The News Minute| September 13, 2014| 8.30 am IST
When TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) inked a deal with Ferrari a decade ago, making it the first Indian company to enter the world of Formula 1 at the very top, his team told him there should be a major announcement. "Let our work speak for us, the announcement can wait,â€ť Subramaniam Ramadorai, then Chairman and Managing Director of TCS said.
That just about sums up the man who,beginning in 1968, was amongst a handful of visionaries who lead Indiaâ€™s IT revolution and took TCS to heights from which there is no looking back.
Ramadorai (who continues to be Vice-Chairman of TCS) is now Chairman of the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) with the rank of Cabinet Minister is also Chairman of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). He was part of the business delegation that accompanied Prime Minister NarendraModi to Japan earlier this month.
In an exclusive interview to Chitra Subramaniam, Editor-in-Chief of The News Minute (TNM) he spoke about what he expects as early signs of progress in bilateral business, transparency in dealing with investors, his faith in the PM and that drumming sequence in Tokyo with Modi that took everyone by surprise. Excerpts:
Both India and Japan have stressed the importance of skill development. As the countryâ€™s point person in this critical area, what were some of your expectations prior to your visit?
I think there is a lot to learn from the Japanese with regards to Quality, Benchmarking, and Manufacturing skills.These are some of the areas where I expected Japanese to share their expertise and experience. Also, recognition of certification given by India in Japan was another key point. Indiaâ€™s necessity of scale and speed owing to the demography of the population needs to be understood by Japan as a country.
With the upcoming infrastructure development and potential FDI from Japan, skill development will be of paramount importance. Any project will be complete and of qualityonly when the skilling component is built into the whole equation. Thus articulating the importance of skill development in India and learning from the Japanese on their best practices in skill development was the expectation of the PM and the business delegation for the visit. We addressed this in almost every single forum during our trip
What are Japanâ€™s expectations from India in this area?
The expectation is that the Indian Govt transitions itself from Red tape, bureaucratic processes to providing a Red carpet, with efficiency and transparency built in. Japan expects the new Govt to create a hassle free environment for business without bureaucratic hurdles, transparency in dealings with any investors, translation of the policies into ground action through very visible steps,so that Japan can participate in the journey of our growth and support the building of capabilities and the investment.
The joint-declaration between the two countries speaks of creating manufacturing hubs across India. What are some of the first signs of progress you expect here?
The early signs of progress as I see are:
1. Land allocation across the country for Manufacturing hubs or Industrial corridors
2. Process simplification for doing business
3. Creating a Japan Desk in the PM Office as mentioned by the PM himself to make sure that any concerns can be handled with utmost attention and speed.
Can you share some of the concerns that the Japanese have with working with Indian businesses? What are Indiaâ€™s stumbling blocks?
Major concerns as viewed by the Japanese are the bureaucratic hurdles, the complex taxation systems, multiple windows and processes, multiple clearance and approvals, and continuity of a stable policy environment.
Since the commitment has been made to bring in 35 billion $ of Japanese FDI over 5 years, the earlier we address these issues and make it simple for any Japanese Investor, or Japanese Corporations and Skill providers, the easier it would be to get the flow going.
What is the first item on your agenda after returning to India?
Share the experience and learnings from the visit of PM with a number of people from industry, NSDA, NSDC, Skills Ministry and friends, essentially saying that Japan is a great source of technology & quality and can be helpful for mutual benefit not only to address the Indian market but the Global market as well.
The Indian Government, through the face and voice of our Prime Minister, means business and a sense of purpose and commitment
Politically, what were some of the broad political lines that were accentuated during this visit by both countries?
The visit was a great political platform for both the Prime Ministers to connect. Both Prime Ministers spoke on the past strong cultural ties between the countries and elevating the relationship to a more strategic one for the stability and prosperity of the citizens.
The following sectors were discussed with a view of strategic and global partnership between India and Japan â€“ Skill Development, Overall trade and investment, Infrastructure, Energy and Natural resources, Railways, Civil Aviation, Information and Communication Technology, Agriculture and Food, Defence & Tourism.
Globalization of the Japanese firms through our IT capabilities is also one of the very critical components.
TCS was already working in this field. More recently, as the Vice Chairman of TCS, you were among a handful of people who believed in Narendra Modiâ€™s capabilities of getting India back on track. What are your views now that you work directly with him?
I am extremely positive. The Prime Ministerâ€™s approach is highly action oriented and implementation focused. He has a very transparent form of dealing and has created a visible Governance structure. He is also a believer in technology and application of the same for speed, governance and access to all.
Finally, that drumming sequence at a TCS event has travelled around the world many times over. Whose idea was it?
This was an idea by our TCSers, both our India and Japan team led by the CEO and MD.
Chitra Subramaniam will have series of conversations and interviews with national and international business, political, cultural leaders and innovative thinkers every week.