Exclusive Interview with Mr. Bharat Kaushal, Managing Director, Hitachi India

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In an exclusive interview Mr. Bharat Kaushal, MD, Hitachi India, shares insights on the company’s long legacy,
strength in the Indian market and role in building a sustainable society.

Q.1. Hitachi comes with the tagline ‘Inspire the Next. What does this little phrase actually mean for the company on a policy level? Would you like to throw some light on it as the MD of Hitachi India?

The Vision expresses what the Hitachi Group aims to become in the future. The slogan “Inspire the Next” is an expression of the Group’s desire to make this Vision a reality. The word “Inspire” comes from the Latin “in” or “into” and “spirare” or “breathe.” It means “to breathe life into,” “to expand upon,” and “to encourage.” It also carries the meaning of “lifting spirits and raising awareness,” and of “giving energy and courage.” The red line stretching above and to the right of “Next” is called the “Inspire Flash.” It represents Hitachi’s strong desire to achieve even further growth. The Hitachi Group aims to help create a society that is overflowing with vitality, by “Inspiring the World”.

Q.2. What does being the MD of Hitachi India actually mean to you and how does it feel?

Joining Hitachi is like wearing many hats, encompassing different roles, challenges and opportunities where every hat you wear gives you a different perspective, experience all together. By taking this decision, I have set a tough task for myself to adapt a steep learning curve. After working for 25 years in the investment banking sector, I took this challenging opportunity on June 1st, 2017 to be the first Indian head of Hitachi in India and feel truly honoured to be appointed at this position. When I took over to head Hitachi India in 2017, it was a different yet intriguing field for me, a one which I often described as a Cricket Match, where you can play all sorts of games be it a five day match, a one day international or a 20-20 short game. However, over the years, my realization has outpaced all the expectations. During these four eventful years, I have discovered Hitachi’s vastness, diversity and the augmented footprints in India that have remarkably touched millions of lives, an accomplishment that would have never been possible without support from the stakeholders you collaborate and partner for achieving such milestones.

Q.3. Which goals do you set for Hitachi in India? What challenges do you feel you need to overcome for the targeted goals to be achieved?

Governance is a challenge in a country as colossal and diverse as India. As India gears up for an era of rapid digitalisation, the issue of holistic and inclusive economic growth also remains a pivotal concern. That’s where evolving technologies can intervene and enable large scale transformation and help in the implementation of ambitious government plans ensuring citizens are empowered like never before.

Hitachi in India has envisioned this direction in collaboration with the stakeholders, bringing its rich global industrial heritage and juxtaposing it with its strength in Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). It has its ethos embedded in its businesses that are aimed at touching the lives of millions. Hitachi has partnered with the government of India in its initiatives like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, leveraging its superior technology innovations and global expertise to address India’s unique challenges.

Keeping citizens at the center, we must adapt to the dynamic confluence culture that is a natural result of convergence. In accordance to this, we have created a connected citizen eco-system integrating all our solutions beginning from Digitization, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Payments, e-Governance, mobility, etc. to deliver appropriate solutions operating as a foundation for building sustained cities.

With our unwavering commitment towards building a sustainable society, Hitachi is poised to touch more lives and make India self-reliant. We will continue to partner and draw upon our wealth of technologies and expertise to provide a diversified range of information technology solutions in various industrial sectors, empowering the citizens of India, transforming the landscape of Indian economy aligned with India’s growth.

Q.4. Please tell us something about your education, upbringing and career?

I am an alumnus of Columbia University, where I pursued a Masters in International Affairs (MIA) and Northeastern University
where I secured a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). I obtained LLB from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. My graduation (Bachelors and Masters) was from St Stephen’s College, Delhi. Throughout my life I have been an active sports person. Swimming and running are both excellent forms of relaxing myself both mentally and physically. As a student from Delhi’s Modern School and St Stephen’s College, I won laurels at national and state-level swimming championships. Being a runner for almost 31 years and an active sportsman/swimmer since early school days, I have imbibed these qualities in my daily life.

