Book Review “At the Helm”

xBL26_THINK2_DC_REV_1913400e.jpg.pagespeed.ic.u11HX1FTWLAt the Helm is a memoir of a veteran technocrat and his stints as the director of Bharat Heavy Electricals, Maruti Udyog, and Steel Authority of India (SAIL). The man who authored the text and lived this amazing life is the former civil servant V. Krishnamurthy. He writes honestly about the struggles these companies went through in their founding years. Those who ran the companies had to get rid of many standard practices in order to change the image that plagued many government run companies in that time. Krishnamurthy writes honestly and clearly of working tirelessly to improve the work culture, enforcing discipline to increase efficiency and dealing with trade unions in order to bring the costumer into the forefront of focus.

Although the government in India is still very controversial today when you read the memoir and look back in history you realize that there were many more problems between 1960 and 1980. Things really have improved and this memoir is part of that story. Krishnamurthy writes of all the problems with deliveries to customers at BHEL. There was no coordination between company’s and how to delivery units to customers. He says that “the customers would usually source equipment from each of the plants and put it together themselves.” He helped to set up a power projects division of the companies in order to provide and integrated service for customers, which yielded better delivery results. Krishnamurthy received the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest honor for his services in 2007.

The memoir overall is an interesting read in how India was able to work within the global market and slowly start to emerge as they enter the list of productive countries. His tone can be a bit self-congratulatory at times, but it forgivable for all that he has accomplished.