Monday, May 11, 2009

Inspiration- I

I never copy and paste articles or information from anywhere else… but when I came across this article I was unable to stop myself from pasting it here… Its really touching and I want you all to read it and express your views over it… Hope you’ll enjoy it…. :D
(I know it’s quite long but m sure you won’t regret spending your time reading it) :D
Here it goes……………

“It was probably the April of 1974. Bangalore was getting warm and gulmohars were blooming at the IISc campus. I was the only girl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies' hostel. Other girls were pursuing research in different departments of Science.


I was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US .... I had not thought of taking up a job in India .

One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile company Telco (now Tata Motors)... It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background, etc.

At the bottom was a small line: 'Lady Candidates need not apply.'

I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up against gender discrimination.

Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers... Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful?

After reading the notice I went fuming to my room. I decided to inform the topmost person in Telco's management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco I thought it must be one of the Tatas. I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company's chairman then) I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote..

'The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India , such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and locomotives they have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating on the basis of gender.'

I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco's Pune facility at the company's expense. I was taken aback by the telegram. My hostel mate told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs30 each from everyone who wanted a sari when I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they seemed good enough to make the trip.

It was my first visit to Pune and I immediately fell in love with the city. To this day it remains dear to me. I feel as much at home in Pune as I do in Hubli, my hometown. The place changed my life in so many ways. As directed, I went to Telco's Pimpri office for the interview.

There were six people on the panel and I realized then that this was serious business.

'This is the girl who wrote to JRD,' I heard somebody whisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job. The realization abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool while the interview was being conducted.

Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so I told them, rather impolitely, 'I hope this is only a technical interview.'

They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am ashamed about my attitude. The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them.

Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, 'Do you know why we said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories.

I was a young girl from small-town Hubli. My world had been a limited place. I did not know the ways of large corporate houses and their difficulties, so I answered, 'But you must start somewhere, otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories.'

Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we became good friends and we got married.

It was only after joining Telco that I realized who JRD was: the uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to meet him till I was transferred to Bombay. One day I had to show some reports to Mr Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM.. I was in his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters) when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw 'appro JRD'. Appro means 'our' in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by which people at Bombay House called him.

I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode. SM introduced me nicely, 'Jeh (that's what his close associates called him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate.

She is the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor.' JRD looked at me. I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or the postcard that preceded it).

Thankfully, he didn't. Instead, he remarked. 'It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our country. By the way, what is your name?'

'When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir,' I replied. 'Now I am Sudha Murthy.' He smiled and kindly smile and started a discussion with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.

After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common. I was in awe of him.

One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard. Looking back, I realize JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a small incident for him, but not so for me.

'Young lady, why are you here?' he asked. 'Office time is over.' I said, 'Sir, I'm waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.' JRD said, 'It is getting dark and there's no one in the corridor.

I'll wait with you till your husband comes.'

I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.

I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing. There wasn't any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, 'Look at this person. He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting for the sake of an ordinary employee.'

Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, 'Young lady, tell your husband never to make his wife wait again.' In 1982 I had to resign from my job at Telco. I was reluctant to go, but I really did not have a choice. I was coming down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped. He saw me and paused.

Gently, he said, 'So what are you doing, Mrs. Kulkarni?' (That was the way he always addressed me..) 'Sir, I am leaving Telco.'

'Where are you going?' he asked. 'Pune, Sir. My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I'm shifting to Pune.'

'Oh! And what will you do when you are successful.'

'Sir, I don't know whether we will be successful.' 'Never start with diffidence,' he advised me 'Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. Wish you all the best.'

Then JRD continued walking up the stairs. I stood there for what seemed like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive.

Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying the chair JRD once did. I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco. Later, he wrote to me, 'It was nice hearing about Jeh from you. The sad part is that he's not alive to see you today.'

I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice. He must have received thousands of letters everyday. He could have thrown mine away, but he didn't do that. He respected the intentions of that unknown girl, who had neither influence nor money, and gave her an opportunity in his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and mindset forever.

Close to 50 per cent of the students in today's engineering colleges are girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments. I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

My love and respect for the House of Tata remains undiminished by the passage of time. I always looked up to JRD. I saw him as a role model for his simplicity, his generosity, his kindness and the care he took of his employees. Those blue eyes always reminded me of the sky; they had the same vastness and magnificence. (The author,Sudha Murthy is a widely published writer and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation involved in a number of social development initiatives. Infosys chairman Narayana Murthy is her husband.) “


Article sourced from:
Lasting Legacies (Tata Review- Special Commemorative Issue 2004), brought out by the house of Tatas to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of JRD Tata on July 29,2004.

A Special Thanks to Sharad for mailing me this wonderful piece or writing…. :D

37 comments:

Hopeless Romantic said...

nice n inspirational post :)

Sharad Sharma said...

:)
you're welcome

Sharad Sharma said...

oh and yes this is a great write indeed.. must read for everybody!

Amal Bose said...

i was a bit concerned abt the length of the post when i started reading it, but once started, my eyes were glued to the monitor.

well great men are always special in their own ways..


really inspiring post..
its nice of you to have shared it :)

Benny said...

awesome post..even i was tempted to copy,paste :)..really inspirational

Preetilata【ツ】 said...

thnx for putting it on ur blog. i felt so nice after reading it.

take care

ShantanuDas said...

i had read this story earlier.. but good that u put it here..

