Sunday, August 4, 2013


Jack Welch once remarked “To be a winner in this competitive world you need to be lucky; yet hard work and dedicated entrepreneurs seldom miss the luck”. This   remark amply describes the performance of Bibekananda Saikia. He along with his classmate Dhiren Kumar Borah started an engineering firm, of water management and construction, twenty five years ago, with mere Rs five thousand each as the capital. Due to utmost dedication and handwork, the firm’s turn over clocked multimillion rupees as on 2011. “Bibeknanada was a silent but extremely hardworking and dedicated person,” remarked his co-entrepreneur.

   Bibekananda Saikia, a co- founder of a well-known technological firm,” Eastern Engineers” has been an epitome of trust to his friends and public and private sector clients. The Eastern Engineers completed silver jubilee years of business and was an example of solid partnership for the state where most partnership endeavors failed. He died on November 23rd of a brief but incurable illness. He was 65 years of age.

“Saikia”, the utterance of the name brings out a vibration of empowerment to many of his batch mate. They remember him as a decent and compassionate person. This quality of his endeared him among his fellow students in engineering college and later during his business dealings to his colleagues and staff. He graduated from Assam engineering college during the later part of sixties of last century.

 Initially he joined All India Radio as an engineer .After a few years he resigned the job to form an engineering consultancy and implementation firm along with his college pale.. The firm did some pioneering work in the field of Water Management and construction of water delivery system beside industrial, commercial and residential buildings. Many however, remember him for his musical talents. He was a percussionist mainly. Both Borah and Saikia Duo were role –model for budding and aspiring   engineering entrepreneurs of Assam. In Assam whenever some one pronounced the name of their fIrm everyone knew that it is a reference of reverence to the Business Duo who was known for their time bound work delivery, honesty and integrity.

A brilliant student all through he had his early education in Tinsukia, his place of birth, and later studied at Guwahati. He made his name not only as a brilliant student but became much more popular for his helping attitude towards his friends and class mates. He was a compassionate and kind person and this attitude of his reflected in the business dealings as well in social circle throughout his career and life. Not only his family but his classmates and contemporary students were proud of him.

Babul Saikia, a well-known planters from Magors reminiscenced that  “ Bibeka was so dependable that in case someone missed a class he would narrate the exact  class work taught on the day and help his fellow students. Bibeka was not only my class mate but was also my roommate. We lived together for years and there were no occasion when he lost his temper even against all odds”, he added.

Bibeka was a Hindu by birth but later he got attracted to Buddhist philosophy and joined BSG organization. He developed a deep faith in the Buddhist philosophy and could bear all pains of life without showing his agony. He died a valiant death. Perhaps he knew that he was afflicted by incurable dieses but never mentioned to anyone about his agony and sufferance. He came to this world with a cry, but lived with a smile and passed out with  grace. Bibeka is no more with us but his values of life still inspires his friends, colleagues, staff and members of his family. He left behind his wife, Chapakali Saikia and teenaged daughter Sanjibani. To him work was the worship. He was in fact a workaholic. The work was not a duty to him. It was a passion. He felt, only through dynamic work, the entrepreneurs not only could be able to achieve profitability but could also achieve salvation. In fact he applied the theorem of Buddhism into practice. “Work before self’ was his motto. He felt it was the selfless hard work that can only bring about the total inclusive growth with peace encompassing, industrial sector and social sector.

.Bibeka was a total person full of humility, honesty, integrity and hard work. He has remained as the poll Star to all of us to show us the path of honesty, integrity and social justice and to become a good human being. On the occasion of his Shradha Ceremony we remember his decent personality and offer our condolences to the bereaved family. We invoke the blessings of GOD for the peace of the departed Soul.



Hemendra Prasad Barooah will be remembered as one of the true pioneers of green and sustainable business thinking, an art lover and cultured human being from Assam. But he would be most remembered for his excellence in strategy that once saved tea industry from sure collapse in eighties of last century. According to Kallol Dutta, now president Bengal Chamber of Commerce and industry, “Barooah was the main man to handle insurgency and control it in a way so that the impact was least felt in the gardens. Otherwise, many would have lost their lives and estates would have collapsed He stood up as the main man to communicate with the insurgents, the trade unions, the government and the industry. The tea industry has lost a legend.”

