Chennai: Three comely books in non-fiction/self-help genre

However, Rupa’s new series seems a different kettle of fish though similar in objective, content-wise different.

Chennai: ‘Management Lessons From the Masters’, a new series launched by Rupa Publications reminded one of Fontana Modern Masters series of 50-odd thinkers, philosophers and intellectuals who “changed the life and thought of our age.” They were easy-to-carry and easy-to-read inspiring titles, which were particularly noted for its artistic cover designs.

However, Rupa’s new series seems a different kettle of fish though similar in objective, content-wise different. Here the focus is on truly remarkable business leaders of a post-liberalization India though their beginnings originated much earlier.

The first one on Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, followed in fairly quick succession by the second one on Anand Mahindra, at the helm of the Mahindra & Mahindra Group, both penned by Rajiv Agarwal, makes a very interesting read on how these captains of Indian Industry rose from humble origins and went on to head corporate empires with their acquisitions abroad, a testimony to Indian Industry being a global player.

Both are inspiring stories about two ‘model millionaires’ as the writer Saki would put it, not just for Management students but to the younger fraternity at large in trying to understand the complex business environment in a global setting today. Limited resources, costly money and last but not least environmental concerns; how these are leveraged against technology, acquisitions and market shares, eventually adding value to share-holders worth. It is an enormously complicated world of business where merit, hard work, strategies and a little bit of devil’s charm often preponderate over other values that the Indian middle class would want to cherish.

Both these industry leaders, epitomizing their individual group visions, are from different backgrounds. “The origins of the Aditya Birla Group date back to 1857, when Shiv Narayan Birla, a young boy from a Marwari family in Pilani, Rajasthan, ventured into cotton trading. Today, the Aditya Birla Group has more than 70 manufacturing units and subsidiaries spanning 26 countries across the globe,” writes the author. The author has attempted a study of the Birla Group in some depth- in examining the leadership evolution of Kumar Mangalam, son of Aditya Vikram Birla and great-grandson of Ganshyam Das (G.D.) Birla.

With M & M, the business journey starts with two brothers from Ludhiana in Punjab- Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and Kailash Chandra Mahindra, how the two brothers sold their house in then Calcutta to start an ‘independent steel business’ in 1945. Anand Mahindra, a scion of that illustrious group, born on May 1, 1955, attended Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty, pursued architecture from the JJ College of Architecture, Mumbai, then did a bachelor’s degree in Film Studies from Harvard University, before going on to do an MBA from Harvard Business School from 1979-81. In April 1991, a few months before the economic liberalization was unleashed, he rose to become Deputy MD of the M & M Group. In 2008, the Harvard Business School called him the ‘Renaissance Man’, writes the author. Both these slim, lucidly written volumes throw light on how industrial groups with vast, diverse interests are built hard over a long period, as much as they reveal the determination of their builders.

The third book, Gita Krishna Raj’s ‘When Science Met God’ is a somewhat bulky volume, a series of dialogues, Science, personified as a questioning being, has with the ultimate creator on a whole range of issues that affect the health and welfare of human beings. These dialogues are instructive and thought-provoking, cover scientific developments in depth, though at moments rather heavy. Nevertheless, they have useful tips that can clarify a course of action when faced with conflict of values.

Ms. Gita, who began performing as a Bharatanatyam artiste from a tender age of nine, is now the CEO of ‘Maverick Fitness Studios’, set up in 2003.

Her passion for the spiritual and the metaphysical

comes out in these very unconventional dialogues, originally written as a series of articles published in the magazine, ‘Infinitethoughts’ edited by Guru Mahatria.

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