In continuation of the feature series that ‘Fauji India’ has launched in collaboration with Forces Network we feature in this issue another star who has gone on to achieve glory in the his/her civilian avatar. The ultimate goal is to set up a virtuous self-sustaining cycle of inspiration leading to more successes in turn inspiring many more.
by Lt Cdr Bidisha Pandey (from August 2019 issue)
Born in a family of peasants at Lisarh, a village in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, Col RS Malik studied in a school where he used to sit on the ground, under a tree! His village, at that time, was devoid of electricity and road connectivity. It was while pursuing BSc in a nearby town college (Shamli) that he got selected for the Indian Army. After successful culmination of his training at the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, he was commissioned in 1967 into the Corps of Engineers.
LIFE IN THE ARMY
Army exposed him to military operations and taught him the application of engineering skills in all kinds of terrains, including the snow covered and desert areas. In 1971, he was closely involved in the world-famous tank battle of “Longewala”, near Jaisalmer, where Engineers were providing close combat support to the Infantry Division. Another memorable experience was helping the civil administration of Assam and Meghalaya to evacuate marooned people and cattle during floods. Apart from saving human lives, the main road communication was restored to Tura City in Meghalaya by launching a bridge overnight over the swollen river, when he was posted as Garrison Engineer to provide works and operational support to an Air Force Station in Northeast (Jorhat).
He was also transferred to Chief Engineer Bombay Zone as Staff Officer Grade-I (Planning). His responsibility included planning of important multifaceted engineering projects and monitoring progress thereof, budgeting and cost control. It was during this period that Chief Engineer Bombay Zone was adjudged as the best performing zone in the country.
THE CIVVY STREET
Col RS Malik sought pre-mature retirement from the Army in 1990-91 and continued in Mumbai. Having gained a rich and varied experience in the construction industry, he started executing works for Defence Services, railways and private developers. His association with the Hubtown Group continued in different capacities and roles. He executed all sorts of projects with quality construction totaling to millions of square feet. Some projects are Greenfield Projects while some have been path breaking such as Slum Rehabilitation, BOT and Redevelopment projects. He never really bothered about his salary – he just worked passionately to get the best results.
His CTC post retirement was just Rs 1,20,000 and at present, it is Rs 1.6 crore per annum. People might not believe, but he never had to negotiate his salary. Today, at the age of 74, with 52 years of experience and good health, he is still able to put in about 16 hours of work daily without any stress or tiredness! Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.
FAUJ V/S CIVIL
The three factors in any construction project are cost, time and quality. While in Army, cost was the third priority, outside it becomes the most important entity. Any excess expenditure leads to losses affecting individual salaries at every level. Hence, one needs to be much more cautious with money while ensuring the best quality at the same time. Secondly, in civil, he realized, nobody looked after the workers. Therefore, he personally took the initiative to improve the life of workers at all sites. He made sure they live in hygienic areas, get proper rest, and washrooms are available to them.
WHO CAN JOIN THE CONTRUCTION INDUSTRY?
Fauj teaches one to be a natural leader, but one must continue to strive for excellence dedicatedly and keep learning and improving, on a daily basis. For the construction industry, he says, like someone who conducts a marathon need not be a good runner himself, to be in the construction industry, you need not come from a works background. Of course, a works background helps in knowing the nuances of the system but all kinds of people are needed in the industry. As long as you are ready to add value to your place of work, background does not matter.
Col RS Malik feels that the construction industry is much unorganized in India. He would like to pen down whatever he has learnt through his experience in so many years and write a manual that can serve as a guiding light to those new in this industry.
Col RS Malik believes that life is simple, we make it complicated. He learns from everything around him and puts his heart and soul into everything he does. There is no substitute to practical experience and hard work. He never did any extra certifications or courses his whole life but he learnt through what he saw, what he experienced and what he did!
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Lt Cdr Bidisha Pandey is a Logistics Officer in the Indian Navy. She has led the Naval Marching contingent twice on Rajpath as a part of Republic Day Parade 2014 and 2015. She was ‘Officer of the Guard’ for International City Parade 2016 at Visakhapatnam. She has also participated in the iconic Trans-Atlantic Cape Town to Rio de Janerio Ocean Sailing Race 2017 and has sailed approximately 5000 Nautical Miles in 33 days as a part of the return leg crew of INSV Mhadei from Cape Town to Goa. When she is not on duty, she is an amateur blogger who believes every individual has a story and a lot can be learnt from every story. She can be reached on Email: email@example.com. More stories and interviews by her can be read on her blog sassyweekender.com