Citizens' Issues
Problems of Being an Indian Entrepreneur-I: I was never interested in money

This is the first part of the four-part series on the difficulties of an entrepreneur doing business in India and how India loses by forcing small businesses to pay for bribes and lose out to multinationals. PS Deodhar talks about his background and his love for engineering
 

Friends and relatives often ask me one question that puzzles them: Why is APLAB not a thousand crore company despite its reputation for high its quality products, innovation and business integrity and solid exports. The answer is simple and two-fold—my upbringing and, two, our sense of integrity and unfaltering resistance to making deals with government authorities. Unfortunately, in India, there’s a price to be paid for being honest and full of integrity.

 

Chasing money never excited me. Business circles like the chambers of commerce, CII or FICCI do not interest me either. I do hold in great esteem a few of the successful entreprenuers whose money has been a corollary of their great vision, extra-ordinary skill and wisdom. They wear their wealth very elegantly and conduct themselves in a gracefully simple manner. However, there is another kind that make me sick—those who conduct themselves without any respect to society, law & order and integrity. I never can admire their commercial success accrued through moral and legal compromises. This type of business people will never be role models for anyone with respect for law and integrity.

 

In India, one also has to be willing to make compromises. My domain knowledge happens to be in electronics and engineering materials. I never really pushed my team for monetary growth. I was happy as long as my company had enough wealth to invest in the development of products that excited me. I preferred to focus on product development, continued learning of technological advances and deliver products that consumers wanted which other Indian companies could not. My ego booster is technological achievement. I have the mindset of a craftsman and love to harness technology to provide a well-crafted solution. This is because I had the benefit of coming from a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) family.

 

I had adequate technical knowledge and skills in design and production of well-engineered electronic products. In the early years, I enjoyed great benefits of being a pioneer. Many companies were admirers of APLAB: IIT Bombay, BARC, TIFR, Bharat Electronics, Indian Telephone Industries, NAL and many others. We were developing products for them, helping them to substitute imports with superior domestic products.

 

My priority was always to put unrelenting efforts in manufacturing such products and trying to match them with those from Europe in terms of quality and packaging. My annual visits to Japan in the early seventies, and then to Germany till the early eighties, helped me understand the intricacies of technological excellence. I challenged to attempt their technological approach in India.

 

I recollect, in 1967, Lt General AC Aiyappa, chairman of BEL, called me, offering a challenge to develop an AC Voltage Regulator to meet the K114E environmental endurance test. The product had to work at -40°C, that too in a moving military vehicle. Within four weeks, I went with a sample that passed all the stringent tests. This helped BEL to replace a similar product from Siemens. Big orders followed from the Indian military for decades! Never ever was there a word about a bribe or a gift.

 

My first mentor was an engineer par excellence who lived and breathed engineering: Late MG Bhat of Automatic Electric. We quickly developed mutual respect and appreciation. He was a total “hands-on” electrical and mechanical engineer and had an outstanding range of electrical products, ranging from electrical panel meters to variable torroidal transformers and resin-cast metering transformers. All these were deeply integrated developments started with basic materials. Bhat and I together developed India's first stepper motor and a range of line voltage regulators. All his products were highly respected by big electrical engineering groups in India. He introduced me to Japan, which we often visited together. Our skills were complementary and in 1964, two years after I set up Applied Electronics Laboratories, Bhat became my sleeping shareholder in APLAB. Throughout his life, he never once questioned the way I managed APLAB. A few mutual friends often tell me that he was proud of what I was doing.

 

In the second part of the series, he will discuss how the company evolved, by using quality engineering and talent, to grow from a small company to a world-class exporter and finally how his decision to work for the government and honest approach affected his company.

 

(PS Deodhar is founder and former chairman of the APLAB Group of companies. He is also the former chairman of the Electronics Commission of the Government of India and was an advisor to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on electronics. He also was the chairman of the Broadcast Council in 1992-93 that set in motion the privatisation of the electronic media with metro channels.)


Read the Second part of the series

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COMMENTS

jihn

3 years ago

all i hear is crying and bitc hing and moaning and crying.

GOVIND GOPAL SHANBHAG

4 years ago

MDT and Deodhar Jee : Difficulties expressed by you are not applicable to mfg industries but also to service industies working from residence. (1) No firm( both Prop and Partnership) can open the account in any bank unless they submit two certificates from Govt. Agencies such as Professional Tax(PT). Service Tax(ST) Shop n Establishment Act (SET) ,Sales Tax etc (SLT). Generally person working from home do not apply for SLT, as once it is established he is doing business, the Society where stays, Municipality etc. charges double for water tax, electric companies for electricity and host of periodical returns. Getting your name in PT is difficult, as they insist for bank details of the firm and bank do not open account unless you provide registrations. There is no sales tax for service industry and service tax is applicable only when income limit exceeds Rs.10.00 lacs. Even for PT u need two certificates - one for employer and one for employee with host of periodical returns.

