices that has to be established. Very often performance evaluation is done on wrong objectives. Performance indices drive organizations through narrow alleys . I beleive that innovation is a very important component of business and organizations must not incessenty drive through narrow alleys where after a measurable period of time you loose sight of anything at all. The american auo industry seems to have reached such a stage and so will many organizations over a period of time who over focus on performance. A small hotel can be run around this concept because it is small and wants to be so; but not an organization aspiring to be big and remain big. Any organization that aspires to stay in the arena for long must essentialy develop a sound people policy, build the right kind of culture ,propagate and inculcate that culture and reform and transform people. The most important ingredient that a human being can bring on the table shoud be willing dedication and organizations must thereafter make use of that dedication for organizational good and take all possible steps to ensure that an employee's act in good faith is not abused or mis-used.

For long I have heard criticism about the way Indian public sector works. Many successful private sector enterprises called the public sector culture clumsy and not performance oriented. We have public sectors that failed and at the same time many public sectors that survived and prevailed. Many public sectors continue to be sick but can be revived; but for now people seem to discern strenghts in the public sector culture and approach in the abilities of the collective. Many larger private organizations need to ake a study of this unique culture ; both the shortcoings and adbvantages to bring about a re-engineering in the way they see and use peope.

Lastly there must be more vigorous participation of government organizations and bodies as a watch-dog in the modern era of the activities of the corporate sector. As of now they seem to be content with a birds-eye-view. This is insufficient. It must be a microscopic view. Every single corporate must come under a scanner with regards to all their human oriented transactions. Necessary mechanisms must be set up to monitor corporates largely around their manpower policies. Things will otherwise fo hay -wire but it is stil not late.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Is China a threat to Indian business; Well I think it is. Indian corporates and business community must get shocks and nightmares by the word China , but for the Indian customer it is a welcome proposition. Firstly China is a large country and has experience in handling various kinds of manufacturing, caters to a large population, works on large supply chains, seems to be technologically more advanced than India in various forms of transport and is a far better integrated set up than India. I have never visited China for that matter but that is what it seems and appears from afar. Added to these China has a land border with India and is conveniently perched vis-a-vis other countries. It is only a matter of time China extends its supplies into India resulty in jeopardy to many established Indian business houses. Secondly, China by virtue of these advantages can penetrate into Indian market pivoting itself on a platform of very low prices for many goods and services. How much China strategises on these fronts is not very well known but is relaxed, laid back and complacent but with the power and advantages to strike any moment. USA is the only antidote for china as seen from India but the US is in a war against terror and has an enemy at its front door which would drain resources and attention for long.If India were to become more friendly with china it would essentially alienate western forces and powers. There are huge and complicated equations emerging in the world polity and the market place incomprehensible for any one analyst. Ultimately the customer and the general customer would have a say as he will gravitate to directions where he gets value be it chinese , indian or any other country for that matter.

How can India combat this plausible chinese threat. Should it at all build defences? The answer might be yes unanimously to largely save indian business houses and activities.
Firstly India must be able to use the large scale manpower and resources avaliable across the country to the fullest extent. Secondly some basic form of education must be provided to all through some innovative delivery devices. the contribution made by one and all to the Ibdian economy must be recognised and appreciated. there must be a focus on price reduction at all fronts. Government must explore methods of support possible to various sectors. India must think more like a world citizen and partner with china in activities that would be of mutuual benefit. This threat has many encouraging sides which could be used by India to its fullest advantage.

Friday, December 18, 2009


MG ROAD or Mahathma Gandhi road has a special place in Bangalore. During the raj days it used to be called South Parade and Indians were not allowed in this stretch of road. After independence it got the present title. As I write this article MG Road is getting irrevocably transformed and process started about two decaded earlier. At this present moment pillars for the Bangalore metro are being erected.

