Friday, July 24, 2009

A better India a Better World

Ever since Thomas Friedman came out with 'The World is flat', Most of the books citing the words ‘India’ and ‘the World’ seem more or less the same. I tried reading Nandan Nilkani's book but after a couple of pages could not stand it anymore. I felt as if I was undertaking a revision course for Thomas Friedman's creations and his viewpoints.

When I heard NRN's book was coming out, I was curious. Investigations revealed that this one was not an autobiography but a collection of his speeches and public addresses. I do love peeping into minds of visionaries (so far people like Kalam, Iacocca, Akio Morita, Michael Dell and even Branson have thrilled me with their books) so this book fitted perfectly into my to 'read list'.

After seeing the environment in Infosys, I do not have any sort of liking for Mr. NRN. But then, when you've built a billion dollar corporation starting from scratch you can't expect to have completely done it the right way. Moreover, if you are in touch with any Infy fellow, you'll realize there's a lot of mismatch between Mr. Murthy's words in public and how he handles the internal affairs. For instance, one day I see an article in TOI where NRN criticizes late working hours and goes on saying how he relents employees' extra hours which mean inefficiency to him. The very same day I hear inside news where he has addressed a gathering and refuses to make changes so as to ease work load on employees. I am totally with the worked up employees on this. If some mission critical work brings me to office late hours, its fine with me. But if middle management's inefficiency escalates a trivial issue for an obscure assignment calls me to work day after day without proper recognition, it is natural that I consider such work derogatory.

Now on what all I do respect NRN for.

He has set an example for India in terms of entrepreneurship. Let’s be honest, I could barely spell the word as a kid before I heard of NRN.

He has created jobs and wealth for the nation. One of the largest employer in the league Indian railways and Indian Oil??!! A fact hard to dismiss.

There was a time when he set the example for fair rewards to the employees. Infosys was one of the first to introduce stock rewards to it's employees. At it's present size I don't know how effective this has been. That employee satisfaction figures are somehow lost now.

But I admire him most for his vision for our nation and being a fair critic at all times.

There are some points from his book that I want to share.

Discipline: First point: Accept! We Indians do need to accept that there is a great dearth of this amongst us. We get intimate and start asking for favors almost immediately. Coming late to a meeting is still considered a sign of importance. I agree with his proposals completely. Let a few functions start even though the VIP chief guest has not yet arrived. Let us get some work done the hard way boycotting officials who demand bribe.

In essence, we Indians are known to talk more and act less. We have to change that as well as our 'adjust to substandard' attitude. Such changes may need to look beyond our leaders at some times.

All his views revolve around the idea of benefit to all. One of his insight that truly left an impact on me was: 'When you run a business see that it is beneficial to your host nation'. A lot has been said to prove that this strategy in the long run is rewarding both for the nation as well as the business.

Interesting read, though not something you can't live without. Go read Kalam's books instead. Or better Sudha Murthy's.. The lady has a lot more experience than her husband thanks to the variety she has tasted in life. As a teacher, an entrepreneur and a social worker she has a lot of more interesting things to tell about our country, human nature, values and purpose of life.

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