Mr.V.Balaraman
Director, Polaris Software Lab Limited
  Topic: “People first: Making sustainable productivity a corporate companion”   20.06.2003 Mr. Rohit Modi, CEO,
Tamil Nadu Road Development Company Ltd.   "NO MORE FREE LUNCHES - The hard truths in infrastructural development"
  08.04.2003 Mr. S. B. Bhoje, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam   "Fission or Fusion, Atomic Power is the future."   27.02.2003 Mr. S. Krishnamoorthy, General Manager, Commercial, Southern Region, Indian Airlines Ltd.   "Indian Airlines : YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW"   19.02.2003 Mr. George Abraham,
Chairman, World Blind Cricket Council   "Passion, Enthusiasm and Skill"   10.012.02 Mr. Kumar Ramanathan,
Vice President, Sales & Marketing of Hutch   "Breaking into a competitive market - Media and PR strategies"   20.10.2002 Ms. Ranjana Kumar,
Chairperson & Managing
Director, Indian Bank   "Public Sector Banks  - The Road Ahead"   09.07.2002
Speaker: Mr.V.Balaraman
Director, Polaris Software Lab Limited
  Topic: “People first: Making sustainable productivity a corporate companion”   20.06.2003          
Mr. V. Balaraman, Director,
Polaris Software Labs Limited
 
          “People first: Making sustainable productivity a corporate companion”

Focus on getting the best from people
V. Balaraman, Director, Polaris Software Labs Ltd., says people must be made to realise their own potential by relating to them at an emotional and spiritual level.

It was a few years ago in Hyderabad while visiting a friend for dinner that
V. Balaraman, director, Polaris Software Labs Ltd., met a Brahmakumari, a very bright, educated lady. "What do you look for in people?" she asked him. Well, educational qualifications, experience, skills and perhaps references, he said. “Do you look at the emotional side of a person, the emotional baggage that he or she brings along? Emotions affect a person's attitude and behaviour,” the Brahmakumari explained.

What she said struck Balaraman deeply. Today, managing human development and helping to positively direct energies is a passion for him. Why do companies not get the best out of people? Why do human beings not do the best they can? Should people continue to use only 30-50 per cent of their abilities? Are we doing justice? Shouldn't we enable more human beings to work to their potential? Would nature have brought us here without a purpose? These were some of the questions Balaraman, a former managing director of Ponds India Ltd and director-exports, Hindustan Lever, posed to the PRSI audience.

Corporate chieftains turn to people for performance, yet good performance is seldom recognised and credit is not given to the employee. By recognising and unleashing the innate abilities of employees and matching their skills to positions, great organisations look inward. The environment has to support people and rewards have to be meaningful in order to move forward, Balaraman pointed out. He stressed that people must be made to realise their own potential by relating to them at an emotional and spiritual level and not merely at the rational and physical levels, adding, "Rather than focussing on managing weaknesses, never lose sight of a person’s strengths. Nurture his social and performance needs."

Do we question established wisdom? We never question the expectations society imposes on us. Be passionate and dedicated to your work so that problems cease to bother you, Balaraman said, exhorting the audience to think differently and to innovate to sustain. “There is little doubt that people want to be able to come to a place of work where they feel loved, appreciated and cared for. Each person loves to hear the words, 'Thank you, you make a difference'. That is how the human mind works. You become what you believe in”.

Earlier, PRSI members fondly remembered advertising stalwart R.K. Swamy, as well as his association with the PRSI, Chennai Chapter. R.K. Swamy, who passed away recently, had started RK Swamy Advertising when he was 50. More than anything, it was his simplicity that endeared him to many. He served with distinction as president and chairman of most advertising bodies.

What Motivates People?

Alignment
People are energised if they know where they're going. Why they're and how they'll get there.

Synergy
People are energised in environments that support them to be open, authentic and collaborative.

Growth
People are energised when there is encouragement and opportunity to grow both
personally and professionally.

Fulfillment
People are energised by rewards that acknowledge their efforts at all levels that have meaning for them.

During his presentation, V. Balaraman spoke about four sources of energy - alignment, synergy, growth and fulfilment.

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          Speaker: Mr. Rohit Modi, CEO,
Tamil Nadu Road Development Company Ltd.   "NO MORE FREE LUNCHES - The hard truths in infrastructural development"
  08.04.2003          
Audience paying thro' their silence to hear Mr. Rohit Modi's hard truths.  
          "NO MORE FREE LUNCHES - The hard truths in infrastructural development"

No more free lunches, please!
Rohit Modi, CEO, Tamil Nadu Road Development Company Ltd., speaks at a
PRSI meeting

We have always been driven by an urge to travel. The invention of the wheel brought a solution and a problem. Although speed was possible, even surfaces became necessities. From kutcha roads to today's express highways, we have indeed travelled a long way. Transportation has witnessed a revolution, with speed being paramount. However, roads are not just about speed and surfaces. They are also about safety, security and comfort.

The 113 km long East Coast Road (ECR) is a first for the country in many ways. The Rs. 61-crore project was entrusted in February 2000 to the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company Limited (TNRDC), a 50:50 joint venture between Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services and the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO). Negotiations were over in ten months and the concession agreement for developing the project on a rehabilitate-improve-maintain-operate-transfer (RIMOT) basis, the first instance of an integrated improvement-cum-maintenance contract, was signed in December the same year. The project completed in record time and commercial operations commenced in March 2002.

Special features of the ECR include reflective road studs along the entire stretch for illuminated guiding, traffic guideposts and delineators at regular intervals, crash barriers and chevron signs along the curves and extensive use of diamond-grade signage for easy information visibility. Emergency call boxes every three km are connected to control centres. A 24-hour accident relief and trauma care service is available along the entire stretch. Elegant passenger shelters, bus bays and roadside landscaping help make the ECR look truly world class.

"ECR toll rates depend on the frequency and mode of travel as well as the destination. For example, for a journey from Chennai to Mahabalipuram, a toll ofRs 24 is charged for a car; it isRs 47 for Chennai-Pondicherry. Toll rates, linked to savings in vehicle operating costs, fuel and time are levied on cars, LCVs, trucks, buses and multi-axle vehicles. The daily collection, on an average, isRs 1.74 lakh, just 50 per cent of the revenue projected; after sand-quarrying was banned, fewer lorries ply the route," said Rohit Modi, Chief Executive Officer, TNRDC, while addressing members of the Public Relations Society of India Chennai Chapter.

