T. V. Rao Believes Good HR Facilitators Would Do Good Work Both Before and After The Pandemic

The candid conversation with the “Father of HRD in India,” was indeed insightful where he emphasised upon the fact that future employers need to develop versatility in the application of talent and help employees become multiskilled


Currently Chairman, TVRLS, Dr. TV Rao has been a renowned Professor at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and until recently IIMA Society and Board member. The Co-founder of the National HRD Network and Academy of HRD in India, Rao is known to have initiated the HRD Function and movement in India in the mid-seventies starting with Larsen & Toubro, State Bank of India and other organizations. 

BW People editorial wing fetched this amazing opportunity of having got the chance to interview the “Father of HRD in India,” and dug some untouched aspects of his life!

  1. Being known as the father of “HR Industry” in India, how did you polish yourself to become a followed leader into this domain?

When you hear for the first-time titles like “Father of HRD in India” etc. you feel good for the recognition of years of work in the field. I have been promoting HRD concepts, systems, philosophy, and culture for the last forty-five years. As I kept hearing the same across years, I started feeling more uncomfortable than elated. In my view such a title limits a vast field like HRD in d identifying it with any individual. I consider every individual as father or mother of his or her own HRD or talent or potential development. This title is more sentimental, and it does not require effort to polish oneself. I continue to pursue my work without any polishing of myself. If there is something worthwhile in what I do, people follow by themselves. I do not make any special effort to build followers. I have started many new areas in the last few decades including “feedback by known people” which later came to be known as 360 Degree Feedback; and HRD audit leading to Score card which has become very popular.

It is the outcome of all these initiatives I assume people give such to titles. HRD is a concept, philosophy and a way of life and no single person can have a claim on it. People like me and Udai Pareek have certainly devoted a large part of our lives for this field. 

2. What has been the driving inspiration behind being the founding president of National HRD Network?

The main driving force was the misuse of the term HRD since early 1980s. Udai Pareek and I were the first to establish the new concept of Integrated Human resources Development (HRD) function starting with Larsen & Toubro in mid-seventies when there was no dedicated HRD department anywhere in the world. For me HRD in seventies was not a new wine in old bottle. It is filled with human values, a philosophy, and a way of life and the HRD function or HRD department is an instrument to build competencies, culture and commitment and facilitate learning leading to happiness at work. Since it was treated as a part of the personnel function, many started re-naming personnel department as HRD (to mean HR Department) and a few even retitled their training centres as HRD centres. As I saw the concept of HRD being diluted, I accepted to start a Centre for HRD at XLRI the premier HR institute of the country as L&T Professor of HRD in 1983. As I was returning to IIMA in 1985, starting a professional body to continue the mission of popularising HRD as a philosophy and way of life and extending it to all sectors from corporate sector is the natural outcome. That is how National HRD Network was conceptualised and promoted. Its mission and vison were to promote and strengthen the HRD philosophy, concepts and values in corporate sector and spread to all sectors. We still have a long way to go.

3. How has been your journey throughout the lifetime considering you too might have fallen into the pit of downfalls?

There were many ups and downs. Countless of them. For example, I cannot be possessive of any of the bodies I started, be it CHRD at XLRI, NHRDN and its chapters or the Academy of HRD. I am a strong believer in what Ravi Matthai, the first full time Director of IIMA and Udai Pareek stood for- to start, stabilise and dispossess institutions and pass them a on to be managed by others. It has not always resulted in moving these bodies the way I would have liked to. I did not have much choice with the institution building philosophy I believed in. There were other downfalls like inability to convert these bodies into lasting institutions with big funding and make them global etc. There was opportunity but could not materialise once the mantle was passed on to others. We should have had several institutions working for HRD and hundreds of HRD scholars across the world coming to India to learn about Indian way of HRD. Our country, culture and history offered enough scope for global impact in HRD, for example the way Isha Foundation or Ramakrishna Mission or Chinmaya mission and many others have impacted. My choice was to pass the mantle on to others than to stay on and create institutions round T V Rao.

4. In your opinion, how have recruitment departments geared up to become the new marketing medium in post pandemic times?

I am not sure if any recruitment departments have really become marketing media. If they have, I am not sensitive to them. I believe good HR facilitators would do good work either before pandemic or after and it is their work that speaks for their firms. I am not a believer is strategic brand building through recruitment and such other avenues. Good HR mangers have kept track of their employees, protected them, showed concern, put them first in their priority list and got naturally their loyalty. It is this that speaks for the firm and not any sporadic and strategic interventions by recruitment or compensation etc. departments. Treating people as human possibilities and respect them for their capabilities and create conditions for their growth and development takes care of any brand that you need.

5. What initiatives should HR take in long term to address and handle such situation in future?

Use technology to treat people and everyone with respect. Store data about them and create stories of the competencies and accomplishments of everyone irrespective of their level in organizational hierarchy. Make organizations flatter and designation free. Remove levels to give dignity to people. Reduce salary differentials to the extent possible. Rework on salaries and incentives to create harmony and integration than divisiveness and separation. Value those who work for larger purpose of the organization and country than those who work only for themselves. Integrity and trust should be highest values as they are good economics. Organizations and people that trust each other reduce overheads and work with more speed and happiness. Performance appraisals should be for building and integrating people with each other than dividing. Develop versatility in the application of talent and help employees to be multiskilled. Have a lot of learning to build resilience and individual health and happiness. Include spirituality, meditation, yoga, and the like to help people keep themselves healthy and happy.


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