March - April 2002   
  Vol. 2 No.2   
 
Know Your Founders Oddities, Eccentricities, Etc. Of Enduring Interest Corporate Commentary Back to Main Page Editorial


Ch.

EK.


How did you manage to adjust from Computer Services to Management Services, two totally different portfolios?
Introduction of Computer in Godrej in 1971-?2 almost coincided with the turbulence on the labour front starting from 1972. There used to be regular discussions on labour matters. The liability had to be worked out with respect to additional load of new Settlement, ever increasing DA, Bonus, amount of subsidies to be given to employees, Employee Cost as a percentage of turnover, comparative analysis with other organisations in the Industry, etc. Shri Naoroji always used to involve me in meetings, where these issues were debated and discussed. Even Shri Kerse Naoroji used to take me along every time there was a union meeting connected with some labour dispute, with the result that I knew the basis as to how these matters are to be dealt with, how M/s Naoroji and Kerse would handle these troublesome issues. Even if I went wrong in my approach and/or calculations, M/s Naoroji and Kerse would guide me and give their full backing and support. That provided me with a smooth changeover from Computer Services to Management Services.

 

Ch.

EK.

I feel that the bonds of loyalty between employees and management that used to be there in Godrej are no longer. Why?
The Directors felt that when the Company was giving high wages to its employees, it should continue to employ only those who had cleared minimum SSC qualification at worker level and graduation at staff level.

The Directors also felt that since the Company goes on giving jobs to the first, second, third member of the same family; one family was getting more jobs rather than more families getting jobs in Godrej. Accordingly, the change was introduced from the year 1989-?0 such that only one next of kith and kin of the employee will be absorbed in employment subject to minimum qualifications stated above.

 

Ch.

EK.

Naoroji as well as Kerse were always for the employees, weren’t they?
The Founders and the family now for more than a century have always been for the employees. The mandate given to me by the Board had the dictate that when in doubt, the benefit of doubt should always weigh in favour of employees.

 

Ch.
EK.

How have employees reacted to recent restrictions?
Employees feel that the Company is not following the traditions established by the founders. They are feeling the pinch of erosion in all the facilities and subsidies they enjoyed in the past. What they refuse to understand is that the company in today’s situation is not in a healthy state to subsidise the said facilities. The subsidies amount every year works out to over Rs.10 crores. These subsidies were given in the earlier days when the monthly emoluments were very low. Today the employee cost has escalated to over 22 per cent of our sales volume of production when Industry average is between 10 per cent and 12 per cent. Today the issue before the Industry is to retain the jobs of the existing work force and ensure their employability.

 

Ch.




EK.

You have passed through good and bad times in Godrej. What are your suggestions to all Godrej employees to enable them to manage change? You kindly presented me with a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese??by Dr. Spencer Johnson. Has this thought-provoking book been distributed widely among our staff?
It is to be understood that the Company is passing through difficult times and going through many changes in the organisation set-up. It is imperative for us to use our thinking power, make a choice and then act or pro-act from the luminous state of consciousness of our mind and not just to react. Reactions come from the sub-conscious mind. We have so many pleasant and unpleasant memories. As we pause to think, our conscious mind will bring out positive vibrations. We need to be energy providers and pass on the positive energy to everybody around us. We need to remind ourselves that we are all human beings by choice and not by chance. We are spiritual beings with human face endowed with the power to think and exercise control over ourselves.

We do not need transitional change. We need transformational change ?to transform the organisation through self-transformation. We need to be impatient for action rather than impatient for results. Our thoughts, words and action should be so decisive for execution, following through an involved commitment that the result of our action gets embedded into our action. We, today, need a strong market focus, a powerful business model, an insatiable appetite for profit orientation and hunger for knowledge and strategic thinking. We, therefore, need to create a sense of urgency, define and communicate our purpose, values and vision, empower people, remove obstacles and make things happen. We need balanced and matured people with high level of integrity, organisational insight, judgemental power and intense desire to grow through self-motivation. It is time that our people devotedly dedicate themselves to reorient their own and Godrej culture on the above lines not only to survive the breakneck speed of changes but also to embrace changes and in the process turn out to be excellent performers making the workplace a more enjoyable place.