   He is known for his ready wits and for clear vision. He could laugh at himself. Once, a Journalist, from Economic media, asked him, after the Annual Meeting of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at Kolkata, as to how he should be remembered. He instantaneously quipped “As a sincere Indian, hailing from good old province of Assam, with its great culture.” He was a perfectionist. Barooah was the founder of B. & A LTD and one of the leading lights of the green business movement in Odessa and Assam died at age 87, following a massive heart attack. He went to Bangkok on 29th July for a health check up and died there suddenly on 31st July. His niece Dina and his long time Man Friday, Ranjan were with him when he breathed last. He is survived by his two daughters and host of grand children.  His wife and his son predeceased him. In Assam, he is considered not only as an industrialist but as a decent human being who was known for his humane approach to social and cultural cause. We, all his admirers condole his death.
He has been a philanthropist and did set up Kamal Kumari Foundation, immortalizing his mother’s name, to honour writers, scientist, painters and Journalist with national level award every year. He perhaps was not the richest billionaire of Assam, though many persons believed him as such. However, His father Siba Prasad Barooah was really the richest man from Assam during his time that even used to help great multinational like Williamson Magor’s stature during the days of Pat Williamson in thirties and fortes of last century
 Barooah  played a great role in bringing tea auction centre to Assam along with R. G. Baruah even  when  a part of  influential Calcutta  based tea lobby  opposed the move then.. He was a visionary and a great human being and lived the life a king size. Though he generally lived in Kolkata, culture of Assam was his first love. Tea industry later realized his contribution and nominated him as the president of Indian Tea Association during the most critical time of the industry, during the last century.
 Unlike many captains of industry, he led tea   industry from the front, whether negotiating with government or confronting with terrorists. B. M. Khaitan head of Williamson Magor group has been his life long friend who sincerely supported every move Barooah took for the good of the tea industry including setting up of ITA auditorium at Majkhowa, Guwahati , Assam and setting up of Security force more than confronting  terrorists, to build up the morale of the  planting community. He was one of the trustees of the Balaji Temple Trust of Guwahti till his death.
An MBA from Harvard in 1950 and a Padmashree, Barooah, a trailblazer in the tea industry, owned a number of companies, from tea to tourism. His flagship company, B&A Limited, today owns nine tea gardens, from original four gardens after family partition, with an average production of 57lakh kg of tea. The group also owns Assam Tea Brokers Private Limited, B&A Multiwall Packaging, Heritage North East Pvt Ltd and Kaziranga Golf Club Limited. Barooah said that, during later part of  forties, during last century mostly Indian students used to visit England for higher education. It was at the personal advice of legendary Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, a personal friend and Doctor of his father, Barooah, opted for Harvard Business School. It was a great experience for him.
After his son had died prematurely, he   decided to set up the H.P. Barooah Benevolent Trust, which would get a majority of his holdings. The trust would oversee the affairs of his companies.  He wanted to use the profits of his companies for the benefit of Assamese womenfolk and the education of their children. Barooah was also the past president of Bengal Club in Calcutta and also headed the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the eighties. “ Mr. Barooah was and continues to be our company’s heart and soul”, said  Somnath chatterjee, MD of B. & A Ltd,. "His iconic spirit and pioneering vision are not only his legacy, but our future. We will always honour his spirit by keeping his vision alive and the company on course,” he added. I was invited by him to join the board of B& A LTD in 2003 and served as a director of the company for seven years.
A pioneer in tea tourism, Barooah opened up his ancestral home at Jalukonibari, 15km from Jorhat, to tourists in 2000 and named it Thengal Manor. He, also  opened up two more colonial era managers’ bungalows of his gardens in the district at Gotonga and Sangsua to serve an unforgettable tea experience to visitors. His latest venture was opening up of a golf course of international standards, the Kaziranga Golf Resort, at Sangsua to give an added boost to tea tourism. His admirers said that the company’s and other socio – economic activities initiated by him were true  success  for the great vision and leadership of Barooah.
Barooah’s daring confrontation with Ulfa leadership has been a subject matter of a book, “Stranger of the Mist”, penned by  Sanjoy Hazarika during Eighties of last century. He roared like a lion in the meeting when he was questioned as to why he came for the meeting though no invitation was sent to him. Barooah replied that he has every right to be here when all the members of tea association were called and he being the vice president could not stay away.