Depending on TNRDC's tolling strategy, Modi said that the toll levied on vehicles using the ECR route for Chennai-Pondicherry worked out to just 40 paise a kilometre. "Exemptions have been granted to local residents, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation has been granted a 83 per cent discount, and with increase in traffic the toll rates may come down," he said.

"The ECR is not just about discovering the pleasure of driving. It sets a new benchmark for highways in the country and represents a new learning experience in project management. We are well past the socialist era where the right price was equated to what the customer was willing to pay. Today, the user cannot demand a service if he is not willing to pay (user charges) for it. World-class facilities come with world-class prices, though in this case the toll charged is not exorbitant at all. Alternately, when you are getting something free, you cannot demand; you are a 'helpless recipient'. In any case, if you have no problem paying for petrol, then why do you hesitate to pay a toll?" he asked.

According to the Indian Tolls Act 1851, tolls were initially levied if the project cost exceeded Rs. 25,000, that mark was later raised toRs 2 lakhs and subsequently to Rs. one crore. The common man's perception of public provision for infrastructure - why charge me separately when I already pay taxes imposed by the government? - should change, stressed Modi. "Poor planning and project management, hesitation to use modern technology, inadequate and inefficient maintenance, lack of incentive to break from the past, and time and cost overruns have been characteristic of infrastructure development in the country. It is time to break new ground," he remarked, exhorting the PR fraternity to carry his message forward.

Pointing out that low service levels and user dissatisfaction are the real issues that the public should address, Modi said that in the past the sovereign (State) was unwilling to levy or raise new taxes. It was considered a moral hazard to increase tariff to cover inefficiency. While the public perceived the private sector as maximising returns at minimum risk, the public sector was seen as providing all services at no cost. "There was a 'free lunch' element in both cases and that element has to now got to go away for good," he emphasised, adding, "That, indeed, is the hard truth in infrastructure development."

Modi went on to say that it was not the government that refrained from levying charges because people were not willing to pay. In fact, in a recent survey commissioned by the Confederation of Indian Industry, 70-80 per cent of the respondents had expressed their willingness to pay for better services. "The notion that the private sector is only concerned about generating profit, that its services come at an exorbitant price, is ill founded. Several times, the IDC (interest during construction) element or preoperative cost is not factored into the total cost of a project, especially core projects with a long gestation period such as the Calcutta Metro. Also, there is a need to provide for contingencies. The insurance cost, in terms of premium, for the ECR works out to Rs. 20 lakh a year," Modi stated.

Although essentials such as water, electricity and communication facilities can be bought (a captive power plant can be set up, for example), roads cannot be purchased. And, therefore, there is the need for private initiative, with its ability to leverage public finance, optimum utilisation of resources, high service levels and timeliness, he told the audience.

"In today's global economy, India has access to international capital flows. More than Rs. 20 billion comes in as foreign remittances every year, ten times more than the amount sanctioned by the World Bank for developmental projects in the country. Part of the international capital that comes in must be used for infrastructure funding," he said.

"Good roads help create wealth. The U.S.A. is a rich economy partly because the country has excellent roads," Modi said, pointing out that the U.S. Federal Highway Trust Fund's annual accretions amounted to $ 19 billion, with a $ 28 billion accumulated surplus. "There is no doubt that if Tamil Nadu is to become the No. 1 destination, for tourism or business, excellent roads will make a difference," he added.

Modi, however, agreed that appropriate tolling is essential. "Levying a toll on vehicles using the Anna flyover, for example, is impractical," he said. He cited the examples of Virginia (U.S.A.) where there is no tolling on 'heavy occupancy lanes', and Singapore where a system of dynamic tolling (toll varies according to different time slots) is followed. He mentioned economic viability of a project as another important criteria. He wondered whether the Mumbai-Pune six-lane expressway built at a cost of
Rs. 1,800 crore, with an interest burden of Rs. 200 crore was viable.

In partnership with the Tamil Nadu Government, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and the National Highways Authority of India, TNRDC plans to build more world-class highways that will be a pleasure to use and a destination in themselves. Projects in the pipeline include operation, maintenance and improvement of the Chennai bypass and the Dindigul-Coimbatore (NH-209) and Salem-Ulundurpet (NH-61) highways.

Modi seemed keen on putting in place a PR strategy to educate, create awareness and mould public opinion towards an optimum tolling mechanism. "The public must understand that the onus is on us, the developer, to build and maintain roads as much as the user has an obligation to pay charges. Of course, finally, the user will have to decide whether the country needs to move forward or not," he concluded.

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          Speaker: Mr. S. B. Bhoje, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam   "Fission or Fusion, Atomic Power is the future."   27.02.2003          
Mr.S.B.Bhoje on Nuclear Energy - Fission or Fusion, Atomic Power is the future.  
          "Fission or Fusion, Atomic Power is the future."

The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) was approved by the Planning Commission on 27 January, while it was approved by the Finance Ministry on 30th. And the following day came the approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. If these were not enough to make S. B. Bhoje, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, happy, there was another feather added to his cap on 26, January when Padma Shri award for him was announced, though he did not seem to be affected by it much, because according to him, "fast breeder is my baby; I have been working on it from day one". What would make him really happy is the final go-ahead from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

Addressing the members of the PRSI, Chennai Chapter, Bhoje said that people should be made aware of the positive side of the nuclear technology, as in general it is perceived as something destructive and sinister. Accidents like that of Chernobyl, where the nuclear engineering rules were not followed properly, arouse a sense of fear in people's mind. In such instances public relations can play a role, he felt. People should be informed about the advantages of nuclear energy, such as the application of radioisotopes in medical therapy and biological research, in generation of electricity and hydrogen.

Bhoje declared, "it is absolutely wrong to think that nuclear reactors are dangerous places. Even in case of an emergency, a leak, for example, all plants are so designed that radioactivity remains confined to the reactor. With advancement in technology, even the smallest dose of radioactivity can be detected and the accident probability is such that if there are 1000 nuclear reactors operating over a 1000 year span, there may be only one accident".

Hailing from Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, Bhoje graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the Poona University; he then joined the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in 1966 and began his career designing the experimental fast breeder reactor. As a member of the task force formed to design the fast breeder test reactor (FBTR) he went on deputation to the Centre d'Etudes Nulceare Cadarache, France. Now he is known internationally for having designed and commissioned the FBTR in Kalpakkam, an achievement to be forever cherished by him.

