Vice President releases Biography on Dr. A. Ramakrishna

New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that quality and credible companies needed to facelift infra sector in our country. He was addressing the gathering after releasing the Biography of late Industrialist, Dr. Anumolu Ramakrishna, authored by Shri. V. Pattabhi Ram and Shri. R. Mohan, in Chennai today. The Minister for Fisheries and Personnel & Administrative Reforms, Tamil Nadu, Shri D. Jayakumar and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Vice President complimented the biography and said that it introduced us to a man with great sagacity, sharp intellect and refined engineering orientation. He added that Dr. Ramakrishna had the ability to grasp issues quickly, understand their nuances and impact and arrive at innovative solutions rapidly.

The Vice President said that Dr. Ramakrishna had the wonderful ability to take people along with him. He was a leader by example, a motivator, an inspiration for his colleagues to reach for the sky with him, he added.

The Vice President said that Dr. Ramakrishna was a great communicator and that his warmth and empathy were overwhelming, truly, the traits of a born leader. He possessed an extremely rare trait of being able to expertly synthesize innovation and execution in an industry where execution is key, he added.

Saying India is on a growth trajectory today, the Vice President said that we have highly ambitious plans for the country and a large part of these plans would work only if we build infrastructure. He said that this is a truly exciting and challenging time for Indian technocrats and builders.

The Vice President exclaimed that that Dr. Ramakrishna was an institution by himself, but what is more remarkable was that he was instrumental in building an institution that would stand testimony to him for a long time to come. Technocrats like Shri. A. Ramakrishna have helped India face the world with its head held high.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“It is indeed a matter of great pride and privilege for me to be here today to participate in this function and to release the biography of one of the true doyens of Indian industry.

Today is an opportunity to celebrate the life and contribution of Dr. A Ramakrishna, posthumous winner of the Padma Bhushan, the nation’s third highest civilian award. This biography is in many ways an acknowledgement and recognition of his tremendous contribution towards finding the rightful place for the Indian construction industry in the world.

This creative expression traces Dr. Ramakrishna’s life right from its humble beginnings, through his formative years, his emergence as a man of substance, his several triumphs to his ascension to lead one of the country’s largest organizations and a celebrated industry leader.His is also a story of evolution, of promises kept, of dreams realized, of hopes fulfilled.

The biography introduces us to a man with great sagacity, sharp intellect and refined engineering orientation. Dr. Ramakrishna had the ability to quickly grasp issues, understand their nuances and impact and arrive at innovative solutions rapidly. His thinking and his approach were far ahead of his times with the result that he was able to endow the erstwhile old world construction industry with a verve, instil in it a freshness that made the world look at it through a new lens.

His is also the story of a pioneering spirit. As is the case with great thinkers, the mundane bored Dr. Ramakrishna; the usual and the ordinary did not hold his attention for long. He constantly questioned the obvious; never readily accepted the status quo and urged everyone around him to become equally unforgiving towards the standard and the sedate. A restless mind, he was forever seeking new ways, finding new paths, engineering new solutions. His natural inclination to question gave him the opportunity, the latitude and the freedom to think new, think big and think beyond the ordinary. His mind soared to new heights and strove to find new paradigms. For him, problems were always opportunities to rewrite the rules of the game, to overturn convention and create new vistas of achievement. Such iconoclastic thinkers are often isolated and left to plough a lone furrow by the loftiness of their thoughts.That, fortunately, was not so with Dr. Ramakrishna.

Though he discovered new paths, he found enough traction with those around him to accompany him on those new paths; he had that wonderful ability to take people along with him selling them his own brand of dreams that they were readily willing to buy into. He was a leader by example, a motivator, an inspiration for his colleagues to reach for the sky with him. He found willing partners to own his novel way of thinking; the pride and commitment to take and live his dreams. Not many could resist his enthusiasm, his free spirit and his obvious bonhomie. Not many could resist him; instead they became unswervingly loyal to him.

