22nd All India Management Students Convention Speakers’ Profile

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With a distinguished educational background, including a Chemical Engineering degree from NIT Trichy and a PGDM from IIM Calcutta, this individual boasts over 35 years of experience as an exceptional leader and transformation specialist. They have been the driving force behind the remarkable evolution of T S Mahalingam & Sons into a highly respected automobile after-market brand in South India, expanding its operations across multiple businesses and locations. As a pioneer, they revolutionized the financial services industry by introducing third-party loan products in collaboration with Citi bank and ventured into real estate, successfully delivering over 100 projects. Notably, they have made a significant impact on various alumni associations, serving as President of REC alumni (RECAL), President of the IIM Calcutta Alumni Chennai, and President of the Madras Management Association (MMA). Additionally, their role on the Chennai Angels’ Executive Committee showcases their dedication to fostering entrepreneurship and supporting budding entrepreneurs through mentorship and investment guidance, solidifying their reputation as a go-to figure in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In his career spanning over 35 years in Upstream Oil & Gas Sector, Elango has held several leadership roles in different areas of the business and is a recognized leader in the Indian Oil and Gas industry.

Currently Elango is the Managing Director of Hindustan Oil Exploration Company Ltd (HOEC) since February 2015.

Prior to joining HOEC, he was the Chief Executive Officer & Whole Time Director of Cairn India Limited.

Elango was one of the five finalists for Platts’ first-ever Asia CEO of the Year award 2013

Elango holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and began his career with ONGC in 1985 and over a span of 10-years, has performed diverse roles Prior to joining Cairn India in January 1996.

Apurba is an Associate Partner with KPMG in India’s ESG practice. As a climate, energy and ESG specialist, over the years, she has focused on solutions around deep decarbonisation, ESG transformation, energy transitions, carbon markets, green finance, platform building, energy modelling, sustainability reporting and strategy, corporate social responsibility, etc. She has worked extensively with the corporate sector but also worked quite closely with the government on policy. In her previous role, she was the Head for Climate Policy and Modelling at WRI India.

Mr K V Ramani, founder and chancellor of Sai University, is one of the pioneers who led the efforts to bring India’s information technology sector to global prominence. He co-founded the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) to assist the growth and development of the IT sector in India. He served as its chairman from 1997 to 1998 and was a member of its executive council for the first 10 years, being re-elected by the members five times over. He received the Founder’s Award at NASSCOM’s silver jubilee celebrations in 2015 for ‘putting India on the Global IT Map.’ 

Mr Ramani is currently the chairman and managing director of Digital Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and the founder and managing trustee of Shirdi Sai Trust. A successful technology entrepreneur, he joined IBM as a graduate engineer in 1970 at a time when very few Indians were a part of the IT sector’s talent pipeline. Anticipating the advent of the age of technology, he founded a premier communications technology firm called Future Software in 1985. He co-founded Hughes Software Systems, a telecommunications software company in India, as a joint venture with the US firm Hughes Software in 1990. 

He has been the charter president of the TiE (The indUS Entrepreneurs), Chennai Chapter. Additionally, he has worked for the department of electronics as a member of the working group on information technology and as the chairman of the study team on software development and exports for the ninth Five-Year plan during 1996. Between 1988 and 1992, he was the chairman of the software panel, southern region, for the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) under the Ministry of Commerce. 

He has been honored by Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for creating the brand of a new India as co-founder of NASSCOM and for the Shri Saibaba Sansthan, Shirdi, the inspiration behind his numerous philanthropic initiatives which include educational and medical services for the underprivileged. 

Mr Ramani is driven by the urgent need to create world-class institutions for higher education in India and now steers his philanthropic efforts towards building a global interdisciplinary university in India. He is currently the Founder and Chancellor of Sai University, India’s first international university, based in Chennai. Sai University is a multi disciplinary and inter disciplinary university providing Liberal Education in Arts, Science. Technology and Law.

Gp Capt R Vijayakumar (Retd), VSM, is a highly accomplished individual with a distinguished career in the Indian Air Force and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Madras Management Association (MMA) since April 2007. Throughout his tenure, he has significantly contributed to the growth and reputation of MMA.

During his three-decade-long service in the Indian Air Force, Gp Capt Vijayakumar held various pivotal positions, including Director of Financial Planning and Financial Advisor to the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command. His exceptional service and dedication were recognized through several prestigious awards. He was honored with the Vishisht Seva Medal by the President of India for his outstanding and meritorious service. Additionally, he received the Commendation Medallion on four occasions from the Chief of Air Staff and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief for his commendable contributions.

Gp Capt Vijayakumar is an alumnus of Loyola, Chennai, and holds a diverse range of educational qualifications. He has obtained an LLB degree and pursued his studies further to earn a Master’s degree in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from Nagpur University. He has also earned a Master’s degree in Management Studies from Osmania University.

Under Gp Capt Vijayakumar’s dynamic leadership, MMA has become a prominent and highly respected management association in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. The organization consistently attracts top industry leaders and policy makers, solidifying its status as the recognized face of Indian industry in the state. Thanks to his exceptional leadership skills, MMA has been honored with the Best Management Association in India award by AIMA for fourteen consecutive years, including the year 2022-23.

Apart from his professional pursuits, Gp Capt Vijayakumar is an avid golfer and has represented the Indian golf team in various international tournaments. He is actively involved in various philanthropic endeavors as well. Currently, he serves as a member of the Executive Committee of St. John Ambulance Association and P S Educational Society. Additionally, he holds the position of President at P S Matriculation School, North (SRKM, Mylapore).

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam joined the faculty in the Building Technology and Construction Management division of the Civil engineering department at IIT-Madras in 2006. Ashwin received his B.Tech in Civil engineering from IIT-Madras and then proceeded to Stanford University for a Masters in Construction Engineering and Management. He then helped start up an internet based company in the USA called All Star Fleet, aimed at providing asset management services for construction companies. Following this he returned to Stanford University to pursue a PhD in the area of Infrastructure Project Management. Ashwin’s research interests are in the areas of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in Infrastructure planning and management, the management and governance of large engineering projects and the use of technology in infrastructure development. Ashwin is also a co-founder of Okapi Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd and serves as a Director on the Board. He is the Editor of the Engineering Project Organization Journal (EPOJ) and has served on many national committees. 

Girish is a seasoned sustainability professional and entrepreneur with a specialization in energy analytics.
His expertise encompasses various fields, including 3D digital twin technology, city mapping for climate change initiatives including water & energy conservation strategy development, ventilation system design, automation, and retrofits. In recognition of his contributions to the field, he received the IGBC fellowship in 2020, becoming the youngest Indian to receive this honor.

With over fifteen years of experience, Girish has successfully managed and led award winning green projects across diverse sectors, including FDIs, retail, healthcare, hospitality, government, and educational institutions. Girish has had the honor of spearheading the attainment of Platinum Rated Green campus status for IIT Madras, while also proudly holding the distinction of overseeing the highest rated green building in India. His work extends to both new and existing manufacturing industries, where he has employed mathematical and simulation models to devise solutions for indoor air quality (IAQ) and thermal comfort while achieving significant energy savings.

Girish is also actively engaged in collaborations with different Green Building councils and regularly serves as a specialized trainer and lecturer at reputed institutions worldwide. His passion remains on fostering stronger connections with students and young professionals whilst bridging the industry-academia gap.

Nathan is a partner with Deloitte, focusing on Advisory and enterprise development work. He is the former CHRO of Deloitte South Asia where he was a member of the India leadership team and served on the Talent Executive Leadership of Deloitte Asia Pacific.

Nathan has over 35 years of experience in HR management in Indian and MNCs across diverse industries including Manufacturing, Services, Telecom, IT and Professional Services.  He has worked extensively in the field of education and skills development as the pillars for social upliftment.

A respected voice of the HR profession in India, Nathan was featured in all National events of significance related to HR. He has been recognized as a ‘Distinguished Alumnus’ by XLRI by his Alma Mater. Incidentally he was a topper of his batch. He was recognized and awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ 2021 by Economic Times and Business People’.

He served as the immediate past President of National Human Resources Development Network, the largest body of HR Professionals in the country.

Nathan is on the advisory Board of the Economic Times on HR matters.

Nathan is an author of a bestseller ‘The Heart of work’. He is a regular blogger, an HR Power Influencer on LinkedIn and Twitter, and has an active presence on social media and is well known for his ‘#OfficeTruths’. He is recognized as a Power Profile of LinkedIn and Twitter.  He is known as a storyteller and cooks for family and friends.

Hema Mani has over 25 years of experience in Strategic Human Resources Capacity, with wide ranging Multinational experiences from Kelly Consultants, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Jain Group of Institutions, i2 Technologies and Honeywell.

She is a Leadership Coach certified under Korn Ferry Leadership Architect & Marshall Goldsmith and certified OD Facilitator from International OD Federation.

She is currently Regional Director, Asia Pacific HR at Lennox International, part of her responsibility in Lennox India & Asia sourcing leadership team. Her responsibilities include HR, Leadership Development, Culture building, Site Operational Management, Driving Community Engagement, External Communications for the company in this region.

