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Passing of GST a game changer: Sanjay Budhia

 Shayani Mukherjee |  2016-08-09 21:56:54.0  |  New Delhi

Passing of GST a game changer: Sanjay Budhia

The Managing Director of Patton Group, Sanjay Budhia, says that if you have the perfect combination of will to win and desire to deliver, you can accomplish your goals. Growing up and completing his schooling in Tinsukia (Assam) followed by his graduation from St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, Budhia maintains a simple attitude towards life and advises to never forget one’s own roots. As a student, Budhia was not only brilliant in academics but also in extracurricular activities and has also written a book in Sanskrit which is popular among students.

He is the chairman of CII National Committee on International Trade Policy and Exports, National Council Member of All India Management Association, Honorary Consul of Govt of Malaysia, Director of the Calcutta Stock Exchange, Member of Advisory Board of the Calcutta Business School, Board Member of WPO Kolkata Chapter and also Member of Samsad at the Visva Bharati University. Budhia says - ‘one plus one makes 11’ and the combined strength of father HP Budhia and Sanjay has played a significant role in the huge success of their organization. Patton is a government-recognised Star Export House and is one of the foremost exporters of electrical goods to Fortune 500 Companies in the US. The organisation enjoys the distinction of not losing a single man-hour due to strike or lockout in Bengal. As a responsible corporate, Patton has been contributing to education, health, sports, and environment as well.

Q. What is your opinion of our State Government...
Our Chief Minister is making an all-out effort for development. She not only believes that overall upliftment could lead to true transformation but walks the talk by working at the grassroot level. She has adopted multiple strategies and initiatives in projecting Bengal as an ideal Investment destination. Some of the positive actions are - reducing the load of complex paper-work required earlier to comply with statutory formalities by resorting to E-services which have sent very encouraging signals to industry, hosting business summits - one of the significant initiatives by the Government which serves as an ideal platform to showcase the success stories and various Government initiatives facilitating “ease of doing business” for industrialists and investors from India and abroad. Road shows in major metros attended by the Chief Minister and her visits to Singapore, London, Bhutan and Bangladesh with business delegations coupled with visits of senior ministers such as Amit Mitra to US and London, Firhad Hakim to London, Partha Chatterjee to Singapore, Subrata Mukherjee to Washington convey the Government’s industry friendliness. Strikes have been eradicated in the last five years, thereby improving the work culture and creating an atmosphere for industries to function without fear. Good governance, infrastructural development, boost for creating new tourist spots and developing existing tourist destinations and bringing about a  better education system are other achievements.

The visit of former British Prime Minister David Cameron and the US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to meet the Chief Minister showcases their growing interest in establishing relations with Bengal and reaffirms Mamata Banerjee’s place of pride Internationally. No wonder the Chief Minister appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders of the world and is respected as a doer and performer amongst top leaders of India.

What are your comments on the change of name of West Bengal to Bengal?
This is a historic time for Bengal. The most awaited name change of our beloved State has taken place under the leadership of our visionary Chief Minister. In our earlier name the word “West” was superfluous in the present context. Now there is no “East” no “West” - “BENGAL” is the best.

What was the starting point of your career?
The starting point was when we separated from the joint business and hired a small office in Chatterjee International. Everything had to be started afresh. The journey was not a bed of roses. Success came gradually through difficult times. Our Parent company, Electrometal India Ltd, which exported steel products to the US, suffered a huge setback all of a sudden because the US had levied a 33 percent anti-dumping duty on all its imports. This left all the major exporters at a disadvantage. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. To survive, it was mandatory to diversify the portfolio and a new product called ‘pressed steel tank’ was launched. Ours was the only company in the private sector to start manufacturing this product and was also the first to obtain ISI certification. The first major deal of my career was marketing this product by finalizing a deal with the Kashmir Government and there was no looking back after that. Today Patton is a Government-recognized manufacturing export house and star exporter having multi-locational units in Bengal, a consecutive winner of productivity awards and recipient of national awards both from the President and the Prime Minister of India for excellence in exports.