Right now though Bhoje is happy to have been made responsible for designing a 500 MW PFBR, construction of which would begin soon at Kalpakkam. This is the first of a series of fast breeder reactors to be constructed in the country. Bhoje said with justifiable pride, "thirty years ago our first nuclear plant, the Tarapore Atomic Power Station, was set up with US assistance. We can now be proud of the fact that as far as nuclear power generation is concerned, be it construction of reactors, operation and maintenance of the plant or waste management, India is the only country in the developing world with such capability". In his opinion nuclear energy alone can meet India's long term power requirements.

We have got so used to having electricity in our day-to-day life that we cannot be without power even for a short while; generating sufficient power is absolutely essential. In Bhoje's opinion our energy demand is quite large at 400-500 GW (gigawatt electricity) while our resources are limited. Besides only about 200 billion tonnes of coal is available, which has to be used prudently to last for at least 60-70 years. Burning of coal results in sulphur dioxide and carbon emission, acid rain and destruction of crops. Importing oil at aboutRs 80,000 crores a year, we drain our foreign exchange reserves also. Therefore a safe, reliable and economical resource needs to be identified and there enters nuclear energy; though a nuclear power plant is 20% costlier than a coal-fed plant, long term costs are low; if we can exploit our huge reserves of thorium and uranium properly, they could last us a few hundred years.

Mr Bhoje said that, whereas in France 75-80% of power generation is from nuclear energy, India's progress is rather slow in this area; only 3.5% is generated from nuclear energy, while the world average stands at 20%. India's per capita energy consumption is only 500 kWh, while in North America it is 12,000 kWh per annum and in Western Europe 5,500 kWh. According to him the scenario would soon change as everyone aspired for a better standard of living; that is why sustained power supply is so very important for future generations.

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          Speaker: Mr. S. Krishnamoorthy, General Manager, Commercial, Southern Region, Indian Airlines Ltd.   "Indian Airlines : YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW"   19.02.2003          
Mr.S.Krishnamurthy of Indian Airlines . Sky is not the limit indeed!  
          "Indian Airlines : YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW"

The personal growth of a person is attached to the personal growth of his career', said Mr. S. Krishnamoorthy, General Manager, Commercial, Southern Region, Indian Airlines Ltd, while addressing the members of the PRSI Chennai chapter on "Indian Airlines Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" on 19th Feb 2003.

Starting his career as a PR person in Indian Airlines in 1968, Mr. Krishnamoorthy was neither told by Indian Airlines, what exactly PR was all about, nor were any degrees or diplomas available as it is today. So all the lessons were learnt in the hard way. Even though his stint in Public Relations was only for 4 years,
Mr. Krishnamoorthy considered himself very fortunate to have spent a few days with Mr. Sam Black, the Father of PR, traveling right thro with him and attending all the seminars.

Way back in the year 1953, there were roughly 15 private airline operators in India.
8 of them were clubbed together and Indian Airlines was formed by an Act of Parliament. Till 1994, the Airlines remained a statutory body and in '94, it was registered as a company under the Indian Companies Act. In the early days Chennai Airport was only a small shed and there was a small building as large as a cine actor's bungalow of today and the Aircraft used to land and people used to walkup and down as there was no security and they could go right up to the stepladder, and see their people off. "From that day", said Mr. Krishnamoorthy, "we've come to a stage, where the airport is a maze and the growth of aviation industry in India has been possible because Indian Airlines is in the hands of the Government of India". In the year 1953, the 8 private airlines, which were not even accounting the money they were collecting and were not answering the share holders, were all merged. When it was taken over, Indian Airlines had 99 different types of air crafts, in which 74 were Dakotas, which was a 21 seater and a war aeroplane, meant to transport soldiers from one place to another. The airfields were also like the relics of the war. "When I was posted in Madurai in 1968, I saw a small building of 5000 Sq ft almost like a taxi stand and that was the Madurai Airport" mused Mr. Krishnamoorthy.

Indian Airlines functioned with the twin aims of connectivity and air mindedness. Remotest parts of the country were connected. Air service was operated from Kowai to Kamalpur for a fare ofRs6/-. Thus Indian Airlines linked the different regions and this provided a fillip to the industry resulting in the overall growth of the country. The year 1953 saw Indian Airlines taking a decision to modernize the fleet. Modernization those days meant going in for turbo propeller aircraft, which was the best available. Later on Indian Airlines started looking at Caravel,

Boeing, Airbus etc. In 1967 Indian Airlines went in for a Caravel aircraft. In 1971 Boeings were purchased, and 1976 Indian Airlines bought a few the wide-bodied Airbus 300 and it was the first in Asia to start operating it. Air Bus 300 was lucky for Indian Airlines and it continues to be so. It was the first ever aeroplane capable of carrying 245 passengers and 10 tonnes of cargo.

After developing the market, Indian Airlines became complacent and it being a Public Sector also got set in the minds of the people. There were nearly 13 or 14 trade unions in Indian Airlines leading to industrial relations problems too. These problems resulted in dislocation of services. In spite of all these, Indian Airlines bought Airbus 320 in 1989 and it was pressed into service in 1990, according to Mr. Krishnamoorthy. He said Airbus 320 consumed less fuel, it was a medium sized plane and the most convenient aircraft which could carry 130 passengers and could land in smaller airfields. An accident involving this Aircraft in Bangalore, resulted in the withdrawal of all the 90 brand new aircrafts, which were earlier pressed in to services.

He also added that the grounding of Airbus 320 was the beginning of all the problems. With only 12 Airbus 300, which could not land on all the air fields, Indian Airlines was not able to meet the day to day requirements of passengers and this prompted Indian Airlines to take some firm decisions. It gave birth to an open sky policy and led to the entrance of private operators in to the field dominated by Indian Airlines.

These private operators, according to him, had everything available on a silver platter. They did not have to do market survey or market research. They knew what the routes were and to top it some of the Indian Airlines staff joined their work force and even the ideas were imported. Even today when Indian Airlines operate more than the required percentage of flights on certain routes due to social obligation, private operators look at only the profitability angle on these routes. They only put in services were there is heavy demand. They always have a choice whereas Indian Airlines do not.

The good thing about the competition, said Mr. Krishnamoorthy, was that it brought better services and people in Indian Airlines were awakened. If the employees had to retain their jobs there had to be a change in the attitude and perception of the people, style of management and marketing. The recovery process was very quick when compared to the speed in which Indian Airlines was going down. Between 1994-95 Indian Airlines was able to recover and stabilize 50-50 . Today Jet Airways and Sahara Airways are the two, which are steady in the market, out of which Jet Airways is equivalent in size to Indian Airlines. The negative effect of competition, he said, was neither of the airlines could maintain the fare levels. They had to drop it by offering some kind of discounts. The coming in of private airlines was a real blessing because the air traffic had nearly doubled and Indian Airlines was not ready to meet this additional traffic.