As the conductor of an orchestra of designers, architects, engineers and workers, Dr. Ramakrishna had the capability to explain interfaces openly and thoughtfully. Seeing the overall picture and putting a myriad of mosaic stones to a unique piece of work was one of his outstanding characteristics. A great communicator, his warmth and empathy were overwhelming, ever willing to explore a fresh perspective, engage a contrarian view, discuss and debate it threadbare and willing to alter his stand point if convinced. Truly, the traits of a born leader.

His vision was as large as it was far-sighted and, more importantly, he was able to articulate it perfectly to all around infusing them with his passion, drive and enthusiasm. Like a born leader, he was ever mindful of the big picture though he hardly ever lost sight of ground realities. The macro perspective was as important for him as micro detailing.

A man of considerable learning, he loved to dispense his wisdom to those who rubbed shoulders with him or had the privilege of working under him. He was a fountain of new thinking, always contemplating fresh perspectives, exploring hitherto untried approaches. The construction business was maturing during his days at the helm and it needed a man with an equally evolved and mature mindset to ride the turbulence and steer the ship to safer, calmer waters. He proved to be an ideal skipper.

His freshness of thought and approach cast him as a leader of rare quality and calibre.It is therefore hardly surprising that he was able to guide the fortunes of ECC, the organization he headed, setting a growth trajectory that took it to new heights. His far-sighted and visionary leadership transformed the organization. Driving it with passion and foresight, ECC emerged as one of the biggest and most respected construction organizations in the country. When faced with seemingly impossible projects, the phrase “If not L&T, then who else?” became commonplace in India.

Spearheading a burgeoning business is fraught with challenges but he was able to address them with strength and conviction. He believed in the intrinsic strength of his people and thus was bold in his forays, confident of his own and his team’s capabilities. Under his tutelage, the business grew and grew and as the size, scale and complexity of L&T’s projects increased, so did Dr. Ramakrishna’s uncanny depth of understanding and width of attention. He was always on top of it all, no matter how intimidating the project or its timelines were. For him, the world was the stage. Not satisfied with his successes within the country, Dr. Ramakrishna set his mind to make overseas conquests and made several successful forays into hitherto untapped markets. He smelt opportunities and triggered the globalization of the business by opening newer vistas for growth, forging fresh relationships and preparing the Company for sterner challenges ahead.

Technology did not awe him but in technology, he found a worthy ally to awe the world. “The Indian construction industry will have to adopt international practices to be globally competitive,” he once declared. “It will have to address issues such as achieving faster construction methods, improving quality, mechanization, trained personnel and problems relating to contract management.”

He possessed an extremely rare trait of being able to expertly synthesize innovation and execution. In an industry where execution is key, Dr. Ramakrishna was able to introduce innovation to metamorphose construction. He assiduously and constantly modernized construction practices at site with an almost missionary zeal enhancing competencies multi-fold. The intricacy of the famous Baha’i Temple, often referred to as the modern day Taj Mahal, and the majesty of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Whitefield, Bengaluru are but a couple of examples of his thinking. The introduction of segmental launching to build the incredibly complicated Panval Nadi Viaduct, one of the tallest in Asia or the challenging projects he has executed for Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Pattuparthi are all testimony of his finely honed engineering skills.

Dr. Ramakrishna fathered the application of pre-cast, pre-stressed and tunnel form techniques across the entire gamut of construction right from housing to vaults in nuclear power plants, airports to sports stadia. The introduction of System Formwork technology to vastly improve concrete forms and raise productivity levels was his brainchild as were the modern launching techniques for bridges or flyover construction like those used in the case of the Panval Nadi viaduct, the tallest in Asia or Bangalore’s Sirsi Circle flyover, India’s longest. A brilliant structural designer, he did not stop at designing but ensured to match design with execution. Leaders have three fundamental responsibilities: They craft a vision, they build alignment, and they champion execution. Very often we see ambitious projects being designed which fail miserably when it comes to execution, but not with Dr. Ramakrishna. He created practical, pragmatic solutions to engineering problems. He designed the pre-tensioned, pre-cast long span slab or truss – the ‘A’ frame that became known as ‘AR Frame’! A fitting tribute to his memory is that several of his new ideas have now become industry norms. Surely, imitation is the best form of flattery.

