Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


My and DOT’s Regard For and Trust in Dr F. C. Kohli and Tatas

 Dt:  30/11/20


My and DOT’s Regard For and Trust in

  Dr F. C. Kohli and Tatas


Dr T H Chowdary*


The year was 1970. I was Dy General  Manager of Bombay Telephones . In those times we were  producing   the   Bombay Telephone Directory once  every six months . 


2. More than one lakh copies of the  Directory were being printed.  While every subscriber got it free, trade  and businesses used to buy several copies.  There used to be mistakes, both in spelling as well as in description of the  subscriber. If  we  corrected it in one issue there would be others in the next  issue.  Also during  the  time the directory  was being printed,  there used to be new connections which could  not be  entered and shifts of telephones from one area  to another but the changed numbers could not be incorporated. So, while  incurring  lot of expenditure  we used to get lots of complaints .


3. For the first time the Government  took a loan from the World Bank  in 1970 for  expansion of the telecom system. A delegation of the World Bank was thus with  the Bombay Telephones. There was discussion  about the  telephone directories . We said that   we would like to  computerize the compilation and printing and production of the telephone directory.  The World Bank people said that we would  not be able to do it.  Only two countries so far attempted and succeeded ;  these were USA and Japan. I was in charge of the  compilation  and production of telephone directory. In some social meeting, I mentioned this matter to  Sri F C Kohli  and also inquired whether  TCS


could underbake this job . and that the  World Bank officials said that India would not be able to do it . Sri Kohli said  he would accept the challenge . In  the next meeting with the   officials of the World Bank, I requested Sri Kohli to be  present when  the discussion would be about  the  computerization of Telephone Directory . The World Bank officer asked Sri Kohli to take  a bet and Kohli accepted it.


4. We gave the  order  to TCS. We did not invite  tenders,   did not  write any specification  because we did not know how to specify. We already had   a contract with the   Bharatiya Vidya  Bhavan whose  printing department  was  printing  the directories.  That had to be terminated.  I convinced the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan that the computerized  production  of Telephone Directory  would be the beginning of  computerization of many operations int the  DOT  and  would be taking India into the great  league of countries  using  computers for  several tasks . The Bhavan  true to its patriotism, expressed its willingness for the termination of the contract, although it meant loss of business  for them .


5. My agreement with Sri F C Kohli was that the TCS should charge only  actual cost and not take any profit . It agreed.  The Tatas  had to change the traditional printing press and buy a new  system which would accept the computer set directory in software and  bring out the printed version according to our standards of entries and layout including  punctuation, hyphenation etc. 


6. When this matter came to the notice of the  P&T Directorate, Delhi the Member Finance of the   P&T Board came down to Bombay  and  asked us  how we dared  to award work for  lakhs of rupees without  specification and  without tenders and a contract. I explained  that we are ignorant about  writing the specification and we are  certain that the  House of Tatas  would keep up their word that they would charge us nothing  but  actual costs  they incur.  We have  full trust in the  integrity of the  Tata companies and  especially in  one that is   headed by Sri F C Kohli. To our surprise, the Member Finance of the  P&T Board  agreed and we went ahead.


7. In the first 50,000 copies came out, Sri JRD Tata  ordered  them to be pulped as  the quality of paper and print visibility was not up to his high (Tata) standard. Improved ones  were delivered within two days .  The Directory was current as of five days  before its   release to the public.


8. For the first time in the country and  the third in the world  the Telephone Directory  was produced in India  in Bombay by the TCS in 1971. The department  was so happy  that the  TCS undertook this job in the spirit “India Can Do” . The TCS was then awarded contracts for telephone billing.  and  other operations. Thus  the first big order and a pioneering one that TCS got was from the Bombay Telephones. It was entirely due to the faith of the management of  Bombay Telephones represented by me  in the  competence  and integrity  of a Tata company headed by F.C. Kohli that TCS broke into  big I.T business  in the P&T/ DOT.  I am proud and happy that   the decision I had taken based entirely upon my faith in F.C. Kohli  and the Tatas proved so beneficial to India . Dr F C Kohli always believed and used to assert “India can do”  (839 words)