| MANTRA MATTERS: Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies
St Nayar brings his gospel to London
The Indian IT firm, HCL Technologies, is clearly doing well. The other day, Kiran Nadar, wife of Shiv Nadar, the firms founder and chairman, picked up S.H. Razas Saurashtra at Christies for £2,393,250 for her private museum in Noida.
In 2008, HCL bought UK SAP specialist Axon for £440m in the largest overseas acquisition by an Indian IT company.
I am going up to a room at the Berkeley Hotel in Londons Knightsbridge to meet Vineet Nayar, HCLs CEO, whose provocatively entitled book, Employees First, Customers Second, does make sense companies do best when managements strive hard to carry their employees with them.
Nayar, who is based in Delhi, was born in his native Punjab, spent much of his life in Pantnagar near Nainital, studied in Jamshedpur and loved working for HCL in Calcutta.
It is a great place, he says. If you really want to go to a book store it is in Calcutta; if you want to eat some good Chinese food you go to Tangra I just wish the government had behaved in a different fashion to encourage industry to come in. Our attrition is the lowest in Calcutta, our employment motivation is the highest in Calcutta, some of our senior leaders come from Calcutta but when you have strikes in Calcutta and business continuity gets interrupted, how can you expand your business in Calcutta?
Nayar has analysed the crisis at BP, asserting that our future depends on the success of British Petroleum employees and this is not the time to demotivate them, and the poisonous dispute at British Airways, where I am not sure we have understood the employees side of the story.
As Nayar takes his new management bible to Europe and to America, Mamata will be pleased to note the author is baffled like the rest of us by Singur.
In Singur I really dont understand what happened, what was political, what was management failure, what was committed behind the door, what was the deal, admits Nayar. The opportunity got lost.
| DRESSED UP: Harrovian Akash Paul in his Eton shirt and personlised cuff links
All family members were present and correct last Sunday when Lord Swraj and Lady Aruna Paul invited 1,500 guests, including Gordon Browns wife, Sarah, to the annual tea party held in memory of their daughter Ambika in Regents Park in London.
It was the Honourable Akash Paul, one of Swrajs elder twin sons, who held my attention on a hot summers afternoon with his crisp, shining white cotton shirt, worn with personalised cuff links bearing his childrens images.
Its an Eton shirt, said Akash proudly.
This seemed a trifle disloyal since Akash, in common with his brothers Ambar and Angad, went to Harrow (as did Nehru).
To be fair, Akash was referring not to Harrows great rival, Eton College, but to the superior Eton brand of non-iron cotton shirts.
Akash, who is a board member of the Harrow Development Trust, tells me that out of the 800 pupils at the famous public school many today are of Asian origin.
I was one of only four Indian boys, recalls Akash (1968-71).
Happily, the schools tuck shop hasnt turned into a cornershop yet.
Maharajkumari Karuna Devi, the youngest daughter of the late Maharaj Uday Chand Mahtab of Burdwan, who died in a Calcutta hospital last Sunday, aged 72, enjoyed seeing Felicity Kendal in the Noel Coward play, The Vortex, at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue when she was in London in September 2009.
The play is about an older woman who takes a young lover.
She then celebrated by taking her niece, Usha Devi Rathore, her surviving sister Baruna Devis daughter who lives in London, to an oyster bar.
My aunt was a gourmet she also loved theatre and classical music when she was in London, said an upset Usha. Kakamasi was going to stay with me in London this summer.
Usha, who has devoted her life to yoga, gathered her son Nikhil, her late aunt Jyotsna Devis son Toby, and Karuna Devis great niece Victoria and chanted the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra 108 times.
Afterwards we had roast chicken whenever my aunt was in England, she loved roast chicken, explained Usha.
Karuna Devi, revealed Usha, was briefly married to a Sri Lankan. After a grand wedding she went to Sri Lanka but was back within months and remained the eternal aunt. She was a very aristocratic lady dont forget she was born a princess. She did a lot for charity and was a very social person.
Wayne Davis and his celebrity Harris Hawk, Rufus, did a daily dawn patrol at Wimbledon during the championships. Their mission was to keep away the pigeons whose ammonia-filled droppings can ruin the grass courts.
Although the crowds have dispersed, Wayne will take Rufus to Wimbledon every weekend to make sure the pigeons dont return.
Wayne, whose great ambition is to work in India, confides he was consulted by the Indian Air Force 18 months ago but a deal was not concluded.
Wayne says he can demonstrate how falcons and hawks can be used at Indian military and civilian airfields to dramatically reduce the bird strikes that can even bring down aircraft. I am employing the same method used in the 15th century by the princes in India.
Wayne, who is 47 and has 25 years experience, works professionally through his company, Avian Control Systems, at Westminster Abbey, hospitals, universities, American military airfields and landfill sites. He has been passionate about falconry since he was 11.
His offer to train staff in India certainly is worth considering since lives are at stake.
Majority of bird strikes are below 1,000ft on approach or take off, Wayne points out.
I would love to go to India, Id love to do a trial, he enthuses.
The Taj Bengal can claim some of the credit for the imaginative training it imparted to chef Sunil Sinha who has opened an excellent Indian restaurant called Massala in Cobham, Surrey.
Sunil has teamed up with fellow chef Pradeep Asawa and an enthusiastic British investor, John Szepietowski, who lives in Cobham, an affluent commuter town 40 minutes by train from Waterloo station.
Another chef, Ramesh Lal Shah, has been recruited just to look after the charcoal-fired chulha that needs lighting every morning and raking out and clearing every third day.
Apparently only 1 per cent of 8,000-10,000 Indian restaurants in the UK have chulhas but cooking slowly on them does make the food much tastier.
That an Indian restaurant should have been welcomed in oh so English Surrey this is Peter May country shows how Indian cuisine has dismantled barriers in Britain.
Some time back I listed the top 10 Indian chefs in Britain. To this list, I am now tempted to add Sunil.
Which country is happiest at Germanys 1-0 ouster from the World Cup by Spain?
Actually, its England which was massacred 4-1 by Germany.
Ironically, it is the German word, schadenfreude (delighting in the misfortune of others), which most accurately sums up the feelings of England fans.
As British tabloids invariably point out, the score after two World Wars was: England 2-Germany 0.