THE OCCASION WAS the unveiling of the bust of Prahalad at the CII Southern Region headquarters in Chennai.
CII had worked closely with Prahalad. He spoke at their conferences galore. On each occasion, Prahalad came with a new concept, a new idea and a new hypothesis. These were truisms and were presented in simple, lucid terms like ‘the bottom of pyramid’ exposition. I remember his explaining this in easy-to-understand language with the examples of Amul, Nirma and Arvind Eye Care. It was amazing to learn from him about Hindustan Lever adopting the Nirma experience not just for introducing the low-cost detergent, Wheel, in India but also for replicating it in Brazil! Equally forceful was his presentation on the cost effective treatment of heart ailments by Bengaluru’s Naryana Hridayalaya.
‘Guess which half will vanish’
At the beginning of the liberalisation era, Prahalad predicted that several multinationals which had joint ventures with Indian business houses would go on their own splitting up with their Indian partners. He listed ten companies including TVS-Suzuki, Kinetic-Honda, Godrej, P&G and Thapar-DuPont and predicted that one half of the name would vanish. How true it became!
Prahalad articulated the India @ 75 initiative during an event commemorating the 60th year of Indian independence at New York. He charted out his vision for India @ 75 when India would have the world’s largest pool of trained manpower, become home for at least 30 of the Fortune 100 firms and account for 10 per cent of global trade among others. Imagine his dreaming of this and believing in this at Michigan, thousands of miles away! The management guru repeatedly stressed the need for innovation and for leap-frogging growth. Disruptive growth has been a constant refrain of his, when he stressed that quantum growth cannot be achieved by linear progression.