Indian Airlines has also made plans for purchasing 43 aircrafts at an investment of Rs.10053 crores and this money has to be managed with in, barring a small advance which the Government of India would give. But this is only an idea floated by the Indian Airlines board. It has to be passed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Investment Board and the Finance Ministry; this process is on, he said. Meanwhile there is also a possibility of Indian Airlines shares being disinvested, which of course would take some more time perhaps ending up in a joint venture.

Mr. Krishnamoorthy added that the spirit of competition nurtured the growth of private airline which could be of any number but there had to exist a Government owned airlines to provide continuous service. People should not forget that Indian Airlines had always been a social-minded airlines, not forgetting the services rendered during IPKF operations, earth quakes in Gujarat etc.

He concluded his speech by saying that the future of Indian Airlines was not to concentrate in India alone. Indian Airlines is doing extremely well in the Middle East and South East Asia, Singapore, Kualalampur, and Bangkok .Indian Airlines is connected to almost all the air ports in South India except Madurai, Thirupati, and Vizag and all other airport are now international Airports. Indian Airlines is also concentrating on improving and increasing the number of passengers by introducing newer schemes and packages. Indian Airlines is doing well on the service front too and with 48 new aeroplanes the future of Indian Airlines is very bright.

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          Mr. George Abraham,
Chairman, World Blind Cricket Council   "Passion, Enthusiasm and Skill"   10.12.2002          
An eye-opening speech by Mr.George Abraham  
          "Passion, Enthusiasm and Skill"

When the entire Chennai city was swinging with excitement about the II World Cup Cricket for the Blind, PRSI Chennai chapter, had the privilege of the World Blind Cricket Council Chairman, Mr. George Abraham addressing the forum members on "PR in the field of disabled sports" on 10th Dec 2002.

A dreamer, George Abraham had his first encounter with cricket when he was in school, way back in the year 1969, when Graham Dowling came with the New Zealand team to play in India and E.A.S. Prasanna and Bishen Singh Bedi ran through the Kiwis in Bombay. George fell in love with this game and he had a passion and a dream to become a fast bowler like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. However this passion was nipped in the bud and he realized that he couldn't follow cricket as a career.

While working for an advertising agency Advertising and Sales Promotion Company (ASP), Mr. George Abraham, staying at the guest house of National Institute of Visually Handicapped, happened to watch visually impaired boys playing cricket with a lot of "Passion, enthusiasm and skill". They were using a ball that rattled. It was then that George Abraham realized that "Cricket could give the blind an avenue to evolve, as passionate and purposeful human beings". His faith in the group of human beings who could learn a lot about life by playing this game was strengthened by one of his meetings with Conrad Hunte, the West Indies player,
who had taught him the 5 mantras of life, which George calls as the 5 D's.

  •  The ability to dream
  •  The desire to fulfill the dreams
  •  The discipline required
  •  The dedication
  •  The determination to achieve the dream
The dream of organizing a World Cup originated when George realized the need for a platform to demonstrate the ability, talent and the potential of the visually impaired, where the focus would be on 'Ability and not on Disability'. He feels that it is a sort of education for the people to watch what the blind can do rather than what they cannot do, and he felt that this game should be taken to the international stage too. With these thoughts the National Cricket Tournaments were organized in the years 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. The 1994 tournament saw several teams participating and the country had to be divided into 4 zones and the tournaments held at zonal and national levels. Says Mr. George, "to get press coverage was almost impossible"; sports editors and various people in the print media would say, good cause and noble cause, but "there was no flow of print". In 1993, the Samskriti foundation decided that George Abraham would be one of the 5 people honoured by them and he decided that 5 years down the line, the first World Cup for the Blind would be organized in India.

It was at this stage when PR and cricket for the blind had their real encounter. People wanted to know what this cricket for the blind was all about and George started getting calls and this he says was "a unique experience". The relationship, which began in 1993, moved on and in 1994 DD covered the nationals live and they continue to do so. Finally the World Cup happened in 1998. Cricket according to Mr. George Abraham is an avenue for 'Rehabilitation' and World Cup is an opportunity to demonstrate the ability and it is all about marketing ability.

The first World Cup was a resounding media success and so was the II World Cup held in Chennai which received tremendous media coverage. The media coming forward in large numbers to support, according to George is because of the 3 P's.

Sponsorship requires ability, while charity supports disability

Right from 1990, Mr. George Abraham has been trying to shift the scenario from a philosophy of kindness to one of recognizing ability. Charity, according to him, demeans or belittles the person who is being supported. He scoffs at the idea when people tell him that he is doing a noble act, because he feels that just by opening a door, which is rightfully theirs, is not a noble act, as every blind Indian is a full fledged citizen of this country, and an avenue is being provided to play and enjoy the sport they want to play.

A visit to a blind school for the first time in 1989 by Mr. George Abraham shook him 'out of his bones'. It was then he decided that he was going to spend his life with visually impaired people. Being an advertising man himself he is able to establish a link between advertising and education; he says that advertising is all about marketing dreams and education is also about promoting dreams and the game of Cricket is being used to sell and promote dreams.

He concluded the speech by saying that being a hero or a zero makes no difference. But to be a genuine member of the society is what counts and daring the blind to dream about big things in life and in the process making them achievers and contributors is what is required. If cricket be the pool of life, he said, let us continue playing.

Do you know that the rules for cricket for the blind are more or less like normal cricket except :

The III World Cup for the blind might be held in England or Australia.

         
  Mr.Siddharth Sharma - supporting the cause of the specially abled in sports.
         

Siddharth Sharma at the age of 25 lost his eyesight in a motorcycle accident and from a senior merchandiser in a Garment Export Company he stepped in to Public Relations by sheer accident, which later on became his career.