We have distributed Who Moved My Cheese? to quite a few Managerial people and have received positive feedback.

 

Ch.



EK.

You have been deeply inspired by Brahma Kumaris. Personally, I was quite impressed by their attitude and their approach to life. I’d like to know whether Godrej employees have availed of its services at your instance and with what results?
In a lecture organised by the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya, we were introduced to Shri Brian Bacon, an Australian, and Shri Marc Fourcade, a Frenchman. These foreigners were living a life, true in its tradition of Indian civilization and heritage ?a life of renunciation. They have gone through the cycle of inter-dependency, completeness and surrender to the high ideals and co-operative endeavour to reach the stage of renunciation. They jointly conceptualised the programme “Self-Managing Leadership? (SML).

We, as an organisation, have exposed around 500 employees to Rajyoga course at Brahma Kumari’s Headquarters at Mt. Abu. We do observe a change in some of these employees. Some of them have given up acquired habits and have imbibed positive innate values. This positive change in their behaviour pattern has been responsible for a major paradigm shift in shopfloor operations from Norm culture to Touch Time/Contact Time work pattern, reduction in cycle time, multi-skilled, multi-machine operation, etc. Brahma Kumari’s Ghatkopar Branch facilitators continue their endeavour in giving discourses on Tanaav Mukt Jeevan and Vyasan Mukt Jeevan to our employees after working hours at Pragati Kendra. The movement is catching on.

 

Ch.


EK.

Despite work pressures, we always see a quietly smiling Mr. Kalwachia. What is the secret behind this calm persona? Is it the spiritual underpinnings of your life?
This change has come about in the last decade. The SML Programme enables one to identify one’s self so as to bring about a change in self-awareness of knowledge, attitude and commitment to become a detached involved person ?to be able to switch off from one situation to another. All along we are in the web of past, present and future. The known past is history. It cannot be changed; the unknown future is mystery. We need to stop worrying about it. All we have as a moment of truth is the present. This life is a gift to us from God. What we make out of this life ?worthwhile not only for self, but for the society at large ?will be our gift to God. We need to take this present moment as the moment of truth and walk on the path of purity, which may be straight and narrow, but is the path of Truth, Love, Innocence and higher level of consciousness.

We need to live with a co-operative endeavour in whatever we do. Somebody else should also get goodness out of our action, and such goodness should spread. A thought that generates in our mind is always impulsive. Every time a thought comes to our mind, let our intellect filter it. A pure thought will necessarily result into pure action. We need to sharpen our intellect all the time so that we present our life in a proactive way and inculcate in others higher values, which generate Health with Happiness, Wealth with Welfare, Peace with Prosperity and Harmony.

  

Ch.

EK.

You believe that Partnership 2000 provides the “Human Face of the New Millennium? Could you please elaborate on this?
We are not human beings with a spiritual face, but in essence we are spiritual beings with a human face. It is important that we imbibe within us as human beings the basic tenets of unflinching faith, fervent forgiveness, unconditional love and serene sacredness in anything and everything we do for mankind in particular and living beings in general. 

One needs to become aware and embrace knowledge, Rajyoga (Meditation), dharma and seva to become a spiritual being with a human face. This can be achieved by sharpening our intellect so that it filters, reasons, analyses and synthesizes our thoughts before they are put to words for divine deeds. Knowledge, Attitude and Commitment are important. We must acquire Knowledge, then cultivate that knowledge into Attitude and finally get Committed to it.

Coming to Partnership 2000, it is a long way to go for our employees to imbibe this knowledge in toto. In order to grow bigger fruits, a farmer uses chemical fertilizers, but those fertilizers give problems to the soil and the environment. Temporarily the fruits grow big, but the soil is spoilt and starts decaying. Our awards and rewards schemes should not be like these chemical fertilizers to give short term results. In the long run, the most important form of motivation is self-motivation, which comes from within. One has to be self-productive, self-qualitative, self-disciplined, self-motivated and a self-thinker so as to be a selfless pious soul.