Mrs Budhia is doing a great service through “Caring Minds”.  Tell us about this initiative?
Minu is truly doing a great service through her initiative “Caring Minds”. She is the Founder - Director, Psychotherapist and Counselor herself. She is a Cognitive Behavior Therapist and a member of the British Psychological Society. Caring Minds is a gift to the city of Kolkata - a psychological and cognitive wellness centre aimed at helping people who are in need of a guiding hand for overall emotional wellbeing. It employs psychiatrists, psychologists, developmental paediatricians, neurologists, speech and occupational therapists, gynaecologists, nutritionists all under one roof. There aren’t many psychological welfare units around the city; therefore Caring Minds offers an easily accessible, and a committed environment for clients to work with a highly efficient group of experts. Many people suffer from certain emotional and psychological difficulties and find it problematic to seek help due to social stigma. Minu felt the need to bring to the forefront such issues and banish the stigma surrounding mental health. ALCM has five wings out of which 1) Clinical Wing deals with all issues related to the mind; 2) Training & Development – wherein soft skill workshops are conducted for schools, corporates and other socio-cultural organizations, 3) Akademia – a training academy focused on delivering specific psychological courses, 4) Mindspeak – an open interactive forum aimed at Self-Empowerment 5) I.CAN.FLY – a vocational skills training unit for special needs of young adults.

Earlier this month, we saw in the papers that Patton International Ltd has set up rooftop grid-connected Solar PV power plants? How has this initiative developed?
The credit of this initiative goes to my daughter Preeyam. After her graduation, she’s graduating in the company. It is great to work with Gen-Next as it helps us see things from a different perspective. I believe that until and unless your blood is in the organization, it fails to flourish. We have worked hard and built it brick by brick to be where we are today and I’m proud to say that she’s fully involved with the group.

The installation of solar rooftops has already been completed in our factory in Behala and other factories will soon have the same. Preeyam is spearheading this project and we don’t look into it because it is very important for her to have ownership of the project.

Although it is known that our main market remains the US (95 per cent), Preeyam is trying to tap other nations such as UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. She also took part in the exhibition called ‘Big 5’ held in Dubai. We are glad that she is expanding the business beyond boundaries.

You are a patron of the Dover Lane Music Conference and many other cultural events. How do you manage work and other activities together?
My interests extend to activities beyond business. One can never live in an island of isolation. The Dover Lane music conference is a conglomeration of music maestros – where other than hosting unbelievable classical music performances by veterans it also gives many upcoming artistes the opportunity to showcase their talent and make a mark in the world of Classical music. It is one of the largest Indian Classical musical events in Eastern India, which draws people from around the world. There are hardly any maestro of Indian Classical Music, either living or departed, who has not performed here. To be associated with Dover Lane music conference is a big honour.

Why Calcutta? What holds you back?
As we all know- “a thing of beauty is joy forever” and for us, the residents of Kolkata, this city is a treasure of culture, heritage, intellect, inner beauty. We are in Kolkata by choice and not by compulsion. The city makes us proud. Kolkata offers the best of education, good quality life and most importantly the warmth of the people, which can hardly be found anywhere on earth. From business perspective, Bengal has all the positive elements to become one of the major industrial hubs of our country. We have distinct advantages because of its location. It is flanked by three of India’s SAARC neighbours– Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, and it is also close to Myanmar. Its potential is strengthened due to its proximity to the large markets of the South-East Asian countries like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia. The possibility of land trade with China through the Nathula Pass in Sikkim offers new opportunities for export growth. Kolkata serves as the main trading hub, being gateway to seven North Eastern states of India. Also, the inter-connectedness of the city is beneficial, unlike Delhi or Mumbai, where it takes hours to reach the other part of the city.