I believe I have reflected these in my leadership style over the years. When it comes to running, for me it’s about long runs to explore parts of any city I happen to be visiting. At the age of 49, I ran in around 50 half marathons, with a best time of 1 hour, 50 minutes in the 1996 New York City Marathon. During my travel to Europe and the US, I would run at formal marathons and informal jogs organized in the city. This enabled me to quickly cover major parts of the city. Over the years, I have established some favourite spots — for example, every time I am in Tokyo, I run around the Imperial Palace, usually early morning or evening as time permits, before I head to my meetings or after finishing off my assignments for the day.

While the greater part of my career has been in investment banking, I also served successful assignments as Strategy Advisor to the India Investment Center, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India and as part of the Economic Policy Unit of the World Bank in Washington DC. I was also Co-Chairman of the Finance, Banking, Capital Markets and Insurance Committee at PhD Chamber of Commerce and Industry for 2 years. In my 28 years of professional journey, I got numerous opportunities and attained industry experience specializing in macroeconomic policy, Government advisory, project finance, debt restructuring and mergers and acquisitions. I am currently a member of the Indo-Japan Task Force (IJTF) set-up by the two Governments and is the Convenor of the Financial Strategy Group to address policy as well as operational level concerns of Japanese Government and private sector institutions pursuing business opportunities in India.

Q.5. Tell us something about Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), where you worked for a long and held multiple positions? What learning you had at SMBC and did it play any important role in your professional life and career?

I served as Chairman in India of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). I was also the first non-Japanese to be appointed as SMBC India’s CEO and served the role between 2012 and 2015. I was associated with SMBC for over 20 years and worked across different senior management roles including those of Managing Director and CEO.

I think a key learning for me was how I could challenge myself and follow my passion despite the odds stacked against me. There is always an easy way out. But I had faith in myself and my decisions. This supported me tremendously in achieving
the set goals. My career journey at SMBC was multi-faceted. From strengthening the foundations of the organization in India
to expanding the business boundaries, my role was quite challenging. I had the onus of acting as the catalyst between the stakeholder and the organization, where you have to balance out and bridge the gap, inviting investments and chairing mergers & acquisitions. The role at SMBC involved prodigious level of visionary competencies.

Q.6. Tell us something about Hitachi’s Pentaho based data platform which recently has been launched by your company which you state as one of the ways to keep society and citizens abreast about Covid-19?

For the past two decades, we have been on a path of transformation that has been profoundly disruptive. The pandemic has dramatically altered the sense of geography, distances, how we function, and how we conduct business.

As the manufacturing sector unlocked, companies sought to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for employees, comply with government-issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and actively collaborate with the government to fuel economic and industrial growth. Digital processes, automated operations, and Industry 4.0 solutions assist the manufacturers
in addressing all these challenges. Determined in its efforts to empower the industry in its fight against Covid-19, Hitachi developed an IoT-based Tracking Solution for Contactless Scanning of Body Temperature and Face Mask Recognition.

The solution assisted with various features like non contact thermometer & IOT Edge Gateway mounted on a frame, detects high temperature and facial mask adherence from a distance of one meter, alerts the authorities in cases of concern to avoid virus spread, while monitoring every movement of a worker in a real time via IOT enabled wearables assigned to each worker.
Additionally, our Research and Development team (R&D) developed a data-driven COVID-19 information platform dashboard which supported India to keep the citizens and society informed. The dashboard draws relevant data and details from across reliable and authentic digital platforms and presents it to the user in a friendly and analytical format. The details include prevailing COVID -19 situation in India covering the length and breadth of data at state, district and national level.

The initiative illustrates Hitachi’s technological capabilities of how effectively we can amalgamate and utilize the data using our legacy old data analytics capabilities ensuring well-being of millions of citizens.

Q.7. Hitachi is one of the largest global conglomerates and fortune 500 companies dealing in a range of product and services from Social Infrastructure, IT&S, High Function Material & Components etc. Which sector do you feel has been most rewarding for the company? Is there any additional or new initiative company is looking for?

Hitachi’s partnership with India dates back to 1930’s with importing of table fans and later went on to supply steam engines followed by Turbines for the Bhakra Nangal Dam. Since then Hitachi India has grown multifarious with presence of 28 group companies and approximately 11,000 strong work force fueling the transformation of India. Hitachi’s diverse product portfolio includes technology and solutions in areas such as e-Government, e-Education, finance, mobility, infrastructure, informatio
technology, healthcare, and agriculture. Each of these verticals touches millions of lives in India, together contributing towards strengthening our foundations in India.

