Sudhir G Dandnayak – is always around

That in nutshell is how I would always recall Sudhir Dandnayak. As colleagues, our relationship, apparently, was always at the level of our official matters, but as a person he was always around whenever I sought his support, even when he may physically be not there.

Sudhir and I started our careers almost simultaneously, at Gujarat Steel Tubes Ltd., Ahmedabad. He had joined the Exports department after completing his post-graduation studies in export management whereas I was entrusted the role of setting up company’s first ever green-field diversification into manufacture of welded stainless tubes. As such, we hardly had any common ground that would provide a platform for us to know each other, even as colleagues. However, the fact that we were two formally educated novices naturally did connect us. As a result, we did interact with each other whenever some opportunity was available.

After a couple of years, I was entrusted the role of developing vendors of products other than steel pipes and tubes for exports, so that the company could attain the status of a ‘merchant’ export house. Sudhir was allotted the corresponding responsibility of developing the exports for such products. However, after some efforts, the company lost interest in this area. So, our relationship, too, could not go further. But, whatever few months we did get to work together, it was that unique charm of his personality that we had been able to build a rapport beyond the natural affinity that two professionally educated novices would have for each other.

After a decade or so, the destiny again brought us together – at Ratnamani Metals and Tubes Ltd. Here too he oversaw the developing the exports of stainless tubes and pipes, but initially, my area of work related to altogether a different product. But as the fate had indeed scripted some years of our lives when we could really work together, I was assigned the role of managing the plant operations of stainless-steel pipes and tubes.

That is the period when I came to know of the unique side of the personality of Sudhir Dandnayak. Professionally, we were two streams moving at cross currents.  The products that Sudhir could present for the exports required the mindset of goldsmith, whereas we, the production team, had the strong mind set of ironsmiths. In many instances, we could not measure up to the levels of performance that Sudhir would have expected of us in so far as developing the soft skills to manufacture the types of stainless-steel pipes and tubes that export markets he was trying to develop. When these differences would go too far, Sudhir would be quite firm in putting across his views, while fully empathising with our state of mental make-up and the physical infrastructure which we then had. Many a times when we would be put to extremely hot-bed positions, even when he would naturally be on the opposing side of the table, he never allowed any trace of bitterness into his approach with us, either during or after the incident. In fact, he would remain so equanimous that we too never felt any distance from him.

In my personal case, there were many instances, where he had no formal role to take my side or help me, but I found lot of encouragement by his apparently nonvisible presence around me. In many of the such cases, I was clearly able to discern his capability to smoothly navigate through the extremely unfavourable environment with deep calm and patience. It was tis unique side of personality that gravitated me to seek his counsel. He was always there to help me in such situations by enabling me to look at the situation form totally different perspective.

After I had left Ratamani Metal, we had had very few occasions to meet each other either professionally or personally. But whenever I was in extremely distressed state of mind, I always remembered his ways of remaining untouched by the storms around and could always find that solace that helped me to weather my storms.

It cannot be a mere coincidence that his photograph in the obituary – which I have morphed in this article – epitomises his that facet of the personality, of being able to maintain that faint smile (of hope, composure and being at peace) even when the subtle lines of inherent tensions of the modern-day life could be discerned on his forehead.

We, the ordinary mortal ‘friends’ of Sudhir Dandnayak will be able to take solace that he was sent as an emissary by Him to provide peace, composure and commitment of conviction amid the turmoil’s of mundane life and has been recalled by Him for some larger mission there, because we always found him and will find him even now or in future, around us. However, the void that his immediate family will face of his that very personality would be impossible to be filled up even his presence will always be felt around them. If he was here, may be he would have some solution for it!

Adieu to Late Shri P P Vora – Refreshing the Memories from The Early Phase of My Career

01-10-1943 | 05-08-2022
Ex-CMD – IDBI |Ex-CMD- NHB

As I read the news of demise of Shri P  P Vora, my mind silently slipped in to time machine and went back to the period of 1974 -1976.

Gujarat Steel Tubes (GST)Ltd was directed by ICICI Ltd to approach GIIC Ltd for their term loan finance requirement of around Rs 40 lacs. GST’s approach to GIIC then led to further GST’s additional relationship(s) with GIIC., one of which was the term finance for a green field project for manufacture of Welded Stainless (SS) Tubes at GST’s wholly owned subsidiary Neeka Tubes Ltd (NTL). The fate had destined me to steer these activities as the then incumbent Project Officer at GST.

That project envisaged in-house manufacturing of the tube mill line, and as I had expected soon became the core discussion topic during the project finance appraisal process. I had just been able to present the case in a manner which paved the way to look at that matter now from financial angle as well. The then Technical Head of R S Dixit (I believe I remember the initials correctly), himself introduced the subject, and me, to Mr. P P Vora – the then Head of Finance at GIIC Ltd.

Mr. P P Vora very carefully, but fully professionally, guided me to develop a model of recording and documenting the cost of in-house manufacturing the SS tube mill that would be not too to complicated for us to build and maintain and which will also be independently verifiable while also meeting the points of views of accounting norms of the Companies Act and the Income Tax Act.

Mr. Dixit and Mr Vora both led the entire appraisal process in such a manner that I never felt any discouragement at any stage and was also in position to show the management and colleagues of NTL that it was I who was successfully navigating the whole process.

The way that process was so naturally executed, I was also able to realize then that even as I have been successful in bringing up my theoretical knowledge so effectively to steer a highly unconventional idea to the world of hard-core reality, I always could maintain myself to the planes of reality that whatever I was able to accomplish was not because I was right , it was the right sagacity of vision of these professionals who held the torch of guiding, supporting and encouraging the entrepreneurship, that created environment where I could see my ideas fructifying into reality.

