mdc I

Inhi Ki Kirpa Ke Saje Hum Hain…

Life, for me and my wife, turned a new leaf in June 1997. After four decades in uniform, I retired from the Army. Fortunately for me, getting a job was not difficult. Out of the three or four viable options, I chose to join Ashok Leyland, to head their newly established ‘Management Development Centre’ (MDC) in Hosur, which is a suburb of Bangluru. My task was to develop the management skills of the executives and simultaneously, groom the ‘Graduate Engineer Trainees’ who stayed in the campus for one year before being assigned their jobs. An artist’s sketch of the MDC is given below. This was prepared soon after the buildings were completed; and at that time there was no greenery in the campus.

As a policy, the company did not have any faculty on their staff. Teachers were hired on contract, and their performance was assessed by us through a feedback from the ‘participants’. Having taught in the military institutions for a number of years, I thought I would be able to perform the task. Having stood first in the Post Graduation program at IIT Delhi, I believed I knew a lot. However, upon reaching the MDC, I discovered that all the knowledge which I had acquired was of no use. To my horror I discovered that I could not handle the computer. I knew a great deal about the hardware and communication links, but I could not key in even a brief letter!

However, I had, during my military life, learnt the fine art of ‘unlearning’ and picking up information from my younger colleagues. All through my service, I have known that I have the right to teach, only if I am willing to learn. In Hosur, I found that the persons from whom I needed to learn were nearly thirty-five years younger than me, but I had no hesitation in learning from them.

During those days, one of our prime concerns was to make our executives ’computer literate’ A visit to Hindustan Lever (now HUL) revealed that they had already become ‘paperless’. In Leyland, less than ten percent could operate the computer. As per the company policy, we had farmed out computer training to a company called APTECH and they used to depute their ‘trainers’ to conduct courses. I sat through one complete programme, and felt that we could handle the program ourselves. The young lady who seemed to be the most competent turned out to be the daughter of an Army Officer, and was willing to leave APTECH and join us. Her name was Ranjani Chandrashekhar, and she soon became the sheet anchor of our computer centre. And I was her first student. With her help, we conducted a programme and the feedback was very satisfactory. A picture taken at the end of the course is given below.

Soon, our courses became popular, and the executives began to look forward  to get a chance to be with us. At this point, Ranjani suggested that we hire two more girls, to assist her. After much searching, we identified two young ladies. They are sisters. Shrija, who was then 19 and Deepa was a year younger. They were studying for their Masters in Computer Application in an evening course. We hired them on ‘as required’ basis. They turned out to be fabulous, as trainers. Indeed, Ranjani was their mentor. About this time, we conducted a talent search amongst our Graduate Engineer Trainees (GETs) to identify an executive  to supervise the facility. The person we selected was Prasad Menon. He was a Mechanical Engineer and what he knew about computers could be written on a postage stamp. But he was willing to learn. I asked Shrija and Deepa to teach him. I do not have a picture of the teaching sessions, but this year, when I went, we made a mock up of what it looked like. Here is Prasad learning from the two sisters:

With the team formed, we started conducting regular courses. Here are a couple of pictures of the executives trained by Prasad, Ranjani, Shrija and Deepa:

And here is another one,

From time to time, we hired more trainers for specific subjects or topics, to update our knowledge and skills.  Indeed, we upgraded our software and hardware, whenever necessary.

One day, I got a little worried. I had three young ladies, and Prasad was the sole male in the team. How would I handle the situation, if he ‘misbehaved’ with the girls? After all, we paid them on the basis of his advice! I found a way out. There was a little window through which I could peep into the room in which they used to prepare for their classes. I decided to go and look through the slit to see what was ‘cooking’ inside! Here is a recent picture of how I must have looked when I was a ‘peeping Tom’


Of the three young ladies, Deepa was more forthright. I asked her one day, whether Prasad was gentle , she gave him an absolutely clean chit. Her answer was, “Sir, Prasad to hamari ‘muthhi mein hai!” In fact it became evident to me that being in minority, he needed protection, and not the girls. Notwithstanding all this, I requested my wife to closely monitor their activities. I permitted them to enter our house, whenever they wished to do so. They sometimes came, saying “Ma’am, we have come with hungry stomachs” and the Lord gave us enough to feed them, as if they were our own children.

In retrospect, I think, I need not have worried at all. One fine evening, there was a knock at the door. Prasad entered, and Shrija followed. They asked me and my wife to stand together. While we were still trying to figure out the situation, they both did a ‘shashtang pranamam’ 

“Bless us, Sir and Ma’am. We want to get married, and you have to make our parents to agree!”

