Mr. Madhusudan Sonthalia

Vaastu Meter, Sep 2010

Vaastu works only if you implement it…I speak from experience

Mr.-Parag-Sonthalia-(Left)-and-Mr.Dheeraj-Sonthalia-(Right)-with-Dr.-Ravi-Rao

This month we speak to the Sunder group a leading industrial house of Hyderabad. The Sunder group has interests in steel, decorative laminates and are venturing into the infrastructure business by coming up with a five star hotel in IT-SEZ.

We met Mr. Madhusudan Sonthalia chairman of the Sunder group and his two sons Mr. Dheeraj Sonthalia and Mr. Parag Sonthalia in their corporate headquarters at Hyderabad.

Excerpts from the interview:-

Mr. Parag Sonthalia:

Mr.-Sundermalji,-founder-of-the-Sunder-Group

We are into the business of manufacturing steel and decorative laminates. We started our sponge iron unit Sunder Steels Limited in1996. It was the first of its kind, mini-sponge iron unit in India. Now, of course, there are over 400 such plants all over India. Setting up that unit was a miracle of design and costing. Against the generally estimated cost of about Rs.100 crore for a 100 tonne plant, we were able to build our 50 tonne unit at a cost of only Rs. 5 crore. The whole project was the handiwork of my father and his handpicked team. SMS Steels Pvt. Ltd., our pig iron unit has been commissioned this year. Its blast furnace technology is currently the only one in South India of similar capacity.

Dr Ravi Rao

We were introduced to Dr. Rao around the year 2000 by Shri Ramakantji from Ahmedabad. At that time, our joint family had parted ways and we were staying temporarily in a rented house. When Ramakantji visited our house, he was appalled by the extent of its Vaastu faults. He advised that we meet one amazing Vaastu consultant who was actually from Andhra itself but had settled in Ahmedabad and had a sucessfull Vaastu practice. He also warned that we should make the Vaastu changes quickly or we might land ourselves in a spot. However, the main issue here was that we were total non-believers in Vaastu. We had not heard from any Vaastu consultant nor did we want to.

Though it was true that our business and finances were passing through troubled times, it did not occur to us that we should attempt Vaastu intervention to improve our fortunes. We respected Ramakantji s judgment and in deference to his suggestion we had Dr. Rao visit our works and advise us regarding the course of action. Even as we were calling him over, our fears started rising. Andhra is the home of Vaastu and Vaastu consultants are to be met in every nook and cranny. Most of the Vaastu consultants had earned a bad reputation for themselves by doing an over kill of breaking existing structures and putting the householder or factory owner to excessive expenditure and also by stoking fears of unresolved Vaastu doshas. As our joint family had just parted ways our morale had eroded. We were in no frame of mind to make costly alterations.

Dr. Rao proved to be a total departure from the stereotypical Vaastu consultant. When he visited our plant, he said that we would take a step by step approach. We began with small but startlingly potent changes that did not involve any demolition. Even as the changes were being made, we started experiencing improvement in our business.

In the beginning, some of the improvements came as a total surprise to us. We tried to link this happy change of fortunes to some strategy or actions of ours but then it occurred to us that we were refusing to acknowledge that a powerful ally had joined us and was re-engineering circumstances in our favor. That was when we became true Vaastu followers.

Once, our resistance to Vaastu was dismantled, we went all out and sought-out the changes that needed to be done. Dr.Rao was always there matching our pace and enthusiasm. We undertook the more serious changes involving relocation of walls etc., until we finally reached a near Vaastu perfect situation. Whenever we experienced reversals of some kind, we fell into the routine of checking out if some unknown Vaastu transgression from our side was behind it. We would call up Dr.Rao and tell him what was happening. It could be a problem with quality control, or a nagging labor issue refusing resolution or even a roadblock to our cash flow. Dr Rao would ask about the role of events and then give us the specific solution to the problem. There were no generalities involved; no recourse to deflecting the blame. We would get from him a direct and straight forward instruction to do certain things and then wait for say 7 or 12 or x number of days for the solution to show results. On the dot, we would see our problem resolved. So, that is his style that has endeared him to us. State the problem specifically and get the specific solution.

