Thursday, December 21, 2006

Now US students come calling to hear Lalu





The Great Railway Turnaround Story seems to have become a fable, and its author an international management guru.



Having shared the tale of how he pulled back the Indian Railways from impending doom into a likely Rs 2,000 crore profit for this year with IIM-Ahmedabad students, Lalu Prasad Yadav is now polishing his phrases to deliver it to an American audience.

A group of 137 students, 100 from Harvard and the rest from Wharton, is coming here for a December 27 lecture by Yadav. The minister will spell out the finer points of the turnaround story in a day-long interaction at Rail Bhawan.

Insiders say the session has been in the works for quite some time, with Yadav keen on selling his success story internationally to counter the skepticism about his achievements within the country.


It will not be Yadav’s first interview with the American campus on this issue.

He has played host to professors from Harvard, Wharton, Boston University and American Defence Institute over the past couple of months, taking them to different parts of the country to show the Indian rail network and explaining to them the basics of what he did to the ailing national network, ministry sources said.

Now the jester-turned-pundit wants to ensure a visit by the US students to add to the sizeable bunch of brownie points he has already earned.

The professors, say the sources, were also keen to examine the genuineness of the claims made by the Indian Railways. “Initially, they were also a bit skeptical. They wanted to see for themselves whether the turnaround was only limited to government files in Rail Bhawan or extended to the rest of the country,” said one official.

“Once they travelled on the network, they shed many of their concerns and found the Railways a fit case to be studied by their students.”

Yadav’s lieutenants are preparing all the statistical support, but which language will he speak? Not known for his English, Yadav is reportedly brushing up whatever he has of it on him to be able to take direct questions from the young audience.

Yadav’s address, said sources, will mainly dwell on how the Railways has been restored its health without increasing fares or downsizing of staff.


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