It took a little while to sort things out, but we made sure that their horoscopes matched. We re-enacted the scene this time, when we went to Hosur.

In due course, Ranjani got married and flew off to the USA. We inducted Anupal Bannerji and Paromita, and then Prasad decided to move to greener pastures. The team continued to be active. We conducted Seminars, exhibitions and guest lectures. We also remained in touch with IISc and IIM, Bangalore so that we were regularly  up-dated, technologically. Life moved at a rapid pace. Our  foster children travelled to all corners of the world and taught us many things. When we met them last month we were delighted to see how they have grown with times.

This year when we visited MDC, the one thing which struck us was the greenery all around. The MDC was a barren piece of land. But my wife has green fingers. And every little leaf that she touched turned into an ever-green plant. Here are a few pictures:

This is how Shrija and Deepa look now, with Prasad. And indeed, their children are adorable.

  After Ranjani was gone, our  faculty was as seen above. You see Paromita with the two adorable sisters

In this, you see the whole gang. Paromita’s husband, Suman, has joined in. We must also see the staff of the MDC. The following two pictures are taken with those members of the staff who are the backbone of  MDC

The lady in the white sari, is Meeta, the wife of the current Director, Maj Gen Prabal Sen, standing next to my wife, Surinder. The others are part of the house keeping staff.

The current Director, Maj Gen Prabal Sen is going great guns. It is only fair that we see a bit of him. First we shall see him inaugurating the annual function.

And here we see, Maj Swami conducting the ‘tug of war’ MDC has a military touch. PT, games and the gym are a part of their life. Notice the spirit of competition and camaraderie.

This picture, taken by Gen Sen shows the five key executives. Their names are,  RS,  Maj Swamy, Ms Priya, Jacob and Sivaji

 Here, Gen Sen is at his glorious best. He makes full use of his body language to convey his thoughts. Here, you see him in complete synch with MS Dhoni (the Brand Ambassador of Ashok Leyland) who is in the backdrop.

A Tailpiece

This narrative will be incomplete if I do not recall one more facet of my days in Hosur. At the end of the first year, I became quite a favourite with the local schools and colleges as a ‘chief guest’ It seems that my skill in hoisting flags and taking ‘salute’ at the parades was recognized, and my wife was good at judging dance performances. We considered it an honor, but I was perennially conscious of the fact that I had no means to give them a donation or sanction government aid.

One particular school which called us three times in a row was  run by Christian Missionaries. On the third occasion, I declined. I suggested that they call an Industrial tycoon or a politician so that the school could gain. The Mother Superior beseeched me to come. When I asked her why she was pressing me, she said, “Sir, you are the only one who comes on time. Some of these politicians make our children wait in the hot Sun for hours!”

I accepted the invitation. 

And, I am proud…

Prasad Menon, is without doubt, the Hero of this little story. If the MDC is a success story today, it is largely due to him. I knew that he would go places, and he did. After leaving Leyland, (and marrying Shrija) he served in the IT industry. After a stint in Singapore, he joined McAfee Ltd. HR is his strong point. He has an inane ability to build and lead a team, and he does it with great finesse. This year, he was awarded  the HR Leadership award. He is the HR Head of his company, and he invited me to meet his team. I can tell you, with complete conviction that he has won their hearts. He leads from the front, as he did when he was in Leyland. Here is his picture. 

Sometimes, I Wonder…

What did I do to deserve all that I have received from life, both in the military and in civilian life? I neither have any extra ordinary talent, nor the ability to work hard. I think two pieces of advice have guided me all through my life. The first was spoken by Brig (later Lt Gen) N Sengupta  when he said,

“Gentlemen, please remember that you exist because of the men who work under you, and not the other way around!”

And the second is a quote from Guru Gobind Singh ji. He said, in all humility,

“Inhi ki kirpa ke saje hum hain,

Nahin moh se garib karore pare”

(I have attained my stature due to the blessings of my comrades

Else, there are millions of pitiable people like me in the world)

  1. Maj Gen ( retd) Prabal Sen says:


    Very warm and well written piece. The old MDC photographs are priceless. The warmth and affection of the old GETs who came and looked you up at MDC guest house was something that is rarely seen these days.
    Much of the MDC is well maintained, because of the SOPs ( thanks to my worthy predecessors), it is now running mostly on auto mode.
    It was a memorable experience for all of us to have you and madam at MDC.
    We hope that you would make it to Hosur every year.
    Prabal Sen

  2. J Thomas says:

    Hi Surjit,
    Thanks for an interesting piece on MDC Hosur. Thanks to you, I visited MDC last month and was much impressed.

    Your writing has improved to the point where it is comparable to Khushwant Singh’s.