MG Road technically starts from Trinity circle and could possibly end at the beginning of Kasturbha road or at the Victoria statue. What a stamp which cannot be effaced have the British left on this city and any child born and reared in this city becomes a world citizen and a very knowledgable and affable person with a global view of things as in any developed city of the borld; this phenomena has its advantages and disadvantages vis-a-vis other cities in this country. Mayo hall is a very important British monument on this road. BPL company had an exlusive office which was a two storied outfit with a showroom in the front and was at the place where the present Barton centre stands. It was a very impressive office which was demolished to build the present structure somewhere in 1990.

Typically in the 1980's the initial stretch of MG Road had victorian style houses on either side possibly inhabited by british officers serving in india. Any englishman living at present who has any recollection of having seen or stayed in these houses are welcome to contribute his memoirs or observations of these times. With the MG Road slowly growing into a commercial hot-spot many of these victorian style houses were demolished without mercy and business offices began to take shape. Victorian syle houses can be seen on brunton road which is atributary of the MG Road.

The coffee house and Plaza theatre were key joints on this road. Plaza theatre used to exclusively screen english movies and stopped operation some where in 2006. Coffee house used to serve good vegetarian snacks and was possibly the only eat out on this road.

In the 1970's a walk on MG Road was like walking through a park with occasional pedestrians taking a stroll and with time the road began to look like a railway platform with scores of people using this stretch of road. As children many times my father used to bring me and my brother sunil for a visit to town and this road.

MG Road slowly seems to be slipping into being another road of bangalore with the growth of many arterial and connecting roads being built around bangalore and the airport being shifted out of the city. Defanitely every traveller of Bangalore who uses the metro and has a ride on MG Road must remeber he is traversing on a stretch which was priceless and unique at a time when bangalore city was just beginning to establish itself as a city in its own right. Like many Bangaloreans I cannot forget the M G Road and would love to see it in a new format post metro.

Infosys, Wipro

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Somewhere I mentioned about the Ayyappan temple in vijanapura and thereafter had the feeling that it needs more description and enlargement. In fact vijanapura has three temples ; the Ayyappan temple, the Murugan temple and Kali temple. There is a mosque also at present. I dont think there is any other place in the world blessed with all religions at one's doorsteps.

I think this Ayyappan temple at the present location came up somewhere in 1973. Previously as a small boy I remember attending Ayyappa bhajans held at a makeshift temple operating literally from a small shop behind the k r puram railway station. From the window of my house at gopal building I noticed one morning some foundation laying ceremony of the temple. We moved to our house which happenned to be adjacent to the temple from gopal building around this time.

Let me describe to you what the temple looked like during inception. It was all but one single room with an asbestos roof which could at the most accomodate some 30 people. (Malayalees in Bangalore deserve copious credit for putting up Ayyappa temples serving the spiritual needs of the multitudes. Such temples have brought amity among various linguistic groups.). For nearly fifteen years all temple activities were conducted from this small room and it was my hobby to attend bhajans at this temple and I used to look forward to them. There was a very important aspect during these times. EXACTLY AT 5:00 PM in the evening loud speakers would be tied on lamp-posts and religious songs of every flavour mostly in the malayalam language dished out from these speakers and in full throttle. Ambadi thanil oru unni... sung by P Leela used to be there on the menu almost every day. I think this practice was stopped after some years because of objections from some other communities.

The present temple most probably took shape in the 1990's; and is a full fledged temple with various dieties and the central presence of the diety of Ayyappa. Let me thank all the people involved in the inception and execution of this novel venture and let the temple continue to do the good activity in the right spirit as always.

These days Vijinapura is the official name of vijanapura and there are many Airtel communication towers seen here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A new lay-out has come up in bangalore in an unexpected and unprecedented way and is the picture of modern day Bangalore with thousands of flats in a limited stretch of land. In the 1970's I remember seeing this stretch of land nothing more than a wet-land with some cultivations and the BTS buses of these times would stop at this place as it formed the end of a stage and the conductor was busy issuing tickets to some remaining passengers in an otherwise highly over-crowded bus.
I think these flats took shape some where in year 2000 and in a sudden explosion many flats in multi-storey format and very closely knit began to appear in quick succession. The growth of the Indian middle class can be seen through these flats ;especially with the large number of cars parked at these flat basements.