Hitachi is contributing to the development of a Connected Society by creating a centrifugal climate that enables an
strengthens the basis for self-sustaining cities and societies through “Digital Fusion,” focusing its efforts on education, healthcare, and citizen empowerment through e-Governance.

To empower the society, Hitachi, through Hitachi MGRM Net, is becoming an integral part of the next-generation government and private sector services and offers to engage with customers and citizens for a better quality of life. It will improve people’s lifestyle providing them with an enhanced environment. Hitachi aims to aid and enhance their imagination by way of revisiting, resetting, and transforming its technology, which is everlasting, multi-functional, multi-operable and based on real-time systems.

Restructured work; Redefined roles; Reserves of trust coupled with reskilling of resources will be the future of work. Work and life are rapidly changing, and they will never be the same again. The world will witness major behavioral and social changes. Amidst all this, technology will play a vital role in bridging the gap between the public and private sectors.

With transformative initiatives such as the Smart Cities Mission, Make in India, and Digital India, the Indian government is driving the country’s growth model. The government is redefining how it interacts with people through using Information Technology (IT), Operational Technology (OT), Internet of Things (IoT), and big data analytics. Disruption fueled by future technologies paves the way for policymakers to resolve the challenges of rapid urbanization. Organizations are increasingly evolving from “closed innovation” to cocreation and strategic partnerships to keep up with rapid technological advancement
and innovation.

It began slowly, but as Internet and digital technology got evolved, it grew to include e-Services ranging from banking to train
ticketing, healthcare, and agricultural information. With the introduction of new technologies and solutions, as well as how they are reaching out to the masses, India is undoubtedly prepared for this astounding digital transformation. As one of the leaders in offering Social Innovation Business solutions, Hitachi can accomplish a competitive edge in the world, by improving not only operational resilience but enabling flexibility in a new reality, characterized by rapidly changing market dynamics. This is an opportune time for us to reflect on the enormous talent base we possess and leverage it to build a pervasive foundation.

Hitachi is reforming social and business infrastructure with emerging technology to empower people more than ever before as they reimagine how goods and services are delivered. Consisely, Hitachi continues to play a vital role to build a sustainable society that is evolutionary and forward-looking, constructed on the principles of Information, Interaction, Transaction and Transformation.

Q.8. Hitachi India is a part of Hitachi Group which is a Japanese Company. The role of big companies in nation-building is one of the relevant issues & topic these days. How do you see Hitachi India’s role and part in this segment? Are you satisfied with your efforts in terms of Nation building?

India has witnessed unprecedented growth in terms of the adaption of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We expect AI to play a critical role in transforming the social and economic environment as it is implemented through a variety of industries such as customer service, engineering, supply chain, and finance. India’ is fast-tracking a predominantly agrarian India into the IoT era, a leap
that is critical to the nation’s emergence as global production and economic powerhouse. Hitachi’s global legacy and expertise on technological innovation has no less stirred a social revolution here. Whether its railways, IT, healthcare, education, agriculture, infrastructure, Artificial intelligence (AI) is the base of all the solutions that Hitachi provides. Hitachi develops innovative products and solutions powered by cutting-edge technologies to create value for customers.

Hitachi’s connected citizen ecosystem integrates all our solutions from digitisation, artificial intelligence, digital payments, e-Governance, mobility and more to provide the foundation for a sustainable society. With innovation and expertise, Hitachi provides a diversified range of solutions across various sectors to empower the citizens of India, transform the economic landscape and continue to remain a part of India’s great growth story contributing towards creating a sustainable society and
improve people’s quality of life.

Q.9. Most of the big players in India have already started making a significant contribution towards GOIs effort of a self-reliant India. Be it clean energy, defence, urban transportation, e-Education, healthcare, payments, aerospace, and space technology. Few top notches in the country are playing their part in this segment. What is Hitachi India’s plan?

