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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Guest Post : This is why Tata is a Respected name in India

Dear Readers,

This is a guest post.

Contributed By:
Maj Gen S.K.Nanda, AVSM (Retd )

Thank you Sir
Hardcore Soldier ( as usual)

October 10, 2009

Meeting with H N Srinivas– Senior Executive Vice President, Taj Group of Hotels

Last evening, I had a dinner meeting with HNS in Goa(I was there for a National Institute of Personnel Management conference as a speaker). He narrated the 26th November 2008 terror attack on Taj Mumbai and there were some important points.

A. Terrorist entry

1. They entered from the Leopold Colaba hotel entrance and also from the northern entrance – spraying indiscriminate bullets on the Taj security personnel and guests in general.

2. Though Taj had a reasonable security – they were surely not equipped to deal with terrorists who were spraying 6 bullets per trigger.

3. The strategy of the terrorists was to throw chunks of RDX in an open area that will explode and burn – creating chaos so that the guests and staff run helter skelter so that the terrorists could kill them. The idea was to create maximum casualties.

4. There were several critical gatherings and functions happening in the hotel on that day – a Bohra wedding, global meet of Unilever CEOs and Board members and 2 other corporate meetings were being held in the hotel – besides the usual crowd.

5. The firing and chaos began at about 8.30 p.m. and the staff including employees on casual and contract basis displayed exemplary presence of mind, courage and sacrifice to protect the guests who were in various halls and conference rooms.

B. Stories of Staff Heroics

1. A young lady guest relation executive with the HLL gathering stopped any of the members going out and volunteered 3 times to go out and get stuff such as ice cubes for whiskey of the guests when the situation outside the hall was very explosives and she could have been easily the target of the bullets.

2. Thomas George a captain escorted 54 guests from a backdoor staircase and when he was going down last he was shot by the terrorists

3. There were 500 emails from various guests narrating heroics of the staff and thanking them for saving their lives.

4. In a subsequent function, Ratan Tata broke down in full public view and sobbed saying – “the company belongs to these people”. The wife of Thomas George who laid his life saving others said, she and the kids were proud of the man and that she did not know that for 25 years she lived with a man who was so courageous and brave.

5. The episode happened on 26th November, a significant part of the hotel was burnt down and destroyed – the hotel was re-opened on 21st December and all the employees of the hotel were paraded in front of the guests.

6. It was clearly a saga of extra-ordinary heroics by ordinary people for their organisation and in a way for their country. The sense of duty and service was unprecedented

7. The young lady who protected and looked after the HLL guests was a management trainee and we often speak of juniority and seniority in the organisation. She had no instructions from any supervisor to do what she did

a. She took just 3 minutes to rescue the entire team through the kitchen

b. Cars were organised outside the hotel as per seniority of the members

c. In the peak of the crisis, she stepped out and got the right wine glass for the guest

8. People who exhibited courage included janitors, waiters, directors, artisans and captains – all level of people

C. The Tata Gesture

1. All category of employees including those who had completed even 1 day as casuals were treated on duty during the time the hotel was closed

2. Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and killed

3. The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav-Bhaji” vendor and the pan shop owners

4. During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent my money order

5. A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences to counsel those who needed such help

6. The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided

7. Employee outreach centres were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counselling was provided. 1600 employees were covered by this facility

8. Every employee was assigned to one mentor and it was that person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help that the person required

9. Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed – were affected.

10. The dependents of the employees were flown from outside Mumbai to Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks

11. Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to what they wanted him to do.

12. In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the Tatas for the purpose of relief of employees.

13. What is unique is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas, were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided subsistence allowance of Rs. 10,000 per month for 6 months.

14. A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully recover her

15. New hand carts were provided to several vendors who lost their carts

16. Tata will take responsibility of life education of 46 children of the victims of the terror.

17. This was the most trying period in the life of the organisation. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible

18. The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36 to 85 lacs in addition to the following benefits:

a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents

b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents – anywhere in the world

c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest of their life

d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount

e. Counselor for life for each person

D. Epilogue

1. How was such passion created among the employees? How and why did they behave the way they did?

2. The organisation is clear that it is not something that someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs

3. It has to do with the DNA of the organisation, with the way Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that time. The organisation has always been telling that customers and guests are #1 priority

4.The hotel business was started by Jamshedji Tata when he was insulted in one of the British hotels and not allowed to stay there.

5. He created several institutions which later became icons of progress, culture and modernity. IISc is one such institute. He was told by the rulers that time that he can acquire land for IISc to the extent he could fence the same. He could afford fencing only 400 acres.

6. When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough?

7. The whole approach was that the organisation would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?

Minuted by Dileep Ranjekar

Six SPOs hurt in cane charge


At least six special police officers (SPOs) protesting outside the CRPF Group Centre at Bantalab were injured when the police resorted to a cane charge to disperse them today.

As many as 250 SPOs, a majority of them had come here from Doda, Rajouri and Poonch districts, were protesting in support of their demand of recruitment without any physical test. The protesters blocked the Bantalab road around 11 am and raised slogans against the government.

“We are already serving in the Police Department as SPOs, so we should be exempted from the physical test for recruitment in the CRPF,” Abdul Jabbar, an SPO from Doda, said.

Bishnesh Kumar, SHO, Domana police station, said: “We requested the protesters to disperse from the road to allow vehicular movement, but they didn’t budge. We had to use a mild cane charge and nobody was injured.” Bishnesh said they tried to pacify the protesters, but the latter were in no mood to leave the road.Earlier this week, seven persons, including a personal security officer (PSO), of the Domana SHO, were injured when candidates at the BSF recruitment camp, mostly SPOs, clashed with the police at the Janipur check post, demanding jobs even after not clearing physical test.