Moreover, the way these two gentlemen expounded our the then limited perspective of the macro world of SS Tube industry also was to play key role in the way we navigated through those uncharted waters.

In the retrospect I do realize now that their whole holistic approach of evaluating the viability of the project over the life span of the duration of the term loan, unconsciously instilled that habit of looking at any given issue from angles different than the obvious.

When I read the news of passing away of Shri P P Vora, it was perhaps natural that these memories would come to the surface of my mind as my humble tribute to that true to the core entrepreneurship development professional.

I also take this opportunity to record my most sincere acknowledgement of the roles that all those individuals have played at different stages of my 38-years of career wherein the destiny was to help me to groom that idiosyncratic ideal spirit of creativity of mine throughout the career such that I am able to look back at all my failures not with a sense of despair but with the satisfaction that I did I sincerely felt was right for me to do then.

Adieu to (S T) Parikh saheb

Shri S T (Shrish Trilokchandra) Parikh’s long, live; vigil came to an end on 31st July 2015. His own fairly chronic illness, his wife (Surkhabhabhi)’s critical ill-health and her parting the long company last year also did not affect his ever so equanimous, take-each-event-of-the-life-as-it-happens approach to his life.

Whenever I met or talked to him in last three / four years, this was one more facet of his personality that I did observe. In fact it is a plus to many qualities of his personality that I would reel off. When I talked to him last week and promised to meet soon enough, his tone and tenor were, as-ever, so balanced – without any rancor – and pleasant enough. In the hindsight now, I so much regret that I took his so strongly positive attitude towards life as as-is-usual-well signal and not took up my inner urge to visit him there and then.

In fact, I now so clearly recollect that even during our period together at Gujarat Steel Tubes (1973 to 1979), he had never complained of things that he would be involved with, things that no one in the organization would (or could handle), things that would keep life not smooth for even a short period. He would approach all such unexpected trouble-monger events with his, as-usual, cool and calm analytical approach, observe the event and the happenings under – or behind – such events minutely and formulate a decision objectively. Most of the decisions would appear to be out-of-box ones to the others. This invariably called for a great amount of convincing to all, but he would approach each discussion with same vigor and meticulousness, without any trace of exasperation, or for that matter, even frustration, which any other human being, in the similar circumstances, would (sometimes) feel.

For me, personally, the loss is quite profound. That he was one single person who made me what I professionally am can be called THE understatement of my life. When I reflect, I can so vividly see how painstaking and loving he was in those formative years of mine at Gujarat Steel Tubes.

He would give me a set of figures of allocation of steel and ask to me to tabulate them. Initially, I would invariably make some error in my totaling up. He would very gently show those mistakes while explaining the pattern of allocation among the different steel tube manufacturers as well its implications for GST in particular and the Steel Tube Industry in general. It was his way of directing me to take care of very small details while giving me the benefit of his expertise in the macro analysis of the Steel Industry.

For every new task that he would choose to entrust me, he would make sure that I certainly knew of the unspoken backing of his position in the company but also subtly made sure to the concerned outside world also would know it too that I carried his confidence, and hence his authority.

He chose to invest his confidence in me, and then went all the way. I feel happy that I have been able to repay his efforts, to some degree, in turn by helping careers of several of my colleagues.

I can fill millions of bytes to recollect such seemingly very insignificant, but so ever vital events that helped build the foundation of my career.

He was a natural network builder. This was one quality of his that just did not permeate through the filters of my own personality. Almost all these years, it was, invariably, he who would call me up at fairly regular interval, even when I inveterately failed to take the next call first.

He was always a low-key player, never played his own drum and hardly cared whether someone would take cognizance of his contribution(s).

Well everything that begins has to end. So does a great life that may never get the due that so much was deserved, in so many words. But, Parikh saheb always took such things in his stride, and still never missed a beat in the rhythm of his life.

‘S T Parikh Saheb’s Family Celebrates His Turning 75

The occasion was momentous – certainly because both ‘Parikh Saheb’ and Surekhabhabhi have fought back very critical illnesses in the last couple of years; because they have maintained same conviviality, grace and equanimity, and certainly because we had had opportunity to meet many of Gujarat Steel Tubes (GST) colleagues.

When I joined GST (1973), he had already made his place in the (India’s the then) steel tube industry’s steel procurement space. He had laid foundation for meeting demands of the raw materials that GST ‘s major capacity addition was poised to need by 1974-75 period., within 5 years of taking over this role – from a core civial engineer’s mantle that he donned previously.

Shri ST Parikh was my mentor in the truest sense of mentorship, when management lexicon had not ‘known’ the concept of mentoring. He not only made possible all the opportunities for me to learn the ropes , but also showed several opportunities of new areas of learning in that short period of six years. He also had foresight to identify talent in the organization which was not fully used by their existing jobs. He drafted such persons in different capacities under his umbrella and paved way for their growth and provided the organization the much needed depth of expertise in an area (steel procurement) which he could have continued to operate as his ole domain. He never hesitated in training this team in all possible tricks of the trade. He was laying the foundation of of building a team in area which could have merrily remained his one-man-playground.

Moreover, he was always ready to extend helping hand to the weaker players of the industry without affecting the interests of GST.  This showed his skills of balancing two totally divergent activities. This, also, was building up of wide area network of those days.

He knew which relationships to build and ensured that once built, the relationship did not whither out, as long as he so desired. It should be no one’s surprise that all these bridges that he assiduously built have kept serving him even now.

And the bonus of attending today’s function – we met Apoorvabhai (Shah) and Karunaben, Pradip Desai, K M Shah, M N Shah, Manibhai Patel, Jyotindra Buch and KP Shah, after a good 30 years!