Lalu denied entry at the India International centre, There and at IIMs, who is really eligible to enter?

October 9, 2006

Yesterday(8/10/2006), the Sunday Times reported that Railway minister Lalu Yadav was refused the much sought after membership of India International Center which is considered a kind of “arrival statement” by Delhi’s Intellectual circuit :-

Elite IIC refuses to take lalu as member

The high esteem membership was refused on the grounds that Lalu was charge sheeted in criminal cases. One is prompted to ask “What’s new?”. If he could lecture impressively at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad on September 18, why such a hue and cry over membership of another elite institute? Five days after this post, on 13/10,2006, former Union minister, Dr Karan singh(son of Hari Singh,erstwhile king of Kashmir) resigned as one of the life trustees of IIC on failing to deliver on his promise of securing a membership for lalu. Now, if people of that kind of stature want lalu as members, one can hardly grudge him that.

In an article,”Are you club class?” in the Sunday Times(15/10/2006), Meenakshi Kumar says that some clubs like Delhi Gymkhana insisit on a certain status and stature( a Janpath shopkeeper being refused membership)and some like Delhi Golf club insist on sporting talent. At the Gymkhana, people may have to wait upto 35 years. IIC on the other hand insists on members who help sustain the international character of the centre. On being told once that the Japensese can turn Bihar into a Japan in a few months, Lalu replied that he could turn Japan into a Bihar in a few days. That’s all the internationalism lalu’s got but jokes apart, he would simply be as much of a misfit in these clubs as a club member would be in his native Bihar.

The Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh has publicly praised Lalu very highly for his turnaround of railways.However, following the news that lalu was going to address the students of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and after he gave his lecture, a lot of blogs questioned the validity of granting him such an honor stating that the railways turnaround could not be attributed to him directly. Some argued that even if for a moment, it is believed that he had a major role to play in the railways turnaround, considering that he had made a mockery of democracy and governance in Bihar for a decade and a half, his overall record was grossly negative and a person like him had no business lecturing at premiere Management institutes of India.

Laloo interacting with management students at IIM, Ahmedabad.
(from Hindustan times archives)

In the book “The war for Talent”, the authors day” Manegerial talent is at the epicentre for the war for talent. Mangerial talent is a combination of a sharp, strategic mind, leadership ability, emotional maturity, communication skills, the ability to attract and inspire other talented people, entrepreneurial instincts, functional skills and the ability to deliver results”.

Lalu may not be a manager in the true sense of the firm but one wonders how much of this applies to him.When lalu first became CM, he was lauded for his unique administrative style like doing surprise checks at odd hours among other things. Personally speaking, I admired him for his rustic wisdom and supreme artistry at playing to the gallery. However, he flattered to deceive badly and also got embroiled in the fodder scam.

Rather than get into debates on Lalu’s credibility, one should focus on those who really deserve the honor. Where are the Shahrukh khans and Sachin Tendulkars of management? Can the information revolution and mass communication unearth those chupa rustams(hidden talent). Unfortunately, such talent is not as transparent as acting or sports. I had the pleasure of coming across one such prodigy.

Ashish Kundu and I were in the same school and same class for four years between 1977-81. We bumped into each other in the Kedia group(1992-1995) in September ‘1992 when he joined as Assistant Manager(Exports) and I as Assistant Manager(MIS). The kedia group which specialized in liquor had a turnover of about Rs150 Crores at that time. Though he used to come on a motorcycle initially, his prodigious talent soon got him three cars(two from the company) and several promotions within a span of a year and he rose to become CEO. Eminent novelist Agatha Christie had once said that everything could be done creatively and it was my pleasure to see Ashish do something as mundane as administration in a unique style( doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way-it is one thing to read about it and another thing to witness it). He excelled both vertically(each post from assistant manager to CEO) and horizontally( Finance, Marketing, Personnel, operations etc).

He completely outclassed the powers that be in the company in front of the political leadership of a southern state and foreign collaborators with whom they were contemplating various projects. Much later,after leaving his job, he established a big project consultancy business of his own in next to no time.

Poetry being the spontaneous flow of powerful emotions, he inspired this out of me in August’1995 when we parted ways in the corporate world. The quality of poetry is not as important as the fact that his brilliance inspired it. It is more of prose in poetry than real poetry.

I have said in other posts that Greatbong is my favorite writer in the blogoshpere. Here is the other greatbong in my life. As I say this I would like to add that had it been possible ,maybe the people of Bengal would have loved to see his meteoric rise as much as Saurav Ganguly’s. It was like watching a superstar take off. Here then, is a tribute to a wonderful friend and an outstanding business executive:-

Poem- Tribute to an outstanding corporate executive

Within the first month of our bumping into each other in the corporate world, on watching his razor sharp business brains and superb communicating abilities, I predicted that one day he would make it very big in the corporate world. Now, If only I could predict share prices like that, I would have become the Indian Mr Buffet by now. Despite knowing each other since school days and being regularly in touch, I always think of him as boss first, an attitude which is at great variance with some of the other bosses I have come across in my life

Jokes apart, can there be two opinions on whether or not such people should be allowed to address premiere management institutes? IIM ne bulalaya lalu, inko kya main bulalu?


