BL Diary: A natural leader

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on March 21, 2011 Published on March 21, 2011

Mr Narayanamoorthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys (file photo)   -  The Hindu

With the advent of Electronic Voting Machines not only ballot boxes disappeared but also had hit some businesses. (file photo)   -  The Hindu

Mr P.W.C. Davidar, IT Secretary,Govt of Tamil Nadu. Photo : Bijoy Ghosh   -  Business Line

N. R. Narayana Murthy, the iconic Infosys Founder, never went to a management school. Nevertheless, he was a born leader, as an incident that took place several years ago illustrates. A former Infosys top official who in 1990-92 steered the company's European operations in 1990-92 narrated the following incident. Mr Murthy had been invited by a well-respected organisation in London to render a speech in the evening. But the official — the narrator of the story — who was escorting Mr Murthy to the venue, due to a miscommunication with the taxi driver, found to his horror that at the time of the appointment, they were, in fact, at the other end of town. By the time they managed to reach the venue, the official was a nervous wreck and mentally readied himself to put in his papers. . But when the taxi was taking both of them all round the town, not once did Mr Murthy accuse him of committing a blunder.

The official made a hasty retreat to his house after leaving Mr Murthy at the venue, realising that the Infosys head would not want to see him anywhere near after the speech was over. However, he received a call from Mr Murthy asking him what he was doing at his residence. He apologised profusely and offered to resign. But Mr Murthy put him at ease saying that it was not his mistake but that of the taxi driver and asked him to talk to some of the industry leaders present at the venue so that he could meet them at a later stage. The official not only got to retain his job but also got to experience first-hand how good managers handle sticky situations.

Voting machine impact

The advent of electronic ballot boxes has impacted some businesses. The other day, a hardware trader (of the iron and steel variety and not computers), mentioned how the introduction of EVMs (electronic voting machines), had impacted businessmen like him .

“In the good old days, three months before elections they'd make thousands of ballot boxes in Chennai; these required a huge quantity of flat head rivets. I would order 500-1,000 kg of these rivets, and surely enough they would all disappear. But now that business is gone,” he sighed.

Another item where these rivets were used were the steel trunks – remember coolies at railways stations placing them on their heads and then dumping them with a thud under the seat of one's coach? Now, of course, along with those trunks, coolies have also disappeared as strolley bags have made travel easier. Today, this businessman sells a small quantity of flat head rivets for making calipers for artificial limbs.

How do you like this?

The Reserve Bank of India insiders have come up with new names for the Department of Banking Operations and Development and Nabard. Thus DBOD stands for Department of Banking Obstruction and Destruction and Nabard for Not at All Bothered About Rural Development.

Good time for introspection

Mum's the word for the bureaucracy in the election-bound States and, expectedly, government officials are extremely taciturn at any speaking event. But, going by what P.W.C. Davidar, Tamil Nadu's IT Secretary, says, some of them seem to have put the ‘silent time' to good use. Speaking at a seminar in Chennai recently, Mr Davidar said that now is “a good time for introspection”. Cautioning the participants not to expect him to talk about what the department's plans were, he said: “We are now having brainstorming sessions.”

Stand depends upon where you sit

Being correct and being right may not always be the same. Who else to better illustrate that than a lawyer? At a recent seminar on issues relating to contract labour and tenure labour, a practising lawyer in the field of industrial relations made a distinction between thinking with the heart and with the brain.

Responding to a question on the technicalities of terminating the services of an individual on contract, he pointed out that it can be unfair to do something like that just to avoid regularising the services of the employee. Then his professional side came out: “I have spoken frankly. But I may argue differently if you engage me. Then the heart does not matter, but the cheque book does.”

Put up an act

Not all pretences are obnoxious — some are innocuous, even funny. Certainly, putting up an act for the purpose of providing the Big Picture could be pardoned.

C. Sarat Chandran, Director, Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce, probably knew this when he asked a photographer to take a group picture of the speakers at a recent workshop organised by the Chamber.

Australia's Consul-General for South India, David Holly, was there, as was the Tamil Nadu IT Secretary, P. W. C. Davidar. Chandran obviously wanted the occasion to be recorded in time. He said: “Photographers want some action to make the picture lively. Let us do some talking.” This earned him a word of appreciation from Davidar, and all those present put up an act of talking earnestly among themselves for the benefit of the lensmen.

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Published on March 21, 2011
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