Resham Thakur

4 years ago

I totally agree with Mr.P.S.Deodhar' frank views, even i feel that we are sailing in the same boat. In India, it's just next to impossible to do any good work or business honestly & sincerely, your own colleagues & friends from your fraternity will laugh at you & make a joke of you. I remember Justice Markandey Katju's golden worlds " 90 % Indians are fools" I would further like to improve & correct him, Sir, it is 99 % not 90 %. We Indians are Morons & bottom lickers of people in power, where as I am a bottom kicker of all these rogue characters in power. Our house,offices & furniture manufacturing factories were raided by corrupt IT & ST departments on several occasions, just to harass us & coerce us in paying bribes. We refused to bow down. We will fight till the end,in courts, but will never ever pay bribes to these scavengers & spineless creatures (men in power). Jai Hind!

jtd

4 years ago

Aplabs products were amongst the most rugged devices I have ever used. Their bench top power supplies were more abused than used - and never ever failed.

REPLY

p s d

In Reply to jtd 4 years ago

Thanks

Consumer forum fines MSEDCL for not attending complaint within four hours

The consumer forum also directed the electricity supplier to recover the compensation from the staff and officials responsible for the harassment of a senior citizen

 
Amravati-based Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) has directed the executive engineer of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL) to pay a compensation of Rs2,950 to Vinayak Prabhune for failing to attend the complaint within the mandated four hours.
 
The forum has also directed the company to recover the compensation amount from its staff and officials by fixing responsibility for the failure apart from other actions as per regulations.
 
Akola-based Vinayak Prabhune had lodged complaint of power failure to his house on 23 July 2012 at 9.45am. As per standard of performances (SOP) specified by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), the complaint should have been attended within four hours. However, MSEDCL staff did not turn up for about 24 hours. Mr Prabhune then filed a written complaint on 24 July 2012, following which the staff visited and suggested that the service line should be changed. 
 
As Mr Prabhune was in the dark for over 24 hours, he immediately purchased service line wires and requested the staff to connect it on the same day. But MSEDCL staff did not consider his request. Finally on 25 July 2012, MSEDCL staff restored supply at 3.30pm. Mr Prabhune, a senior citizen, had to remain in dark for about 55 hours without any fault from his side.
 
He then sent a letter to KA Sagne, executive engineer, seeking compensation for failing to meet the SOP and to take action against the erring staff. He stated that the approach of the MSEDCL staff was extremely unfair and adamant. However, Mr Sagne also did not take any cognizance.
 
So, Mr Prabhune lodged a complaint in January 2013 with the Consumer Forum, with the prayer to direct MSEDCL to pay compensation of Rs2,550 towards failure to meet SOP provisions and to direct MSEDCL management to take disciplinary action on the officials/ staff responsible for harassment to the senior citizens and to pay cost of Rs500.
 
The CGRF conducted the hearing on 20 February 2013, where Vinayak Prabhune represented the matter. The forum passed the order on 12 March 2013, which was received by Mr Prabhune on 30 March 2013.
 
The CGRF has confirmed that if the concerned staff and officer of MSEDCL would have attended the complaint properly there would not have been reason for the complainant to approach this forum, resulting in monetary liability of compensation and costs on MSEDCL. It is the liability of these concerned staff and official and MSEDCL to take appropriate steps in that respect against them.
 
The Government of Maharashtra has given specific directives to all the departments for avoiding inconvenience to senior citizens, while availing various services. But it appears that MSEDCL officials and staff blatantly dare to ignore it and pay the price for the same, Avinash Prabhune (son of Vinayak Prabhune) said in an email. 
 

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COMMENTS

PRABHAT

4 years ago

IT IS GOOD TO RECOVER COMPENSATION FROM ERRING STAFF AND IT SHOULD BE FOLLOWED IN ALL CASES . IT WILL KEEP THE STAFF ALERT AND REDUCE THE NO OF CASES .

HC directs Sahara India, Subrata Roy to file reply on a PIL

Sahara India and Subrata Roy have been asked by the high court to file their reply on a PIL filed by Lucknow-based activists. The Thakurs, in their PIL, had called for a complete ban on all advertisements where any constitutional or statutory body is criticized 

 
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday directed Sahara India Pariwar and Subrata Roy to file within two weeks their reply in a public interest petition (PIL) filed by IPS officer Amitabh Thakur and social activist Dr Nutan Thakur.
 
After hearing arguments from both the sides, a bench of justice Uma Nath Singh and justice Dr Satish Chandra asked Sahara to file its reply in two weeks. The matter would be heard next on 22nd April.
 
