Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ON DRIVER’S SEAT: 3 outstanding Indian bureaucrats who chased a global dream of making a people's car

FOR the babu bashers, it may come as a shocker that Indian carmaker Maruti Suzuki which has always been led by bureaucrats, is joining on Tuesday the big league of global auto giants such as Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Honda, Renault, Hyundai etc. in producing one million, or 10 lakh units a year. From the time the first “Maruti 800” was rolled out from its Gurgaon plant in December 14, 1983, the company which was headed by Sarkari babus like V Krishnamurthy, RC Bhargava and Jagdish Khattar, took 27 years to reach this rare feat. babu blogger salutes these three outstanding Indian bureaucrats who proved it wrong that babudom stands for laziness and not getting work done.

Dr V Krishnamurthy
Coming from an agricultural family of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, Dr V Krishnamurthy did not wish to take up a job till his father lost his entire stretch of land. He then took studies seriously and completed a short-term engineering course, and later in 1954 appeared for the competitive exam for the central engineering services. He joined the Planning Commission as a research officer where he came close to stalwarts like Gobind Ballabh Pant, Chintamani Deshmukh, VK Krishna Menon and TT Krishnamachari etc.
Dr Krishnamurthy served as secretary to the ministry of industry, chairman and CEO of Maruti Suzuki, chairman and CEO of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), and since 2008, he has been serving as National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council. He was so close to the Congress top brass including former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi that he earned many an enemy in professional lives leading him to be implicated in a scandal till the Court exonerated him, and the UPA regime bailed him out by bestowing new responsibilities.
(In picture: Former Prime minister Indira Gandhi being shown the Maruti Suzuki factory plan in 1983 by V Krishnamurthy)

RC Bhargava, 1956 batch IAS topper
He was the IAS topper of 1956 batch, and is hence14 years senior to current cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar. A bureaucrat to the core, Mr Bhargava who joined Maruti in 1981 and chose not to return to IAS, has remained the chairman of the carmaker. He was the second MD of the company, V Krishnamurthy being the first. Hailing from a middle class family of Dehradun where his father worked in Forest Research Institute, Mr Bhargava betted on Maruti as it was a dream project of both Mrs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Jagdish Khattar, 1965 batch UP cadre IAS
This IAS has done it all -- from selling tea in European market to marketing cars in India before turning an entrepreneur with setting up of Carnation, a complete car solution under one roof. A graduate from Delhi’s St Stephen’s college and LLB from Delhi University, Mr Khattar was the District Magistrate of Chamoli in UP between 1969 and 72, and later became the Managing Director of UP State Industrial Development Corporation (1975-78). In 1979-83, he was the director of Tea Board of India, London. Mr Khattar was also the joint secretary in the ministry of steel between1988 and 93 before joining Maruti as an administrative officer, sales. And the rest is all history. For many years during this current decade, he remained the King of India’s auto world.

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  1. There are many a bureaucrat-turned managers in the country? Why don't you identify them?

  2. It depends upon the mindset only,whether the sarkari babu will serve the nation as a sarkari babu or as a private babu.