Shri Marc Fourcade’s role is to stimulate the innate qualities of people with respect to their professional and personal life, his effortless endeavour is not at what they do but significantly at how they do. He believes that people should love and respect each other, be knowledgeable, have a powerful intellect, reason things out, know what is right and what is wrong and then be on the side of the right to take clear value-based decisions. He believes that if one knows to manage oneself, then one doesn’t need any direction from any corner. According to Shri Marc Fourcade, it is important to assess performance and not people. He gives inputs in the Performance Management System and the Performance Assessment Training. The organisation should not remain at a plateau for long. It should grow. It is people who make the organisation grow. It is people who shift the paradigm. We need to develop and nurture this critical mass of people. This critical mass of people is the new face ?the “Human Face of the New Millennium? Partnership 2000 in essence is the process enabling people to bring this newness culture in Godrej, bestowing upon Godrejites to imbibe deep within them this culture with a view to leading the humanity within and across the boundaries with this “Human Face of the New Millennium?

 

Ch.



EK.

A decade ago your working hours were 7.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. Do you still work such long hours or have they become longer? Would you consider yourself a workaholic? What is your daily schedule like?
My working hours have remained the same. I do not consider myself a workaholic because most of my time is constructively utilised in co-operative endeavour with people which I find relaxing.

My origins were humble. I was taught at a very young age to do all my things on my own and not expect others to do it. 

 

Ch.


EK.

Today, the Company is believed to be burdened with surplus staff. Does it intend to come out with Voluntary Retirement Scheme for staff/managers?
In the present context, VRS is an ongoing phenomenon. About a thousand employees have accepted VRS in the last two years.

Ch.
EK.

Where do you see Godrej five years from now?
To answer your question, let’s look back. In 1929 there was the great Depression, then came World War I, World War II, then the wars with Pakistan ?A number of companies must have collapsed during these wars. But the values of our organisation and our resilience power were such that these things hardly touched the periphery so far as Godrej was concerned. In whatever way, we managed not only to survive, but also come out successfully through the turbulent times. 

With the changes taking place in the world today, I fear that worse days are yet to come. Today we have a lot of good people in the Company, but the new generation desires change and wants to move from places to places. Working with inner strength is more important than outer strength. Today we have more of outer (Acquired) strength than inner (Innate) strength.

With the initiatives we are taking today and the Samudra Manthan (churning) we are going through in building the knowledge base, competitive edge and core competencies in the areas of Productivity, Quality, Cost Leadership, Market Penetration, Customer Focus, Brand Equity, Partnership 2000 and so on and so forth, Godrej will be far better than what it is today after five years. We will be able to withstand pressures and come out with success. There may be turmoil, some people may leave, but the foundation is not going to be shaken, our base is not going to be eroded. In the ultimate analysis, Godrej will be in “Every Home and Workplace?enriching quality of life everyday, everywhere.

 

Ch.



EK.

Do you believe in re-birth? If you were to be re-born would you like to once again become a Godrej employee beginning from the bottom and reaching the top? Which portfolio would you then like to handle?
Yes, I do believe in re-birth.

The moment I leave this campus, I feel lost, lonely, as if something is amiss and I am always in a hurry to get back to the campus. Even on holidays, there is always an urge to go to the campus. Why, I don’t know. The only answer that comes to my mind is the outcome of pure love, trust and respect that the Godrej family bestowed upon me throughout the last four decades. They have treated me like a family member and not an employee. I feel so deeply indebted and owe it to them to have made out of me what I am today.

I can’t believe how 43 years have passed so soon! I loved and enjoyed my entire stay with Godrej where I got continuously inspired to literally live purposefully and fully my life in Godrej and for Godrej. If I were to be reborn, I would certainly like once again to be a Godrejite and would like gracefully to manage any assignment that may come my way commensurate with my knowledge, experience, capabilities and potential at that time, as efficiently and dutifully as I can, keeping an overall value system of selfless service.

 

Ch.
EK.

How come you’ve remained a bachelor?
It was not so by design. It was also not by choice. May be God WILLED it that way. I also do not know what HE has in store for me. May be one day …… May be not.

 

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