By M.C. Madhukar
Today is 2nd June – The birthday of Dr. J.J. Irani, former Managing Director of Tata Steel wish him many happy returns of the day.
Tata Company has remained a progressive organization since beginning and so changes here is truth. On this eve I recollect some old events to coordinate former TISCO with New Tata Steel to have a glimpse of old and new work culture here. I am sure the people of Steel City will definitely read the story of an old steel maker eagerly.
Tata Steel has three major steel making shops, LD1, LD2 and LD3 similarly almost two decades ago there were three steel making shops – SMS1, SMS2 and SMS 3 – all three are today non existent.
Before I go ahead, I wish to tell I was born and brought up in village Chanowr of Darbhanga, district of Bihar State, Mine has a simple family. My father was basically a cultivator and was a very disciplined, dutiful and my mother was a popular house wife.
After finishing my college education, I came to Jamshedpur in 1969 and got employment in TISCO after competing in a tough examination. After Training I was placed in SMS3. At that time SMS3 was a very big and very important Dept. of TISCO.
There were 8 furnaces in SMS3 with 200 Ton capacity each in 7-8 hours tabling time. There were many sections in SMS3 including furnace section. All sections combined used to give Steel output in SMS3. Here my role was to make steel by boiling impure Iron upto 1550-1660oc in the furnace.
I used to make valuable steel in the furnace with due co-operation with associates but the heat of boiling steel in the furnace used to affect the body severely. The duty was hard and extremely challenging.
To cap it all the work culture of the dept often used to boil the entire blood of the body. My responsibility included to solve every problem while making steel, any lapse of any kind resulted in abusive firing by the boss.
In the eye of boss my challenging jobs was like “The ice is melting” and my image like “The ass is working”, yet being employed in a nameful company and having all responsibilities of my joint family – I used to be compelled to continue even in odd work culture like this, many others were unsatisfied with this inhumane culture.
The company soon had to pay clearly for this work culture. The steel production was low from the beginning and later on it lowered to minimum. The company suffered huge loss regularly. The top management was at its wit’s end. Naturally so many actions were taken, many departmental heads were changed at internal to boost up production but invained. “where there is a will, there is way” – this saying came true.
The company appointed young Dr. J.J. Irani as departmental head. In Dr. Irani, we found a very capable, charming and richly talented personality.
In the beginning he watched the function of dept. very minutely, acquinted himself well with officers, supervisors and many workers and after that he evolved a changed working culture. Only for a while he used to sit on his chair in the office, Most times, he started spending time on the shop floor.
Watching the working of men, machine etc very closely. Those who worked upto the mark were given. Cheers extra increments, and even promotions and those who couldn’t perform upto the mask, Dr. Irani ignored harassing instead inspired then to work better.
He gave special case for employe’s works education and training. He gave proper preference to improve the working conditions of the dept. He tried his level best to seal every weak point to convert them into strong.
He gave an exemplary promotion to team work and working together which enabled worksmen to have better heartly affection with the company.
All his efforts combined together, started giving sweet fruits slowly but surely. The same men, the same machine, the same furnaces but production started increasing substantially. In few months, SMS3 began to give production even much more than its rated capacity. The steel company started getting unforeseen profit and SMS3 employees also got benefit due to this. The impossible was made possible in no time.
SMS3 employees were happy. Dr. Irani proved to be a very promising executive for the company and therefore he started getting promotions very quickly. He became AGS, Dy. GS, GS, General Manager, President and Joint Managing Director in quick succession.
SMS3 proved to be a very fortunate for him and therefore SMS3 always remained a part of his heart. He used to visit SMS3 to meet all on intervals even in his prior heavy engagements. All departmental heads of SMS3 maintained the high production trend after Dr. Irani and this was mainly because of his efforts of exemplary team work.
In 1978, I won the election of General Secretary of “Tisco technical probationer’s Association. Managing Director of TISCO used to be the Chief Patron of this so the Association in those days was significant.
As general secretary I did some important works and became popular in TISCO. In 1980, I won election of Tata Worker’s Union from SMS3 and became Supervisor’s Committee member. Union president Gopal Babu was internation fame worker’s leader. I soon came in close contact with him due to my work.
I remained office bearer for five years in the union I remained committee member from SMS3 continuously for 20 years. There were 8 committee members from SMS3 in the union. We always maintained good intimacy. I came in contact with many reknowned Trader Union Leaders in this course, the noted Trade Union Leader Mr. Rakeshwar Pandey was young at that time.
When Dr. Irani became joint Managing Director, the employees of SMS1, LD1 and SMS3 combined together arranged to give him felicitations in SNTI Auditorium. All the Dept. Heads, Officers, Supervisors, Workers of the three departments were present on this occasion. Dr. Irani was given a standing ovation and felicitation.
