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“Only Good Institutions Can Take Forward Nation Building Process”

In an exclusive interaction on BW Dialogue “Nation Builders” series, Former Chairman of SAIL S.K. ROONGTA talks about the relationship between institution building and nationbuilding and the qualities of a leader required to build institutions that last.

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Q. How have been the last 17 months for you both personally and professionally?

It has been an unprecedented period – the world and our lives have changed in unforeseen ways. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that there is a world before Covid and there is a world after Covid. Now, on the professional front, after the initial shock and uncertainty, organisations have responded very well in terms of resilience and adaptability. They have tried to be more agile in functions, be it technology, marketing, HR practices, or logistics. And, I think, leave aside the government, if you talk about the industry, organisations, citizens and other social groups, I suppose we have responded well. And, there were many actions taken which were the need of the hour. For me personally, during this period, boardroom engagements were more lively and informative; I could connect with trade bodies and industry associations through virtual mode.

Q. In any crisis, what matters is leadership when it comes to the nation, institution or corporates. What are the traits of leadership that are required in this environment to build institutions that last?
I would like to talk with regards to my experience as a practising manager in building institutions. I think, firstly, for a leader, he should not have duality – whatever is inside should be outside. What he says, he should mean. So, it is a question of building trust. This is of paramount importance. Secondly, to build an institution, a leader should have vision, passion and the ability to think big. Because unless we really think big, we cannot accomplish.

Q. You understand the link between “institution building” and “nation-building”. Give us a sense of how institution building can lead to nation-building. 
I think the nation consists of people and communities. There cannot be nation-building without people and institutions as they are an integral part of a nation’s progress. So, obviously, there is a strong link between institutions and nation-building.

Just think of it as, say, for the steel needs of the country, we need steel, cement, and other inputs for our infrastructure, now it is paramount to have efficient institutions that can really provide that. SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) is not primarily a steel producer but steel-builder to our nations (that is our punchline that there is a little bit of SAIL in everybody’s life) – we felt that we are not producing steel but that we are touching the lives of each and every Indian. Institutions are an integral part of a nation, and only good institutions can really take forward the nation-building process. Institutions with strong project management can save a lot of money for the nation. They can ensure growth comes back fast.

And, if there are good institutions with very strong internal systems, they can impart it to other institutions. Thus, a good institution can lead to building multiple good institutions.

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magazine 16 Aug 2021 sail SK Roongta Last Word