  1. Lalu is unique in whatever he does. I think he likes the publicity he gets from ordinary things he does in extra ordinary manner. If lalu had nothing to do with Railway’s success then why our hundreds of former Ministers of Railways failed? IIC might have guidelines for memberships but a guest lecture at IIM – totally acceptable. I guess he was invited to IIM..right??

    To me Lalu is like Musharaf of Pakistan – Excellent speakers. People like him are needed in India (except his background in lawless state of Bihar). If he had born in Delhi, he would have been the PM of India.

  2. Every institute has it’s own rules n regulations for membership. So lets respect that. I dunno this person much enough to comment on his suitability for membership but if he has a crminal record, then that’ll always disadvantage him.


  3. Lalu symbolises the unconventional, practical side of management. One should be careful not to be taken in too much by his “management skills”. He needed to prove a point poliitically and got the railways do a turnaround. He is a politician who is a facilitator and definitely bureaucrats too must have contributed their bit.

    Right now, he can be a case study as a performer in the theatre of politics. His work in the railways can be better judged only in coming days, when we will know if this was just a show-off flash in the pan, or a genuine “new Lalu Prasad” minus the past fodder-scam.

    It’s too early to judge him.

  4. Institutions, everywhere, impose certain restrictions on their functioning and there would be certain rules also. It is known that Laloo has a criminal backdrop. Arrogant and foolish….

  5. Arrogant and foolish….

    My take on Laloo that is… 🙂

  6. What Lalu did in Bihar has brought such a proud state down to the depths, he had power, he had support of the backward classes, he could have made this a major state, instead it is so bad that anybody who can promise to reform even aspects of it is called a messiah.
    From my understanding, Lalu was called to give a lecture on the turnaround in Indian Railways. Now Indian Railways a few years back was supposed to be on the way to being a basket case, in need of consistent support from the Indian budget.
    It would not be anyone’s brief that Lalu was single-handedly responsible for turning around the Railways, Nitish Kumar would have had a hand, Railways officials would have a great role; but in our system, the Minister is the one who oversees the ministry and is normally credited with the ups and downs of the ministry. So, if he is called to speak on a business matter, then it should not be a problem.

  7. Bihar was among the top 5 best administered states of India at the time of Independence. Now, it is at the bottom.

    Lalu, and his predecessor’s are responsible for this.

    This is what he did to the state:
    A Letter to Laloo Jee

  8. Though his tenure as Railway Minister deserves applause… why give him undue credit? It’s one thing to excel as Railway Minister and it’s another thing to ruin a state!
    The scams around him are endless… and he openelly practiced goondagiri… Though his ways were unique… Bihar didn’t get anything our of him.

    Also I agree with Keshi here. Every Institute has some rules of it’s own and it is following it. Lets respect that. We cannot always force people to behave the way we want them to behave 🙂

  9. Lalu Prasad Yadav does know how to make bureaucrats work. We call our country democratic country but if we really look closely we will find that our country run by some corrupt bureaucrats. If people can’t credit him for his work about Indian railways then they are dumb. Talent is some thing but the tact every thing. I think Lalu knows it and practice it.
    He mentioned during his talk once:
    ‘My mother told me to catch the buffalo by horn not by tail &
    If you don’t milk the cow fully it will fall sick’ He has implemented the same.

    He fills the gap of Rs.75000 Cr (From – 70000 Cr to +15000 by using the lesson what his mother told him. Bring some politicians and bureaucrats in front and make the India progress well. We need some more ministers like Lalu, like it or dislike it but we need a ministers and leaders like him who can work for the progress of country and at the moment he is leading this department with his super sonic electric engine and other are still on steam engine.

    If institute are not granting him membership, then good luck to them but I personally believe he should have been invited for membership. Ever person deserve second chance.

  10. Personally, I think that the publicity Lalu received for Railway turnaround is blown out of proportions. There are so many people out there (IAS and other officials) who deserve a piece of the cake (not just in the railways issue). And if some one disallows Lalu there is nothing wrong in that. They have done it as per their rules and does not appear to be an irrational discrimination. Does anybody follow swaminomics in TOI by swaminathan Iyer. I think this guy is a genius. He is the Steven D. Levitt or Malcom Gladwell of India. Why not call him at IIMs?

  11. Hi Hiren,

    I have read your comments on “greatong” couple of times ;

    You writing lot makes sense but my humble request is please check your grammer and spellings, most often your idea gets jaded because of above.

    Keep blogging.

