Saturday, November 22, 2014

Human Resources Development in India: Origins

HRD in India: A Factual Update

October 22, 1974 Larsen & Toubro writes to Udai Pareek of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad to review the performance appraisal system and suggest it make it more effective. Udai Pareek and T. V. Rao interview about 40 officers (GMMs, JGMs, DGMs, Managers, Covenanted Officers and Supervisors) from L&T and review the system. On the basis of their review Pareek and Rao suggest the introduction of an Integrated Human Resources Development system to include Performance appraisal, Potential appraisal, Career Planning and Development, Feedback and counselling, training and Organization Development. To quote their report "We recommend that Performance appraisal, Potential Appraisal, Feedback and counselling, Career Development and Career Planning and Training and Development get distinct attention as unique parts of an integrated system which we call the Human resources Development System". (Nowhere in international literature was the term Human Resources Development System known to have been used till then. Later we discovered that Len Nadler around this time sued the term in an ASTD conference to mean Training and Education)

Pareek and Rao's report further stated "This system may either be treated as a sub-system under the Personnel (Human Resources) function or may be developed as a separate function, with strong linkages with the Personnel (Human Resources) system.... While we recommend the development of an integrated HRD System in L&T, we would like to point out that a lot of work, effort, and commitment would be required for this purpose. Introduction of a truncated system may defeat the purpose for which the system to be installed." It was Udai Pareek who introduced the term Human Resources as senior consultant of the project.

The report was presented to the Board in the presence of Holk Larsen. N M Desai, Mr. Larsen and the Board accepted the report in toto and decided to implement it. An implementation Task force was formed in L&T with Mr. Govind Advani as Convenor of the HRD Implementation Task Force. Dr. D F Pereira was appointed as D G M, HRD and the new department was created with Mr. S R Subramniam as Vice-president Personnel and OD.  In October 1975 after taking a decision to implement HRD system, N M Desai requested Pareek and Rao team to look into the other components of HR system. In their report submitted in 1977 Pareek and Rao outlined the other components and HR system and also outlined 14 principles underlying the system. These principles lift up the HR function to new heights and gave it a higher role in managing the entire organization set up including mechanism of structuring, integration of the business, differentiation, and self renewal.

It was around this time Udai Pareek while addressing the top management of State Bank of India at Hyderabad Staff College introduced to them the concept of HRD. After listening to Udai Pareek the top management of SBI decided to introduce the HRD systems and also start a HRD Department in SBI. The Associates of SBI stole the March and appointed HRD Managers in their Banks and a year later SBI appointed Mr. Shanmugam as a CGM to head the HRD Department. In 1977 T. V. Rao along with Udai Pareek conducted a series of programs to training HRD Managers of Associate banks of SBI on the HRD concepts in a program titled as Managing Motivation for Development by IIMA. 

In 1978 Udai Pareek and SK Bhattacharya recommended the establishment of a HRD Department in Bharat Earth Movers Limited Bangalore (BEML). BEML invited Prof. T V Rao from IIMA to join and head the HR Department. Dr. Rao joined BEML as advisor in General manager's capacity to establish the HRD function and agreed to stay for a year and train up the subsequent team. In the same year using his s experiences at BEML Rao and Pareek held a seminar at IIMA on the new HR function. This is the first national workshop to disseminate the HRD concepts. The various chapters written for a subsequent book by Pareek and Rao (Designing and Managing HR systems published by Oxford & IBH see for latter version of this book).
 In 1981 T V Rao wrote an article on "HRD Old wine in a new Bottle explaining the concept and origins of HRD in India (see:

In 1983 I was invited to join XLRI as L&T Professor of HRD. I agreed to join provided that XLRI agrees to set up a centre for HRD and also conduct an annual seminar on HRD as a part of the Chair. Fr. Romuald D'Souza agreed with my suggestion. Fr. E Abraham registered for is Ph. D. to work with me for Gujarat University as a candidate through IIMA. I went to start the Centre and the centre was inaugurated by N M Desai along with S R Subramaniam and D F Pereira in February 1984. We mobilised some funds and organizations like IOC, State Bank of Patiala become members of the Centre. 

