“I think somebody will say we never knew NTPC is run by an idiot. This is the first e-mail probably I am expecting,” says Arup Roy Choudhury, Chairman of the country’s largest power generator NTPC and author of Management by Idiots.

The 57-year Choudhury will unwrap his first book on Friday. According to the author, who is the youngest to head a public sector enterprise, his book comprises life experiences of an individual who thinks he is an idiot.

“And this is the story of a person, who has practised management for over 34 years now. And who doesn’t consider himself to be a management guru. But I am absolutely sure, none of these you will find in any management books,” said the NTPC Chairman in a freewheeling chat a day ahead of the launch of his book.

The 116-page book is a crisp composition of real life anecdotes spread into 20 chapters.

Each chapter in Management by Idiots starts with a common saying/phrase such as ‘Jo dar gaya samjho wo mar gaya; kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab; Horn please, and Write your own obituary’. The author links them up with management lessons. He narrates an instance of his standing his ground despite a difference of opinion with his superiors, and coming perilously close to losing his job. But he did not relent till his superiors realised he was right.

The author, a postgraduate and doctorate from IIT-Delhi, said he has written what he has practised. “This is not a book which is perfect. But it is my perception and a reader can completely disagree. I have written a book, which probably could be read on a flight,” he said.

Choudhury has been at the helm at NTPC for nearly three-and-half years. Earlier, he spearheaded the turnaround of National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC), where he held the reins for almost a decade.

The author put forward Bhagwad Gita teachings on courage of conviction and superiority of the power of knowledge over money. Nothing is impossible in life. One must have a clear conviction. There is a thin line between fearlessness and misadventure, which must never be crossed. That is where experience gains importance.

The book attempts to showcase the Indian sanskar (ethos) and how to take people along. “Our way of life is much different from Western countries. The hierarchy, the level of respect is different and here money is not always respected, rather knowledge is. All the time, Lakshmi is not worshipped; Saraswati is worshipped more,” said Choudhury.

The writer thinks that the younger generation is aware of what belongs to them and what can get them more. “All of them have no hesitation to put in extra hours at work. Work late at night, burn the midnight oil to prepare for next day’s work. But, yes, at the end of the day, they are also looking at the money they are getting,” he said.

Among the various other things the book touches upon is the Indian way of management by jugaad. He recollects an incident during his posting in Iraq when a consignment of sand got wet just before a concreting work. Quickly, firewood was gathered to dry the sand, and the work went on.

Never let your mind rest, keep it working, says Arup Roy Choudhury.

(This article was published on November 7, 2013)
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