Can I work at 68?

Last Tuesday, we had just returned after handing over some gifts for the kids in US to Alpna’s mother who was leaving for US at around 4.30 PM. The guard next door handed over the card of Brig. Shukla and also informed that Shukla had returned after waiting for some time. Shukla had requested me to call him back. I looked at Yamuna if we knew any Shukla. Her response was in negative. I called Shukla out of courtesy after I got settled. He asked if he could come to my place. I couldn’t have negated him.

Brig. Shukla is now working for a company-in-making that has a great plan on manufacturing cars in Himachal Pradesh. I was amazed, as I think I keep constant watch on the news from auto sector. I have not come across any such news. The promoter is Mr. Sharma, an IITian from Chennai. The promoters located me through Internet searching. They have a lot of information about my background. They want to have my services in getting the plant started. How would have I taken it? I was surprised and excited not as a job had come to me without any effort. I am enjoying my retirement for long many a years now. My excitement was about the unique entrepreneurship spirit that is prevailing in the country. The boom is all around. Shukla informed that the promoter Sharma would like to have a meeting with me. I affirmed that, mainly to know first hand about the project from the horse’s mouth. Shukla left. Pretty soon Mr. Sharma called me and sought a meeting after a day. I agreed.

Wednesday morning I got a call from Mr. Sharma. He wanted to have a meeting in Delhi over some drink. I showed my inability to come to Delhi. He agreed to come to my residence in Noida and meet me over a cup of tea.

A message came from Shukla before they started from Delhi. In the meantime, to my embarrassment Aroras came on a courtesy call. Sharma came with Shukla and his elder son Kartik, a young graduate in economics who appeared to be part of the team that has envisioned the project. Sharmas were very enthusiastic about the project: many models of cars covering entry to luxury ones, 4000 cars a day, with Rs 5000 crore investment arranged through NRIs and other institutions, on 2000 acres of land, powered by a captive 50 MW hydel power plant, flexible manufacturing systems to take care of different models, totally integrated plants from forgings and castings to gears and engine manufacturing, and sheet metal stamping to automated assembly and testing, its own R&D. Sharma has roped the former chairman of a navratna PSU, a former chief executive of Tata Motors, a former secretary of industry of Government of India, and perhaps some more persons. He has also engaged Lotus to develop the models and L&T to install the facilities. Sharma wants me to take care of the setting up the plant and production. However, the discussion went around the selection of manufacturing facilities and other management strategies. Sharma wanted if I could take the responsibility and what would be the financial package that I would be expecting. I naturally expressed my interest in understanding the project before I agree. The meeting ended with an agreement for another one where a presentation will come about the proposed manufacturing strategies and facilities.

Naturally I never imagined that such a proposal would come after I am out from the professional career for almost 6-7 years. I had opted for the total retirement. I never tried for any job thereafter. I don’t know if I am physically fit to carry on with this assignment. Preferably I would have liked to become a technical advisor or consultant. Yamuna also wants me to work only as part-time advisor. Many a times from somewhere inside me I get a wish to take one more plunge. But will it be a right decision at this age, even though many of this age or more are as busy as I would be after taking up the assignment if it comes?

Should I start working again at 68?

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