Lalu paathshala: the Railway Minister’s management tips for Harvard and Wharton students

Lalu Yadav has emerged as a management guru not just for India -- but also for students from all over the world.

Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav recently lectured Harvard and Wharton students at the National Rail Museum’s auditorium: 100 students from Harvard Business School and 30 from Wharton, along with seven professors from both B-schools. The students had come all the way to meet the Indian minister for taking tips on management and sharing the success story of Indian Railways. Lalu, as we all know, has been credited for the financial turnaround of the loss-making Railways into a profit-making venture.

“When the responsibility was given to me, it [the Railways] was in a state of bankruptcy,” pointed out the minister, while discussing with students the findings of the Rakesh Mohan Committee (that had forecast that Indian railway would go bankrupt soon).

According to this year’s financial budget, Indian Railways’ has had a record-breaking performance in the first nine month of the current financial year. It earned a revenue surplus of Rs 13,000 crore. Lalu said, “The Railways, which was few years ago not in a position to pay dividends to the government, now boasts of a cash surplus of more than Rs.130 billion ($2.8 billion) in a short span of 30 months.” This figure, he added, would take a quantum leap to touch Rs. 200 billion by the end of the current fiscal.

He explained to the students in Hindi how he had broken the Western myth that unprofitable enterprises should be privatized and employees downsized.

And finally, he stated that he has laid the foundation for growth – a model that will continue long after his stint as Railway Minister.