By Swati Chopra January 2001 Chandni Luthra, Vice-President, ITDC (Duty Free Shops) One never knew that a government office, with its connotations of sloth and dust, could be so inviting. The sunny room one is ushered into seems particularly cozy. A screen-saver screams from a computer screen: ‘Life is happiness.’ A glance at the smiling lady in pink and you know it couldn’t be anything else. Being congenial to media persons is perhaps a daily routine for Chandni Luthra, Vice-President, ITDC (Duty Free Shops). ‘I reiki all important meetings beforehand and they generally go off well,’ she says. Something about the way her eyes twinkle tells you that this rendezvous is one of those special ones. Going by her track record, Chandni is the quintessential workshop regular. There is little on the Indian New Age scene, right from reiki and yoga to astrology and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living course, that she has not tried. As you hear her holding forth on ‘spiritualising’ life and the workplace, all those seem to have been worthwhile. Cliches clearly irritate her-whether about spirituality or management. ‘Why should meditation and management be mutually exclusive? Both require a degree of detachment,’ she points out. ‘Once when I was much younger, I got angry enough about something to barge into the MD’s office while he was having lunch. He calmed me down and told me something I have never forgotten. He said, ‘Chandni, good managers do their work well, excellent managers do it without getting emotional!” Chandni has successfully employed her enlightened point of view to develop a team of committed individuals. Teamwork, essential as it is to any business, is more so in her division due to the demands of international trade. By always being accessible to her subordinates and being ‘calmer’, Chandni has converted quite a few to her way of thinking. ‘The key is collective responsibility. Now, nobody in my team says ‘I’, they all say ‘we’. This has solved the problem of shifting blame from one person to another and work gets done faster. Also, everyone is more secure as one-upmanship is discouraged.’ How realistic is it really to employ holistic management techniques in a public sector unit? ‘In a corporate, it is as simple as announcing a workshop for all employees. But a PSU functions differently. Fortunately, we have been able to inculcate some changes in the training programs. More employees are approaching us to buy New Age products like chimes and hamsas that we stock in our duty—free shop at the airport. My copies of Life Positive are being flicked in the office, for God’s sake!’ says Chandni, bursting into laughter. All the while one has been speaking with her, Chandni’s eyes decisively hold yours. You realize it is deliberate only when she says disarmingly: ‘I find fewer people attempting to fool me when I look into their eyes. After all, you can lie with your tongue but not with your eyes. Direct eye—contact also helps intuition.’ Is she clairvoyant? ‘I think we have that sixth sense all along. I became aware of mine only after I began practicing reiki. I now actively use it to make decisions and judge people.’ That’s Chandni Luthra—woman, executive, homemaker, seeker. Varied roles, one person. The essence of a life being well lived.
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