THE Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest state-owned enterprises and the journey of this 156-year old iconic organisation has been well chronicled over the years. The book narrates the story of how, following a state of near bankruptcy in 2000 and facing an uncertain future, the government of the day embarked on a sedate path of incremental change between 2000 and 2008.
The two authors, who are professors at various institutes, have identified important management and leadership lessons to be learnt from the experience of the Railways. Though this landmark period has been previously documented through management case studies and narratives, this book lends an independent account of the resurgence of the Indian Railways.
The book recounts how the organisation has been commercially viable despite hurdles and limitations. The approach used for the transformation was indeed unique as it challenged conventional theories that privatisation, management overhaul, downsizing and outsourcing were the panacea for reviving sick public sector enterprises.
It describes the innovational approaches adopted to change this behemoth. This includes a conscious decision to opt for incremental rather than radical changes, focus on strengths over weaknesses and change in frontline employee mindset by creating a sense of ownership.
The authors have a special world of praise for the former Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar (2001-2004), who made a major contribution by launching a major overhaul of the ageing assets of the Railways. This momentum is said to have been maintained by the succeeding Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Giving a chapter-wise review in brief, the first chapter presents a snapshot of change; the second gives the choices that the Indian Railways faced at the beginning of the 21st century; the third discusses the soul of the Indian Railways by briefly exploring its history, heroes and legends; the fourth shows how positive emotions were fostered to facilitate change; the fifth chapter concentrates on how business savvy was developed in the organisation and the subsequent chapters depict the various initiatives taken that led to its transformation.
(HarperCollins Publishers, A-53 Sector-57, Noida-201301.)