Subir Roy: Cleaning up Indian Railways

By Subir Roy  www.business-standard.com

The timing could not have been more inauspicious. The day Ratan Tata was invited to head the Kaya Kalp council, set up by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to suggest innovations, a train accident killed 39 people.

The next day this newspaper carried a report outlining the recommendations of a committee, headed by the economist Bibek Debroy, meant to help the railways get back on track.

Rajiv Gandhi had made Ratan Tata chairman of Air India and Rahul Bajaj chairman of Indian Airlines to bring in new ideas and quick decisions to turn the two entities around. Rajiv Gandhi’s premiership did not last very long, and we know what has happened thereafter to the two organisations.

Ratan Tata was not a success at running Empress mills and Nelco, but performed a historic role in taking forward the Tata group. It is probably an oversimplification but nevertheless true that Ratan Tata is not good at the nitty-gritty of managing a company’s turnaround, but exceptional when it comes to giving an organisation a vision. More info

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