Efficiency of the solution would be related to the extent of implementation of Dr Rao s recommendations. Very often he admonishes us, I had mentioned that you were to shift this wall from here. You have still not done it. Then how can you expect results? . This brings us to a very crucial issue. Vaastu works only if you implement it. People spend too much time in discussion and doubt rather then get going with the implementation.

Dheeraj Sonthalia:

I remember one instance very clearly. In Sunder Steels, our sponge iron unit the raw material problems were crippling us. Even after making advance payments down the line to Singareni Collieries we never saw the coal reach us in time. Everybody, it seems, was teaming against us. Sometimes there would be a lorry strike, sometimes an unexpected accident on the road that blocked traffic for days, sometimes a heavy downpour that disrupted production in the mines.

When I explained this to Dr Rao, he asked us to build a wall of specific length and height at a point on the plant. I wondered what a wall had to do with all these incidents which were, seemingly out of anyone s control. However, it came as a pleasant but unbelievable shock to me that once we constructed the wall as per Dr Rao s instructions our Singareni Collieries related raw material problem all but evaporated once and for all.

Mr. Madhusudan Sonthalia:

madhusudhan_sonthalia

When we made plans to build a new house, we did everything as per Vaastu because by then our faith in Vaastu was total. I can say that every nut and bolt in the house was used after Dr Rao s approval. When we set up our blast furnace recently, the whole of it was in accordance to Vaastu. Dr Rao approved the plot and plant design and involved himself with the supervision of the construction from time to time.

Dr.Rao suggested that we should have a separate group logo which we could then use for all the companies. We went ahead because we had full faith in his judgement. We carried full confidence and trust in him and we knew that he would not put us to needless expense just for the heck of it.

Bringing coals to Newcastle:

It may seem strange that being in Andhra, the citadel of Vaastu which has a Vaastu consultant at every street corner, our Vaastu consultant coms from Ahmedabad. As Parag told you earlier, we were no big fans of Vaastu. It was Dr Rao who introduced us to the subject and brought all the Vaastu benefits to our business. He is a great person with vast knowledge and experience. Also, he is from Andhra and has learnt the subject from the true gurus of this place; why should we then hunt for local alternatives? In fact, I know of many entrepreneurs in Hyderabad who have got stuck due to bad Vaastu advice and who would surely benefit from Dr Rao s Vaastu expertise. The trouble with Vaastu consultants is that they have only superficial knowledge and have become consultants to cash in on the Vaastu craze. They may make their money but the price is paid by the unfortunate people who put faith in them.

Vaastu Today:

Though I have full faith in Vaastu, I have never read any books on the subject because I never felt the need. In fact I would advise people not to carry the fantasy of mastering Vaastu by reading a couple of books on the subject. Vaastu is a science and grasping it is a long journey. They will be better served by putting faith in a consultant of stature like Dr Rao. They should listen to him and implement the changes as advised. I speak from experience.

The logo of the Sunder group was designed by an Ahmedabad based design group under Dr. Rao’s direct supervision. It was designed keeping in mind the growth potential of the group and the fact that it was a multi product enterprise. After two months of intense experimentation and two switch overs of design agencies the logo finalized was modeled on an abstraction of the the mighty Amazon River as it meanders across the South American continent.

Sunder-Group-Logo

Just as the Amazon river starts off as a tiny stream but is joined by tributaries on the way till it swells to a mighty river and progresses confidently onto its goal of meeting the Atlantic Ocean, so too the Sunder Group, though beginning modestly would gather strength from its various group companies and move ahead confidently to achieving it s goals.

In its final form the river became the never ending road on which the ambitious group would travel, just as the traveler of Robert Frost’s famous poem who refuses to be satisfied with the present status and is determined to move ahead..

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep”.