Under her leadership, Lennox India has won several honors for HR such as the 13 best workplaces in Tamil Nadu by Times of India, 100 Best places to work for women in India 2016 by Avatar, Best places to work in Chennai by Economic Times, Dream companies to work in 2016 by Times Ascent. Best Community engagement Award by Economic Times. Lennox India has been certified as Top Great Places to work thrice in row, More recently Lennox was Certified as the Top 15 Great Places to work under her leadership.

She is the current the Chairwoman for CII-Indian Women Network in TamilNadu and part of her role she is focused on develop Leadership talent among women, Mentoring initiatives, Gender Parity diagnostics & facilitation in corporations and POSH activities.

She has represented on topics of Human sciences in forums of IHRD, NHRD, ISTD, CII, Nasscom and SHRM. She has published a couple of papers on Execution Excellence in HR which is compiled into a journal released by Indian Institute of Science and another one on Innovative learning strategies was recognized by Nasscom. She is recognized as one of the 30 Women Super Achievers and One of the TOP HR Innovators in 2023.

Mr Swaran Singh has three decades of public service and had held significant portfolio in the Government of Tamil Nadu, including Corporation Commissioner in Trichy, District Collector of Tuticorin and Chairman of TNEB. He retired as Principal Secretary and Commissioner for Industries & Commerce for the Government of Tamil Nadu. Mr Singh has been associated with TVS SST from 2017 and started heading the organisation as Chairman from 2018.

Mr. Suniti Kumar Bhat is the Founder and Director of Antelopus Energy Private Limited, an India-focused energy Company.

Mr. Bhat served as the Chief Operating Officer and Member- Executive Committee at Cairn Oil & Gas.  He has extensive experience in exploration, development and production operations of all assets and has successfully led the implementation of the world’s largest polymer flooding project at the Mangala Field.

An experienced CXO with a demonstrated history of working in the oil & energy industry delivering top quartile safety and cost performance. He is skilled in reservoir development and management, production operations, project execution and Production Optimization with operators including BG and Centrica in UK & Central Asia. He has completed a General Management Program from Harvard Business School, Masters in Petroleum Engineering from Stanford University and has a BE (Hons.) in Chemical Engineering from Punjab University Chandigarh.

Suhrith Parthasarathy practices as an advocate at the Madras High Court in Chennai, India. In 2013, Suhrith established an independent law office, specialising in public law, commercial disputes and income tax litigation. Suhrith holds a BA. LLB. (Hons) degree from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, and an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York. He has contributed chapters to two books: “Dignity in the Legal and Political Philosophy of Ronald Dworkin,” and “Appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court of India: Transparency, Accountability, and Independence,” both published by Oxford University Press. Suhrith is a regular contributor to the op-ed pages of The Hindu newspaper. He has also published articles in a number of other dailies and magazines including The Caravan Magazine, The Open Magazine, The Indian Express, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Economic and Political Weekly. He participated in the third Melbourne Forum in 2018.

Gayathri Shanmugam has held various roles throughout their work experience. Gayathri started their career at Ramco Systems as a Senior Product Executive in 2001. Gayathri then worked at TCS as an Assistant Manager – HR from 2002 to 2005. From 2006 to 2008, they were a Manager at TeleTech UK Ltd, specifically in the Operations Support Centre. In 2009, Gayathri attended IIM Bangalore as a student for a year. In 2010, they joined IBM Global Process Services, where they served as DGM and later as GM in the WFM department until 2013. In 2014, they founded two organizations – ScienceHopper and Litmus and Bubbles. Gayathri worked at Gray Matters India as a Consultant from 2019 to 2020. In 2020, they joined Snehadhara Foundation as a Process Consultant. Gayathri then moved to Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions, where they initially worked as a Consultant from October to December 2020. Gayathri subsequently held the positions of Vice President from January to June 2021, and Chief Program Officer starting from July 2021.

Gayathri Shanmugam pursued their education in a chronological order. Gayathri started their academic journey at the University of Madras in 1995, where they obtained a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) in 1999. Following this, they joined the Bharathidasan Institute of Management Tiruchirapalli from 1999 to 2001, where they completed a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. In 2009, they enrolled at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore for an unspecified course or field of study, which they completed in 2010.

Additionally, Gayathri Shanmugam obtained a certification in “Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators” from Coursera in April 2020.

Business leader with 30 years of track record in delivering growth in emerging markets by nurturing deep industry relationships and building high performance teams, with specific expertise on the power sector across multiple segments (generation to T&D) and with domain knowledge of a broad set of technologies from gas turbines to wind and solar PV and grid automation.

Mr V Shankar an IITM, IIMC graduate who worked briefly then went on to found CAMS (Computer Age Management Services Pvt. Ltd.) in 1988 to provide a Platform and services to the Indian Mutual Fund industry. CAMS was recently listed. 

He is involved with several organisations that promote entrepreneurship, as will as with both his alma mater.

Ravi Viswanathan is responsible for driving strategy formulation and execution. He is implementing a transformation agenda to drive Digital Operating System at TVS SCS, enabling a digital journey and a Zero Touch Process to engage with customers in the supply chain space seamlessly.

Before joining TVS SCS, Ravi worked in the TATA group for over 33 years holding various positions in the Tata group of companies. He was the Chief Marketing Officer at Tata Consultancy Services just before joining TVS SCS. Ravi is actively engaged with the Industry bodies, namely Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), where he headed the IT committee.

Ravi was formerly President of the Madras Management Association and has been part of the Executive Council of NASSCOM since 2015. Ravi Viswanathan graduated from the Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirappalli (since renamed as NIT Tiruchirappalli) with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.

Ten Years of CSR

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In the wake of the implementation of the CSR Amendment Rules 2021 on January 22, 2021, which mandated compulsory CSR spending, a notable surge in CSR initiatives has taken place.

It is indeed heartening to observe that a majority of corporations are actively engaging in the execution of CSR projects, demonstrating a preference for tangible actions over mere contributions to funds outlined in Schedule VII. With the fundamental aim of fostering awareness among all stakeholders in the CSR landscape about the core objectives and intricacies of the government-enacted CSR Legislation, the MMA-KAS in collaboration with CSR Spark conducted a conclave recently.

The CSR Conclave delved into the multiple opportunities that lie ahead for social entrepreneurs to harness CSR as a catalyst for propelling their enterprises, thus facilitating compliance with legal mandates while motivating corporations to undertake initiatives congruent with their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) aspirations. Furthermore, the event offered valuable insights into optimal accounting practices tailored for nonprofit organizations, punctuated by pertinent case studies spotlighting successful CSR implementations.

The welcome address was delivered by Mr R S Krishnaswamy, the Founder of CSR Spark. Mr Nikhil Pant, an esteemed CSR Coach, provided a comprehensive overview of his authored CSR Manual, which was formally unveiled during the conclave by distinguished dignitaries. In his address, Mr URC Devarajan, the Managing Director of URC Constructions Pvt Ltd, proposed the notion of a rating system for NGOs, a mechanism that could streamline their engagement with corporations seeking to extend support.

Mr. K Pandiarajan, Executive Director of CIEL and a former Tamil Nadu State Minister, articulated during the occasion that CSR is intrinsically linked to the ethos and operational conduct of an organization. “What is important is: What I do and how I do? This is the fundamental question that every organisation must ask themselves, as their first step towards CSR,” he said. He emphasized the significance of channeling the core competencies of an organization, consciously built in its DNA, towards fostering societal welfare and serving the larger good of the community.

Justice N. Seshasayee, Honourable Judge of the Madras High Court, stressed the need for the corporates and NGOs to go beyond the academic requirements of CSR legislations. “Corporate Social Responsibility is a journey from one ‘S’ to another—from Self to Society,” he said and added that this transformation necessitates a blend of compassion and empowerment. He further said, “As we chart our path, it’s crucial to be aware of where we stand and diligently work our way forward. The crux of this journey lies in individual responsibility. Thus, before we extend our focus to society at large, it’s important to begin by addressing the individual. The responsibility to nurture one’s family and organizational team members is a significant one because only when we keep our family and team happy, we can go out peacefully to serve the larger needs of the society.”

He also cautioned that the scope of CSR is not to be confined to ticking off the boxes of 80G or Section 135. “Often, CSR is directed primarily towards established entities, leaving out numerous unorganized individuals in need of support. Consider, for instance, those who dropped out of engineering colleges due to financial constraints or individuals who cannot afford medical treatment. To bridge this gap, I advocate for a collaborative network among all NGOs. Think of a platform where anyone in need could seek assistance. Such a mechanism must extend its benefits to all individuals, many of whom often remain hidden from our sight,” he said.

He pointed out that India’s strength lies in its numbers. “Even if 20 crore people each contribute a modest amount, collectively, it can yield a significant sum. It’s true that we might not be able to solve every problem for everyone, all the time. However, taking on one project per month is within our reach. We can begin with a group of hundred participants, each contributing a thousand rupees monthly. It’s a hard fact that people are willing to spend a similar amount on liquor but hesitate to contribute to charitable causes. When someone seeks help, a discreet inquiry can help verify their genuineness without demeaning or belittling them.”