In line with the government’s vision of Self-Reliant India, we at Hitachi are actively partnering with the Government of India across its digital journey, leveraging our vast experience in OT X IT. Hitachi has deep rooted foundation and partnership with India which is over eight decades old. Tackling challenges faced by the mobility infrastructure in India, Hitachi leverages its holistic urban transport solutions, ranging from energy-efficient rolling stock, advanced signaling systems, traffic management system, automatic fare collection and financial services solutions, world-class station equipment, passenger information & security solutions, and more, to progressively improve social and economic values for the people of India.

Hitachi has also been actively collaborating with the Government of India in evolutionary high-capacity, high-speed infrastructure ventures, as part of the Indian Railways’ ambitious expansion and modernization programme. The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor is one of them (WDFC). Another project is for Mumbai Metro Lines 2 and 7. The scope of work for Hitachi is design, manufacture and supply of High Voltage, Energy efficient Propulsion system as well as Train Control & Management System (TCMS) and Event Recorders for the Driverless/UTO trains being built by our manufacturing partner BEML Ltd.

On January 7, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the first 306 kilometers of the 1506-kilometer Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) from New Rewari to New Madar to the nation for commercial use. Under this, Hitachi is executing two notable projects. One, a complete signalling and telecommunication system for the 915 km (Rewari in Haryana to Vadodara
in Gujarat) line involving 31 stations with facilities to connect and interchange with Indian Railways tracks running in parallel;
the other is the installation of automatic train protection based on ETCS system of train protection and warning system (TPWS) for 1337 km (Rewari-Haryana-JNPT-Mumbai) line involving 43 stations and on-board system to be deployed on first 200 electric locomotives. The safety approval for implementing Hitachi’s Electronic Interlocking system for a larger network of DFCs under feasibility will be a notable achievement.

This will also pave the way for Hitachi’s Electronic Interlocking system to be used more widely in the modernization of Indian Railways’ bigger yards, due to its high capacity and compact nature, which will suit yards with 300 to 800 routes. Not just for Railways, Hitachi has commissioned successful projects for Metro as well. By successfully implementing the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) based signalling and telecommunication system for Noida Metrorail project in a record time of 28 months, it has paved the way for an intelligent transport infrastructure with digital integration that puts commuters’ safety and convenience at the forefront. A state-of-the-art Metrorail system thus put into operations is enhancing the lives of people in rapidly expanding Noida and Greater Noida region. Hitachi India is assisting manufacturers in identifying and implementing the most cost-effective digital solutions in their manufacturing operations, transforming factories of the past into Smart Factories of the future. Being an active collaborator and supporter of the Make in India initiative, Hitachi supports and employs local talents and products to boost its manufacturing capabilities.

Hitachi is integrating data, technology, and governance as a force to accelerate e-Government initiatives and enhance decision-making. Several projects have been launched to encourage e-Government as a whole and enhance the delivery of public services to people. Hitachi MGRM Net has been instrumental in facilitating the digitalization of India’s education market. It is also assisting the Indian government in taking the National Education Program (NEP) to the most remote areas of the region. The Hitachi e-Governance platform also addresses the time-consuming aspects of education, enabling school administrators and faculty to focus on what they do best: imparting education. Unlocking the Agri potential in India is imperative, for the industry to follow a positive growth trajectory year-on-year. In Agriculture, we have partnered with the State governments and agriculture universities to build an integrated platform that seamlessly connects with the food chain industry. Hitachi is widening its horizons in the automotive and motorcyle industries, going beyond just providing its expertise.

On January 1, 2021, Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd., Keihin Corporation, Showa Corporation, and Nissin Kogyo Co., Ltd. concluded management integration to form Hitachi Astemo, Ltd., a leading provider of mobility solutions to the automotive and motorcyle industries, to contribute to environmental conservation and adapt to technological change. Hitachi Astemo is all set to drive innovation in CASE (meaning Connected, Autonomous, Sharing and Electrification), an area that is expected to develop exponentially, by using its expanded scale and the advanced technologies of the four integrating companies. With Hitachi Astemo we are looking at component perspective as well, focusing on a larger share of the market in the automotive
and motorcyle industries. Hitachi’s Advanced Payment Solutions are also contributing to the financial inclusivity of the nation. Hitachi Payment Services and State Bank of India (SBI) entered a Joint Venture (JV) for the establishment of a state-of-the-art card acceptance and future ready digital payment platform for India. The JV combines the unparalleled distribution network, customer trust of SBI with cutting edge technology and services of the Hitachi Group in areas such as digital payments technology, services, big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence. The JV will help in further strengthening the financial inclusivity of the nation.

