It is with interest I read KBG’s Abracadabra “Here cometh oilman with the memories of the past” on U.B. Acharya’s (UB as often referred) 364-page tome, “Random Thoughts of an Oilman” (SOM dated Sept. 3). Since I am also an oilman, UB had requested me if I could review the book and I readily agreed. But KBG finished the task even before I could start. Still I felt that I could add some value.
UB’s book indeed consists of random thoughts — 60 pages of autobiography, 60 pages on Indian School of Mines (now an IIT) and M.Sc. thesis, Kuwait oil company, Iraq invasion and foreign trip, 123 pages on his published papers discussing reservoir engineering, 13 pages of three book reviews, and 36 pages of sports followed by family photos.
UB’s thesis and technical papers may be of interest to a few student readers who study geology. Even in their case, with far more advanced books available, interest may be only to those who want to study historical development.
How I wish he could have concentrated only on his autobiography rather than attaching already published articles. There are several charming and captivating anecdotal information for UB to share. UB starts from a village in Udupi, completes education in different cities of India, works for Oil India mostly in Assam and then for Kuwait oil company and then return to Mysuru in retirement.
UB’s discussion of how his father overcame grinding poverty to shine in his profession should be a lesson to current generation. How his father took care of his family and later how he himself took care of his aging mother and his in-laws was touching. This should motivate the current generation to take care of their parents in a more humane way rather than consigning them to old age homes.
UB losing the opportunity of joining the Armed Forces reminds me of a proverb, “For want of a nail.” On the test day, the doctor could not conduct the needed test to give him a medical fitness certificate because of malfunctioning of a machine and he was disqualified. UB should have reflected more on this potentially life-changing event.
One of the most significant strategic decisions taken by UB was to leave Oil India and to accept an offer from Kuwait. Chairman and Managing Director of Oil India tried to convince him not to resign. He advised him that he may be giving up the chance of sitting in his chair. This shows in what high esteem UB was held by his superiors.
The book would have been far more helpful to youngsters if he had reflected on his decision to resign. They often face such tough decisions when they have to weigh whether “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
I was surprised to read that UB “lost” his job soon after the Iraq attack, and then was re-employed only on annual contract. It again made me to think, how UB lost the rare opportunity to make Oil India into a Navratna company of India. At Kuwait Oil Company, he was just an employee, but at Oil India, he could have been in a position to change the destiny of a country’s oil sector. UB’s “what if” discussion of this situation would be useful for those fresh graduates who want to go abroad.
His outstanding quality of always being a student — learning about the all important reservoir engineering, learning about the computer programming and then applying to modelling, taking initiative to prepare all important reserves report (often a top secret document), etc., should be a guide to help the youths to go beyond the call of duty.
In conclusion, UB should seriously consider writing a shorter version of the book — less than 100 pages. He can concentrate on his life filled with many interesting events to discuss lessons learnt (how chance always helps those who are ready), opportunities he utilised (always keeping in touch with the latest technology) and chances he missed (not becoming the CMD of Oil India), unexpected problems faced (Iraq war and losing job), etc. Such a book will be of help to the future generation.
– Bhamy V. Shenoy, Mysuru, 10.9.2020
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