Justice Seshasayee said that the question we must ask ourselves is: What’s the best I can do for my society? “Rather than merely quoting the wisdom of leaders like Gandhi or Nehru, it’s a call to action that is more important. In this crucial juncture in our nation’s history and civilisation, it’s our duty to bring about a positive change. Nation-building is not just an outsourcing of a construction project; it needs to be built in our hearts. We must carry the intent to shoulder the responsibility for our society, he said passionately. As I step out of my chambers each day, that thought that echoes in my mind is: What’s the best I can do today? Let’s infuse this thought into the fabric of our nation as we celebrate its 75th year of independence,” he said.  

The conclave hosted an assortment of sessions that encapsulated the spectrum of CSR dynamics. Mr R S Krishnaswamy delved deep into the intricacies of the CSR Act, encompassing recent amendments and penalties for non-compliance. Notably, while the top 20 companies contribute 27% of the total CSR expenditure, the other companies can focus on the balance 73%, he suggested. Mr Nikhil Pant’s session revolved around the theme “10 Years of CSR Evolution & Way Forward: Strategy & Policy Frameworks.”

Mr K.Ravi, the CFO of the Roots Group of Companies, deep-dived into the accounting practices tailored for nonprofit entities. These informative sessions were followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion on CSR Best Practices, featuring Mr. Rajaram from Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), Dr. Vasudevan representing MMA, and Mr. Prem Kumar from BumbleB Trust, moderated by Dr. K S Ravichandran, Managing Partner, KSR & Co Company Secretaries LLP.

The Alladi Diary

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MMA presented a talk on the theme of the book, “The Alladi Diary: Unveiling Memoirs of Alladi Ramakrishnan,” by eminent Mathematician and author Prof Krishnaswami Alladi,onAugust 16, 2023 at the MMA Management Center.  Mr.Lakshminarayanan Duraiswamy, the Honorary Treasurer of MMA and the Managing Director of Sundaram Home Finance Ltd presided over the session as the Chairperson. 

At the outset, let me clarify that this is not my book. This is my father’s book, his autobiography. I’ll explain how I got involved in the book. In 1978, which was the year I got married, my father decided to write his memoirs. Initially, it was informal. He had it published and printed locally, and he would circulate it among friends and relatives, mainly to gather feedback. He talked about his early life in school, college, how the institute came into being, discussions about my illustrious grandfather Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, the Indian constitution, and so on. He gathered feedback from various people and also included some essays about my grandfather written by various other leading lawyers and judges.

East West Books approached my father and expressed interest in publishing his memoirs. He took the original manuscript, which I believe was about 700 pages long. He divided it into two parts and added important letters related to the creation of the Maths Science Institute, along with photographs and more. It was published in two volumes by East West Press. The first volume was released in 1999, and the second volume followed in 2002. Thus, it became a two-volume book titled “The Alladi Diary.”

After my father’s passing away in 2008, my cousin, the renowned neuroscientist VS Ramachandran, who is a couple of years older than me and based at the University of California, San Diego, contacted me. He praised my father’s autobiography published by East West Press, highlighting its excellent writing and its significance, particularly within the scientific community. He suggested that considering my experience in publishing, I should seek an international publisher for this book.

Interestingly, World Scientific, a Singapore-based publisher with a main office in London, came into the picture. Their North American editor came to my office and she expressed interest in publishing my work. I shared copies of the “Alladi Diary” published by East West Press with her. Two days later, she came back and said, ‘This is very interesting. We would like to publish it.” Thus, this publication by World Scientific came about.

We needed to cut down the two volumes into one volume of about 640 pages. Yet, I made sure to retain all the essential letters and content, but I wrote notes for each chapter. What do I mean by notes? For instance, if my father mentioned a scientist like Richard Feynman, the notes section of that chapter would include details about Richard Feynman, his accomplishments, and his connection to my father, in a brief paragraph. This would be useful for people in India who are not in academia or associated with Physics or Maths, and who might not directly relate to these personalities.

By the same token, my father also refers to various aspects of Indian culture and tradition. For instance, he describes the Navaratri celebrations and delves into stories involving my grandmother. In such instances, I’ve included relevant notes that provide context about Indian customs and personalities. If he mentions Rajaji, I’ve added a short para on Rajagopalachari, introducing who he was and his contributions. This would be useful to the western audience. My main contribution has been cutting down the narrative due to the need to merge the two volumes into one, while also augmenting it with notes to cater to both the Indian and international audience. I want to make it clear that my association with the book is not as an author but as an editor.

Three Themes

The book revolves around three main themes. The first theme portrays my father’s childhood days in Madras. He vividly describes the time of my grandfather, Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, who was one of India’s greatest lawyers. He was not only invited to the constituent assembly but also served on the drafting committee of the Indian constitution. He had unrivalled knowledge of the American, British, French, and Australian constitutions, and so he was invited to be on the drafting committee as the legal mind.

He talks about his days with my grandfather and the prominent figures who frequented our home. Rajagopalachari would visit during his time as the Chief Minister of Madras on a daily basis and would engage in late-night discussions on various legal matters and points. He also talks about his observations on the Constituent Assembly in Delhi. This is one aspect of the book.

The second theme highlights his own career and the obstacles he encountered. He adeptly overcame these obstacles to establish the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, initially known as Math Science. Now it is referred to as IMSc. It is a multi-crore project, based out of Taramani. The next part of the book shifts focus to his extensive international travels. He traversed more than 200 institutions globally, delivering lectures and engaging in diverse programs. He also talks about how he facilitated the visits of foreign scholars and experts to the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Madras. The book was officially launched in Madras in May 2019 at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. This year marks my father’s 100th birthday—a centenary year.  

Charmed by Bhabha’s Persona

My father holds a law degree. He was a student at the Presidency College in Madras, where he pursued his BSc Honours in Physics there. An interesting highlight of his student days at the Madras Presidency College was the visit of a young British trained Indian scientist, Homi Bhabha, who had just finished his PhD. In 1943, he delivered a talk at the Madras Presidency College. He was already a Fellow of the Royal Society by then.

Homi Bhabha’s lecture deeply inspired him. He was not only charmed by the physics presented by Bhabha but also by his charismatic personality. The thought of collaborating with such a remarkable figure excited him. After completing his BSc Honours in physics, due to my grandfather’s influence, he took to law and joined a law school. My grandfather’s practice was thriving, and he felt it was time for the younger generation to step up. My father’s elder brother, the late Chief Justice of the Andhra High Court, Justice Alladi Kuppuswamy, had already enrolled in law. My grandfather had similar aspirations for my father.

Driven by his great respect for my grandfather, my father ventured into the field of law. He did quite well. He earned the gold medal for Hindu law and established a law practice. However, the truth remains that his heart was set on science, not law. While my grandfather was busy with his responsibilities on the drafting committee, my father frequently accompanied him to Delhi in the mid-1940s. This was a period before India’s independence, a time when the British had decided to grant India independence. A Constituent Assembly was formed, and my father would go to Delhi frequently, accompanying my grandfather.

A Proxy and a Twist

During one such visit, my grandfather was extended an invitation to a dinner honouring Homi Bhabha. This invitation came from P.L.Bhatnagar, a renowned scientist. My grandfather, however, confessed to my father that he felt ill-equipped to converse with Homi Bhabha about physics and said, “You have a profound interest in physics. Why don’t you attend the dinner in my place?” So my father attended the dinner.

At the dinner, my father found himself seated in the chair reserved for my grandfather. This placed him right next to Homi Bhabha. A conversation flowed, and Homi Bhabha inquired about my father’s pursuits. My father shared that he had completed his BSc Honours in physics but had since embarked on a journey through law. When Homi Bhabha asked about his future plans, my father frankly expressed his desire to do physics and become Homi Bhabha’s student. He recalled being deeply influenced by Homi Bhabha’s lecture during his days at the Presidency College in Madras.

Grandma Shapes the Future

Homi Bhabha’s response was encouraging. He revealed that he had initiated a cosmic ray unit at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and said, “Why don’t you join me at the cosmic ray unit in Bangalore?” My father immediately said ‘yes,’ but he had to get permission from my grandfather. To handle this delicate situation, he opted to have a conversation with his mother and shared his genuine passion for physics and his reluctance to pursue law, hoping his mother would understand and advocate for his preferred path.

So, my grandmother talked to my grandfather and said, “You’ve succeeded in law, and you have accumulated wealth. Let our son pursue his interest in physics and enjoy his life. Why insist on law?” Her words led my grandfather to relent. The dedication of this book to his mother, even though the story talks about his father’s role prominently is a testament to how his mother’s support paved the way for him to become a physicist.

Solving a Cosmic Problem

Now, comes an interesting story. My father worked with Homi Bhabha at the cosmic ray unit in Bangalore. The term “cosmic rays” pertains to meteoric showers and electron showers that permeate the atmosphere, bifurcating upon entry. Understanding this bifurcation process, its effects, and the broader terrestrial impact formed the crux of the study. Probability theory played a significant role in unravelling these phenomena, as it required assessing the likelihood of specific particle distributions within sections of interest.

Working alongside Homi Bhabha, my father embraced the challenge. Shortly thereafter, Homi Bhabha relocated to Bombay. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was first housed at Kenilworth, in the residence of Homi Bhabha’s aunt. While the structure might appear more modest in comparison to its contemporary appearance, its colonial architecture was similar to my own home. My father accompanied Homi Bhabha to Bombay, and together, they continued their research. A few months later, my father solved the problem by an elegant solution, which he called the “method of product densities.”

