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Research for survival...
Management expert M K Raju once described the crowded programmes at the Madras Management Association (MMA) akin to nithya kalyanam and pacha thoranam.

MMA activities have expanded manifold since; I notice an average of 1.5 programmes per day on widely varying subjects. I wonder how Raju would have described it today!

At the 61st AGM presentations were made by the MMA business excellence awardees, followed by two special addresses. 

I have been attending the programmes of MMA for some four decades. I used to produce the MMA Mandate and the proceedings of the annual conventions.  I remember the constant expansion of its activities by succession of brilliant executive directors. Special mention should be made of V Ramadurai, who introduced systems and technology in a big way and enthused the presidents to expand MMA’s range of activities. At the annual convention, some of the brilliant leaders and managers of the times presented special addresses on emerging subjects. I still remember the evocative address by the DRDO chief Dr V S Arunachalam on the substantial contributions of public sector research.

Major Lakshmanan and Col. Hariharan continued with the good work of Ramadurai and further expanded the activities in line with the status gained by the Indian economy post -2000; there has been an explosive growth in the membership of MMA with revenues overflowing.

Ramadurai then took bold to acquire a modest flat of its own; the current team headed by Group Captain Vijayakumar is busy building a massive green mansion at the heart of the metro, scheduled to be inaugurated later this year.

Should one own a car at all?

Lucas TVS’s Arvind Balaji presented an interesting address on the unpredictability of technological developments and its disruptive nature. He pointed to Uber’s revolutionary idea of aggregating the massive underutilised space in cars (only 4 per cent).He pointed to the new dilemma: should one own a car at all and wondered whether the booming growth in car volumes would continue.

Balaji pointed to experiments like driver-less vehicles, electric cars and to the ‘diesel gate.’ All have potential to lead to the demise of the internal combustion(IC) engines. The uncertainty of the disruptive technologies hangs like a Damocles sword! Arvind pointed to industry stepping up research for survival and growth.

Mohandas Pai, formerly of Infosys, has been omni-present. He has been active interacting with policy makers in Delhi and articulating on a variety of subjects through the media. The huge wealth earned by this promoter of Infosys has been put to use in funding several start-ups. eg – Republic TV and Swarajya.  He is also involved with the magnificant work done by Akshaya Patra that provides mid-day meals to millions of school children. 

A couple of years ago, Pai was the chief guest at Madras Chamber’s Annual Meeting. Like then, at the MMA meet also Pai made an omnibus presentation that ranged from the evolution of technology from the steam engine to computers. He rambled across the nations, their histories, geographies et al. There was an overload of information that left little to take home. –SV

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