This is a forwarded email I received from one of my friends. Really thought to share with you.
Every organisation will have some issues but how it reacts during the
crisis throws light on what their priorities are. LORD SAYS- HANDS THAT HELP ARE BETTER THAN LIPS THAT PRAY. October 10, 2009
Meeting with H N Srinivas – Senior Executive Vice President, Taj Group of
He narrated the 26th November 2008 terror attackon Taj Mumbai and there
were some important points. A. Terrorist entry 1.
They entered from the Leopold Colaba hotel entrance and also
from the northern entrance – spraying indiscriminate bullets on the Taj
security personnel and guests in general. 2.
Though Taj had a reasonable security – they were surely not
equipped to deal with terrorists who were spraying 6 bullets per trigger. 3.
The strategy of the terrorists was to throw chunks of RDX in
an open area that will explode and burn – creating chaos so that the
guests and staff run helter skelter so that the terrorists could kill
them. The idea was to create maximum casualties. 4.
There were several critical gatherings and functions
happening in the hotel on that day – a Bohra wedding, global meet of
Unilever CEOs and Board members and 2 other corporate meetings were being
held in the hotel – besides the usual crowd. 5.
The firing and chaos began at about 8.30 p.m. and the staff
including employees on casual and contract basis displayed exemplary
presence of mind, courage and sacrifice to protect the guests who were in
various halls and conference rooms. B. Stories of Staff Heroics 1.
A young lady guest relation executive with the HLL gathering
stopped any of the members going out and volunteered 3 times to go out and
get stuff such as ice cubes for whiskey of the guests when the situation
outside the hall was very explosives and she could have been easily the
target of the bullets 2.
Thomas Georgea captain escorted 54 guests from a backdoor
staircase and when he was going down last he was shot by the terrorists 3.
There were 500 emails from various guests narrating heroics
of the staff and thanking them for saving their lives 4.
In a subsequent function, Ratan Tatabroke down in full
public view and sobbed saying – “the company belongs to these people”. The
wife of Thomas Georgewho laid his life saving others said, she and the
kids were proud of the man and that she did not know that for 25 years she
lived with a man who was so courageous and brave 5.
The episode happened on 26th November, a significant part of
the hotel was burnt down and destroyed – the hotel was re-opened on 21st
December and all the employees of the hotel were paraded in front of the
It was clearly a saga of extra-ordinary heroics by ordinary
people for their organisation and in a way for their country. The sense of
duty and service was unprecedented 7.
The young lady who protected and looked after the HLL guests
was a management trainee and we often speak of juniority and seniority in
the organisation. She had no instructions from any supervisor to do what
a. She took just 3 minutes to rescue the entire team through the
b. Cars were organised outside the hotel as per seniority of the
c. In the peak of the crisis, she stepped out and got the right wine
glass for the guest 8.
People who exhibited courage included janitors, waiters,
directors, artisans and captains – all level of people C. The Tata Gesture 1.
All category of employees including those who had completed
even 1 day as casuals were treated on duty during the time the hotel was
Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and
The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died
at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav-Bhaji” vendor and
the pan shop owners 4.
During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent
my money order 5.
A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with
Tata Institute of Social Sciencesto counsel those who needed such help 6.
The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was
constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided 7.
Employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food,
water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. 1600 employees
were covered by this facility 8.
Every employee was assigned to one mentor and it was that
person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help
that the person required 9.
Ratan Tatapersonally visited the families of all the 80
employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed –
were affected. 10.
The dependents of the employees were flown from outside
Mumbaito Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance
and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks 11.
Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to
what they wanted him to do. 12.
In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the
Tatasfor the purpose of relief of employees. 13.
What is unique is that even the other people, the railway
employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with
Tatas were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided
subsistence allowance of Rs. 10K per month for all these people for 6
A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her
and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to
Bombay hospitaland several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully
recover her 15.
New hand carts were provided to several vendors who lost
their carts 16.
Tata will take responsibility of life education of 46
children of the victims of the terror 17.
This was the most trying period in the life of the
organisation. Senior managersincluding Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to
funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible 18.
The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36
to 85 lacs in addition to the following benefits:
a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents
b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents –
anywhere in the world
c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest
of their life
d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount
e. Counselor for life for each person D. Epilogue 1.
How was such passion created among the employees? How and
why did they behave the way they did? 2.
The organisation is clear that it is not something that
someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that
created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs 3.
It has to do with the DNA of the organisation, with the way
Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that
time. The organisation has always been telling that customers and guests
are #1 priority 4.
The hotel business was started by Jamshedji Tata when he was
insulted in one of the British hotels and not allowed to stay there. 5.
He created several institutions which later became icons of
progress, culture and modernity. IISc is one such institute. He was told
by the rulers that time that he can acquire land for IISc to the extent he
could fence the same. He could afford fencing only 400 acres. 6.
When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal
to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough? 7.
The whole approach was that the organisation would spend
several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally
on the employees who gave their life?
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