Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tata OK, Buy-Buy

If there is one word that Ratan Tata has been working with long before he took charge as chairman of the Tata Group in 1991, it is strategy. As far back as in 1983, studying the then lethargic group under a controlled political economy regime (it sold whatever it produced), he wrote what he called a Strategic Plan. Under this, he wanted the group to embrace technology, to understand a competitive climate that was to come a decade later and give it a more consumer oriented thrust. Seventeen years later, he drafted the Vision 2000 document, again powered by strategy. Today, as the 1962 Cornell BSc graduate in architecture and structural engineering redesigns, restructures and re-engineers a new Tata Steel through India’s biggest-ever acquisition, the purchase of Corus, the keyword again is strategy.

Opinion in The Indian Express, January 31, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Public in republic

Every time I see it, I feel repulsed — so perhaps, as the wise say, the germ lies in me, the problem is mine. But what else do you do when you see perfectly strong, perfectly intelligent, perfectly arrived people bow low and grovel before the khadi clad, who don the white cloth as Goliath or Duryodhana (or even David and Arjuna) may have worn their armour? Walk into any gathering and the politician chief guest, always late, always ready with a humorous line, expects the ingratiating masses to create around him an illusion of reverence, respect, power and fear. People stand up, bend over, ignore the person in front, try to catch the leader’s eye, create a smile...

Opinion in The Indian Express, January 29, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Learning to learn

India will remain a low-income country for several decades with per capita income well below its other BRIC peers, says a recently-released paper by Goldman Sachs, simultaneously pointing out that it can become a motor for the world economy. But for that to happen, we will have to increase its efficiency or productivity. And there lies the key — the India of tomorrow can’t be built on foundations of yesterday. The one resource that needs to be given policy respect: Knowledge. It is the one word which the past week saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and National Knowledge Commission (NKC) chairman Sam Pitroda stress. The Singh-Kalam-Pitroda combine is powering the bandwagon of societal change just as it is beginning to move: the creation and maturing of India into a knowledge society, a process that began in the early-1990s as Singh opened the economy sector by sector, clause by clause.
A decade and a half later, as captain of a ship with many sails to open before it cruises at double-digits, Singh is recognising that if the ship has to power ahead, its oarsmen at the bottom need to be empowered with muscles of knowledge. A social infrastructure has to be put in place, using which the marginal farmer or farm worker who moved as domestic help and physical labourer to the city then squeezed his way as a contract worker into a factory and signed into a union register as a permanent worker, can take the next step of becoming a skilled worker and as a collective transform India into a knowledge society.

Opinion in The Indian Express, January 25, 2007