    Best wishes to you and Surindar

  3. Deepa Roy says:

    Dear Sir

    I am sure that all of us whom you have quoted in this article, would take utmost pride and be extremely thankful to Ma’am and you for those Magical/Wonderful years at MDC

    We are where we are, only because of you. We are totally blessed to have worked and been associated with you

    Love you both always

  4. Vinod kumar says:

    Excellent journey down the memory lane. Must complement your flowing style of

    writing which clearly captures the essence and the emotion so well. You and

    Surinder Mam make a perfect combination to be called ‘ Foster Parents ‘ to such a

    a large and diverse group of people because of your overflowing love

    and positivity. God bless you both. With warm regards Vinod

  5. HP Singh says:

    Respected Sir,
    Read your article with lot of interest. the choice of heading is
    most appropriate and simply floored me. many people need to learn
    about all the conquering humility.
    Having a bit of busy schedule and not getting much time to
    regularly check mails. hope my short note finds you both in good
    health. also apologies for not keeping in touch.
    With lots of regards,

  6. Dr Vidya Gupta says:

    Dear Uncle,

    Nice to read the details of your experience in Ashok Leyland. You are very good story teller. When i read this i feel that you have lot of memories with you like pearl which you share with us & it is a great feeling.


  7. JN Amrolia says:

    Read it. Very well written as usual!
    Mr Shahaney mentioned meeting you. I was in Bangalore at the guest house that day. Had I but known!
    All the best to you both.

  8. Lalit Malhotra says:


    It was really nice to go through the write up on your visit to Hosur

    Also very lucid recall of your days at MDC earlier

    Long time have not met you

    Do call up when in Gurgaon next. Neelam and I will come to meet you

    warm rgds


  9. Mahavir S. Jagdev says:

    to me

    Excellent piece, Sir.

  10. Prabal Sen says:

    My dear Sir

    Very nice and very warm feelings

    will write comments later

    nice of Gen Chandele to give comments

    and most approprate ones one would like to add

    warm regards

  11. Lalit Malhotra says:

    Really very lucid in his recall, and appreciating all the good work presently.

    Feels nice, and ‘chadti kalan’



  12. Maj Gen Vijay Krishna says:

    Dear Gen Surjit , Great article , as usual . Rgds , Vijay

  13. Sarabjit Grewal says:

    Very good piece. Thanks.

  14. M B Jauhari says:

    thank you sir for the inspiring information.


    jauhari col mb

  15. R K Mehta says:

    Dear Gen Surjit,

    Many thanks for sharing.

    Warm regards,


  16. Surindar Singh says:

    Dear Surjit

    In many cases second career has been more satisfying

    I am glad to see that you and Surindar are travelling and enjoying exploring new places and spending time with old friends

    Let me know when you next come to Delhi

  17. Brig AJS Behl says:

    to me

    Dear Surjit,

    Thank you for sending information about Hosur.It really is very interesting.

    You were invited as chief guest so frequently is a matter of pride for you.

    With good wishes & wishing you good health,


    Amar jit Behl

  18. Dave Sood says:

    Great travelogue.


  19. brig a s bhatti says:

    sir it is a masterpiece in such simple and flowing fashion.great to have been posted on 69th annivarsary of our corps.

  20. Manjit Singh says:

    Of course,you achieved all that you did because you are a highly talented person,with humility.Congrats.I know you so well since you were a small child! Live n regards.

  21. Great description sir.
    Leyland and MDC owe a lot to you!

  22. Surrinder Nakai says:

    “Munnawar” Mein Yakinan, Kuchh Na Kuchh To Khubiyaan Hongi
    Yeh Duniya, Yuhin Uss Pagal Ki, Diwaani Nahin Hogi.

    -Munnawar Rana

    “Chamak Aisey Nahin Aati Hai, Khuddari Ke Chehrey Par
    Annaa Ko Hum Ne, Do Do Waqat Ka Phaaqa Karaaya Hai”.

    -Munnawar Rana


  23. COLLS says:

    bahoot khoob
    kash humme bhee apne kuch sikhaya hota
    phir ayengey dubara
    aap kee khatir
    yeh COLLS

  24. Sir, I recall the many pleasant occasions where I met you when you were the Director of the MDC and I was teaching a series of 6 courses called Achievement Orientation. I also recall that you were kind enough to gift me a small book of your early days in the army and to write a note for the back cover of my book, Present Your Way to the Top – which is the book on presentation skills that I was writing at the time. The MDC was a delight to work in, thanks to your excellent administration. Many thanks for sharing this account and photographs.

    With best wishes you both of you.

    Yawar Baig

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