Way back in the year 1998 before the International world cup for the blind, a phone call to Mr. George Abraham enquiring about the World cup because of his keen interest in the sport made him being accepted "as a part of their World Cup Managing Committee" and George entrusted the responsibility of talking to the media to Siddharth. Two large press conferences in Delhi were held. It was during this time that World Cricket Council also decided to have a PR agency to help out with the World Cup for the Blind and also to have their messages spread across the country. 'Connections' was the agency, which was asked to give a presentation in this regard and this contact resulted in Siddharth taking up an assignment there and heading the business development in operation. Siddharth was a part of this for nearly four years when he decided to start his own agency for the sake of upgrading and sharpening his skills. Thus was born the Foundation PR, which partnered with a very old ad agency called Foundation Advertising in Delhi. Foundation PR at present works with MNCs and a few corporates and when the World Cup for the Blind 2002 was coming up, Mr. George Abraham, President of World Cup Cricket decided to entrust the PR activities to Mr. Siddharth and his team. With immense strategic planning the Chennai press coverage for the game was more than a success. The Local TV channels, National networks and the media had so much to talk about and there was a flow of print about the World Cup.

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          Mr. Kumar Ramanathan, Vice President, Sales & Marketing of Hutch   "Breaking into a competitive market - Media and PR strategies"   20.10.2002          
Mr.Kumar Ramanathan, delivering his speech aided with a multimedia presentation  
         
  Mr.Kumar Ramanathan responding to an interactive question answer session.
         
"Breaking into a competitive market - Media and PR strategies"

In the meeting of the PRSI Chennai Chapter in October, Mr. Kumar Ramanathan, Vice President, Sales & Marketing of Hutch addressed the members on "Breaking into a competitive market - Media and PR strategies". Preamble: The development of the brand, brand idea and its creation. Media and PR strategy for launching Hutch.

Hutchison is the single largest foreign investor in India. It is one of the largest Asian conglomerates with a very highly profitable business, their reserves and surplus are higher than the foreign exchange reserves of India; the group has extensive interest in infrastructure and telecom. They hope to bring a lot of telecom business with improvement in technology to India. Hutch came to India in 1995 with a joint venture in Mumbai and the organisation grew inorganically through acquisitions between 1996 and 2000 - they acquired licences for three circles Delhi, Calcutta and Gujarat. When the bid for fourth licencee came in 2000, they considered the three southern states and the metro of Chennai; the seven locations would mean a larger foot print in India, 72% of the telecom revenue of India and 52% of India's wealth. This kind of business would need a common brand and that is how the story of Hutch began.

Hutch has a legacy of "orange" in its portfolio and it is a very powerful brand. Their services in Mumbai is under the brand name "orange" since the mid 90s. Technology in telecom was just taking shape and the future was uncertain; people were a little uncomfortable with technology; so there was a need to connect. "Orange" promised simplicity and open bonding. The promise worked and it became a most endearing brand and is a case study in many organisations world wide. But as time goes on people become familiar with technology; they need what is relevant to them today. They do not want lofty promises. Nevertheless they want the freedom, ease and the pleasure of connecting with other people. There are a lot of players in the field and a lot of consolidation also is taking place in the industry. The entire industry is steeped in complexity in terms of communication, tariffing and technology. Some of them have made a virtue of this complexity. But with all this the consumer is becoming wiser; he can differentiate the cheese and the chalk. In this background the DNA for Hutch was born.

They wanted a brand which would hold on to what works. Not that things did not work in the past. A lot of things with brand 'orange' worked. With the legacy of that powerful brand, they needed to rethink of what Hutch would be. They wanted to move on to something which was more contextually relevant. Hutch had to be relevant here and now and yet hold on to values of being simple, friendly and transparent and deliver the needs of the hour without losing the sense of fun and that is why they said "Hi".

Once they decided what they stood for, the key task was to know what the communication challenge was. It needed to be relevant. Everyone in their ads were talking of a dream world but in fine print it said "conditions apply". But Hutch believed nobody had the mandate to put "conditions apply" on any communication material; that is being transparent, that is Hutch. Hutch wants to offer enjoyment usefully. No fine print. It is easy to say "simple", but the most difficult part is to maintain the simplicity in all their communications with all their constituents, with their customers, their employees, their business partners. This is a value which an organisation must imbibe, feels Hutch. Only then it can get translated into spirit in everything we do.

Simply put Hutch by virtue of its heritage and parentage, will be a step ahead; the parent is already in the next generation of telephony. Therefore they believe they can bring products and services ahead of others. As for better value, they are the only company to offer a balanced tariff. Communication is a two way process. They found there was a different rate for incoming and outgoing calls in the city, defying the logic of communication. Hutch came with the idea of "use this, this is what you pay; use more and pay less"; simple; no fine print. After Hutch the competitors have copied the rebalancing.

Hutch believes that their actions are their best ambassadors and their satisfied customers are their best spokesman. Chennai is the third largest market in most product categories be it durables or consumer products and so on by virtue of its geographic location, population and wealth. But in telecoms it is the 6th largest and has performed well below its real potential. Hutch believes that it is because retailing has not developed. They wanted to launch a new and unique brand in a two player market, wanted to be different, bring in a breath of fresh air and deliver a differentiated service.

Media strategy: They differentiated the media vehicles; they wanted a specific vehicle which would present a particular facet of the brand. They looked at the synergy between the product message and medium, so that they could deliver with telling effect what they set out to do. The strategy was, they wanted to be noticed, dominant, clearly cut through the clutter and be innovative every step of the way. There was a premium internally on being different.

Outdoor: Lead medium, to project the image of the brand; wanted to impact in the shortest time. It was not a lot of money but the strategic locations of the hoardings.Certain things were done outdoors that nobody has done - the hoarding at the facade of Spencers, which most publications covered, though the company did not go after that kind of publicity, it was landmark, it was large and thus got written about. Outdoor can deliver a certain brand impact, but is not a medium of communication and attention span is just a few seconds; so it is important to be at a point where the customer least expects it and impact him with telling effect; this was what Hutch was able to do. Being innovative definitely delivered the impact desired.

Press: Expensive medium. Definitely required to deliver on the product aspects. At the time of launch and later used it sparingly to communicate their wares. The set of ads were a little different. In the launch week, there were different offering on each day, concerning each aspect of the service.

Direct marketing: It was very simple - they had to delight the customer, nothing else. Traditionally dm has been the bane of most organisations. Dm has been type cast: one can predict what your next direct mailer is going to be. Hutch decided they must send something which was absolutely delightful, but at the same time something that could tremendously drive the respect for the organisation, brand and services. They did two things - one was the Economic Times study, again thanks to O&M. They targeted the people holding responsible jobs, but who were in the fringes and not in the limelight. The impact was awesome. Second thing - many mobile subscribers do not understand the bill; the first bill is always a shock. Hutch said the bill has to be explained; a bit of the shock is reality; they decided that they would alleviate the pain; so now Hutch bill is welcomed - the first bill has a wallet with gifts. Another idea was: A small pouch was pasted to the Metro of the Hindu which led to their walk-in customers to be more than three times.