In this programme, my role was significant so Dr. Irani was very happy because he needed necessary moral boosting at that time.
My youngest daughter Suman Kumari lost her life, and my wife was injured in 3rd March 1989, founder’s day fire tragedy along with many others.
Mr. J.R.D. Tata, CMD Mody Saheb, Dr. Irani and other TISCO official visited my quarter at AGRICO to console me. Because I came from SMS3 and was union official too. Tata Saheb directed Dr. Irani to make sure that the company ever looked after my family needs. Tata Worker’s Union president Gopal Baby too came to my house to console me and my family.
Later on with the help of the company, I founded “Suman Memorial Trust” in Agrico in which Dr. Irani played significant role. Suman M. Trust started a unique programme of Domestic Management which was my brain child. This programme became so popular that the company hastened to adopt it for every employee’s housewife. Later on DMP was extended to other companies too.
Hatred, Jelous, conspiracy etc have been unwanted integral part of our society and industrial arena.
Several people particularly straight forward and innocent pressors generally become victim. Dr. Irani was also unfortunately affected by it and a big obstacle was created to prevent him from becoming Managing Director of Tata Steel.
I disturbed him considerably but he boldly faced the challenge and soon was victorious to become Managing Director of Tata Steel in Feb. 1992. After becoming M.D when he came to Jamshedpur from Bombay, a vast crowd of people was waiting from Sonari airport to Bistupur Main Road adjoining his residence in Northern Town to give him standing ovation, cheering Jay-Jay Irani etc. Dr. Irani really was over whelmed with joy.
It was a wonderful scene and people of Steel City perhaps for the first time had seen in the history of Tata Steel.
After becoming M.D, Dr. Irani had to face numerous challenges in managing the company as Modernisation process was in progress and company required to keep employees only according to the need and at the same it was necessary to keep employees happy.
With his able leadership and with the co-operation of Union, he was considerably successful in his mission and the company achieved new heights. In May 1993, Ratan Tata came to Jamshedpur for the 1st time from Bombay. While at Jamshedpur, he came to SMS3 where a dozen of Depts. had arranged a felicitation programme for him. This ceremony was to be complied in 15 minutes due to his heavy pre-occupation.
A large number of employees of various departments had gathers at SMS3 to have a glimse of Mr. Ratan Tata, the New Chairman.
Besides Mr. Ratan Tata only 3 persons were on dias to give brief and balanced speech. Fortunately I was also one of the three. Mr. K.K. Mangal, General Manager of the Works gave welcome and felicitation address. I addressed in brief like this” Sir, you are ‘Ratan’ of J.R.D Tata indeed but you have major responsibility to go ahead with Tata group speedily – we are sure of your success. While in SMS3 Dr. Irani was young Managing Director but now he is a Matured Managing Director So I am sure Dr. IRani will keep you comfort at Bombay and you will not have to bother for Tata Steel. Lots of felicitations to you”.
The gathering cheered my speech which included so many officials including vice – chairman S.A. Sabbwala, Mr. Ratan Tata warmly shook hands with me and said “Every employee is precious, Steel is also precious …. But you are much more precious, I will always remember you”.
I was overwhelmed as if it was a dream – but it was a reality.
Under modernization programme, SMS3 (which was old) was closed in early 1999. The last “ingot” of SMS3 is still kept at some safe place in works campus.
I took ESS in April 1999 left the company. Dr. Irani desired a book to be written on SMS3 in its memory for which a five-member team was formed. Circular from M.D Secretariate came in June 1999 like this :-
Mr. U.K. Chaturvedi – General Manager (Steel)
Dr. Amit Chatterjee – General Manater (Scientific Services)
Mr. A. K. Sinha – Divisional Manager (Training)
Mr. B.K. Singh – Divisional Manager (Training)
Mr. M.C. Madhukar – Ex. Employee (SMS3)
Mr. M.C Madhukar will be the convenor of this committee. This really proves my importance even after leaving Tata Steel.
Dr. Irani remained M.D of Tata Steel till retirement age of 65 years. He was moved to Bombay as Director Tata Sons. He remained there upto the final retirement age of 75 years. Now he lives at Jamshedpur along with his family happily.
The SMS3 employees/wards/are working in various depts of Tata Steel. So many ex-employee of SMS3 are in Tata Worker’s Union, prominent is Mr. R. Ravi Prasad, the present president of the Union.
So the ‘soul’ of SMS3 is still present in Tata Steel and is constantly giving good wishes to the company and M.D. for faster growth.
On the occasion of Birth day of Dr. J.J. Irani, finally :-
“ Happy Birthday Two June. Heartly Welcome Come Soon. Hallmark of Tata’s fortune, Long Live our mightly moon”
(M.C. Madhukar is a former employee of Tata Steel based in Jamshedpur. He can be contacted at mobile no- 9431183951)