Indian Air Force pilots display helicopter aerobatics in Kochi

Kochi, Dec 5(ANI): Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots enthralled residents of Kerala with a mesmerizing display of helicopter aerobatics, which marked the formal conclusion of weeklong celebrations of the Navy Day at the Southern Naval Command.

The Sarang Helicopter formation team of the IAF led by Wing Commander Ravuri Sheetal enthralled the crowd with 12 breathtaking stunts performed in 12 minutes on Friday.

This is the second time the aerobatics display had been performed in Kochi. Last year, a three-helicopter team had held the display in front of a huge crowd, while this year the team was expanded to a four-helicopter team.

“In 2008, during the April month, we did a display here in Kochi. That time we were doing with three helicopters, now we are a four-helicopter display team. So, day by day the team is growing in terms of bringing new profiles, bringing new maneuvers and bringing more professionals altogether in the pilots and showing the professionalism of the Indian Air Force,” said Flight Lieutenant Pravin of the IAF. Later in the day, the daring pilots also performed at the Naval Base before an invited audience. (ANI)

Indian Navy's first four MiG-29K fighters arrive in knocked down condition

NEW DELHI: The first four Russian-made Mig-29K fighters to be deployed on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Admiral Gorshkov, when it is inducted into the Indian Navy have been received in a knocked-down condition and will now be assembled in this country, an official said on Saturday.

The jets arrived in the country Dec 4, celebrated as Navy Day.

"The four jets, in a knocked down condition, were delivered yesterday (Friday) by an AN-132 aircraft. It will be a while before the jets are assembled and start flying," an Indian Navy official said but refused the divulge the present location of the aircraft.

The jets were purchased by the Indian Navy as part of a $1.5 billion deal signed with Russia in January 2004 for the Admiral Gorshkov. Of this $740 million was meant for the aircraft and the balance for the refitting of the carrier. The Russians have now upped the price to between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion and negotiations on this are currently underway.

The navy will eventually be getting 12 MiG-29K single-seater aircraft and four MiG-29KUB twin-seat trainer aircraft, some in flyaway condition. The trainer version is similar to the single-seater but with a slightly reduced operational range.

The navy has named its MiG-29K squadron the "Black Panthers". As the 45,000 tonne Kiev class aircraft carrier, is scheduled to be delivered by 2012, the jets will undertake shore-based sorties from Goa.

The contract for the jets also stipulates the procurement of hardware for pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including flight simulators and interactive ground and sea-based training systems.

The navy's MiG-29Ks have arrester gear and stronger landing gear for carrier landings, folding wings and rust-proofing to prevent corrosion from salt water.

The aircraft features a fully digitised glass cockpit, improved engine protection against ingestion of foreign particles like birds, a multi-mode radar and increased range. The contract ensures that the navy gets the entire spectrum of services, including a full mission simulator.

The MiG-29K will provide aerial cover the carrier's battle group, acquire air superiority and destroy sea-borne and ground-based targets with guided high-precision weapons during the day and at night and in any weather conditions.

The aircraft, the first bought by the navy after the Sea Harriers, will also be capable of playing the role of a midair refueller. 

Israeli military delegation to visit India to strengthen ties (Lead)

New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) An Israeli military delegation will visit India next week to boost defence ties and strengthen the joint counter-terrorism network, officials said.

The two-day visit starts Dec 8. The delegation will be led by Israel’s chief of defence staff, Lt Gen Gabi Ashkenazi.

“The delegation will meet chiefs of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force and the national security advisor (NSA),” a senior defence official said requesting anonymity for speaking on such sensitive military issues.

Though the government has been circumspect about its military ties with Israel, there have been regular interactions at various levels.

Indian Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, had visited Tel Aviv last month.

In September 2008, then Israeli army chief, General Avi Mizrahi, visited India and held talks about joint exercises on counter-insurgency and anti-terror operations. He had also made a trip to Jammu and Kashmir.

India is Israel’s biggest customer for weapons and has a longstanding relationship with Tel Aviv. India has bought military hardware and software from Israel worth about $8 billion since the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan.

In 2004, India ordered three Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), fitted on Russian-built Ilyushin II-76 aircraft. The first of the AWACS were inducted in the Indian Air Force in May this year. Israel has also sold IAI Malat-built Searcher MkII and IAI Heron unmanned aerial vehicles to the Indian Air Force. The IAI recently upgraded 32 Hind Mi-24 helicopters for the Indian Army.

Rafael is a major company vying for a $10 billion contract for the supply of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

In 2008, Rafael won the Indian order for low-level quick reaction missile system (LLQRM), which was competing with the mobile SPYDER (Surface-to-air Python and Derby) short-range air defence system. The company is now competing for India’s quick reaction missile (QRM) and medium range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) order with the SPYDER-SR (short-range) and SPYDER-MR (medium-range) missile systems.

India downplays China’s grouse


India on Saturday sought to play down the Chinese objection to construction of a road at Demchok in Ladakh near the McMahon Line in Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the Chinese objection was the result of “differing perceptions” of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. She said India had already taken up the issue with China during a flag-meeting on the LAC. The Jammu and Kashmir government recently stopped construction of an eight-km-long road in the remote Demchok area of Ladakh after objections from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

“This is not a new issue. Such issues have cropped up earlier also in the discourse relating to the boundary discussions between India and China,” Rao said.

Reacting to media reports about ULFA military chief Paresh Barua’s escape from Bangladesh to China in the wake of a crackdown by Dhaka, the foreign secretary said that India was in touch with its neighbours to get the rebel leader as he was wanted in India for “crime against State”.

“We are in touch with our neighbours about these matters. And we expect all our neighbours to behave responsibly on these issues,” said Rao.