As for PR Hutch is modest. Their activities have attracted attention, got them coverage. There has not been any individual interview with anyone from Hutch with any publication. Mostly they were industry stories.         Top          
          Speaker: Mr. Garry Jacobs
Management Consultant
  "Internal credibility as the basis for positive public perception"   28.08.2002          
Mr. Garry Jacobs addressing the members.  
         
  Past Chairman, Mr. Mohan Punnen handing over a memento to the chief guest Mr. Garry Jacobs.
         

Garry Jacobs is an American consultant on business management and economic development with 30 years of experience in India and founder of Mira International, a consulting firm based in California. His clients are appeared over the US, Europe and India from basic manufacturing to high-tech electronics. He has also authored two books along with two other experts. He is the president of the International Centre for Peace and Development, USA. He also wrote the report of the International Commission on Peace and Food called "Uncommon Opportunities" which was presented to the UN Secretary General. He spoke on the role of corporate communications at the meeting of PRSI on August 28, 2002 illustrating some case studies.

Jacobs said: Prudential Insurance known for their stability - their symbol is the rock - in the 80s moved into other areas, by acquiring a large real estate company and other non-life insurance businesses and also one of the large brokerage houses on Wall Street, which came to be known as Prubage. Jacob's company was asked to plan a public presentation to showcase a common public image of all the companies under one umbrella. Instead the consultants advised them first to find a common basis to link the various acquired companies that had not been together in the past and had different cultures. Soon a disturbing news from Wall Street informed that the brokerage company was being implicated in insider trading and providing of less than accurate disclosures to their own clients about some of the investment they were selling. For a company like Prudential this was quite devastating to be brought into something like that. A few years later the brokerage company lost and had to pay about 3 billion dollars in damages, a sizable amount even for Prudential. The image of Prudential was thus damaged badly and it hardly ever recovered its original image again.

One of the companies which impressed Jacob's firm in its growth - he wrote about it in his Book - was the one which had grown from 2 million dollars to 220 million dollars within 10 years in an industry of remodelling homes. After six months of writing the book they went to meet the CEO of the company. They told him that after studying the company they found that there was some serious gaps in the internal development strategy which could retard and stop eventually the growth and wondered if they could help him. The CEO and the President, both founders of the company, asked why they waited six months before coming to them and that they would have appreciated if they'd been advised earlier as already they were in trouble. The company took a bad slide.

The attention received by problems in the companies, reflects a change in social expectations and social standards as to what the public expects from corporations. This makes corporate communications within the company more important than ever before. PR problems of whatever nature they are of, in almost every case are reflections of internal management failures. Corporate (CC) communications need just not only to rectify whatever has gone wrong but avoid them up front. Cc is an integral part of the growth and sustained success and profitability of any business. This has to be matched by corresponding corporate behaviour.

A favourite story of Jacobs of creative advertising and success: In 1892 a station master in mid-west of US received a consignment of wristwatches to be delivered to a retailer and collect the money and send it to the manufacturer. The retailer could not accept them as he had no money; when informed by the station master, the manufacturer suggested that he sell them himself. He had access to telegraph lines and also had several friends in station masters across the mid-west; he offered to sell them the watches for a good price, which they in turn could sell to visitors to their stations; he was so successful that he ordered another consignment of watches from the manufacturer soon after. Within a short period he resigned his job and published a mail order catalogue wishing to sell to people all over the state and began selling items of personal care required by people in rural areas, all sorts of spurious merchandise; his business grew in spite of his lack of discrimination, making products seem better than they actually were. When he lacked the capital he approached an experienced businessman of Chicago, Julius Rosenwal and asked him to become a partner and invest in his company. Rosenwal looked at the catalogue and told the station master Sears that if he joined as it was he'd lose all the goodwill he had; but as the young Sears was imaginative and talented, he'd invest if he were given full authority over what they say in the catalogue. Thus he changed the top line on the catalogue which read "the largest mail -order catalogue in the world" into "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. This was unheard of at that time in US. Within 20 years the business grew to 20 million dollars and became the largest retailer in the world. They went on to open the first suburban department store and grew during the 20s and even through the depression and by the mid-80s Sears Robeck were a corporation of 40 billion dollars. The one thing that spurred their growth is the commitment, which is still over the door of any of their shops "satisfaction..." Though there are instances many times of the public taking advantage of the promise, they remained committed to their promise. It is the communication of the message, which helped them grow successfully.

The Wall Street Journal in 1984 had the highest circulation and was the most admired for their accuracy of information. They came to know that the Security and Exchange Commission was doing an informal investigation of one of their journalists for disclosure and misuse of sensitive information about 21 companies' shares in the market, which had influenced the behaviour of people in buying and selling those stocks. Though nothing was proved nor any accusation against the paper was made, the paper could have avoided SEC action, if any, by sticking to laws and constitutional rights of confidentiality. But instead they published a small article the next day stating that the SEC was investigating their journalist about some information and mentioned the name of the column and the writer. Media took notice of this and wondered. Two weeks later after their own in depth investigation they published an article "Stop Scandal" in which they gave full disclosure of their investigation and admitted that the journalist had misused his position and must be prosecuted. The US media was aghast; some of them admired the paper's integrity and transparency; New York Times took a different view and questioned whether they had gone too far in their disclosure and why they didn't take recourse to their constitutional rights. The public confidence with the journal grew due to their frank dealing of this issue.

In 1972 Johnson & Johnson launched a new over the counter pain killer Tylenol, which was the most successful one in the history of such products till then. By 1982 Tylenol commanded 30% of the entire OTC painkiller market as a branded patented product. At that time some crazy man in Chicago took some bottles of the pills and laced them with cyanide and as a result 7 people died. It became a scandal all over the country. The FBI cautioned J&J not to overreact, that from all evidence it looked like the job of one person severely isolated in one place and if they withdrew the product from that area the problem would be over. The general public did not share this view of FBI and the sale of Tylenol fell by 80%. 60% of the American public said that they would never buy it again. The company decided that their responsibility was to the doctors and the people and withdrew 31 million bottles of Tylenol from the market costing about 100 million dollars. Within a year they recovered 90% of their original market share and now after several years since their patent expired, the product still enjoys premium price in the market, even though there are several other similar generic products available.

