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Singh must rise up to managerial challenges

Mangu Singh is the new Metro man but it is not an easy job, following in the footsteps of a legend like E Sreedharan.

delhi Updated: Jan 07, 2012 23:24 IST

Mangu Singh is the new Metro man but it is not an easy job, following in the footsteps of a legend like E Sreedharan.

Fifty seven year old Mangu Singh joined the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) along with E Sreedharan in 1997, as a chief project manager. However, not many would have thought that Singh, who rose through the ranks to the post of executive director and then director (works), would supersede many seniors in DMRC to bag the top job.

Putting all speculations to rest, Sreedharan chose him as his successor before ending his own 14-year old stint with DMRC.

"Singh is one of the most competent engineers that DMRC has but he has always been a silent worker and let his work talk for him," says a senior DMRC official who doesn't wish to be named.

There is a lot in common between Singh and his legendary former boss. "Both are from a rural background and have a modest upbringing," says Anuj Dayal, chief PRO of DMRC. Both are good listeners, have high level of personal integrity, are punctual and interestingly both have retained the same personal staff - such as their private secretaries and drivers - from the beginning of their careers.

"Singh never eyed for the top seat and became the top man just through his own capabilities and quality of work," says Dayal.

A modest start
Singh was born in Alawalpur Nainu village, in district Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh and is the eldest of seven siblings. He graduated in civil engineering from University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) in 1979 and joined the Indian Railways Services of Engineers (IRSE). He is known for his contribution to the Kolkata Metro project and is considered the most experienced engineer of underground constructions in the country.

Like Sreedharan who is still fighting fit, Singh has been an athlete and does yoga and goes for walks regularly. He is a teetotaler and vegetarian who doesn't watch films, but only catches up with sports programmes on television.

Though he is an also a workaholic like Sreedharan, Singh is perhaps less hands-on and prefers to delegate authority. "He doesn't talk much and is very composed even during a crisis," says Dayal.

"The first underground section of Metro (Central Secretariat to Delhi University) was Mangu's baby and it is after this section that DMRC really built its reputation," he says. "He is also the environment expert of DMRC and the credit for getting carbon credits for Metro goes to him," he says.

Though he is one of DMRC's most competent people, managing the organisation, which has grown over the years, could prove to be a herculean task.

"Sreedharan was a brilliant professional manager and though Singh is a great engineer, it is yet to be seen how he does as a manager," says Professor SK Das, former IRSE, who has worked both with Sreedharan and Singh.

"He loves mathematics and has a brilliant analytical approach and I think he is the right person to lead DMRC after Sreedharan," he says. "While Sreedharan's approach was get work done as advised by him, Singh is soft spoken and has a very friendly demeanor," adds Das. Singh is also more tech-savvy than Sreedharan, who used to hate working with computers and never used a mobile phone.

The road ahead
Former Urban Development Secretary M Ramachandran, who has worked with both Sreedharan and Mangu Singh for four years as the chairman of DMRC, says the situation when Sreedharan joined DMRC and now are much different.

"When Sreedharan joined DMRC, he was already retired and carried a reputation and didn't have to bother about many things that you have to take care of when you are part of a system," he says. Mangu Singh is still in service and might have to face some interference in his work unlike Sreedharan, he says. "There is, however, not much interference in DMRC's daily affairs as such."

Ramachandran also said that Sreedharan had the advantage of the Metro not being operational when he joined, so there were no particular expectations. However, in Singh's case, Delhi Metro is already operational and carries a reputation and work is also going on for its Phase III expansion.

"Sreedharan's successor would have learnt a lot from him in the last 14 years and it is up to him how he wants to emulate him," says Ramachandran. He adds, "As this Metro is the consultant to many other metros coming up in country, Singh would not only have to run DMRC but also provide leadership to the upcoming Metro projects."