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Through The Glass ceiling

This is a feel good story about an Indian MNC besting a US consortium to build a billion dollar power plant in the Philippines.

The story starts with a call coming to the Head Office of the Vikrant Industries Ltd. In Bombay that an American company is going to sign an MoU with the Philippine Government in about 14 hours to build a large power plant in the Philippines. The Chairman, Diwakar Sharama decides it grab it and sets in motion a series of high pressure urgent measures in Bombay and manila.

Their country office in manila puts out a TV news item that they will be submitting a bid that will be cheaper by 110 million USD. The enterprising country head tips off a fiery opposition Member of the Parliament, Margaret Philip to ensure that the bid gets considered and briefs the Philippine President. He decides to give it a fair hearing to look good to the voters by saving 110 million dollars for the country and also cut to size a difficult industries Minister, James Pitner who pushed the US based ConPower Bid, apparently at a hefty financial advantage to himself and his cronies.

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The Philippine ambassador in Delhi gives a good report about the Indian MNC and its dynamic Chairman and his competent wife, Prameela who is just two steps below the chairman in the company hierarchy. Manila waits to receive them later in the day and listen to their bid, in spite of tremendous pressure from ConPower, the current American bidder, to ignore the upstart Indian company and sign the MoU with them as scheduled.

At this point the story gets into a flashback mode to describe Diwakar Sharma’s approach to start, lay sound foundations and expand his Vikrant Industries Limited in to an MNC.

Prameela, a student from Madras studying in Bombay comes to his firm to study labour relations for her PG project. Impressed with his rapid rise in career. He takes her under his wing and pressures her to get into the habit of putting in long hours of work to beat deadlines and pressures her out for lunch to the Taj Mahal Hotel to introduce her to another facet of life and the reaction of her hostel mates. She sees him go out of the way to help his employees and realizes the importance of human relations in building a business.

The romantic interest comes when Prameela’s local guardian’s only child Rajan, fancies her while she fancies Diwakar, mentor turned idol. Rajan plays hard and twice tries to hurt Diwakar and fails badly. Both episodes involve hair-raising actions and chases and police getting into the fray. But Diwakar’s magnanimity lets Rajan off. These acts of Rajan only result in distancing Prameela from him and bringing her closer to Diwakar. Her family, which expects to marry her off into the clan, has trouble accepting a North Indian boy from Jabalpur as a son-in-low. But they get bowled over by Diwakar when they come to Bombay to size him up. His family, though reluctant to start with, accepts Prameela when she goes to Jabalpur and impress them. Having laid the foundations of the characters of Diwakar and Prameela which develop the ability to aim high and succeed, the story reverts back to the Philippines, a time shift from the 1960s to the 2000s.

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Between Margaret Philip and the media the Philippine Government gets pressured to give a fair hearing to the Indian bid. ConPower pulls out all plugs to get their point of view heard that an unknown and unheard of Indian company cannot build anything reliable at such a low discounted price. But it cuts no ice in the national euphoria in saving a 110 million dollars.

Diwakar Sharma arrives in Manila late at night and makes his presentation to the President and his colleagues. The bid was to be analyzed by the government’s experts. The 7-00 pm time set for signing the MoU with ConPower lapses.

Not one to give up, Conpower uses its contribution of campaign funds to the US President to get him to intervene. Limited US intervention gets no response from the Philippine President, who cannot be seen as sacrificing a ot of money, especially when seen in pesos. Finally, the US government decides that potential business opportunities with an economically burgeoning India are far more important than a few million campaign dollars from ConPower. Trying to clutch at every possible straw ConPower threatens to take India to the WTO on the issue of export drawbacks. The US media goes to town in support of Conpower on this aspect. An alert Indian employee in the UN mission and the Indian embassy in Washington DC get the Indian Foreign Secretary in Delhi, who was awake working late into the night, to contradict ConPower's claim. In the face of Indian government's clarification, Conpower's threat diws a natural death in the US media in Few Hours.

In a desperate effort ConPower threatens Pitner with the release of tapes in the United States that will ruin him in every possible way, unless he salvages their bid. Pitner gets nowhere with his President and a meeting with his scheming partners does not come up with any solution. With all doors closed he drives into a lamppost.

After three days of state mourning the agreement with Reliance Industries Ltd gets signed.

through the glass ceiling
through the glass ceiling
By: DVR Rao

Through TheGlass Ceiling