He documented his results and without putting his name, gave it to Bhabha. Homi Bhabha said that he had to get the opinion of a mathematician to check the correctness of the derivation. He gave it to Mr. DD Kosambi, a mathematician. Kosambi responded saying that the solution was elegant but there were gaps in the derivation that needed addressing. There the matter ended.

In the meanwhile, my father and Bhabha’s personal assistant Mr. N R Puthran, a south Indian, had become close friends. An unexpected twist emerged a couple of weeks later. One day, Mr. Puthran told my father, “Alladi. You must be very happy to know that Bhabha has given a nice reference to you in a paper he’s written.” My father was surprised and asked if he could see the paper. Mr. Puthran handed over the manuscript that was to be given to the typist. As my father reviewed the paper, he discovered something astounding. The same problem he had tackled was now presented in a much longer form, authored by Homi Bhabha, and employing the basic concepts my father had introduced.

This put my father in an embarrassing situation. Homi Bhabha, was the Head of India’s Atomic Energy Commission and a leader in Indian physics, except perhaps for Sir CV Raman. The question of challenging such an authority was daunting. In the United States, you can fight the establishment. But in India, confronting the establishment is next to impossible. So he could do nothing and tendered his resignation, citing the unsuitability of Bombay’s climate and environment. He boarded a plane and returned to Madras.

An Invite to the UK

Now, he was faced with the task of speaking to my grandfather. This predicament was complicated by my grandfather’s initial desire for my father to pursue law. The next step my father did was to reach out to Professor M S Bartlett of the University of Manchester, a researcher who had worked on similar problems. Within a month, a reply arrived from Bartlett, expressing keen interest in my father’s work. He suggested, “Why not come to the University of Manchester for a PhD?”

With this invitation in hand, my father left on a journey to England, with my mother. During the sea voyage, he substantially expanded upon his method. When he arrived in England, he presented this improved version to Professor Bartlett. Bartlett suggested, “Let me consult a colleague, Professor DG Kendall at Oxford University. His endorsement will seal the deal.” After a week or two, the verdict came: Kendall validated the work’s correctness.  Bartlett declared, “This is your Ph.D. thesis. But you’ll need to be here for two years to meet the residency requirements for a PhD. In the meantime, you can explore other problems.” With this, the path forward became clear.

One Theme, Two Papers

The next step was the publication of the thesis. Bartlett communicated the paper to the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. Now what happened to Homi Bhabha’s paper? As a fellow of the Royal Society, Homi Bhabha enjoyed a privilege: direct communication to the Proceedings of the Royal Society. However, it turned out that there were some mistakes in the long paper—not serious though—that needed to be corrected. By the time Bhabha corrected these, several months had lapsed.

Consequently, both papers emerged independently, nearly simultaneously. My father’s work appeared in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, while Homi Bhabha’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The set of equations they jointly derived is now known as the “Bhabha Ramakrishnan equations.” The method, named the “method of product densities,” remains attributed to my father. Luckily, my father’s paper didn’t trail behind Homi Bhabha’s paper. So, all is well that ends well.

The Madras University Stint

My father returned to Madras, joining the newly established Theoretical Physics department at Madras University. The university was overseen by Vice Chancellor Sir Arcot Lakshmana Swamy Mudaliyar, who managed the institution for 27 years with an iron hand.

My father became the first to develop the theory of probability in Madras. His intellectual aspirations continued, and he nurtured his ties with the international physics community, keen on expanding the frontiers of knowledge. He went to the United States in 1956, as part of an international conference at the University of Rochester. Renowned physicist Robert Marshak organized the event, where my father, despite his focus on probability and stochastic processes, was allowed to take part in the realm of theoretical and high-energy physics.

Meeting Nobel Laureate Chandrasekhar

On the way, he met the eminent astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Chandrasekhar’s ground-breaking work centered on the timing of a star’s collapse once it has depleted its hydrogen reserves or rather when a star reaches its end in an expanded state. According to Chandrasekhar’s findings, a star exceeding 1.4 times the mass of the Sun will inevitably contract until the electron-proton combination ushers in an era of pure neutrons—giving birth to a neutron star, a heavy entity.

However, Chandrasekhar’s early theory, which decades later won him the Nobel Prize, when first proposed in England, was met with scepticism. Sir Arthur Eddington remarked, “Chandra, any star that behaves the way you predict must be crazy.” Thus, the theory did not find immediate recognition in England. So, Chandrasekhar relocated to the United States, where the University of Chicago recognized him and he became a Distinguished Service Professor.

My father’s time in England was spent publishing papers applying probability to astrophysics. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar communicated eight of these papers to the Astrophysical Journal, of which he was the editor. So Chandrasekhar had already known about my father’s works.

Oppenheimer Springs a Surprise

Returning to the conference he attended, one can imagine the feeling of awe that a young researcher, not yet an expert in the field, might experience in the presence of renowned scholars. One day, during lunchtime, my father was seated alone in a corner, holding his tray. The great Robert Oppenheimer, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, who was at the conference, approached him with his own tray and asked my father, “May I join you?”

My father was flabbergasted. Here was a director of extraordinary stature, interacting with a relatively unknown person from the University of Madras. The conversation began, and my father explained his work in astrophysics. Oppenheimer was impressed and inquired about his future aspirations. My father expressed a desire to visit the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a place where Oppenheimer was the Director. With a small notebook in hand, Oppenheimer requested my father’s name and contact information, promising to be in touch. The year was the summer of 1956. By the close of that year, my father received an invitation from Robert Oppenheimer himself to visit the Institute for Advanced Study. This was an unbelievable event. My father went to the Princeton Institute in 1957-58, accompanied by my mother.

I was two years old at that time. As the Princeton winter was too harsh, they left me with my uncle, Justice Alladi Kuppuswamy in Hyderabad, and my parents went to Princeton. My uncle, of course, took very good care of me. Now, in Princeton, my father listened to more than 100 seminars. The way he writes his English is absolutely top class.

Twin Passions

About Oppenheimer, he writes thus: “My first visit with Oppenheimer fulfilled my expectations about this legendary figure who dominated not only American science but influenced the destiny of the world as the architect of the atom bomb. Lean and of medium height, he had an oval head with prominent cheekbones, and piercing eyes. He could pick his men while lighting his pipe, each for the appointed task, according to his talent and inclination, from a Nobel Prize man to a truck driver. He was magnanimous in providing opportunities for young scientists and enjoyed discussions at every seminar where his very presence stimulated creative thought and invited impartial criticism. The Oppenheimer legend is just a record of incredible facts. Born to prosperity in 1904, he was educated at Harvard under Whitehead and Bridgman and took his PhD at 23 in Göttingen, after a preliminary stay at the Cavendish in England. His intellectual interests range from theoretical physics to Hindu philosophy… He understood the whole structure of physics with absolute clarity that one wonders why his creative work was not at the same seminal quality as Paul Dirac or Werner Heisenberg, both Nobel laureates. It is said that he had two passions, physics and the desert. And he got one in the other when he was to undertake at Los Alamos, a task unprecedented in its subject, undefined in scope, unpredictable in its consequences, namely, the creation of the atom bomb.”

An Unwelcome Suggestion

My father came back to Madras, went and told both Mr. Mudaliar as well as the registrar and others, “This syllabus in physics is outdated. We should at least change the syllabus, introduce high energy and modern physics to the M.Sc class.” The resistance to the suggestion was so high that my father was transferred to the then upcoming Madurai University, to start the physics department there instead of being in Madras. He rued that rather than appreciating the knowledge that he brought back from Princeton after listening to 100 seminars, the gift that he got was that he was banished to Madurai University to work there in isolation.

He came back and in the upstairs of our house where there was a big hall, he conducted a theoretical physics seminar. He gave lectures on modern physics to students in that seminar. Many eager students gathered at the seminar. He also invited eminent physicists to his seminar. One such physicist is Professor Abdul Salam of Imperial College, who subsequently won the Nobel Prize.

Niels Bohr’s Legendary Visit  

The next big visitor was Professor Niels Bohr, the father of the theory of the Bohr atom. The whole theory of the atom is based upon Niels Bohr’s structure of the atom. He was a Nobel Laureate. He was visiting India as the guest of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. My father invited Niels Bohr and he agreed. Niels Bohr came to Madras in January 1960. My dad was so proud of his Indian upbringing, that even when he had foreign visitors, he would receive them in a dhoti.

Niels Bohr was a guest of Prime Minister Nehru and was accompanied by a representative of the government. He spent so much time of his talking to my father and his students, much to the discomfort of his accompanying government representative. He finished his tour of India and went back to Delhi to take leave of the Prime Minister.

A Press Conference leads to the PM

At that time, there was a press conference. When asked what impressed him the most about his visit to India, Niels Bohr said, “Two things. The massive setup of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay and a small band of students trained by Aladdi Ramakrishnan in Madras.” That was splashed in the newspapers. So a call came from PM Nehru’s secretary to enquire about what my father was doing. The then education minister Mr C Subramanyam was close to Nehru and he acted as a catalyst and arranged a meeting with Jawaharlal Nehru, when Nehru visited Chennai. 

