Narendra K. Yadav: Chairman and Managing Director, MTNL

Chairman and Managing Director, MTNL

Narendra K. Yadav has a challenging job on hand as chairman and managing director of MTNL. Yadav, who is also member, services, Telecom Commission, and ex-officio secretary to the government, intends to bring back the loss-making telecom PSU back on track and work on synergies with BSNL.

“But now we are trying to work out some synergy with BSNL. BSNL makes money from mobile services (its spectrum charges are not as high as ours). About 55 per cent of its revenues come from mobile services. For MTNL, this figure is only 15 per cent. We are looking to improve that,” he says. It will allow MTNL to focus on basic services, which principally means converting 3.5 million copper loops in Delhi and Mumbai to facilitate broadband connections.

He graduated in electrical engineering from Delhi University and followed this up with an M.Tech. in computer science from IIT Delhi. He joined the Department of Telecommunications in 1977. Subsequently, he worked as general manager in Bhopal.

In the past two years, Yadav says decision-making has become faster, coordination among ministries has improved, and there is less red tape. Monitoring of big projects, he says, is carried out by the prime minister himself. “There is a lot of pressure on the top management now. You have to perform.”

Using CDMA technology, he increased the coverage from 30,000 to 70,000 village public telephones (VPTs) a year. “In villages where there was no connectivity, where people had to walk 10 km to an STD booth to make a call, we set up VPTs. This made their lives much easier,” he says. He relates the satisfaction of installing a mobile tower right alongside the border with China and seeing the smiles of the soldiers posted there when they were able to speak to their families back home. The government aims to connect 250,000 villages with optical fibre by 2018. At one point, he admits, this seemed like an unrealistic target but he says that considerable progress has been made and it can now be achieved.

His interests are spirituality and science and how the two can be fused. On most days, he meditates for two hours from 4 to 6 a.m. Apart from reading authors like Robin Sharma and Osho, he enjoys watching the podcasts of T.T. Rangarajan, founder, Alma Mater, a counselling service.