  12. Wow,

    i havent seen this news..as u said there can b two openions abt it..as far as im concerned..there is nothing big deal..inspite of all the cristism…he as been there in the politics for such a long tiem..somethingthe students might learn..right

  13. Lallo is a seasoned politician and he knows how to get work out of bureaucrats who are too willing to bend backwards to please their politicla masters. The nation wants progress and results and if our systems are getting too politicised, let the cancer creep in as long as there are politicians like Laloo to deliver. It is a sad commentary on our democracy that ministers must head sports bodies, elite educational institutions and Prime Minister must head Ganga Action Plan for which he has no time. The Supreme Court has made the stinging observation that Ganga is more polluted than it was when the Plan was drawn.

  14. I agree the railway turnaround can’t be totally attributed to Lalu, but he did one thing really prudent…he left the major policy decesions to the right people, and didn’t interfere then. His only condition was that passenger fares should not be increased…

    Railways is a behemoth, it is the largest owner of real estate in the country, Lalu knew how to leverage this size advantage..

    First timer on your blog, liked it..

  15. @blogindia-Lalu is a charmer all right.
    @Keshi- many people in politics have a criminal record.
    @Pradeep-How does one judge lalloo as a performer?
    @Sreejityh-lalu has some cases pending against him.
    @Ashish- It should not be a problem but it is better if the real people get the credit
    @Apun ka Desh- Very nice write up
    @Shark- only excellent managers should speak at permier management institutes.
    @Ek awaaz- It is more a matter of merit than first or second chance
    @stubbofanatic-Swami is a genius all right.
    @Anonymous-Point taken. Shall be more careful in the future. Thanks
    @Chandru- One can learn from anybody but everybody cannot be allowed to speak.
    @Satish- It is a sad commentary all right
    @Ganesh-Lalu did know how to leverage to his advantage but that’s not the only thing.

  16. Liked your article…n guess u r right…credit and visibility should be given to people who have worked hard and been successful in their fields…am no ardent fan of Lalu…and primarily agree with Ganesh’s post…what Lalu did right was to leave the strategising and policy making to the right people while meeting his preset conditions…so maybe due credit should be given to those officials whose identity remains submerged as ‘Lalu’s team’!!!!

  17. Dear Hiren,

    Hope you keeping well, if I take your word “@Ek awaaz- It is more a matter of merit than first or second chance” then I also I would prefer Lalu as at present he is topping in his parliament class and working towards the benifit of India. Look out other cabinet minister except PM, only Lalu is doing job no one else. Every one is busy in making money. Arjun Singh is busy in vote bank, Merra yadav same, Shivraj Patil is lacking behind in terms of home and internal security issues. Rao already left to make telangan state…my list is very big lol:)

  18. Lalu did his utmost to screw up Bihar. For that reason alone he deserves nothing but scorn. IIM invited him to suit their own purpose – teaching students about different management styles. His presence in A’bad has been hyped by the media as a transformation. It’s hardly a transformation, its the work of a shrewd, cunning and intelligent politician who has years of experience on where to stack his cards.

  19. Hey hey hey people..how an we even allow a beaurocrat to rule over other beaurocrats??Railways has turned dramatically and for the good but still…like a robber he stole tons of riches from r already poor country, always involved with scams, illiterate, major contributor in this population explosion, resorting to ahimsa, and wanting people not to do stuff he did….???Give me a break…use ur heads people! IIMs needed an entertainment show. They sure did. They applauded. He recieved them blindly.

  20. Something prompted me to link dear Lalu with our very own ‘lala’ type CEOs of business empires who know how to make money…but i guess somewhere dont actually care about the infomrtaion age..
    From Lalaland…they make money

  21. Hehe…too bad. We could have learnt a lot from his great experiences in Bihar.

  22. I agree with the institute on not giving membership to Lalu. Let us not forget about his dodgy pastimes in Bihar!

  23. Unfortunately we cant have saints as leaders! Everything is a matter of perspective. Dont you think Bush has more blood on his hands than Saddam but he triumphantly participates in the Saddam trial.

    Having said that, the institutes decision is commendable because to an extent ‘chargesheet’ has lesser gray areas and could be a more (sic) valid argument to judge a person.

    all said and done, Laloo is one hell of a lucky bugger.

  24. Lalu is an embarrassment to India. He essentially makes a mockery of the system by utilising village common sense at times to disguise his comprehensive incapability of being a politician of substance. The fact that so many people support him is a key to understanding the reasons why India is one of the most corrupt and inefficient places in the world. I don’t blame Lalu though. If the public is too stupid to see through a buffoon like him, then they actually deserve to have such a screwed up country with idiots like him running around in charge. Unfortunately, all of us other Indians who can see through this blatant imbecile are saddened by a populace too ignorant to have the sense or guts to put people in power to make India a world class nation.

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