Nehru met the students of the theoretical physics seminar and a memorable dinner took place. Nehru turned towards my father and asked, “What is it that you really need?” My father said, “I would like to have a new institute in Madras, modelled along the lines of the Institute for Advanced Study for Science.” Nehru asked my dad to send a detailed proposal, which my father had already kept ready. He handed it to Mr C Subramaniam (CS), who passed it on to Nehru.” 

Birth of a Centre of Excellence

Nehru said that he had to consult the leading person on the Indian scientific scene—Homi Bhabha! He referred the matter to Homi Bhabha, and Bhabha’s response was, “Yes, it’s an interesting proposal, but the limited funds of India must not be diluted. Right now we have a Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and we should focus on it.”

So the proposal was doomed. But C Subramaniam fought for it, argued with Nehru and also spoke to Bhabha inviting him to serve on the Board of Governors of the institute. Within two months, the proposal was approved and on 3 January 1962, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences was inaugurated in Madras, at The Presidency College. It was just a miracle that so many things happened. My father gave a famous speech during the inauguration.  

Now, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences is a multi crore project. It is recognized as one of the Homi Bhabha centers. The story of the creation of a leading center of scientific research in India, due to the persistence and pure determination of someone who was proud of his Indian upbringing and of Madras, is a great one, indeed.

Read & Grow: The Power of Questions

Read Time:14 Minute

As part of the ‘Read & Grow’ series, MMA hosted a panel discussion centered around the theme of the book “The Book of Beautiful Questions” authored by Warren Berger. Guiding the conversation was Mr. Sreenivasan Ramprasad, the Director of CADD Centre Training Services. He engaged in dialogue with Dr. Suresh Ramanathan, Dean & Principal of the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, and Mr. Kishalaya Das, the Executive Vice President & Head of Sales for MEA, India, and ASEAN at Intellect Design Arena Ltd.

Mr. Sreenivasan Ramprasad:

“The Book of Beautiful Questions” covers four areas: creativity, leadership, decision-making, and interpersonal skills. There are close to 400 questions in the book. Being an effective leader is not so much about having all the answers as asking the right questions. Questioning is critical to success. It can help you become a better thinker, a better partner, a problem solver, and a great leader. According to the author, a beautiful question is one that causes people to shift their thinking, and it is intended to bring about a change.

Many of us hesitate to ask questions for four reasons. The first is the fear that if I ask a question, people may think that I don’t know anything. The second is the thinking that I already know. The third is my own biases. And finally, I don’t have time to ask questions. These are the four enemies of asking questions. If you want to ask questions, ask the questions to yourself first. For example: Am I comfortable raising questions with no immediate answers? Am I willing to move away from what I know? Am I open to admitting I might be wrong?

The typical traps of questioning are the fear of the unknown, the tendency to focus on the wrong information, confidence in our own forecasts, and the inclination to favour information that confirms our pre-existing notions. The author compares a soldier and a scout. A soldier has a mindset of defence while a scout always seeks out to explore and discover.

Myths on Creativity

The notion that creativity must come from completely original ideas or sources is a myth, says the author. As a prime example, in 2000, Steve Jobs combined the elements of a cell phone, BlackBerry, camera, and iPod into a highly original combo package and came out with the iPhone. That’s creativity. To have good relationships with people, instead of asking people, ‘How are you?’ we can ask questions like, “What’s the best thing that happened to you today? What are you excited about in your life right now? What are you most passionate about? What problem do you wish you could solve? What did you want to be when you were growing up? What would constitute a perfect day for you?”

Listening Skills

A great questioner must have great listening skills. If you’re just hearing and not listening, the relationship doesn’t move forward. We are also quick to criticize people. Before you criticize someone, ask yourself these questions: “What’s motivating this critical urge? How am I guilty of the thing I’m criticizing? How would I react if someone said something similar to me? What positive result do I hope will come from saying this? Am I deriving pleasure from criticizing?”

A leader must ask questions like, “What do I want to lead? Why do I want to lead this? What do I want to achieve from it? Why would others want me to lead them? Am I willing to step back in order to help others move forward, or am I just looking at myself? Do I have the confidence to be humble? Can I learn to keep learning? Do I seek to create an organization in my own image?”

Finally, the author says that questioning plus action can lead to change (Q+A=C), and questioning minus action equals philosophy (Q-A=P).

Questions Changed Him

I’d like to narrate a personal story that happened in my career. It was probably in the early 2000s. We had recruited a salesperson and posted him in Bombay. Three months down the line, we couldn’t see any results from him. We were in a dilemma whether to continue with the person or let him go. But we wanted to give him a chance. So I took him and went around meeting clients.

During the meeting, I asked a lot of questions to my potential buyers. At the end of the tour, he asked me, “Are we allowed to ask questions to buyers?” I said, “Why not? What’s wrong in asking questions? If you ask questions, you can understand somebody better.” That changed him, and he said, “Please give me a month’s time.” He changed the methodology and started producing results. He’s now one of the regional directors in one of the leading companies in Bombay today. Questions can change your career.

Dr. Suresh Ramanathan: As an academic, I always ask questions. All the research that I do is based on the questions that we ask. But sometimes, we tend to have certain preconceived notions about a problem or a phenomenon that is happening in life. We may suffer from confirmation bias. But being aware that we have those biases certainly helps to reimagine the things that we do and the frameworks that we apply.

Having said that, I feel that the author also has a bias when he says that decision-making with a gut feeling is not right. We have what is called system one and system two thinking. System two thinking is the more conscious, careful, logical mind system. System one is the quick, intuitive gut feel kind of mind.

Mr. Kishalaya Das: There are four things which I took away from the book. The first is asking questions. As I am in sales, it comes naturally to me. The second thing is the importance of asking the right questions. The right questions must yield a desired response, which will help you to either sharpen your knowledge or your team’s knowledge. The most difficult part in our knowledge-based industry is the knowledge or expert mindset. I work for a FinTech company where technology is changing by the day. I’m only as good as my knowledge today. If I don’t upgrade tomorrow, I’m useless.

The third, when you ask questions in a public forum, be it a meeting or a gathering, you get visibility. Visibility is not just about written communication. It’s also about establishing yourself as a person who has an independent thinking process. Fourth, for us, designing is very important. We need to have the concept of design thinking. When we design anything, a lot of planning goes into it.  We learn from the mistakes or good things that people have done. Spotting patterns and anti-patterns is a vital part of design. We cannot do that until we ask questions. We have to ask questions to practitioners and academicians.

Mr Ramprasad: Which section of the book resonated more with you?

Mr Kishalaya Das: The questions about sparking creativity struck me. I’m an engineer and I think straight, like most engineers who can’t observe different patterns. I always believed that creativity is a difficult concept for me. Now I understand that creativity is not about thinking of different things but about being able to crystallize simple things and making them better. Creativity can be in any field. Even when you’re cooking, you can have creativity and come out with new cuisines.

In our industry, creativity is nothing but innovation. If we don’t innovate, we are out of the business. The Nokia moment can happen to us. Nokia was the world leader in communication, making phones as well as mobile communication towers. They were so happy with what they were doing and kept launching the same kinds of products with minor changes. When the iPhone came, half of the Nokia factories were shut.

The important part of creativity is that you have to nail the idea down and then execute it. When you do that, you achieve success. In the corporate world, there is no philosophy. It’s all about turning ideas into actions and results.

Dr. Suresh: What appealed to me is the question, “What is your tennis ball?” which is finding your passion. It took me a long time to discover that my tennis ball is research and academics. That’s what really excites me. I worked in the industry for 10 years in sales and advertising. We launched MTV in India. But at the end of it all, my passion or my tennis ball is research. It is digging deep into problems, asking questions, and sometimes finding counterintuitive answers, which lead you to question the assumptions that you made.

We talked about the iPhone and Nokia examples. I’m reminded of another example which is the story of Motorola. Back in 1998, there was an executive who was on a cruise ship somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and was not able to reach his office. He came up with the idea of sending a bunch of satellites into space, from where you could get a signal and you can receive it on a satellite phone. They thought it was a big idea and invested something like $4 billion into this venture. To break even, they needed to sell half a million handsets. The phone cost $3,000 and the cost per call was $8 a minute. Guess what? They sold in the first year, barely 10,000. They had creativity but perhaps didn’t ask the right question, which was, “Will people have a use for this product?”

Mr Ramprasad: Asking questions is an integral part of building relationships. If you need to understand your clients, the only way to go about it is not assuming what they want but validating your assumption by asking meaningful and insightful questions. During my sales programs, I focus on questioning skills, which is one of the key skills of a salesperson. Now, how easy or difficult do you think it is to ask questions?

Dr. Suresh: I can go to a classroom and talk for three hours without having any problem based on what I already know, but what really excites me is when one person in the classroom asks me a question that forces me to think and come out of my comfort zone.

Mr Kishalaya Das: I recommend a 5C Question framework to my sales team. The first is curious questions. The second is comforting questions. The third is challenging questions. The fourth is confronting questions, and the last is collaborating questions.

We are in B2B sales. We sell to banks. We will largely be selling to the business owners in the bank. To first understand what they’re looking for, you should start with curious questions. I never go and start with a pitch. Based on the response, you can formulate a strategy in your mind and pose some comforting questions. Then you change your track to ask some challenging questions, like, “You’re making 100 bucks today? What do you need to do to make 200 bucks?”