In 1984 Ravi Matthai died and I felt I had to get back to IIMA to continue the work started by Ravi. I was very disappointed with the way HRD is taking shape. T&D people renamed themselves as HRD and personnel departments began to re-title themselves as HR Departments without understanding the philosophy of HRD as envisaged by us. I can't let this go on. We organised a national seminar on HRD as a part of the L&T Chair. Dr Pereira facilitated this. Udai Pareek was in Indonesia working with Rolf Lynton and helping the Ministry of Health on a HTRD project. 
I used the seminar as an opportunity to sow the seeds of starting a professional body to continue the work I started at XLRI. I was aware that the Centre for HRD would not continue the way we envisaged as Fr. Abraham was moving to Ahmedabd to complete his Ph. D. The only way is to have a body as IIMA already refused my suggestion to start a HRD centre (an also Entrepreneurship centre) earlier as a part of the Committee for Future Directions (headed by Dr. Rangarajan). IIMA's argument was that if every faculty specialising in an area wants to start a centre there will be too many centres and IIMA can't contain. Years after this IIMA started an incubation centre. 
On the last day of the seminar at Mumbai on March 2nd, 1985 I proposed that we continue to learn from each other independent of XLTI, IIMA and L&T. The concept of an association was floated and learning Frome each other was initiated in the last sessions. Rajen suggested the concept of Network and we decided to alter call ourselves National HRD Network. I returned back to IIMA end of March 1985 and Fr. Abraham joined me back to complete his Ph. D. The Centre for HRD sued to run from St. Xavier's Loyola Scholl and Fr. Abraham used to steer it and we both together toured round the country next two years relentlessly and made sure that the chapter conceptualised in 1984 became active. Thanks to IIMA I was asked to review the PGP and subsequently Chair it. It helped me to travel to Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai. Consultancy with SAIL helped me to travel to other places. Khandelwal, KK Verma, Rajen Gupta supported from Ahmedabad and Baroda and Chandrasekhar and PVR Murthy from Chennai. L&T and PVR played a significant role to facilitate my travel to Chennai. We floated programs using the name of the Centre for HRD and promoting NHRDN. Finally with the help of Mr. K K Nair of AMA we registered NHRDN at Ahmedabad in 1986 as a trust and Society. Abraham and I were the first members. For almost two years between 1985 and early 1987 we had no membership fee and enrolled anyone interested. We used to print 200 newsletters from CHRD and mail it free. We mobilised sponsorship for each issue from organizations I was consulting. State Bank of Patiala, Sundram Clayton, MMTC, HPCL, L&T and a number of organizations sued to sponsor and we mail the newsletter free. The registration address given was wing No 14 IIMA (where my office was located). We announced the first conference in Chennai and Chandrashekar of L&T ECC facilitated it. KK Verma, Anil, Fr Abraham and T V Rao formed the committee to mobilise papers and publish them to be handed over for the conference. We started the conference with a CEO conclave on the first day. Economic Times brought out a special edition of the paper for the conference. I talked to the editor Manu Shroff who was a former colleague at IIMA and got him to do two special editions for the conference. Media were very helpful. The first conference held in 1987 was big hit. Over 200 delegates attended including several CEOs, and Civil servants from Gujarat and other places attended. M R R Nair who attended the conference showed a lot of interest. We spotted him as the next President and he readily agreed to Chair the next Conference at Delhi and subsequently to become the President. 
It is during his President-ship, we organised a Mission-Vision workshop. It is in this workshop the idea of an Institute to promote the objectives of NHRDN was conceptualised as we realised that the NHRDN can’t achieve its objectives as a professional body. The Academy of HRD was born. It was also decided to make a separately registered Institution to promote research. The secret behind the decision was the delay in accounts being submitted by various chapters creating issues in NHRDN’s governance. We did not want AHRD to be blocked by the difficulties faced by NHRDN. Also we needed to mobilise funds for the Institution which was possible only when it was registered as a separate body. Udai Pareek became President of NHRDN in 1991. By this time the standards of NHRDN conferences, objectives and the culture was well set. AHRD started a diploma program and graduated in its first program itself around 120 candidates.  Even Indira gandhi Open University made films from NHRDN and AHRD inputs and widely sued in their programs. MS 22 course of IGNOU was entirely written by NHRDN and AHRD teams.


  1. There are many less known parts of the story in building the NHRDN. For example Mahesh took over as President and within six months of taking over decided to leave suddenly to UK. The Conference was announced and no movement took place. I assumed charge as Interim President and pushed for the Conference. It took another six months to put the new President in palce_ Rajesh Vidyasagar took over as President and by the time he is in position we already made a lot of progress with the Mumbai Conference. CM Srivastava, D M Silveira, Rajesh and myself constituted the editorial Board and manged all the papers. The Academy's first convocation was held in Hotel Taj Mahal and and a CEO conclave was coordinated by Dharni Sinha. Many stalwarts like Waghul, Adi Godrej, Harsh Mariwala participated in it. MRR was Chairman of AHRD and Rajesh was President of NHRDN. The team worked very well. Udai and I were like any other participants. We celebrated quietly Udai's birth day during the conference. No one except the two of us (Udai and me) besides his family knew it.

  2. NHRDN reached its new low in around 1998-99. If the President did not tour to various chapters the chapters become inactive. In India we still work to meet the expectations of leaders we respect. SAIL was going through a tough period and the SAIL Chairman also President of NHRD had to focus his attention on SAIL. Many chapters started slipping and activities of NHRD came to a stand still. I had to volunteer to request the Board to appoint me as Coordinator of NHRD Rejuvenation committee. Arvind Agarwal, Udai Pareek and and a few of others constituted a rejuvenation committee. I toured around the country again for about six months visited various chapters and restarted some of them. After such rejuvenation we appointed a search committee and got Arvind Agarwal appointed as President. The choice was because Arvind knew NHRDN and was a treasurer. He made a lot of difference. He is the one to strate the concept of Regional Presidents to ensure succession in NHRDN. This was an unwritten principle. It changed the future of NHRDN. Starting with Arvind we had a lot of stability, innovation and growth under the leadership of various Presidents until now. NHRDN is fortunate to have great HR leaders. Th

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