Manik Batra | Intuitive and accomplished entrepreneur from J&K
Oct 19, 2020
Manik Batra, Director Batra Group and Chairman, ASSOCHAM J&K is an intuitive and proficient third-generation businessman and a passionate advocate for benefits of local businesses of J&K. With a vision to transform entrepreneurial scene in the union territory, he has already taken several leaps by bringing ASSOCHAM Launchpad-Startup Elevator Pitch Series to Jammu and providing a chance to budding entrepreneurs for making it big. Read some excerpts from the interview, Jammu Links News did with him.
Q1: Can you share the history of Batra Group with us?
Well, Batra Group was started by my grandfather in 1911 with petroleum distribution in north India. The group diversified into cooking gas agencies, motor dealerships and hospitals in 80s and 90s. Currently, Batra group is into almost every sector including health, financial services etc.
Q2: Why did you chose engineering despite being born in a business family?
I have always been an inquisitive human since childhood, so engineering aligned with that mindset and allowed me to engage my mind technically. I completed my engineering in Electrical branch from MIET Jammu in 2005.
Q3: Was joining Batra group a natural choice? What you would have done if you were born in a normal household?
As I told earlier, my approach towards life have always been experimental so even if I were born into a normal family, I would have eventually become an entrepreneur.
Q4: Since you joined Batra Group in early 20s, how did you adapt to new entrepreneurial environment as a young graduate?
I joined automobile sector and mostly dealt with Toyota dealership in the beginning. To gain experience, I attended several trainings over the years from Toyota Business School to equip myself for unforeseen challenges. Also, in 2011, I completed the Executive Education program from IIM Bangalore sponsored by Toyota.
Q5: According to you, how ongoing crisis including Covid-19 pandemic hit businesses in J&K?
Businesses in J&K were affected after the abrogation of Article 370, but we were recovering in January and unfortunately COVID hit the world right after that. Still, I would say J&K absorbed the pandemic shock much better than the rest of India because the rental and other related costs are comparatively lower in J&K.
Q6: What are your views on the MSME package granted by LG for J&K?
Such steps highlight the concern shown by the government for MSMEs in the UT and I feel J&K will witness great changes in next 3-5 years in business sector with government's support.
Q7: As gender equality is one of our Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, how is Batra group contributing to it?
We prefer to hire our staff purely based on talent and I can assure you there is no discrimination based on gender or caste in our organisation. Statistically speaking, almost 30-40% of our workforce comprises women. Regular workshops and seminars are also conducted to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for women.
Q8: What changes would you like to see in Jammu's entrepreneurial scene?
I believe that Start-up culture hit J&K quite late compared to the rest of India but on the positive side, I am happy that now youngsters want to stay in their hometown, experiment and open their own businesses. Since, J&K is a tourism driven state,so if we can come up ideas and ventures to engage lakhs of people visiting Vaishno Devi or Valley to spend just 2 extra days here, we can surely contribute immensely to our economy.
Q9: Can you talk to me a bit about your role as ASSOCHAM chairman?
ASSOCHAM, The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India is the oldest, leading, largest and Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India with almost 4.5 lakh members and strong connections at national levels. So, I felt the need to bring national level expertise to J&K so started with our vision for J&K in 2019. Our UT has unique business problems, so we are trying our best to solve them with collaborations. We advocate ease of doing business, rationalisation of taxes in UT to promote local businesses and several other supporting initiatives.
Recently, we took up the issue of illegal road-side vending of construction material by national players with UT administration which was resolved within time. In October 2019, around 25 entrepreneurs were shortlisted at the Start up Elevator Pitch Series, organised by industry body ASSOCHAM in Jammu. Currently, we are conducting webinars with several departments to start discourse on several subjects but after COVID, we are planning to hold national level summits in J&K.
Q10: How would you describe yourself other than being a successful entrepreneur?
Well, I am a happy go lucky kind of person. After work, I love spending time with my four-and-a- half-year-old son, Manveer. Besides, I love travelling and reading new books. Since, I could not travel much in lockdown, I rediscovered my old hobby of painting.