These challenging questions will get the person to think about what he wants to get out of his own role. Then you ask confronting questions, and that is when you get the elephant out of the door. These are questions like, “What are the problems that you are grappling with?” It’s healthy to have disagreements, because the moment you have disagreements, the other person will start respecting you. If you nod ‘yes’ to everything, you will lose respect. Once you gain respect, you’re proposing to a partner. It is then that you ask collaborative questions like, “Can we work on it together?”

Mr Ramprasad: What is your view on the current generation with respect to asking questions?

Dr. Suresh: The current generation is certainly very curious. They have a natural, innate curiosity. It needs to be channelled because it can go in many directions. They are willing to question the status quo and the assumptions. I remember growing up, I had only two choices: getting into either engineering or medicine. Today, there are far more options. It is important for this generation to constantly seek and be a scout. I often tell my students that they are a potato in a sack full of potatoes and they should strive to be different. Our educational system unfortunately breeds mediocrity. We have exams that basically test the same things over and over. The current generation must explore a lot, and those in the present generation must encourage that. There is so much potential with the youngsters and they can go places that we could never have dreamt up.

Mr Kishalaya Das: I started my career in the mid ’90s, working for a firm in Bangalore. We were like a regiment of soldiers, listening only to what the team leader said. The first thing the present generation asks is, “Why do I need to do this? What is the advantage of doing it?” That’s the good thing about them. Our education system is also changing. But the important thing is to assimilate the knowledge gained through questions and utilize it to make it better for themselves, for the people around them, and for their companies.

Mr Ramprasad: When you ask questions to them, how do they respond?

Dr. Suresh: Before asking questions, I must create a collaborative atmosphere that doesn’t intimidate people, particularly when you have a power relationship. I tell my students not to be afraid to even say what I’m saying is rubbish.

Q&A Session

Q: How can we improve listening skills?

Dr. Suresh: When you have conversations, you must strike the right cadence and take turns to listen and speak. If one person dominates, the other person becomes edgy and that becomes a problem. But the bigger question is, can you develop empathy while listening? Empathy is a deep-rooted feeling that people have deep inside the brain which occurs as a result of the mirror neurons that get activated. When we see someone smiling, that smile rubs off on us automatically. It’s called emotional contagion and it happens because of the mirror neurons.

Q: What are the strategies we can follow for making group decisions effectively and collaboratively?

Mr Kishalaya Das: When you start discussing in a group, look for patterns and anti-patterns. First, the problem statement must be clearly put up. Sometimes we try to solve problems without having an end goal in mind. Create a culture of openness to have a collaborative environment across the organization. Finally, the leader has to stand up and sign on the strategy.

Q: What role does curiosity play in leadership development and decision-making?

Mr Kishalaya Das: Decision-making will become easy if we are clear about the outcome that we want to achieve and for which, we need curiosity. Leadership is a management style. Not all leaders are the same. There are people who are very brash and don’t listen to anybody else. But, for the end goal to be achieved, you must follow a transparent and open process.

Dr. Suresh: Curiosity may or may not lead you to solutions but will leave you with many options that you might otherwise not have considered. From a decision-making standpoint, that leads to more complications because you have more options. But the fact that you have many options on your plate can ensure that you have better chances of getting the right answers or solutions.

Q: How can we overcome analysis paralysis?

Mr Kishalaya Das: Asking lots of questions and taking no action can become a waste of time. As a leader, you need to find out the right context and the right evidence to take a decision.

Q: How can questioning the assumptions lead to more innovative and original ideas?

Dr. Suresh: Let me give an example from my own life. I was a professor in Texas. I had a secure job and could have been there for the rest of my life. The assumption I was making at that time was that I don’t need to do anything and my life is well established. Then one fine day, I questioned that assumption. I gave up my tenure and came back to India to take up a job at Great Lakes. Here everything was completely different but I found my passion. When you question the assumptions that you’re making, something else can magically open up for you.

Q: Are there any cultural or social barriers to asking questions that we should be aware of?

Mr Kishalaya Das: Yes. India is multicultural. North India and South India are culturally quite different. Today, there is a sense of openness, but it’s important to know cultural nuances. For example, in Japan, you can ask tough questions, but you have to be extremely polite in asking them. In the US, you can be straight to the point. In Europe, courteousness would help, but you can be direct. We do a lot of cultural training if somebody goes on-site, so that there is cultural alignment. People should be aware of the do’s and don’ts in their geographic and cultural domain.

Mid-Life Career Challenges for Women

Read Time:17 Minute

Women at some point feel the need to take a break from their career to manage their family. Stepping back is simple. However, returning to the workforce is fraught with many complications. Some of these are systemic. Individual concerns such as a feeling of irrelevance and lack of confidence or readiness to return to work, a break in the learning curve, feeling ‘left-behind’ etc. play an equal role in preventing women from re-joining the work force. So what are the options she may have to rejoin work? How can she go about navigating these? Some important perspectives are shared by Dr Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy, Area Chair Marketing Head – Center for Women’s Leadership, Great Lakes Institute of Management.

I graduated from IIM-A in 1994. I worked in FMCG marketing and sales companies for 15 years. Around 2009, I started feeling the pangs of not being able to do justice to my own role as a mother and to my role as the head of marketing in the organization I was working in. I used to travel a lot, maybe 12 to 15 days a month. My son was hardly five to six years old. I felt that I was shortchanging his needs and putting my needs over his, because he could not have negotiating power or talk back. I thought I was taking advantage of that. Somewhere, I began to feel, “What’s the point in becoming a managing director at 40 if your son is not going to get enough of your time?”

A Break and a New Path

This began to gnaw at me for a couple of years. Then on January 30, 2009, I finally decided to take a break, without understanding or figuring out what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my professional career. I was hardly 36 at that time. I realized that it had to be something that would take forward my experience gathered till then. However, I wanted it on my own terms from a time point of view, because I realized that flexibility is very important for me. I stumbled upon IIT Madras, which was close to my house. I met the Chair Professor in Marketing and I told him my situation. He invited me for a brand management lecture, which I took based on my Nippon Paints experience. The lecture went very well because I used a lot of real-life examples. Students love to hear real-life examples from the industry.

After that, we had a chat, and he suggested that I might consider academics as a career. I was not fully convinced because I thought I had finished my share of academics after IIMA, and I was not looking at doing a PhD or anything. I said, ‘Let me come back.’ Then I travelled across the country and met a few people from different walks of life who had spent about 15 to 20 years in the corporate world before switching to the second part of their professional lives. Our generation had the luxury of having multiple careers thanks to the liberalization and opening of the economy in the 90s.

I met people who had become entrepreneurs and social workers, those who got back to childhood passions and those who took to academia or even politics after a corporate stint. I met about 15 people across the country and started taking notes. I realized that there is not much formal material available on the subject of mid-life career choices. I interviewed them. The story of Dr. Raju Ramasamy, who was then the Dean of Anna University, struck a chord with me because he had worked for 22 years in Railways. He went on to do his PhD at the age of 48 and then shifted to academia. As I spoke to him, academia began to appeal to me for a range of reasons.

It allowed me to take forward what I had learned so far and share it with the younger generation. It was probably less hectic in terms of travel, and I didn’t have to work long hours. Even if I did work long hours, it was more on my terms. There was no nine-to-five commitment. So I went back to my IIT Madras professor, and I told him that I was ready for it. I enrolled in a PhD program in 2010 and finished my PhD in 2014. I did my visiting faculty stint across a few IIMs during my PhD days as I didn’t want to waste the corporate experience that I had picked up. In 2015, I joined XLRI as a full-time faculty where I taught for a couple of years. For the last six years, I’ve been with Great Lakes as a Marketing faculty. This is my journey.

Research Findings on Mid-life Career Challenges

I also wanted to delve into the subject of mid-life career choices from a research point of view. I have distilled my learnings, both as a professional and as a trainer. I used to conduct leadership workshops for middle management women at XLRI for Reliance Group’s middle and top management.

We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly. After receiving similar levels of education, whether it’s from Harvard Business School or Great Lakes, eight to 10 years after graduating from B-school, women just seem to disappear from the workforce. As a result, very few are available for top management leadership. Only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women; just 15% of board seats are occupied by women, and 14% of executive officers are women. Obviously, there is a talent crunch in terms of women’s representation. It is not because of their qualification or competence. It is just that the conditioning and life journey seem to be not very favourable to women continuing with their careers.

According to research, 47% of women take a career break at least once, and 70% never return to work. It is not only a loss for her and her family. It’s a loss for her children because a working woman is a terrific role model for children. It’s also a loss for the nation and the economy.

Reaching the Top

What can women do differently to continue their careers and reach the top? Mid-life is also the time when there are some peculiarities in a woman’s life. She has to deal with her biological clock versus her career clock, and a conflict arises. She is also expected to become a mother, and the baby probably needs her a lot more. That’s also the time when you have to ramp up your energy and presence at the workplace. There are more personal stakeholders in your life. You’re probably married in your mid or late 30s. You have a spouse, in-laws, and children, which also means you’re playing multiple primary caretaker roles.

Society is still tilted towards mothers being primarily responsible for ensuring that there is fresh food on the table or for their primary nurturing role in raising kids or taking care of aged and sick in-laws. The spouse may contribute, but the primary expectation is still from the lady, no matter how talented or accomplished she may be.

