Born into an established business family from Meerut, Ashok Kumar Jain is a technocrat by choice and the CEO of Anant Enterprises, which is a leading manufacturer and supplier of electronic components in the country. Since childhood, he had a fancy for making things and hence, chose engineering as his career. This meant turning away from his family business of running one of the largest roller flour mills in western Uttar Pradesh. In 1972, he did his B. Tech from IIT-Kanpur. He shares the highlights of his professional journey with Nijhum Rudra.
Surrounded by businessmen in the family, I was coerced into starting my own manufacturing unit. I set up a TV deflection components manufacturing unit independently, and after some ups and downs during the initial years, my business turned profitable by 1975. The company I started was called Sumati Electronics (P) Ltd, which was a well-known brand among most of the TV makers in North India. During the Asian Games, when the government was literally setting up one transmitting centre every day to cater to the huge demand, I set up another unit, Sumati Televisions (P) Ltd, to manufacture TV sets. We did roaring business in black-and-white TV sets. Subsequently, we could not cope with the colour TV technology and closed the unit in the early 90s.
|A few of my favourite things
Hobbies: Reading books
Favourite music: Indian classical and old Hindi movie songs
Favourite food: Jalebi and kachauri, but now restricted because of doctors’orders!
Favourite books: Any book featuring Perry Mason
Favourite actor: Sunil Dutt
Favourite actress: Madhubala
Favourite singer: Mukesh
Major milestones and the key role played within the organisation
Sumati Electronics (P) Ltd was very successful in manufacturing TV deflection components and inductors. However, after a split in the family, we had to close that unit too, in 1999. With the spirit of entrepreneurship in my blood and an eagerness to manufacture indigenously, I started Anant Enterprises the same year, in an attic, to manufacture wound components for SMPSs and to indigenise transformers, inductors and sub-assemblies for the Indian Air Force.
I head a team that can develop any kind of wound component—transformers, line filters, inductors and sub-assemblies. We have developed hundreds of transformers of all types, on the basis of specifications or samples, indigenous and imported. Since 1973, I have seen the electronics industry pass through various phases of governmental control—from a very conservative approach, what we now call the‘Licence Raj’, to a very liberal approach, when all of a sudden, we had to compete with our Chinese counterparts without any protection. This forced us to unlearn our old set of ideas and to march ahead with new, innovative ideas, to become more productive.
Major contributions to the industry
An engineer’s urge to make, to innovate and to provide solutions has kept me going and helped me grow, no matter how adverse the situation. After the initial four to five years, my son Nishant joined me and helped to take the company forward. As a youngster, he was full of fresh ideas. He introduced digital control systems. Our major contribution during these years was that we supplied quality components at competitive prices to both the Indian industry as well as the Air Force, resulting in major savings in foreign exchange. Besides, we have also contributed in our own way to the present electronics industry by actively participating in liberalising it from the clutches of the bureaucracy. We helped in the framing of the import policy, starting with what to import and what not to, and calculating how much custom duty to impose on particular items. These rules formed the base of the wound components industry in India, and are still applicable.
My success mantra and management style
My mantra is not to brood over failures or government systems but to analyse, plan and decide on a course of action. I believe the ‘lage raho’ attitude helps to achieve success. Dedication and self-belief are important. Nishant and I work very closely together, and we have developed a team to assist us. We have been associated with the Indian Air Force since 2000, and have been successful in indigenising over 70 Russian components critical to the IAF, for use in radars and missiles. These include 400Hz transformers, HV power supplies, PCB modules and induction coils, to name a few.
We have even received a letter of appreciation from the Air Force regarding saving foreign exchange to the tune of at least ₹ 10 million, in the first few years itself. Besides, we have been successful in offering a series of customised SMD wound components with RoHS and UL compliance. Our latest offering to the Indian electronics industry is PCB mounted current transformers with ratings of up to 32 amps. Currently, these are being imported in bulk from China and Europe.
My idol and the future of Anant Enterprises
I have great respect for Prime Minister Modi. He takes a decision and executes it. The future of Anant Enterprises is very bright. Our customer portfolio comprises OEMs from telecom, lighting, medical electronics, IoT, industrial automation, security and surveillance, etc, to name a few. Wound components are an integral part of any equipment. So there will always be a demand for them. We will have to keep abreast with new technologies, however.
Looking at the current industrial environment, the future will be about the survival of the fittest. Only those with competence will survive. E-vehicles and IoT will be the key drivers for the electronics industry. We are continuously improving our efforts to keep up with the requirements of the OEMs.