Guest lectures at a university are a pretty common occurrence all around the globe. They are very popular and effective. I recently discovered the reason behind this when, the very famous ‘Metro Man’, Dr. Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, who is a retired IES officer visited FLAME University as a guest lecturer. He is known as the ‘Metro Man’ because he is credited for changing the face of public transport in India during his tenure. His passion, his honesty, his penchant for doing work for the larger good of people and for India clearly reflected in his talks. The positive influence of such interactions, and how it bridges the theories we learn at the university with the real world, makes these lectures priceless.
Dr. Sreedharan is known for building the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro when he served as the managing director of Delhi Metro. Mr. Sreedharan was awarded with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2001 and the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2005. He was named one of Asia’s Heroes by TIME magazine in 2003. He also received the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Recently he has been appointed to serve in the United Nations’ High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport (HLAG-ST). He was invited by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to serve on his HLAG-ST for a period of three years.
During his talk at FLAME University, he emphasized on the importance of four things in life – integrity, punctuality, competence and social responsibility. He elaborated on these four basic principles, and how they have always helped him complete his work within a stipulated time frame. Now we all know such huge infrastructure projects are extremely complicated, with different stakeholders interfering with several aspects, leading to project delays. Therefore, his completing such public transport projects, with minimum delays and within a particular timeframe is definitely commendable. We realized while listening to him, that he firmly believed in those four principles, and actually applied them in his life. He stressed upon how as young leaders today one must imbibe these qualities, and indeed if the youth did so, it will change the face of India completely. He spoke in detail about how he managed to take up and complete the Delhi Metro Project within the stipulated time of 10 years. The Delhi Metro is world class, and obviously contributed to the city’s growth significantly. It is also one of the most successful ventures of public transport in India.
Additionally, Dr. Sreedharan highlighted the strategic and functional aspects which led him to succeed in other projects as well, like using reverse day countdowns for achieving targets. He also detailed how he set targets for his Kerala Railways project, which actually was not a norm then.
He is an exceptionally inspiring figure who is unbelievably humble and it was a privilege to interact with him. He believed in himself and his principles so much that it was easy to see how his sincerity trickled down to this team and made them achieve the impossible.