The Kaleidoscopic Career Model

The Kaleidoscopic career model is very interesting. It researched men and women who have looked at their careers longitudinally, over a few decades. They found that there is a clear difference between how a woman manages her career lifetime versus men. A woman starts off taking up challenging roles, just like men do. Somewhere around mid-life, a woman wants to balance multiple roles. In her later career stage, she seeks authenticity, which is figuring out what she can excel at and make a mark for herself in her life. However, for men, it is the other way around. They may start off with challenging role-seeking and then, around mid-life, they first seek authenticity and then balance.

There is nothing right or wrong about it. Probably, it has been wired that way. If you’re able to understand it and complement each other’s roles well in your life, then you can find great support from your working spouse. Mid-life is also the time when we start defining what career success means to us. The organization is not going to chart out a career path for very unique cases. It is probably male-centric because there are far higher numbers of men, and therefore the policies are all made with them in mind. Is a male lens even relevant for me to define my career success? All of this leads to you taking far more ownership of your own career, rather than leaving it to HR people.

Aspiration Deficit

When you seek answers to these simple yet difficult questions, there aren’t enough role models, especially senior women mentors in the organization. This results in what is called an aspiration deficit. It means many women simply give up. For them to negotiate, understand, become aware, and upskill themselves becomes quite tedious, especially if they do not have a supportive spouse or a supportive ecosystem at home. They are then considered those who lack ambition, which is a little ironic because if they had a strong support system, they would probably excel and perform better at the workplace.

This is our DNA helix model, which is a favourite of mine. Over time, a woman plays multiple roles, moving between one role and the other, across various situations. On the other hand, if you look at a man’s career, most of the time, it follows a linear trajectory over time. There’s a chance that he will reach a leadership position, if he works systematically at it.

Why is women’s representation in the workplace needed? If organizations are performing well without women, should we even worry? Yes, we should worry for a variety of reasons.

Women make up 50% of the population and are highly qualified, talented, live longer, and accumulate wealth. This means they are increasingly decision-makers at the household level. If you don’t represent them in the workforce, you are missing crucial insights from a decision-maker’s point of view.

We find very few women at the top. They bring diversity of thinking in style and action. Men and women have complementary skills that need to be harnessed together for the long-term growth of any organization. Several studies by leading companies like Catalyst and McKinsey have shown that women’s representation on boards leads to improved financial parameters like return on equity, profit margin, return on investment, higher operating results, and stronger stock price growth. Furthermore, companies have reported fewer bankruptcies, better corporate governance and ethical behavior, more competence in self-development, and integrity. So there is a clear business case for women to be represented at higher levels in the workforce.

Performance in 9 Dimensions

A study was conducted among two sets of organizations. One set had no women in top management, and the second set had three or more women in top management. The goal was to assess the company’s effectiveness across nine organizational dimensions. This was done with a sample of 58,000 people. Companies with women in top management returned better results in capability, leadership, external orientation, motivation, accountability, coordination and control, innovation, direction, work environment, and values. If this doesn’t emphasize the need for more women, what else would?

However, strong external conditioning still exists, and mothers are still expected to bring up children. Career-oriented women are not looked upon favourably. When you get married and have children, you’re expected to stay at home and raise them. If the child does not do well, the mother is blamed. The second thing is our own higher ownership of the role of a mother, and therefore going to any extent to fulfill that.

Altering Brain Conditioning

Is there any difference in brain anatomy between male and female children? There is a book written by Dr. Payal Kumar – “Unveiling Women’s Leadership.” The author claims that the human brain is not fixed but alters through experience and training. The brains of male and female babies have equal structure and patterns, but by the time they reach 20, social conditioning considerably alters everything. There is gender role conditioning, like car driving is for men, baby girls are given pink colour toys, or boys are expected to handle electrical work at home. So much role gendering is at play.

What can women do to alter brain conditioning? First of all, you need to have great cognitive clarity. You need to be around people who have a vision of holistic success with rationale, and more importantly, you must accept the trade-offs that you may have to make. Many women struggle with making trade-offs. The second is focused imagination. Train yourself to see pathways to success in your organization, in the organization you dream of joining, and in the role you want to acquire. Talk to people about it, maybe external mentors and support groups.

You must understand and accept that this is not only your problem but an institutional problem and a nation’s problem. Don’t shy away from seeking mentors. They don’t have to be senior people or women working in your organization. They could be mentors outside your organization or in forums like the MMA Women Business Forum. Seek senior individuals with experience in dealing with such issues who can provide proper counselling and guidance.

Barriers to the Top

Another piece of research was conducted among two different samples – female executives and CEOs, on what prevents women from advancing to corporate leadership. Many times women adopt a victim mindset, which doesn’t help their cause. We are often biased in looking at our own situation in a certain way, whereas the world might not view it that way. In the study, female CEOs felt that lack of significant general management experience or line experience impedes women from advancing to corporate leadership. That’s a significant takeaway.

Women not in the pipeline long enough is another finding. Companies say, “We want women leaders, but where are they? They simply disappear. If only they discussed their problems more and wanted to work through them, something could be done.” Many female executives feel that male stereotyping is a big reason why they’re not advancing to corporate leadership. But female CEOs don’t think this is the reason. There is a clear disconnect here.

Exclusion from informal networks: In many corporates, there is a lot of informal networking that happens after working hours. Women feel they cannot be part of it due to family reasons, personal time, etc. They may get excluded from key decisions that organizations make.

Inhospitable corporate culture: Many women feel that the level of ambition and aggression is too much for them to handle. It’s important for women to understand what CEOs expect from women executives who want to advance to leadership positions. They are looking for significant general management, broad-based knowledge, and the ability to persevere.

Tougher Barometer

There is research on the career strategies required for women to break the glass ceiling. Women have to consistently exceed performance expectations. This barometer is often tougher for women than for men. Women start with an inherent bias from some leadership quarters that they will give up when things get tough. They may have a backup or a family that is the primary breadwinner, and they are perceived as unwilling to stretch themselves. So it is essential for women to exceed performance expectations to demonstrate their commitment.

Second is developing a style that men are comfortable with. This was surprising to me. I have mostly worked in sales and marketing, which are very male-dominated fields. In FMCG and technology companies where I worked, women were always in the minority. But it’s important for men to see you as one of them. Don’t draw attention to your gender presence.

The third is taking on difficult and high-visibility assignments. These are often called glass cliff assignments, tough assignments given to women to test if they’ll succeed or not. These are challenging even for men, but women need to prove themselves in them to advance to higher leadership positions. Networking with influential colleagues, initiating discussions about career aspirations, developing leadership outside the office, and goal setting are some other factors.

Many of these strategies overlap with what men need to do to advance, but the extent to which women need to do them is often much higher. Women often need to prove that they have serious intentions about their career growth.

The Inspiring Sisters

All of us are aware of Indra Nooyi and Chandrika Tandon, sisters who’ve done well for themselves. Indra Nooyi was a global CEO of PepsiCo, and Chandrika Tandon is the Chairperson of ‘Tandon Capital Associates’ and was a senior partner at McKinsey. They believe that setting a clear goal is a starting point. Many of us don’t do that. We take things as they come, and we’re satisfied with whatever results that follow.

It’s important for women as they advance to raise other women below them. Nobody will understand the situation as much as you do. Take ownership of your career, especially the long stints, which are really your babies. No HR department or organization will understand your nuanced life situation well enough to put together a career strategy for you. Also, be aware of what’s happening around you.

Double Bind

There is a term called “double bind.” Women have a need to be liked, and they also want to be assertive. Men don’t care whether they’re liked or not. This is unique to women. You have to be aware of this. Are you making decisions because you want to be liked? Are you becoming emotional? Are you not asserting your point strongly enough? Are you falling into the trap of wanting to be liked?

Many organizations exhibit tokenism. They hire women leaders to show that they value diversity. Many times, women find themselves under extraordinary scrutiny. This can lead them to overperform or underperform, with tough trade-offs. You can’t have it all at the same time. You may achieve everything over time. So you need to understand the trade-offs you must make.

Confidence Gap

Women often suffer from a confidence gap, regardless of their qualifications or competence. Men who are 75% to 80% qualified may apply for a job with confidence, while a woman who’s 95% qualified might hesitate before applying. Women are often self-critical. They think twice before seeking a promotion or a pay raise. This doesn’t come naturally to them. Women should work on these aspects. They should broaden their business knowledge and not limit themselves to technical know-how.

Looking back, whether taking a break to be with my child, figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, or writing a book, I realize that everything adds up. You need to ask for help. We are often bad at this. In the last 10 years, I have consciously surrounded myself and befriended senior women I respect and asked for advice. Be adaptable. Play multiple roles in varying hierarchies and different locations. When you enter a new role, it’s like starting a new career. You cannot compare yourself with someone who has been doing it for 15 to 20 years. So be kind to yourself.

Give Time to Bloom

Also, try part-time work before committing to something full-time. Before entering academia, I was a visiting faculty and gave guest lectures. If someone wants to get into full-time social work, I would strongly advise them to engage in community work on weekends to see if it suits them. Never lose sight of your ambition. The timing of what you want to achieve might not be in your hands, but you need to persevere. Resilience and optimism are key. If you have these qualities, you will find your way.