Although a charismatic and inspiring leader who devoted his entire life to making Larsen & Toubro live up to the sobriquet of ‘Builders to the nation’, Dr. Ramakrishna was also an intense family man, a side of him that we have the privilege to see in this book. His warmth, his sense of commitment, his spirit of inclusion are evident in the web of relationships he wove.

I take this opportunity to appreciate the sacrifices of his wife and his entire family for having given Dr. Ramakrishna the freedom and opportunity to become such an asset for the country!

Friends, India is on a growth trajectory today. We have highly ambitious plans for the country and a large part of these plans would work only if we build infrastructure, roads, dams, power plants, living spaces, amenities, metro systems, ports, utilities. The progress of any nation depends upon the talent and the commitment of its ‘Vishwakarmas’, its builders.

The economic survey 2018 estimates that India would raise $ 4.5 trillion by 2040 to develop Infrastructure. We have a number of ambitious projects such as the Bharatmala for road transport and Sagarmala for shipping. We are trying to rationalize and balance the construction boom in urban areas and at the same time striving to take infrastructure to rural areas as well.

Recognizing the importance of railways in aiding and abetting the progress of the nation, we are focusing on expanding and upgrading our rail network. For the first time Northeast India is fully integrated with the rest of India with the entire network converted to broad gauge. It brought Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram on the rail map of India after 70 years of independence! We recently saw how the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim got its long-awaited airport. Situated at a height of 4,500 feet. It was an engineering marvel.

We are also building crores of affordable houses for those who are deprived of a roof over their heads. This is a truly exciting and challenging time for Indian technocrats and builders. In such times, the builders of modern India should draw lessons of inspiration from the life of this great Karmayogi.

In the 1990’s Dr. Ramakrishna took the lead in implementing projects under the public-private partnership (PPP). Notable among the PPP projects executed by L&T under his leadership include the HITEC City in Hyderabad, Kakinada Deepwater Port, Jaipur-Kishangarh Expressway and Bangalore International Airport.

Right in the early days of Information Technology, Dr. Ramakrishna introduced the application of IT in L&T’s construction operations. Under his leadership and guidance L&T opted for implementation of an Enterprise Information portal. Friends today, industrial revolution 4.0 is underway. Automation and data exchange. Taking a page out of Dr. Ramakrishna’s playbook, technocrats of today must unhesitatingly, unflinchingly go ahead with making full use of information technology, be it in hydrocarbon exploration or affordable housing.

Dr. Ramakrishna was inspired by the vision of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to make India a developed nation by 2020 and firmly believed that Government Departments, Indian Industry and Public Institutions can work on a matrix mode for technology development and towards enhancement of public awareness of engineering.

Many both in India and abroad see Dr A Ramakrishna as an exemplary Engineer and Leader who combined technical excellence with honesty, integrity and human values in business. He showed the way to transform construction scenario in India and contributed to India becoming a Developed Nation. He was a true patriot, a true son of Mother India. His empathy and compassion are virtues worth emulating. He was the very epitome of the core philosophy preached in the Bhagawad Gita, that of equanimity.

The trappings of fame used to sit very light on him, he stayed away from limelight and never sought credit for his exceptional work. Untiring, self-less service to his chosen profession is something that everyone can learn from Dr. Ramakrishna’s life. I implore the younger generation of technocrats to make his biography their talisman. It will go a long way in setting the right priorities and envisioning the right goals, helping us to realize the dream of a new, resurgent, strong India.

In conclusion, Dr. Ramakrishna was an institution but what is more remarkable is that he was instrumental in building an institution that will stand testimony to him and his memory long after he is gone!

Long live his memory!

I take this opportunity to appreciate and congratulate the author of this great work. Shri….. What you have done by capturing the life of Dr. A. Ramakrishna on paper is that you have immortalized the story of his life for the benefit of the future generations of this country. You have chronicled the life and times of one of India’s great creators. Posterity will thank you for this beautiful work. I wish you all the very best.

Thank You!

Jai Hind!”