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Management the Lalu way

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his management techniques will be the subject of a new book.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2006 19:46 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

After being invited by a top business school to lecture on the turnaround of the loss-making railways, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his management techniques will be the subject of a new book.

Pramod Batra, known for his lessons on attitudinal management, is busy penning a book on Lalu Prasad's style of working and how he put the railways on the path to profits.

"What attracted me was Lalu's rustic brilliance and the way he could associate the basic management instincts of village life with the daily working of his ministry," Batra told PTI.

"If you do not milk the cow fully, it falls sick," Lalu Prasad had told officials on taking charge as railway minister, making it amply clear that he intended to apply the same philosophy to make the railways profitable.

The railways' journey to profitability has not gone unnoticed and Prasad has offers to deliver lectures at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad and the IAS Academy in Mussoorie.

"I am concentrating on Lalu as a railway minister and not his earlier posts," said Batra, who has to his credit 40 books on attitudinal management.

He finds the minister's rustic nature quite appealing. "Can you ever imagine a minister posing for a photograph wearing a vest and standing beside a buffalo?" he asks.

Lalu's appearance in the book stems from his lectures in b-schools on how he turned the railways into a money-making enterprise

This very nature of Lalu Prasad appeals to the masses, making them feel that he is someone from among them and this is "the quality a good leader", Batra said.

Batra, a professional motivator with an MBA from the University of Minnesota, came back to India to take up key assignments with corporate houses.

"What Henry Ford did to take cars within the reach of the common man, Lalu has done with railways in India, especially in air-conditioned travel," said Batra, pointing to Lalu's experiment with the 'Gareeb Rath' trains for the poor.

"As politeness is to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and quietness is to Sonia Gandhi, arrogance is to Lalu Prasad and there is nothing wrong with his raw talk. Every leader has his own style to influence people, said Batra.

Lalu Prasad is also a good tutor, said the author. "Catch the buffalo by the horns and not by tail," he said when Railway Board members mentioned risks related to increasing the speed of trains and loads on frieght wagons.

This attitude of tackling problems head on is likely to be reflected in Lalu Prasad's lecture at IIM-A on September 18, which will also be a part of Batra's book in the making.

First Published: Sep 15, 2006 19:46 IST