Dr Pawan Goenka, managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra, which initiated the Mahindra Transport Excellence Awards program six years ago, on enabling recognition for the truck driver fraternity and driving a new dynamic in the commercial vehicle industry.
Dr Goenka, what was the rationale and the thought behind starting the Mahindra Transport Excellence Awards?
We had started the awards six years ago in order to recognise the unsung heroes in the Indian transport industry. As everybody can make out, the transport sector is absolutely vast with a large number of people dependent upon it in terms of employment and moving their goods. In a nutshell, the whole economy of the country moves on trucks and the sector is a barometer of a country's growth. At that time in 2011, there was really no recognition for the people who have been in the transport service industry.
That's how we started, and with time, the Mahindra Transport Excellence Awards have become very big and aspirational in nature, and that is one thing which gives us immense joy and pleasure that we have, in a way, been able to serve the transport industry back.
As the awards emerged and evolved over the years, what has been even more special is the fact that we are also able to recognise truck drivers with the ‘Chaalak se Maalik’ (from driver to owner) program, wherein we reward the best commercial vehicle driver in the country with a new truck. It becomes a very emotional thing when you see a truck driver getting a vehicle of his own and overnight looking at the humongous opportunities lying ahead.
Then, there are the lady drivers who are felicitated and the way we are able to find, recognise and encourage them makes us feel good. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way in transforming someone’s life and what better example than seeing one of the lady drivers who won a truck three years ago, has today grown to own a second truck of her own.
Moreover, what we are doing for the children, especially the girl child of the drivers, is also sort of an offshoot of the awards, which was not planned when we started our journey in 2011 but has evolved over the years and is something that makes us extremely satisfied about what we are doing.
What is your future vision for the awards and how do you see them panning out in the subsequent editions?
We will basically look for more and more participation from the transport industry. I don't think that we need to change the format much, as it is working quite well. However, we would need to keep the rigour in which we define the awards going and make the event something that everybody looks forward to.
Are the Transport Excellence Awards also helping Mahindra’s Truck and Bus division grow in the market?
While it certainly helps us to connect with the industry, I would not say that it is necessarily going to make any huge difference to our sales, and that has never been the prime objective of this initiative either. But, it definitely brings transporters in large numbers together at a place on a single day, which is not seen otherwise. They are our guests for a day and that gives us an opportunity to interact with them and know their needs better.
How do you see the transportation sector shaping up in the future?
I think that policy regulations, new business models and new customer preferences are set to bring a dramatic change in the Indian transportation sector over the next five to 10 years. There has already been a tremendous change in the Indian economy just over the past 18 months with GST revamping the entire financial ecosystem. The E-Way Bill, once fully accomplished, is set to propel the transportation sector in India to the top of the world.