Ministers spend a day at Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode

It's a classroom that evoked fond memories and strong desires. And the Council of Ministers, who turned virtual students, listened with rapt attention as management experts analysed the challenges and opportunities before the State government and explained the management tools available before them to accelerate development. The occasion was a daylong 'thought leadership workshop on high performance', organised by the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, (IIM-K), on its campus at Kunnamangalam, near here, on Thursday.

“What we look forward to is a SWOT analysis by these experts so that we would know our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges. It would help us hammer out successful development programmes for our people,'' Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told mediapersons just before he stepped into the classroom.

Eighteen of the 19 Ministers of the United Democratic Front (UDF) government were present at the programme, which began with IIM-K Director Debashis Chatterjee stressing the importance of leadership skills for successful implementation of development projects. Food and Civil Supplies Minister T.M. Jacob, who was reportedly indisposed, did not attend the programme.

Mr. Chandy said the readiness of the UDF Ministers to attend such a workshop, the idea for which was mooted by the Calicut Management Association (CMA), was an expression of their willingness to change in tune with the needs of the time and to be receptive to ideas of all sections of society and not just the views of politicians and bureaucrats.

He remarked that rigid perspectives on ideological, economic, and social matters in the past five years of the Left Democratic Front rule had led to the State failing to achieve the targets set for development of the State by the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam during a speech he had made in the State Assembly on July 28, 2005. (Mr. Kalam had presented Kerala with a 10-point development agenda aimed at making the State an economic powerhouse by 2015.) Mr. Chandy summed up his perception of the challenges facing his government thus: “We have world-class health-care facilities in our State, but it is available only to the rich… the challenge before us is to chalk out strategies that would bring it within the reach of the poor.”

Workshop title

The workshop was titled ‘GIFT-Unopened: governance insights for transformation', with GIFT used as an acronym for Governance Insights for Transformation.

The event featured presentations by Professor Chatterjee on ‘self-governance for high performance leadership,' IIM-K Professor K. Unnikrishnan Nair on ‘building a culture of performance,' Professor Saji Gopinath on Kerala's changing economic scene, Chandrajit Banerjee, Director, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), on Kerala's investment climate, K.K. Thomas, former Chief Managing Director, FACT, on Kerala's industrial climate, an interactive session with Devi Prasad Shetty, founder of the Narayana Hrudayalaya, on quality health care of the poor, and talks by IIM Professors Sthanu Nair on agriculture, Abhilash Nair on infrastructure, Kulbhushan Balooni on environment, S.S.S. Kumar on investment, Joffi Thomas on health, and Debabrata Chatterjee on education. The IIM-K Director described the event as part of the institute's resolve “to grow with the State and create platforms to facilitate greater interaction among academicians, industry, and government.”

The Chief Minister said at the end of the event that it evoked memories and desires – memories of his schooldays when he had sat in classrooms listening to teachers, and desires to try out new management concepts. The Ministers had to keep their cell phones switched off during the programme in line with the campus rules and were politely warned that violation of the rule would invite a fine of Rs.1,000.