It is a privilege for me to address this first letter to you as
Chairman of M&M.
M&M has always had a close and cordial bond with its shareholders, and
this is a tradition I am delighted to continue. Thank you for the
support you have always rendered to the Board, and the encouragement
and affection you have showered upon me personally. I look forward to a
long and rewarding association with all of you.
When I took over as Chairman last year, someone asked me what would
change. My first off-the-cuff reaction was, nothing - nothing would
really change. I would continue to have the operational responsibility
I have been holding since 1997. Energising the organisation would still
continue to be the most important part of my job. I would still have to
earn my salary by looking into the crystal ball of the future and
trying to steer the organisation through the shoals and opportunities
lying ahead of us.
But on deeper reflection I realised that something would indeed change
and change very fundamentally. There is a story of how US President
Harry Truman had a plaque on his desk that said ''The buck stops here.''
Well, an identical plaque has now earned a place on my desk. While I
always hope to enjoy the blessing and guidance of our Chairman
Emeritus, and the direction of the Board, the hard fact is that, for
the first time, the buck now stops with me.
And with the stopping of the buck, I am acutely aware that the task of
preserving, protecting, nurturing and growing the finest attributes of
the Mahindra Group has devolved on me. There are many important things
that have to be preserved and strengthened. For me, one of the most
critical is good governance. Good governance has always been the
hallmark of the Group. Measures to ensure high standards of governance
were implemented within the company long before they were mandated by
law. It is one of my topmost priorities to ensure that this great
tradition of impeccable governance continues and strengthens and that
the Mahindra Group preserves and enhances its reputation for clean
administration, fair dealing and transparency.
I am also acutely aware that the Mahindra Group has a precious legacy
of values, social consciousness, and integrity that has come down to us
from the days of the founders, and is personified by our Chairman
Emeritus. This legacy is not just a source of great pride; it is almost
the birthright of our shareholders, employees, partners and other stake
holders. It is a legacy I pledge to strengthen and deepen.
And thirdly, I pledge performance. Performance has also been the
hallmark of the Mahindra Group in the 21st century. Gross Group
revenues have grown more than 12 times. Group profits by a whopping 60
times. The Group market cap has grown from a couple of hundred million
dollars to 19 billion dollars today. The number of Business-to-Consumer
(B2C) businesses has tripled from 5 to 15 plus. At that time, we had
about 19000 associates.
Now, Group wide, we employ over 1,50,000 people. At that time, we had a
handful of foreign associates. Today, we employ people from 11
countries. For decades we were known as a predominantly manufacturing
company. Now we are a multi-sectoral Group. The global footprint has
expanded. At that time, we had just four businesses abroad. Now, the
Group presence extends to more than a hundred countries. Today, we are
a global Group that is all about using technology and innovation to
empower people everywhere to succeed. It has been an era of innovation
and growth, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a ''hands-on''
part of it.
This is the performance that I pledge to keep up and improve upon. And
I say that we will better it with a certain level of confidence, for
First, because I believe that we have created an ecosystem within the
organisation where human potential can flourish. I am often asked what
my vision is for the future of the Mahindra Group. I don''t think I
would describe my vision in monetary terms. Rather, I would say that my
vision for the company is that it should be a workplace where
entrepreneurship can thrive. A place where people are empowered to
achieve everything they are capable of achieving. If I may be permitted
to wax poetic, my vision would be to create a fertile field of dreams
where people can sow the seeds of their talent and nurture it to full
flower. If we provide this ecosystem, people will do well, people will
harness their talents to the company''s cause, and the results will
Second, we will do well because we have a secret weapon. We are
purpose-driven. We have a larger purpose in the form of our Rise
philosophy. A colleague has put up a story on our internal website,
which tells of a journalist in the 1960''s (when America was striving to
be the first country to put a man on the moon) who saw a man driving a
truck in the NASA compound. He asked him what his job was. The truck
driver replied, My job is to put a man on the moon. I can''t think of
a better example of a purpose-driven person. Here was a humble truck
driver - who didn''t see his job as driving a truck. He saw himself as
part of a larger and much more audacious mission - putting a man on the
moon. The Rise philosophy also does that to people. People in the
Mahindra Group too, see themselves as working for something much larger
and more compelling than profits or even their own advancement. They
see their job as helping people everywhere to Rise.
