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Interview with Mr Bikash Chandra Bora former CMD, Oil India Ltd & ONGC Ltd.


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bc_boraPosoowa: Posoowa and the Assam Association, Delhi is proud of the fact that you headed 2 PSUs (So far the only Assamese to do so!)
BC Bora: It is true that I became the CMD of Oil India Ltd (OIL) in 1992 and then moved to ONGC as its CMD in 1995 and continued at that position until I superannuated in 2001. As a consequence, it is a fact that I had the privilege of heading two PSUs.
Posoowa: Please tell us about your journey, how did it all begin and how did you arrive at those positions?
BCB: Immediately after my graduation as a Mechanical Engineer from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) I joined OIL in 1962 at Duliajan, Assam as an Assistant Production Engineer. The company, then a 50:50 joint venture between Government of India and Burmah Oil Company (BOC), UK, was in its formative years and had a large contingent of ex-patriate staff working hand in hand with the Indian staff. The Production Department itself was headed by an Englishman, Leslie Charles Bond and had two other ex-patriate officers in its total strength of 17 officers. Coming from the cosmopolitan atmosphere amongst students from all parts of the country during my years in BHU, I had thus the privilege of stepping into a much more stimulating and challenging phase of work as well as life in the company of a wide spectrum of people from around the world so very early in my career. I suppose this, coupled with some extremely useful lessons I learnt from a few of my peers and seniors, shaped my behavioural aspects and attitudes to work and life in a very big way.
I went up the ladder and subsequently I also had to undergo a job rotation phase in OIL. All along, I saw the company growing in strength and through various phases. The phased replacement of the ex-patriate staff by Indian officers, the company becoming a PSU in 1981 when the Government of India acquired all the shares of BOC, OIL spreading its wings to other parts of the country etc. all happened during my tenure. I however left OIL in 1962 to take up an assignment with an American Oil Company in Peru, South America. The three years I worked as the Chief Engineer/ Assistant Engineering Superintendent at the base office of the offshore oilfields of the company in Talara, Peru, helped me immensely to build my knowledge base both in depth and in range. After all, ability to tap the multi-disciplinary knowledge from across the organisation and team work has been the key to success of many effective oil companies. I returned to OIL in 1985, became the Group General Manager at Duliajan in 1988, overseeing all the operations of the company in NE India. In 1990, I was selected to become the Director (Operations) and I became the CMD of the company in 1992.
Posoowa: We have heard that there is a tremendous amount of lobbying and politics that goes on at such appointments...Did that ever come in your way in any form?
BCB: I had the good fortune of not encountering any issue of lobbying or politics during my selection by the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) to the three Board level positions, i.e. Director (Operations) and CMD of OIL and CMD of ONGC. However, it is true that these undesirable incidents do occur at times, engineered mostly by the candidates who lack the confidence to fare well at the interview or have average service records. They in fact fall prey to some unscrupulous individuals (it is common knowledge that there are many such elements lurking in the corridors of power in Delhi) who pose as their well wishers and offer to push their cases, obviously with ulterior motives of personal gain and nothing else.
Having had the opportunity of being in the panel of a number of selection boards of PSEB for selecting the Directors of OIL and ONGC, I can say with confidence that irrespective of any canvassing, the candidates with outstanding service records and top notch performance at the interviews, are always selected. It is also a fact that the CMD of a PSU and the Secretary of the Administrative Ministry, both of who have good knowledge of the organisation and have its interest at the top of their agenda, have the biggest say in the selection of an incumbent. From that angle too, chances of unwanted influence and malpractices are remote.
Posoowa: You are an accomplished person. Please tell us a bit about your area of specialization if any...
BCB: I am really a simple person and believe in team work, so that combined    knowledge of a group, rather than the possible truncated view of an individual come to the fore for any decision making. From that angle I suppose the points I would like to mention as my area of specialization are, petroleum production engineering and delegation of powers and team building
Posoowa: You’ve had a long and successful professional career. What are the lessons   you have learnt from life?
BCB: The lessons I have learnt are far too many. But then, a few of these, and I practise  them with no regrets even today, are:
·    Trust begets trust.
·    You must look at yourself before pointing a finger at others.
·    Through mistakes only you learn things.
·    When a subordinate or peer misbehaves with you, you only must have done something wrong to hurt his sentiments, unless the person is mentally imbalanced.
·    Combined knowledge of a team is better than that of one individual.
·    Sincerity, honesty and hard work can only bring success.
·    Believe in yourself always and never give up, how-so-ever hard the task is.
·    Self help is the utmost help.
Posoowa: On a lighter vein, as a non-resident Assamese, what is it that you miss the most being away from Assam?
BCB: I greatly miss the serene green environment in the back drop of the blue hills and the red rivers of beautiful Assam.
Posoowa: What would you like to tell the Assamese youth?
BCB: The only message I have is that, firstly, there is no substitute to hard work and sincerity in life and secondly, we are first Indians and then Assamese, in that order of priority.
Posoowa: What is it that you had set out to achieve in life? And how much do you think you have deviated from that?
BCB:  My dream was to be a good human being. I am aware that I am way behind and fully realize that I am yet to overcome quite a few of the many shortcomings.
Posoowa: Posoowar tarafar para aponaloi Rongali Bihur olog jasilu...
BCB: Thank you Manoj for your Rongali Bihu greetings, which I heartily reciprocate. May I also, through the columns of Posoowa, convey my sincere greetings and very best wishes to everyone associated with this laudable publication, including the readers and their families, on the occasion of Rongali Bihu?
[Posoowa Editorial Note: Mr BC Bora served as the President of Assam Association, Delhi for two consecutive terms (2001-2003, 2003-2005), after retirement from ONGC Ltd. His tenure was notable for the Association as he managed to raise huge amounts of funds towards completion of the Srimanta Sankaradeva Bhawan. The Guest Editor had the opportunity to work with him as the General Secretary. Mr Bora’s sterling qualities are his punctuality, commitment to his words, knack for identifying the right person for the right job, perseverance, attention to minutest details, delegation of duties and close monitoring. He is now settled in NOIDA and involved in philanthropic activities. He is a key member of the Assam Association Cultural & Educational Trust, and the Executive Committee. Always available for guidance and consultation, he is a great inspiration to the younger generation.]