Ela Bhatt, the founder of SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association), says that feminine leadership is what the world needs today. She refers to Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence and advocates an approach where organizational growth is based on values, not just hard goals. Inclusivity, not divisiveness, should be promoted. It’s not about favouring a few at the cost of others. Look at the collective aspirations of individuals and don’t set benchmarks for the institution based solely on your own benchmarks. Be open-ended about time. A long-term collaborative network doesn’t operate on the timelines we desire. A butterfly becomes beautiful in its own time. So give it the time it needs. This promotes peace and collaboration over harsh competition. Women have innate strengths. Build on them instead of trying to mimic others. Being yourself is the way to succeed.

Making sense of data protection, economy, youth & a lot more

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After nearly a decade of deliberation on data protection, the Parliament has passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023. This Bill signals the onset of a new era in India’s digital journey, one that recognizes the value and centrality of personal data in today’s globally interconnected digital economy. The interests of individuals and governance have been addressed through various provisions. And businesses need to urgently establish elaborate data systems for compliance with the provisions of this law.

Policy-making is a complex endeavour. Laws must accommodate diverse views from disparate constituencies, and it’s not fair to hold it against them if our own views were not fully considered in the process. Now that the Bill has been passed, we must contend with it. Rather than lamenting missed opportunities, I would rather focus on all that needs to be done now. We have eagerly awaited the enactment of this law for over a decade. Numerous conclaves were held at MMA to discuss the Bill and its outcomes. Now that the Bill is upon us, the magnitude of work that remains for everyone to undertake is huge indeed. In this context, MMA organized a seminar on the theme “Decoding Data Protection Act 2023” on August 24th, 2023, in association with FDPPI. Several experts from all over India shared their insights on the Bill and the way forward for its effective implementation. I am delighted to present an article on this as the cover story. Read the article and watch the video for more information…

Can India become the world’s third-largest economy?

The Prime Minister recently stated that India will become the world’s third-largest economy in the next few years. While it is almost certain that India will become the fourth-largest economy before 2029, attaining the third position may not be as straightforward. Based on GDP at constant prices, India’s economy totalled $2.95 trillion in 2022. This places India as the sixth-largest economy globally, trailing behind the United States, China, Japan, Germany, and the UK. Given the current state of the British economy, India is likely to surpass it in 2024, potentially becoming a larger economy than Germany by 2029. However, overtaking Japan, which holds the third-largest economy position today, will be challenging. It is more realistic to anticipate that we will surpass Japan by 2030.

Amidst this buzz, it’s crucial to remember that per capita income, or the average income of an individual Indian, holds significant importance. In 2022, India’s per capita income stood at $2085, in stark contrast to the UK’s per capita income of $47232. This metric deserves greater attention if the goal is to accurately depict the prevailing economic landscape. The UK’s economic output, which is nearly comparable to India’s, is distributed among a smaller population, resulting in a notably better economic situation for the average British citizen compared to their Indian counterpart. This fact invites thoughtful consideration.

India’s century & its youth

Being a young person in India is a fortunate prospect now as the country enters a new era of unprecedented opportunities. India has achieved the distinction of housing 108 “unicorn” companies, ranking third globally after the US and China. Over the past decade, the average investment size has nearly quadrupled, and revenue-based valuations have more than doubled. The value attributed to ground breaking ideas has reached unparalleled heights. However, this surge in growth has experienced a recent deceleration.

According to Venture Intelligence, both the number of deals and the amount invested have witnessed declines of 60% and 79%, respectively. This trend can be attributed to several factors, including companies failing to meet expectations and fluctuations in valuations due to exposure to public markets. Many investors are now exercising caution, preserving their resources for insiders’ rounds to weather potential market shifts. A crucial aspect of addressing this situation is through enhanced governance practices, which can facilitate sustained capital influx into our start-ups ecosystem. The cultivation of a culture characterized by accountability, ethical behaviour, and transparency is now of paramount importance.

A remarkable facet of India is its capacity to learn from past mistakes. Instead of relying solely on external regulations, it would be more impactful for founders and investors to proactively uphold higher standards. Entrepreneurs must acknowledge that sound governance is as pivotal as having a robust business model and a considerable market share. Investors, on their part, should demand transparency, accountability, and the establishment of independent boards. After all, a company’s reputation is only as sound as the reputation of its leaders.

In this context, the MMA is facilitating a series of discussions on the theme “Start-up India: Opportunities and Excitement.” We are inviting successful entrepreneurs to share their insights for the benefit of startups, investors, and our members. You can watch these discussions online or participate in person at the MMA Management Centre.

The Chandrayaan triumph

India has achieved an extraordinary feat by successfully executing a soft landing on the surface of the Moon. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) orchestrated a meticulously planned landing near the Moon’s South Pole, delicately slowing down the lander to ensure a gentle touchdown. This landing site, known as the “Dark Point,” has long been suspected of harbouring secrets that only a direct exploration could unveil. The ISRO scientists undoubtedly deserve the highest commendation for accomplishing this challenging journey. Their achievement stands as a testament to how determination, hard work, and perseverance can transform failure into success. In this regard, one is reminded of the timeless fable of the hare (Russia’s Luna-25) and the tortoise (Chandrayaan-3), where India’s steady and determined approach emerged victorious.

Following this lunar triumph, ISRO is now directing its attention towards the Sun. India’s inaugural solar mission, Aditya L1, is set to launch later this week. The mission holds paramount importance in the study of the Sun. Despite being 150 million km away from Earth, the Sun is our nearest star, radiating intense energy crucial for our planet. The Sun also frequently exhibits eruptive phenomena like coronal mass ejections. Variations in space weather resulting from such events can impact satellites and other space assets. Early warnings of these disturbances can enable timely preventive actions. Additionally, the Sun serves as a natural laboratory for investigating extreme thermal and magnetic phenomena that cannot be replicated on Earth.

We extend our best wishes to ISRO for their forthcoming solar mission, Aditya L1. Their pursuit not only exemplifies India’s commitment to space exploration but also underscores the country’s place in harnessing the potential of the Sun for scientific advancement.

ESG Rules

The freshly introduced regulations surrounding ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) disclosures, set forth by market regulators, are undeniably stringent. These regulations, although demanding, represent a significant step in the right direction and are imperative for aligning with global standards. The journey ahead for companies will require considerable guidance and knowledge sharing. Ultimately, these meticulous disclosures by companies will serve to meet the expectations of international investors.

In this context, MMA is gearing up for its Annual Management Students Convention, centered around the theme “Innovate for a Responsible Tomorrow.”

The event aims to gather a constellation of experts who will share their insights into diverse aspects of ESG, including Sustainable Growth, Leadership for Inclusive Success, and Eco-Conscious Business Strategies. The Convention is scheduled to take place on October 4th, 2023, at the IIT Research Park Auditorium. We invite you to mark your calendars and join us in watching the proceedings live.

Conclave on CSR

Despite their substantial CSR potential, Indian firms’ expenditure on Corporate Social Responsibility remained stagnant in 21-22. The aggregate CSR spending of 1205 listed firms, mandated by law, amounted to 14,801 crore rupees. This considerable sum, pooled within the CSR funds, demands judicious utilization by both corporations and stakeholders.

The central aim of this conclave is to cultivate awareness among all stakeholders in the CSR landscape regarding the underlying purpose and intricacies of the CSR Legislation enacted by the government. Our objective is to identify avenues through which Social Entrepreneurs can harness CSR to propel their ventures, thereby fostering adherence to legal requirements and motivating companies to execute projects aligned with their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) objectives.

Moreover, the conclave sought to shed light on appropriate accounting methodologies for non-profit entities and spotlight pertinent case studies illustrating successful CSR implementations. By undertaking these efforts, our intent is to cultivate an environment conducive to effective CSR execution while establishing robust frameworks for its implementation.

In this context, the MMA organized a conclave under the theme “Ten Years of CSR” on August 19th, 2023, at the MMA Management Centre. An in-depth article on this subject is featured in this edition for your perusal. Additionally, the entire conclave can be viewed on YouTube here.

CavinKare-MMA Chinnikrishnan Innovation Award 2023

Mr. Chinnikrishnan sparked the “Sachet Revolution,” envisioning that the joys of the rich should also be accessible to the common man. In a befitting tribute to his legacy, the CavinKare-MMA Chinnikrishnan Innovation Awards stand as a jubilation of innovation in India.

This year marked a pivotal change as the awards embraced a fully digital approach to engage with innovators across India. Through dynamic campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, we successfully reached a wide spectrum of innovators. The outcomes exceeded our expectations, amassing an impressive 65 lakh impressions and engaging over 40 lakh individuals. We’re especially thrilled by the participation of numerous startups in the realm of green technology, showcasing innovations that are both timely and relevant.

Following rigorous deliberation by a distinguished panel of jurors, three exceptional innovations have been chosen to receive the awards. The grand award ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, September 16th, 2023, at the IIT Madras Research Park Auditorium. The event underscores the vital importance of a dedicated emphasis on innovation to democratize products and services. We invite you to join us in championing this spirit of innovation. Mark your calendar to either be present at the celebratory event or tune in and watch the proceedings live.

We urge you to constantly send in your feedback—positive ones as well as criticisms, both are equally important inputs in enabling us to get better at what we do.

As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments and suggestions.

Happy reading!

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