Personally, I have never come across in my career any person of his calibre and dynamism. I have admitted on many occasions and today also I am proud to say that Raha was my mentor and guide. The management traits I learned from him have immensely helped me to shoulder my present responsibility.
Whenever I, as the chief financial officer of ONGC, would approach him to consult on any managerial problem, he’d always put me in ease with more than one solution. He would always have ready answers and was very prompt in decision making. His fire-in-belly approach helped steer ONGC to the heights it has reached.
Subir Raha was a leader par excellence. He infused a rare kind of dynamism in ONGC immediately after he took over its rein. Under his leadership, ONGC achieved multiple milestones.
Its market capitalisation zoomed to become the highest among all Indian companies. He was personally instrumental in ONGC acquiring Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and turning it around from a loss-making company on the way to becoming sick to its present Mini-Ratna status.
He also led ONGC into aggressive exploration, especially in deep waters off India, and initiated incremental oil recovery and enhanced oil recovery processes to arrest the decline of its depleted fields.
Raha turned ONGC from a sectoral exploration and production company to an integrated energy major on a global scale, by acquiring many equity assets overseas. He also initiated expansion of ONGC into various value integration projects in the field of petrochemicals, special economic zones, power, clean coal energy, and alternate sources of energy.
I must also say that by working 18-20 hours a day, he compromised his personal health for the sake of the organisation. It’s an irreparable personal loss for me, for the Indian corporate sector, especially the oil and gas sector. Till the last time I met him, a few days before he passed on, he was fighting his illness with smiles and laughter. It looked as though he was recovering from a viral fever. Little did I know those were his last days.
The author is chairman and managing director of ONGC