Lloyd’s Register provides independent assurance and expert advice to companies operating high-risk, capital-intensive assets in the energy and transportation sectors. It also helps companies manage their systems and risks across a wide range of areas. R.S. Sharma, the former Chairman and Managing Director of ONGC Ltd, joined Lloyd’s Register on November 1, 2012, at a time when it is committed to double both its revenue and workforce in India by 2015. Interview by Jibran Buchh.
How would you describe the Indian infrastructure today?
India’s infrastructure is very disappointing. If the economy has to grow, then infrastructure and energy are basic requirements which have to grow first. It is going to be a difficult task tapping government projects, but that’s the way India is. If the economy has to grow, we have to grow. The economy has not been the way it should have been here in India.
PPP has now also come under the scrutiny of CAG. Why should a commercial enterprise get into the business model if they are not getting benefit? If that benefit is taken or addressed as a drain that is really unfortunate.
The benefits of growth initially percolate down slowly and then the corporate sector expands, so do jobs, and with it infrastructure grows. That is how the services sector grows, that is how the world economy has grown, and this is the paradigm that the world follows. Now if you criticise this model, then there will inevitably be damages.
What do you think needs to be done?
As a developing economy, India has vast potential. But the economy has not been assertive. What we need to get across to the population is that safety and performance go hand in hand and to recognise the value of working with the best experts and the value that we can bring while performing the operations which would enhance the safety record; and from consulting side, making sure we get the best possible performance out of our assets.
Has risk assurance evolved in India?
I would say that there is much greater realisation in India about risk assurance, but it has not found a mark yet vis-à-vis other developed nations. The awareness is increasing as activities in India expand.
After meeting people from various businesses in India, I can say that the companies are aware of the phenomenon called risk assurance. Over time as the subcontinent grows and develops more and more companies are going to opt for third-party assurance.
Can you tell us about your R&D?
Lloyds is just a service provider and as such does not require R&D facilities. Instead, we require training facilities because our working staff needs to be updated with modern technology.
On the other hand, we do have R&D centres in parts of India where we are working with educational trusts and universities. This is a CSR initiative. Our key R&D facilities are in Singapore. As we grow here we will set up training institutes.
Could you name some of the companies you have provided services to?
We have provided our services to companies like L&T and BHEL.
How would you compare India and China?
China started economic liberalisation 15 years before India did. Besides, we all know that China’s way of working is polls apart from that of India whose big story is yet to come and when it does, it will come in a big way.
What is your future strategy?
We are going to have a significant investment programme in coming years. Around 2015-16 we may invest ₤25-30 million.