The Business Standard awards for excellence put the focus on the role leaders can play when the country is at a crossroads
The economic mood may be sombre, but the Who’s Who of India Inc, who assembled at the glittering Crystal Room at the Taj Mahal Hotel, didn’t let that spoil their mood to celebrate the achievements of nine people and companies who managed to buck the trend.
In his speech, Chief Guest, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan set the tone by saying that the winners of the Business Standard awards for excellence have put the focus on the role leaders can play when the country is at a crossroads. “In a situation where institutions are being tested and we don’t know how global economy shapes up, they have shown us the way,” Chavan said. From start to finish, this year’s Business Standard Awards ceremony toasted the scriptwriters of what the Chief Minister called an “innovation economy”. It must have been a happy coincidence for him that as many as four of the nine award winners were from Maharashtra.
The participants came from far and wide: Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi from Delhi (both took part in a panel discussion)and the award winners from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and elsewhere.
In a full house that meant some guests were forced to stand at the back, there were many familiar faces and famous names, like Kumar Mangalam Birla, Harsh Goenka, Venugopal Dhoot, Ashwin Dani, Madhur and Niraj Bajaj and Vallabh Bhansali. Professional titans like Tata Motors’ Ravi Kant, McKinsey’s Noshir Kaka and Novartis’ Ranjit Shahani were there, as also ADAG’s Amitabh Jhunjhunwala and HDFC’s Milind Barve. The private equity biggies were there, too, from Blackstone’s Akhil Gupta to KKR’s Sanjay Nayar. Adding to the wattage of the evening were people like Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn and his wife.
The recipients of the awards did themselves proud with the quality of their acceptance speeches. Bajaj Auto’s MD & CEO Rajiv Bajaj, receiving the BS CEO of the year award, said, “the award seems to say to me that I might I have touched a star. I think this is the case because of the 8,000-strong shoulders I have stood upon to build the best motorcycles in the world”.
Exhibiting a superb sense of humour topped with immaculate timing, Bajaj won many hearts too. When the master of ceremonies asked him to say a few words, the man of the moment seized it with a quick repartee, saying he’d utter “more than a few words”.
“Brevity is not a family strength,” Bajaj said, an obvious reference to father and patriarch Rahul Bajaj, who loves to air elaborate views on all things under the sun. The audience responded with huge applause.
Employees and professionalism were the focus for BS Banker Rana Kapoor, founder, MD & CEO, Yes Bank, too. Kapoor hoped to become “better than Infosys of technology.” Kapoor said he was also committed to work closely with the chief minister for the development of Maharashtra.
The most innovative company of the year was Flipkart, the online retailer which has revolutionised the way we buy goods. Binny Bansal, Co-founder, expressed his pride in the fact that the company deliberately maintains an environment that breeds and fosters innovation.
Customer and consumer focus were the recurring themes. In his acceptance speech, Lakshmi Narayanan, vice chairman, said “The two things the company wants to be known for are our customer focus and the growth we deliver.
Nation building, creating employment and working with the people of some remote and troubled areas such as Chhattisgarh and improving their lives was the source of pride for NK Nanda, chairman and managing director, NMDC.
Star SME Jubilant Foodworks co-chairman Hari Bhartia chose to present the meritocracy in his company projecting the store manager who rose to become the president of the company selling hope for the 15000-odd employees.
The other award-winners were Star MNC Nestle India and the two Fund Managers — Prashant Jain of HDFC AMC (Equity Fund Manager of the Year) and Chaitanya Pande of ICICI Prudential (Debt Fund Manager of the Year).
The high point of the day was the engaging speech by Chief Minister Chavan who said it will not be the country’s natural resources that will make the country rich, but the intellectual innovation of millions of young people. “We cannot become a rich country based on our natural resources. It will be our intellectual prowess that will make us rich,” he said.
Chavan also said the common man is discovering the price of giving fractured mandates. “Political system in India is under stress because of too much populism and the fractured mandate people are delivering. The recent state election results give us hope that people would be delivering more such decisive mandates,” he said.
After that it was time for cocktails and a multi-cuisine dinner.