During the hearing, advocate Ashok Pande, the counsel for Thakurs argued for strong action against Sahara and Mr Roy. Additional Solicitor General KC Kaushik did not oppose the plea.
 
The Thakurs had filed the PIL after the release of full-page advertisements by Sahara in leading Indian newspapers on 17th March for ‘denigrating’ and abusing a statutory, self-regulatory body and a retired supreme court judge. 
 
The PIL says that a private person and a private organization have openly denigrated and accused the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which is a statutory body established to safeguard the interests of investors and to act as the market regulator. The advertisement also criticized justice BN Agarwal’s conduct while both SEBI and justice Agarwal are only performing their official duty. 
 
The petitioners said the act of criticizing SEBI through an advertisement prima-facie seems to be a criminal misconduct under Sections 186 and 189 IPC and provisions of the Companies Act, 1956.
 

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COMMENTS

sulochna

4 years ago

Looking at the recent developments in Sahara - SEBI encounter. Sahara has given a felicitous and affirmative reaction to the dig taken by SEBI chairman U K Sinha. Sahara claimed that total investor base of 3.07 crore included as much as 2.99 crore with funds accounting for up to Rs 20,000 each. The company backed its previous claim that 90% of investors have been repaid. Also Sahara India is putting great effort to make a World Record with our National Anthem “Jana, Gana, Mana”.

REPLY

Arun Mehta

In Reply to sulochna 4 years ago

It's time this noble son of Bharat Mata who never misses and opportunity to display(Read his mainstream media blitz on Anthem singing World record efforts)' his patriotism has been able hide his 'dark side' thro his well planned PR and hiding his real politician's fund nexus.Only the Apex court which has now made CBI/SEBi report to them can expose this mysterious organization and bring to public scrutiny in time for the 2014 elections.

Arun Mehta

4 years ago

One can take a cue from the large disproportionate growth of income of a Dalit politician in UP, as an aggregation of small'cash' donations from members/wellwishers of the party and their love for it's chairman,as such no accounts /records have been kept.

sameer

4 years ago

Sebi chairman should kindly send an amended statement to media with realisation and apologies that why cash repayments to around 90 per cent investors have been made and the 90 per cent cash payments are totally justified

sulochna

4 years ago

It was one most transparent answer by Sahara to another sarcastic yet malicious allegation by SEBI chairman. Sahara has backed its claim that 90% of investors have received the payment. Sahara also claimed that many of their investors are small scale and they do not go to banks neither banks come to them justifying their cash refund.

sneha

4 years ago

SEBI has been trying it all from issuing public notice, moving Supreme Court and requesting arrest pleas. It seems that SEBI has reached a level of desperation in its campaign to malign Sahara's image. SEBI's chairman taking dig at the company without naming it justifies SEBI's faltering attempts and Sahara's justifying claims.

Ravindra

4 years ago

Have the Thakurs ever heard of the freedom of the Press and the freedom of the Individuals?

I think they are still in the era of the Mogul Sultanat. Even there with many , if not all, Sultans and Badshahs a common man was heard.

vinay pathak

4 years ago

here, i want to say that Sahara and subrata roy never denigrate Sebi. Besides that sebi is the only one who denigrate Sahara India and subrata roy.

I'm an investor of Sahara india from the last 8 years but i never face any problem with Sahara india pariwar.
Moreover, from the last 8 years what i experienced is that Sahara india pariwar is the best

REPLY

VINOD TRIPATHI

In Reply to vinay pathak 4 years ago

if u r real invester then help me to refund my bonds in cash/account or get lost from this portal
as u stated here that u could not here anything negative about sahara. if u r in public forum u have to hear from real people i have 100+ people who can say sahara does not paid and forcefully converted to q-shop this is the way u ch... people
dou have any profit making business?is there helpline no working in sahara for investors.give me your mail id i will send u details regarding my struggle for payment. and for u just go to google type SAHARA INDIA fr or SAHARA INDIA NON PAYMENT U MAY FIND ALL YOUR satisfied investors
vinod tripathi

Arun Mehta

4 years ago

That Ad has been followed up with a full page ad in the mainstream of the good VVIP's get togetjher for the family social function of Mr Royas grand child and very recently on great qualityie sof his own father.All these unconvetional ads are only to make a point that how can such noble hearted citizen of "Bharatmata" could ever be charged or suspected of any malfeasance.

REPLY

vinay pathak

In Reply to Arun Mehta 4 years ago

Hey Mr. Arun, in my opinion, I don't think so that Mr Roy had ever denigrate sebi.
And he never misuses the money of investors like us. Although Sahara India pariwar always helps investors like us.
And they also supports our national sports and our cricket team

VINOD TRIPATHI

In Reply to Arun Mehta 4 years ago

VERY GOOD ARUN G

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