Alumni Author of the Month-August 2012
Author of the Month – Mr. Alexander K. Luke
Mr. Alexander K. is author of the Book 'Seeking Directions'. He has penned his memoirs which cover the events of his professional career. Among those familiar with corporate affairs, he is well known as a reviver of sick organizations. In these memoirs he presents an uncompromising but true account of his working years. This is being made available to any one who wishes to read it, free of cost now and in future.
Here is an interview with him
Tell us about yourself
Born on 4.8.48, my schooling was from Sherwood College Nainital; B.Tech. (Civil) 71 batch from IIT Mumbai; IAS Gujarat cadre. Now retired from professional work, I live in my village in Kerala.
Tell us what motivated you to write these books?
After retirement, friends suggested I write about my experiences during service. My first doubt was whether there was anything in the events of my career that would interest a common reader. The only thing I felt strongly about was my trust in ethical path finding but thought that writing about it may sound like preaching and would put off many. But during the last few years India has witnessed public protests against ethically weak and venal governments and this made me feel perhaps I was not wrong in giving primacy to ethics, a scientific ethics which had after all guided me to revive business organizations. I saw ethics as a scientific discipline which enabled the organizational turnarounds. This ethics was not for the sake of morality but as a key to that material prosperity India aims at. I wanted others should know of it as this method could be adopted by anyone. This is what motivated me to write this account.
Did you face challenges while you were writing your book?
One challenge was to keep going during the two years it took me to write it. When I began, the past was a dull indistinct mass of jumbled up memories and impressions, colored with distorting emotions, from which extracting real happenings seemed impossible. But as I began writing, events which were long confined to the dusty store rooms of the mind emerged with surprising clarity. And to string a coherent narrative through these events was a continuous effort. I had to remind myself I was writing for a potential reader and not for myself. But I wanted to modify the way the reader saw the world, change his world view, create an intellectual ferment, and make him or her see the world around us as alterable by human effort. And finishing it, the reader should gain an understanding to look ahead with new hope and courage. My effort was not to analyze problems but to show the way out. This was the real challenge. Only the reader can tell me to what extent I have succeeded.
Where did you get your information or idea for your book?
The information and idea for the book was from my own life experiences and memory though I had kept some notes - facts and numbers - from GACL and GSFC.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while you were writing the book?
Two things were surprising. First was my discovery that you do not forget any thing that has happened to you. By creating various connections and re-imagining and reliving the past, it all comes back. Second is that the act of writing stimulates thinking. Writing does not mechanically follow thinking. Writing itself stimulates thought. Without writing this thought may not have come. That is why writing is creative. But the first push to writing must come from some thought and a new understanding. This may have developed over a period of time or may be sudden.
What kind of feedback do you get from your readers?
Having made my book available for reading two months back, I am just getting the first responses from my readers, most of whom are my ex employees . While these are positive, it is too early to say.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing was to fit all the disparate incidents of my life into one coherent narrative with a distinct theme. As the days and months passed, this theme stood out in bold relief almost on its own. The thread running through the book is that the world around us can be changed by ethical action and that all so called failures are the result of an absence of ethics in the decision maker.
To what extend you think you carry an impact of being an IITian?
The impact of IIT has been life long. In brief, IIT gave us the habit of thinking which made us gather the correct facts, leaving out what was irrelevant, and then see what these facts suggested. Alternatively, knowing the general principles, the task was to guess the facts. Or what was more likely, a combination of the two. These methods were Induction and Deduction. Facts were sacrosanct and getting at them was important. This was a way of truth seeking. A constant reality check was hard wired into us. And interacting daily with some of the brightest minds in the country, both students and staff, was a continuing delight.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Having merely written an account of my professional experiences, I do not consider myself a writer. But my advice is that you should write only what you feel strongly about and it should challenge some existing orthodoxy. There is no point writing that which is already current wisdom.
Do you have specific message to your readers?
Yes. It is that the ethical method can achieve success in whatever you do.
Where can readers learn more about your books and purchase them?
This is the only book I have written and it is made available to all to read. There is no cost or obligation now or in future. Please go to my website ethicalmanagementluke.com and down load the first installment which consists of the Introduction and the first three chapters. The subsequent installments will be sent to you by email on request.
What books have most influenced your life most?
A number of books have influenced me. But here I would like to mention Creative Transformation by John David Garcia. It describes the scientific ethics which I have tried to follow.
Are you also open to delivering talks/lectures on the topic related to your books?
Everything I had to say has been said in the book. Reading what I have written carefully may be more cost effective than inviting me for a talk. However I would welcome any email or telephonic exchange of views, no matter how long drawn out, with any one who wants to question me or seek a clarification or even contradict what I have asserted in this book.