Monday, August 20, 2007


Indian Railways Minister Laloo Prasad who doubles up as a management guru has been invited to address the country's top hoteliers at a hospitality summit in New Delhi. Topic: 'Lessons from a Moving Train'. The news item, though buried on Page 12, caught my eye because I had recently blogged about a lesson I learnt from a moving train - lessons from railway catering management.

The thing about railway caterers is that they manage to maintain uniform standards of tastelessness and yet sustain a growing demand for their meals on moving trains. Our rail minister's choice of topic for the hospitality summit had me wonder if someone had drawn his attention to my earlier blog piece. The Hindu news item said the rail minister would articulate "his now famous management tips on how turnaround of the Indian Railways was achieved." I would say Bihar could have done with his 'turnaround mantra' when Mr Laloo Prasad was at the helm in that state.

I recall a tip the minister shared with IIM-A students on his achieving the railway 'turnaround.' The minister noted that the railways were like a Jersey cow. The cow fell sick if it wasn't milked fully; so would the railways, if their full potentials were not tapped.

I can understand students from Wharton and Stanford taking in an audience with Laloo during their study tour of India; and then telling CNBC how "wow-ed" they were with our minister's management insights. What I can't figure out is how our b-schools, business chambers and hoteliers association, who know well enough how our railways work, can fall for the minister's Laloopadesa, as if it was a management Gitapodesa.

At the coming hospitality summit, Mr Laloo Prasad, as a seminar speaker, figures in the same league as managing director of Switzerland's international hotel management institute. The next thing that we might hear is that one of our premier universities such as JNU is to confer a doctorate on him. My sense is Mr Lalu Prasad has been such a hit for so long, with so many, because he knows not to take seriously much of whatever he says to the academics and the media.

Cross-posted from Desicritic

1 comment:

Naveen said...

i fully agree to your views .... however one must appreciate that quick & bold decisions (even if purely due to hiss blissfull ignorance)by laloo did contribute to the turnaround ...