In the early 60s there were many questions being asked about the pharmaceutical companies in the US. The Congress began investigations on the claims made by the companies about the efficacy of their drugs. Laws were tightened. One of the companies which went through this process but against whom no accusations were made was Merck, which was at that time No.6 in the US drug industry. They reflected on their commitment to accurate credible communication with doctors. They began to adopt what they called fair balance. When their medical representative went to meet the doctors he had an absolute responsibility to present fairly objectively the strengths and the weaknesses of this product relative to other products already on the market. The result was that in the next ten to twelve years Merck rose from No. 6 to No. 1 in the US pharmaceutical industry. In 1984 when Fortune magazine, for the first time, introduced their survey of the "most admired corporations in the US" Merck was selected by their peers, not only as the most admired pharmaceutical company but as the most admired in any industry overtaking long time giants like IBM, Coke, Johnson & Johnson and so on. If you asked them how they maintained this fair balance, they had a moral; the medical rep. was trained that when he met the doctor, he should imagine that the next patient was his mother, or wife or his children, what he would want them to know about not just the strengths of the drug but also the weaknesses or dangers, whether a competitive drug would do the job better or more safely or with a more proven track record. These representatives are so good that some of them are invited to speak at conferences of physicians on specific decease syndromes and remedies for them. Some of them have more than one post graduate degree in different fields of medical science. What started as a public image issue for the industry was internalised by Merck as a fundamental lesson reducing it to a firm corporate policy, what kind of people they recruit, how they are trained, it goes into the systems they have in their company. They have a rule that no medical representative of Merck gives out any information to doctors about any drug that has not been officially passed by a committee and permitted by a legal and medical review board. To do what looks to be extraordinary, to take the view point of the public to such an extraordinary degree, that they win a level of public confidence that is quite outstanding.

All these cases can be summed up under the theme of what Jacobs calls 'Values", a word used often by management these days, which he tried to define in very broad terms, that is the qualitative aspects of carrying out a business.

He said: Qualitative goals energise people and activity and elevate levels of performance far above normal levels. The commitment to achieving these values requires extraordinary effort internally from management in systems, training, discipline and monitoring of people in order to actually execute it in practice. Therefore the values of corporate communications programme is determined not by how good it sounds but how actually plays out in practice and transactions of the business. Values are a key component of a company's mission and strategic direction. The world of corporate communications is perceived to present a message that would satisfy people internally or externally but not nearly as often as it should be in actually formulating that message in compelling senior management to formulate and implement the message that will energise people internally and will energise the market and the performance of the company. One of the conclusions I have come to by looking at companys that have succeeded over a very long period of time that the long time growth and profitability of a business is directly proportionate to not their commitment to the bottomline but their commitment to doing this - to continuously elevating qualitative performance in practice and whether they try to project it externally or not, it gets projected to the public.

North Western Mutuals, an insurance company, was started about 130 years ago. Their mission from the beginning was to be first in the benefits they offered to their policy holders and not to be first in size. Since Fortune magazine introduced the 'most admired' survey in the mid 80s, it has been the number one 'most admired' company year after year. Even in the USA this company is not too well known. They have been number one in performance and they would tell you that it has been possible due to their commitment to this principle.

To cite an example: one of their policy holders, a man of 32, fell ill and died soon after. The doctors later confirmed that he had died due to a brain tumor. His devastated wife knew he had his life insured with North Western. The agent who visited her said that her husband had stopped paying the premium six months earlier; the case was closed for all practical purposes. But the agent discussed the matter with some specialists, who said that the type of brain tumor the patient had could not have happened suddenly and also it had debilitating effect. When this was reported to the company authorities, they began their own investigation and came to the conclusion that the patient might not have been in a position to know what he was doing and that might be the reason for non-payment of the premium; the agent came back to the wife with a check for 100 000 dollars, full payment of the insurance. This was possible because the agent was taught from the first day he joined the company that the policy holder's interest was of the atmost importance.

In another case of suicide, though the government agency and the investigation agency had declared that the company had no legal responsibility to pay, the company, after its own investigation, decided that it could not be sure if it was suicide and paid the full value.

Another company started as a crop dusting company - spraying insecticides over the crops from the air - in 1927 in southern Mississipi by one Mr Omen. It was initially so poor and after passing through the depression, it was converted into a passenger airline in the late 30s; the company was so poor that it had to pass around the hat to its employees to collect the money for fuelling the aircraft.Out of the rural rugged background the company developed two very key values, which have been prominent throughout its history - a very scrupulous financial control and a family feeling; even when it grew to be of 40 000 strong employees, it had the family feeling, going all the way back to when Oman began the company in the rural background.

One story to illustrate this aspect - a young man was on night duty at the mechanical shop, in charge of spare parts; till about midnight there were men coming in with requirements, but later around two in the night he felt asleep on the table; sometime later he felt a presence in the room and slowly lifted up his head to find Mr. Oman standing in front of him. The young man was sure that he would lose his job. But all his employer said was, "if you wanted to go to sleep, the least you could have done is to put off the light". The young man was thrilled to have escaped but also to realise the humour and humanity of the situation and the commitment of Mr. Oman to reinforce the core values of the company. The story soon reached every employee of the company and many others too.The message conveyed here was that how Mr. Oman wanted every employee to feel and how every manager should behave. He later founded the Delta airlines and once when a flight ws overbooked he, the chairman of a Fortune 500 company, withdrew to allow another passenger to fly. The message was here to his employees that every single customer counted.

Mr. Jacobs displayed lists of physical, organisational and psychological values. According to him more than communication strategies, targets and objectives, it is important for senior management to communicate what type of company are they trying to be and what type of behaviour they want from people at all levels of the company; corporate communications has a vital role to play not only in communicating that message but in helping the management formulate that message, which is a critical, vital and central function that is dirctly linked to the strength, growth and long term sustainability of the business.

In 1973 for the first time Fred Smith established FedExpress for delivering parcels overnight, at a time when in the US it took about 5 days to do it. Smith, a student of business history, came to the conclusion before setting up his business, that a set of values was absolutely essential for rapid, sustained profitable growth. He identified the core values to focus on - speed of every function (from telephone answering to repairing the airplane), communication at all levels (the path of communication is open to the 2,00,000 employees from their immediate boss to the chairman) - elevating any value or commitment to any value,releases the energy of people; it makes them feel more committed, more involved, makes them feel happier about the company they are working for, happier about the services and products it is delivering, giving them respect and therefore they give more of themselves. Practising the values energises employees, customers, suppliers, investors and anybody who comes into contact with the company feels that this is a quality business. Values not only release energy, they tell the people within the company how to express the energy, it directs energy, challenging people and directing people to reach higher and higher levels. Values enhance growth and satisfaction.