Each such story has a moral to learn.

Creativity!! said...

Really Fantastic, heart touching, inspiring, motivational post :) Thanks a Lot for sharing :) I really extremely liked it a lot:)As I was reading, I felt like a video....Excellent Post:)

Deepika Gupta said...

@Amit
Thanks.. thats y i shared it :)

@Sharad
Yup it is... All goes to u.. :)

@Amal
i knew ppl will look at the length first(i too do the same mostly) thats y wrote that note in the bracket ;)

@Benny
Thanks :)

@Preetilata
Thanks and welcome to my blog...
keep in touch :)

@Shantanu
hmm... it shows you love to read alot :).... i wanted ppl to read it and learn from it...
coz i personally liked it :)

@Creativity
Thanks dear.... your comments are always so flattering.... m on cloud 9... :D
Thanks....

Vijay Khaitan said...

I have great respect and admiration for J.R.D Tata.Way back in 1982, while I was was watching a television interview of J.R.D, I was amazed to see his simplicity. When asked " what is the purpose of doing Business", he replied instantly "To do community service". When he was told what about profit? He replied that is not an issue. That will come automatically.

Deepika Gupta said...

@Vijay Sir
I wish to know more about JRD now.... this article have created a kind of curiosity to learn more...
My dad works in a TATA company and he always say that Tatas are excellent... he often tells me this story of how tatas grown and about their policies and values....

Thanks for sharing your views and this part of the interview... i gt to know more :D

Vijay Khaitan said...

Deepika, it was indeed good to know that you are interested to know more about him. He should be a role model of youngsters. I suggest you try to find out a book on him in a bookstore. May be, you will get inspiration from his lifestyle.

Deepika Gupta said...

@Vijay Sir
Sure, i will :)
Thanks :)

foreigndesi said...

Wow.

It goes to show that sometimes happiness pops up where you least expect it. It also shows that someone should never be afraid to stand up for their rights.

Thanks for that post Deepika!

Shravan | ശ്രവണ്‍ said...

awesome post. and a muts read one:)

Deepika Gupta said...

@foreign
Will keep posting more of inspirational ones whenever i'll cum across... :)
You are welcome :)

@Shravan
Thanks :)

Nazish Rahman said...

yup i read this article last year when i was doing my management. Its a nice article specially for youngsters like us...it here we learn that one should raise his or her voice whenever necessary!!!

u've done a nice thing by posting it!!!

take care!!!

sajith viswam said...

Mind blowing... Great inspirational topic...
I do like copy paste some good notes to my blog...I hav done one of Chetan Bhagat...
keep blogging..Cheers..

Harshita said...

Yeah... read this one.. it indeed is really inspiring..

Thanks for sharing... it is motivating..

sangeeta said...

quite inspiring :)

Puneet Parakh said...

Too Good... thanks to you and your friend sharad for sharing this !!

tinkerbell said...

truely inspirational.. very nice blog u've maintained

BHARAT said...

awesome ..man awesome...
ckh ou tmy blog
www.bharatishere.blogspot.com
i wish i could copy that but i promised myself never to copy anything .

Sourav !!! said...

Deepika ... Happy blogging :)

This is the best I have read in sometime. I don't copy paste stuff and didn't write beyond my personal life too much ever, but this article has to be in my blog posts, u r getting it right, I am copy-pasting it on my blog...and yes there will be appreciation for you :)

Well done ... !!!

Thanx for allowing me to copy-paste too :P

Vyazz said...

Wow...thats quite an inspirational article. Never realised that Sudha Murthy had her humble beginnings in Telco.
Appreciate u sharing the article here!!

AD said...

that was an inpiring read !!

Deepika Gupta said...

@Nazish
Good!! this was my time... so.. was too excited to put it here :)

@Sajith
Thanks... keep blogging :)

@Harshita
you are welcome... thanks :)

@Sangeetha, Puneet, tinkerbell, Bharat, Sourav, Vyazz, AD
Thanks :D

Deepika Gupta said...

And Sourav.... its good you have done the same.... now more ppl can read it.. tc.. Happy blogging ;)

joe said...

Awesum post...I was bit concerned abt de length.But, once I reached the bottom of the post i realized how lucky i was,to get read abt the wonderful experience wid JRD.It really sent +vibes throughout my body...Honestly ,u hav made ma day..Thnks god !u copy and pasted it :)

Deepika Gupta said...

@Mr. Joe
Thanks... And m glad i made ur day.... i agree m not the best or even near to best writer in the world... but i dont think i write that bad... :P

joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joe said...

"but i dont think i write that bad" Not at all,,U r topping my favorite bloggers list for past few days :P ...n dunno whether u have seen this video before r not..Thought u myt lyk this..


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA

Deepika Gupta said...

well... Awesome speech... i read this speech in an article but it was great to watch it as well... thanks Mr. Joe :)

joe said...

ma pleasure...Even steven :P

joe said...

Hey thought u myt like to read this too..

http://smarttechiejournal.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/69/

hemu said...

hey! Thanks a lot for that article! It really helps a lot for my blog!

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