Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2737

Commentary: Political Comedian as Visiting Professor in Management Institution in India.

Prof. Dr. PL Joshi - Bahrain

My Reactions and Jealousy Feelings

It is amazing news that Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, quintessentially rustic politician and Minister for Indian Railways, will be a visiting Professor in Management Institution in India (IIMs). He is scheduled to give his lectures to management students at IIMA on September 18, 2006. Now, the management students will learn the crafty and manipulative skills of management from a political comedian who downgraded the economic and education system of Bihar for decades in his "Jungle Raj" for one and half decades.When Mr. Lalu   took over the rein of this Ministry, suddenly,  the God  injected him  with an extra-ordinary sharp  brain that his ideas started working and now  the Indian Railways  focus is  on cutting unit costs, productivity gains and higher volumes.When Mr. Lalu took over the rein of this Ministry, suddenly, the God injected him with an extra-ordinary sharp brain that his ideas started working and now the Indian Railways focus is on cutting unit costs, productivity gains and higher volumes.

My first reaction to the above invitation by IIMs would be that how many times did they invite Dr. Man Mohan Singh, a role model for young Indians, and the main architect of Indian reforms and modern India, to deliver lectures to their students, when he was not the Prime Minister. Why did not they do that?

It looks that management institutions have also learnt how to butter Indian politicians to get wider attention and other gains.

It also appears that Professors in management institutions are losing their humoristic skills in their lectures for their students. Now, Indian future managers will learn Lalu’s new 'mantra (principle) "if you don’t milk a cow fully, it will fall sick." The cow will be milky, if you provide cows sufficient Charaa (green grass), if charaa is stolen (Chara scam of Lalu) then the cow will be sick. It looks that most of the cows in Bihar have been sick for last two decades. Another mantra "operates your institutions on a commercial basis and not on social criteria".

My submission is that if all management institutions, particularly, IIMs start functioning on a commercial basis, then many politicians in the government will fall sick. The reasons will be obvious such as that they will not be able to implement the quota system for Other Backward Classes (OBC), and can’t interfere in the autonomy affairs of these institutions and so on. Prof. Dr. PL Joshi : My Reactions and   Jealousy   Feelings Prof. Dr. PL Joshi : My Reactions and Jealousy Feelings

Wagon is considered as the bread-earning area for the railways and Lalu’s ‘mantra was to "load it adequately, make it run and don’t stable it". It is claimed that this strategy alone has generated Rs.7,200 crore (1 crore = 10 million) for 2005-06 with a total profit of Rs.150 billion. The robust growth of Indian economy, due to economic reforms and globalization trends, has resulted in rapid growth of many industries, such as steel, aluminum, real-estate, power generation, electronics, automobiles and other heavy engineering. Which have created tremendous opportunities for transportation services. Consequently, the business for shipment to Indian railways have also increased, hence more profit for it. As the same time, most of the railways around the world have been making profits due to robust growth in those countries; Indian Railways are no exception since all the major sectors of the economy are booming.

One could wonder what the previous regimes in Indian Railways doing were. Indian Railways employ more than 1.7 million employees; thousands of them are with managerial and engineering background never sensed this simple commonsense strategy. When Mr. Lalu took over the rein of this Ministry, suddenly, the God injected him with an extra-ordinary sharp brain that his ideas started working and now the Indian Railways focus is on cutting unit costs, productivity gains and higher volumes. It wants to beat the US and China on unit cost basis. Often in Indian government system, it happens that under the garb of political leadership and policy of ruling government, these politicians claim all credit and the executive team is deprived of such appreciations. The strategies and policies initiated by the previous regimes are never given any credit. Many believe that it is not Lalu, but the some good bureaucrats and some of the policy initiatives of the government of India which has resulted in some what a better situation for Indian railways. However, Mr. Lalu now, will tell the management students, how he caught the horns of his buffalo and had he caught her tail, he would had received a back kick.

This turnaround story has labeled Indian Railways a sun rising sector, but it still lags behind in technology for various reasons, such as politicians spend huge public money in opening new routes to their constituencies, even if, those routes may not be economically viable. Safety is another issue which makes Indian Railways greatly stressful. They must pay attention in improving the infrastructure of hundreds of railway stations. It is good that Indian Railways has undertaken the difficult exercise of evaluating value-added and non-added activities or core and non-core activities in order to save costs. However, these savings should be ploughed back in order to provide quality services to the passengers. Today, Indian passengers demand quality services comparable to other countries in the world.

Consequently, Harvard Business School, HEC, IIIMs and other institutions have started developing case studies on Indian Railway’s turnaround success. My submission would also be that do these institutions only develop case studies on success stories? Why these institutions did not develop case studies on Bihar when Mr. Lalu was the Chief Minister and why he failed there and was shunted out of power and was responsible for bringing the state to bankruptcy and for other mismanagement? Many strongly believe that the intellectual skills that IIMs are claiming in Mr. Lalu now, were never there. It is mainly "the sheer size and efficiency of railway employees and bureaucrats and not the minister that brought the turnaround in railways". One quality of Mr. Lalu is that he does not meddle too much in the decision making process of bureaucrats. However, being an influential and shrewd politician and comedian, he is able to manage most of the things using his personal clout for his image changeover. He is now going to teach ethical and business values, the art of becoming a successful manager etc. to IIMA students, what a laughing stock to the future generation.

If management institutions really want to benefit their students from the turnaround stories of Indian Railways, they should invite qualified executives from the Railway Board to whom people will take seriously and not the political comedians for laughing purposes. The institutions should invite such persons, for example, Sudhir Kumar, the officer on special duty in railway ministry and a Delhi School of Economics graduate, who, sometimes, gets credit for the turnaround or other people.

What Mr. Lalu may get in return for his lectures in IIMs? May be he should be conferred with "Fellow of Management" because of so called, the birth of a new Indian "Management Guru" to these institutions and their students. Who knows, in return, these management institutions may get training and consultancy assignments of million rupees, because now Indian Railway is a rich cash cow (estimated cash reserves over Rs.100 billions).

Mr. Lalu Prasad has also posed a challenge to Mr. Nitish Kumar, the present Chief Minister of Bihar, with a clear message that he has made the Indian Railways a profitable unit, and Mr. Nitish Kumar should also turnaround the sick administration and economy of Bihar as soon as possible. Lets see what administrative and political strategies, Mr. Nitish Kumar adopts to achieve the targeted goal fixed by Mr. Lalu for Bihar.

I wish good luck to Mr. Lalu Yadav in his new assignment and also to his new students. A detailed biography of Mr. Lalu and his achievements as Railway Minister are compiled in :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laloo_Prasad_Yadav

- Asian Tribune -

Share this


.