G.M. Rao, Chairman, GMR Group, which grew from a jute trading company to a conglomerate in the last two decades, has found that spirituality is the best way to tide over stress, and help him stay focused on business.

“Thanks to spirituality, I do not have high blood sugar or blood pressure,” he told a large gathering at the TiECON Chennai 2012 organised by TiE Chennai, recalling his journey, from being a small-time trader with around Rs 3 lakh capital in a village near Vishakhapatnam, to building a group with assets of around Rs 65,000 crore. The group’s interests include power, airports and roads.

“We made a lot of mistakes, and continue to have challenges. Any business will have challenges. Till we go to the graveyard, there will be problems. We need to overcome them. Spirituality has helped me overcome the challenges,” he told a gathering of over 1,000 delegates, including representatives from large venture capital and private equity firms, and start-up entrepreneurs.

According to Rao, “Entrepreneurship is in our DNA. There are a lot of opportunities and the future is ours.” Various reports, he said, suggest that in the next 10-15 years, nearly 25 per cent of the global workforce will be from India.

Message from Maldives

There is a message (for the group) from the Male airport project, which has been at the centre of controversy for the last few days with the Maldivian government deciding to terminate the project being developed by GMR Infrastructure. “We will take that message and ensure that we do not repeat it,” he said.

The Maldivian government recently terminated GMR’s Male airport project, awarded during the previous regime of President Mohamed Nasheed. Despite the Singapore High Court staying the termination, the Maldivian government has said it would stand by its termination order.

As per the project contract, in the event of any differences between the parties, the law of either Singapore or the UK would apply. Later, talking to newspersons, Rao said the Maldivian issue has been a learning experience and “we will participate wherever there is transparent bidding. This project was made a success story by IFC,” he said.

Asked whether the company will seek the Union Government’s help, he said: “I do not know yet and cannot comment. Fighting with a sovereign has been a new experience. Whatever lesson we get from this issue we will see to it that such a situation is not repeated,” he said.


(This article was published on December 4, 2012)
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