And the third reason I am confident we will maintain and better our
performance, is that we have the audacity of ambition to drive us.
Around the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the top 500
managers of the Mahindra Group worldwide asked themselves, What do we
want to achieve by the end of the second decade? Where do we want to be
in 2021 ? The answer, not surprisingly, was not couched in monetary
terms. They didn''t want to be, say, a 50 billion dollar global Group.
Rather, ''Aspiration 2021'' which they co-created after intense debate,
says We will be among the top 50 most admired Groups in the world by
2021; and we will do this by helping people everywhere, to Rise.
Considering that we are today still a predominantly India-based Group,
that is a very bold aspiration indeed in a ten year time frame. But
knowing what our people are capable of, it would be no surprise, if we
do achieve it.
I take over at a difficult time. If one were to go by the headlines and
talking heads on TV, there seems to be nothing but bad news all around.
Political dramas are unfolding everywhere. A controversy a day seems to
be the new normal. The share market is volatile and the macroeconomic
statistics seem to be heading south. Contrary to the prevailing
pessimism however, I continue, as always, to be bullish on India.
The cacophony of democracy in action tends to drown out the good news -
and there is much good news. Good news, such as inflation is
moderating. Good news, in that the fiscal deficit is now getting the
focus it was crying out for. Good news, such as the fact that while
India''s growth rate has slowed down, it is still higher than growth
rates almost anywhere else in the world. The even better good news is
that population growth rates are declining, and as a result, per capita
income growth rates are accelerating.
Yes, there are good things happening from an economic perspective, and
what we require now, is to remove the bottlenecks to growth, to
accelerate investment, especially in areas like infrastructure and
manufacturing, which have a multiplier effect on growth, and to
implement reforms faster and more visibly.
But my real cause for optimism is due to dramatic changes in the social
arena. I believe we are entering into a new Age of Accountability.
The dramatic growth in digital and social media has provided the
rising, educated middle class with a potent weapon to demand
accountability from public figures. Those in a position of public
responsibility - politicians, bureaucrats and corporations - are seeing
a mirror held up to them, and hearing the increasingly vociferous calls
for meeting expectations for an improved quality of life.
At the risk of being accused of naivete, I believe public figures will
have to heed this call for transparency and for higher levels of
performance of their duties. As this evolution of accountability takes
shape, I believe India will once again become the cynosure of global
attention and investment. The much-touted demographic dividend will
finally come through and India should return to a much higher
trajectory of growth.
As I write this, the rain is pelting down outside, and we are
celebrating the highest rainfall in 22 years. After the long hot
summer, the rains always bring welcome relief and that is why they are
considered so auspicious. I am optimistic that these rains are a good
augury for India and the future.
I am aware that I have taken over at a time of substantial
macroeconomic strain. In fact, it is a joke within our Group that I
always seem to take on a new assignment in the midst of a crisis. When
I joined MUSCO in 1981, the steel industry was in crisis. When I became
Dy. MD in 1991, M&M faced a challenge to its very existence, with the
onset of liberalisation. When I became MD in 1997, Asia was in economic
crisis, and India was feeling the effect. And since I have become
Chairman, Indian business has been under siege due to global and
domestic factors. So, I can humbly claim to be familiar with crises.
Today, the greatest challenge we face, is to achieve continuous growth
in a discontinuous world. It is a tough task, but I believe we are up
to the challenge. I believe we have the right combination of ambience,
altruism and ambition to do great deeds and to continue performing in
the future, as we have in the past. I do not underestimate the
difficulties of doing this, but with your support and blessings, we
will give it our best shot, and I am confident we will succeed.
With best wishes,
Anand G. Mahindra