A French aristocrat ran away from persecution just before 1800 to America, leaving all his wealth behind. He just had a formula his father had developed for making gun powder, which was used, besides in wars, for also mines etc. He founded a business manufacturing gun powder in Delaware. But with the crude technologies of those days, gun powder would now and then blow up. He decided that the safety of his employees was most important and set several policies. When building a gun powder mill or commissioning a new equipment, the real dangerous point is when the switch is pulled the first time - it either works or it could blow up. He made the rule at such times the only one who could turn on the switch must be a member of his Dupont family. The business grew and by 1900 Dupont company gave up making gun powder and went into chemicals etc; but they never gave up this commitment to value of safety. One can see it working at every stage. Even today at every board of directors' meeting of this 26 billion dollar comapny the first item on the agenda is a report on safety as well as any management meeting at any level. The safety officer is the chairman of the board! Down to the security guard everyone knows his responsibility to safety. Maintaining values also needs continuous training. Dupont trains their employees on safety at home also.

Most companies with set of values and commitments have made it their culture, it has become an integral part of them. No special effort is made to show off this to the outside, but it gets known. It is Mr. Jacob's vision of the role of corporate communications of the company, a company that recognises this conception of what it wants to be and how it wants to grow. It need not be right at the beginning, some like Merck started it after 40 years in business; but it is never too late to begin; but it is an integral part of management's thinking and its commitment and action.

        Top          
          Speaker: Ms. Ranjana Kumar,
Chairperson & Managing
Director, Indian Bank   "Public Sector Banks  - The Road Ahead"   09.07.2002          
Ms Ranjana Kumar lighting the lamp to inaugurate the year 2002-03 of PRSI, Chennai chapter.  
         
  Ms Ranjana Kumar addressing the members of PRSI Chennai
         
"Public Sector Banks - The Road Ahead"

Addressing the inaugural meeting for the year 2002-2003 of the PRSI Chennai Chapter on the topic of "Public Sector Banks - the Road ahead", Ms Ranjana Kumar, CMD of Indian Bank, had the following to say: the strengths of the public sector banks now are the huge network of branches and the large work force at every cadre level. There are 27 nationalised banks in addition to several private and foreign banks. To meet the competition computerisation had become essential for the public sector (ps) banks. Due to the competition the market share of ps banks has come down from 90% in the 1970s to 80% now. A lot of changes have taken place in pricing, quality of service, technology upgradation, which has necessitated segmentation of branches, the focus that each bank should have such as in training and upgrading skills from time to time.

In recent times much is being heard about corporate governance, that is, total transparency, greater professionalism and most important of all management of human resources such as placing the right person in the right place; this is what the banks are aiming at now. Capital adequacy deals with the strength of the bank to expand, its credit portfolio and risk management. Banks need to realise if they are able to decipher the balance sheet, monitor the accounts in order to take care of their money or take steps well in time to prevent damages.

As per the recent RBI norms, interests on term loans or working capital are being debited on a monthly basis instead of quarterly as done earlier. This calls for a lot of organisation and discipline. Major factor for deciding the effectiveness or success of ps banks is the art of communication, within the organisation and at various levels of the organisation; employees must be communicated what is being expected of them.

Earlier every branch was handling all kinds of banking needs. But now banks go into every fine point of the client's needs. Segmentation of branches addressing different functions - corporate branches, branches handling large credits (credit intensive branch), personal banking, commercial branch. The staff in these different branches need to be thoroughly knowledgeable in the specific areas of banking , so that the customers need not waste their time. Customer needs prompt decision, which necessitates that the bank employee is focussed on the needs and the activity of the customer. Bankers now are operating on a very thin margin; there is a war going on interest rates. Foreign banks are so much faster in decision making than the ps banks, which must improve in this area.

Many of the nationalised banks are over 75 years old and have a long experience with core industries. For banks dealing with such industries, it is not enough to be able to interpret the balance sheets, but should be adept in understanding the industry, which is a very responsible job. They must have an industry profile, which should be updated from time to time.

A banker should know his customer very well, through constant interaction. There is an element of change in any industry. Commercial decisions are taken according to the data available at a given time; it is possible that some decisions might prove to be wrong after some time.

Recovery of non-performing assets - in the process of recovery, one finds a NPA on which interest cannot be charged. To avoid this the banker should become proactive. This would mean monitoring even healthy accounts (standard assets), to be able to decipher what might be going wrong, so that it can be attended to in time. Banker should not wait for the customer to come to him, because the well-being of the business is equally important to the bank, as its money is in it too.

In foreign countries NPA above 2% is not allowed. They try to restructure or rehabilitate the account. This is equally valid for India. Restructuring is essential for the client, the bank and the economy of the country. Banks should have the ability to decide to call it a day or rehabilitate the account.

Upgradation of technology - In January 2001 computerisation became mandatory. What is important is not just computerising the branch but networking, which would improve asset liability management. But computerised set-up requires a disciplined working culture.

ATM - the facility should make it possible for a client to utilise it from one city to another - he may have an account in Chennai, but he should be able to use the ATM in say Coimbatore, Bangalore or elsewhere.

Nationalised banks have a lot of scope for better customer service at the counter, behind the counter etc. which needs constant guidance at the branch level too. Customer loyalty is waning. Customers now are clear about what they want in terms of service.

Retail lending - here the risk is spread; bankers now are going in a big way in retail lending, like housing loan, vehicle loan, education loan or personal loan. In this NPA is less. Everyone must know his product and the competitor's. The aspect of marketing of service as well as advertising is essential. A lot of talent and commitment are present in ps banks; it depends on how well these are harnessed; the potential of each officer must be understood. In the instance of promotion to higher levels, after choosing the right person, he must be groomed for the position well before he is promoted, as it is essential to understand the culture of the environment he is to work in. This is known as succession planning, which is important for a banker who has to go up the road, whichever aspect of banking it might be in; this necessitates much greater planning, making the role of the planning department a significant one.

Ms Ranjana Kumar's address was listened to attentively by the members of the PRSI, whom she described as a vibrant and healthy group. Earlier the chairman of the Chennai Chapter Mr Thomas Abraham welcomed the gathering and introduced the new office bearers. The vice-chairman Mr Nallamuthu introduced the chief guest Ms Ranjana Kumar, who has not just revived a dying bank but has also brought in profits and won kudos from all over.         Top          
           
 
 
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