How has Calcutta changed?
The change that this city has undergone is remarkable. People, who haven’t visited Kolkata in the last three years, wouldn’t be able to recognize the city. They would wonder whether it is same Kolkata with a new airport, flyovers, colour and vibrancy. Some of the key improvements that really gave major facelift are 

(a) Improvement of Roads: The Government is making positive efforts towards easy flow of traffic by undertaking infrastructural projects in good numbers to ease the flow of traffic. Roads are being widened and repaired to accommodate more number of lanes with better signalling system along with creation of new flyovers, (b) New Hotels – Economic surge has led to proliferation of Star Hotels which finds Kolkata as the ideal destination for expansion. Major five star hotels are either multiplying their size or making their first foray into the city. (c) Eco-System – Waste Management : Another significant step to solve the garbage problem in the city is the installation of Modern Portable Compactor and Scientific Solid Waste Compactor Stations. 

The advantages of these stations are eradication of open vat, no spillage of garbage during transportation, no seepage of water during transportation due to water-tight system, odourless transportation from compactor stations to Dhapa dumping ground, stoppage of rag picking, restriction of accessibility of birds, animals and rain water, transportation of more garbage due to compaction system, facilities for night transportation of solid waste, (d) Beautification—The State Government has take up the development of Hooghly riverfront including the ghats and ghat pavilions. 

The development work includes building excellent walkways, installation of garden lights, landscaping and greenery. The riverfront has the potential to become the cultural and heritage hub of the city and also speaks of economic and historical significance of the place. Long overdue beautification and modernization of Nimtala and Keoratala ghats have been completed. City beautification is highly on the radar as we see most streets and roads being lit up and most roads being divided by concrete dividers having flower garden at the top. The attitude is to benchmark against the best. 
 
What are your views on the passage of GST?
This reiterates the fact that there is no difference in the development agenda. Passing of GST is a game changer. One big nation – one big market – GST will augment and accelerate growth and economic reforms. Now it is time for the industry to respond, reciprocate and fasten their belts. The world was looking at us and now will look closely and positively.Let us avail the opportunity and get going.

Do you think India’s industrial output is enough to meet the increasing demands of the citizens?
India is growing at 7.6 per cent (GDP) on a continuous basis. Previously, India was only looked at as the software hub but today the world is looking at India as the manufacturing hub as well. Visits of President Obama twice during his tenure along with visits of international leaders truly show that India is being looked as an industrial power by the entire world. Large multinationals are flocking to India. Global giants are putting up their R&D centres. India’s time zone has worked in our favour. India is not only aware of what needs to be delivered but how fast it needs to be delivered.

Is India’s export growth slowing down?
No, India’s export growth rate hasn’t been slowing down, when looked at in terms of quantity. It only lowered in terms of value. When compared quantity wise, exports are more or equal but as crude and commodity prices have come down, the value of such exports seem to be lower.

Iron and steel still continue to be stressed as sectors. Does it affect your company?
It all depends on which side of the table you are. If you’re a consumer, it definitely benefits you as the commodity prices go down and if you’re a manufacturer, it does affect you adversely. However, there has been no problem on the supply side of Iron and steel, not that I remember our company has faced.

What is the biggest problem that export industries are facing in India?
The biggest problem they face is the cost of finance. The difference in cost of capital between India and other countries like the US, Canada, China, is huge and disproportionate. The difference often reaches 8 to 10 percent at times and higher when logistics are added to the price of the product. As export is treated as a national priority, taxes and duties should be exempted and now that the GST is implemented, this cost disadvantage should narrow down.

Message for young entrepreneurs?
India is a land of Infinite opportunities. We are the youngest country in the world. We have a huge demographic advantage with more than half of our population under the age of 25. Each one of you has the capability and responsibility to take part in country’s growth trajectory. Always avail opportunities that come your way. Our home grown entrepreneurs and industrialists like Dhirubhai Ambani, Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji, Brij Lal Munjal and many more are examples of how much can be achieved in a lifetime, starting from the scratch to attaining pinnacles of success. 

Success is not an accident and there is no shortcut to success. It is the result of our attitude and our attitude is a choice. Hence success is a matter of choice and not chance. 

To succeed you should imbibe the guiding principles of ABCDE where A=Ambition; B = Betterment; C = Commitment; D = Development/Dedication and E = Enterprise, Endeavour and Excellence. So let us fly with our feet firmly on the ground. Last but not the least, respect your parents because they have worked hard to place where you are today.

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