Hitachi is committed to ‘Powering Good’ by co-creating solutions that are enhancing Social, Environmental and Economic values of the society and the customers. With our decades of legacy, we have been Powering Technology, and contributing towards improving the Quality of Life of the citizens and empowering them more than ever before.

Q.10. What are your views about the Make in India Campaign?

India has a great geographic advantage, allowing us to offer state of the art technology not just to the Indian market, but also to South-East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc., enabling us to indulge in value creation across different parts of the world. We are re-inventing ourselves, by localising infrastructure capabilities and setting up greater capacity in India, enabling ourselves to indulge in value creation across different parts of the world.

Our robust manufacturing facilities spread across different parts of India is actively and aggressively contributing to the PM’s vision of Make in India and Supply to the world that constitutes products like Construction Machinery Equipment, Metals, Cash Recycling Machines, Industrial UPS invertors etc. Hitachi India is assisting manufacturers in identifying and implementing the most cost-effective digital solutions in their manufacturing operations, transforming factories of the past into Smart Factories
of the future. Being an active collaborator and supporter of the Make in India initiative, Hitachi supports and employs local talents and products to boost its manufacturing capabilities. Hitachi has partnered with the government of India in its initiatives like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, leveraging its superior technology innovations and global expertise to
address India’s unique challenges. We are belligerently contributing, by localising the infrastructure capabilities through sprucing up capacity in India.

Q.11. What would be your message to youth aspiring to join Hitachi in its various sectors? What are the growth opportunities in the company? What preparedness and education are required to make a start or entry into the company?

In the current dynamic work environment, we all need to be highly adaptive, with a “growth mindset”. Thus, the advice would
be that one should be relentless, keep reinventing be fast and agile. These skills will support in expanding the business which will ultimately motivate you, inspire you, and evolve you as an individual as well. There is a famous saying which I resonate well with,

“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”

Not every work day can be met with unbridled enthusiasm. We all have moments when our mood lags far behind the “to do” list in front of us. It really could be anything — an annoying interaction from the previous day or a stressful commute. Ultimately, the “less than optimal” mood spells serious trouble for the day ahead. I believe, to get an entry into any company one needs to possess right attitude, right skills that can help you to make it easier to establish your professional presence and how you can contribute towards the growth of the company. One should have the enthusiasm, excitement and passionate about working with a particular company.

Q.12. What would be your role play for Job scenario in the country? What efforts are you taking for creating job opportunities?

The government has been spearheading radical digitalisation to induce economic inclusiveness and social transformation, through initiatives like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’. Hitachi in India has envisioned this direction in collaboration with the stakeholders, bringing its rich global industrial heritage and juxtaposing it with its strength in Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT).

It has its ethos embedded in its businesses that are aimed at touching the lives of millions. Hitachi has partnered with the government of India in its initiatives like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’, and ‘Skill India’ leveraging its superior technology innovations and global expertise to address India’s unique challenges. Contributing towards this initiative, in a conscious bid to employ local engineering and project management talent and to boost indigenous manufacturing capabilities, we have sourced and integrated locally manufactured products in our projects, while ensuring the highest quality standards in its execution. By investing and expanding the production base in various sectors in the country, Hitachi is leading the initiative from the front and bringing world-class manufacturing facilities helping India emerge as a global industrial hub and also support government’s mission of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ with employment of manpower from the country.

Q.13. Any message to our readers and your views on Metro Rail News Magazine.

Firstly, would like to congratulate you for successively running the Metro Rail News Magazine. I am highly fascinated with the
kind of content and the concept of the magazine. The magazine appropriately captures various developments related to Urban Mobility issues and how it is being addressed by various metropolitan and sub-urban city development authorities in India. Considering the content is always focused on various aspects like urban mobility, metro railway projects, mass rapid transit systems, high-speed rail projects, etc. it is one magazine one can refer to keep themselves up breast of all the latest happening related to railway industry in India.

This interview first appeared on Metro Rail News June 2021 issue on page no 22-26. Click here to Subscribe & Read

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