Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Life's lessons learnt" - Murthy

I recently read about N.R.Narayana Murthy's speech at the Precommencement ceremony at the prestigious NYU Stern University. A man of great stature, he mentions in the speech, some of his past experiences acted as turning points in his life.

The first incident he quotes, is in 1968, when during his post-graduation at IIT Kanpur (as a Control Theory student), he met a US-based computer scientist, who discussed new developments in the field. The discussion generated so much interest in Murthy that he went to the library, referred some papers and came out of the library determined to study Computer science. It was just this chance event (as he refers) because of which he chose Computer science as his career (and which gave us one of the finest IT companies in India).
The second experience that he recounts is during his brief stopover at Nis (bordered Yugoslavia and Bulgaria). He boarded a train in the night, with only another boy and a girl as company. The girl started criticizing the communist Bulgarian government, which resulted in the boy summoning the local police. Murthy was held captive in a 8x8 room with no food for more than 72 hours. He was later taken to Istanbul and released "..because he was from a friendly country called India..", he recalls. This incident transformed the young man (who was earlier a leftist by thought) into a compassionate capitalist. He realised that entrepreneurship, resulting in large scale job creation was the only way to eradicate poverty. Infosys was eventually founded with this very motive in mind.

The next significant day that he speaks of is in 1990, when the seven founders of Infosys met in Bangalore to decide upon a possible sale for $1 million! When everyone, except Murthy, almost reached a consensus, Murthy spoke passionately of their 9-year old journey. He offered others to buy out their stakes, if they felt appropriate to sell off. That changed their thinking, and today, we find the company having more than $3 bn in revenues!

The final event that Murthy mentions is when one of his big clients (he has mentioned in another interview earlier that it was GE), talked to multiple vendors regarding a project and put in harsh terms (and unfair price) before them. Given the fact that it accounted for 25% of Infy's revenues then, it would have been difficult to say no. But Murthy took the call and made it clear that it would not be possible for Infy to service them effectively. This, eventually brought about a risk-mitigation strategy into Infosys to stabilize revenues.

Through these examples, Murthy summarises the lessons learnt in his life:
Learning from experience: Be it failure or success, it is important to look back and learn what went wrong and what could have been done better.
Power of chance events: Chance events, as he says, play an important role in one's life. But more importantly, how we respond to them decides the tapping of such opportunities.
Mindset: He distinguishes between a fixed mindset (avoid challenges, learning) and growth mindset (embrace challenges and learn from criticism)
Self-knowledge: Greater awareness about oneself and belief in one's abilities, clubbed with humility.

To end the speech, he reminds that we are all merely temporary custodians of wealth, be it financial, emotional or intellectual, and the ultimate goal is to share it with those less fortunate - "To sow the seeds for trees, whose fruits you may not even be able to see". This message from one of my idols, will not only enlighten the Stern grads, but kindle the thought process in the Indian youth, as well.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It's not just a song - It's a thought

Yesterday being a holiday, I was busy doing my 'usual' task of browsing through all the music channels for some good music. A new song, Sadho Re, from a band called Agnee suddenly caught my attention. From the music, I could make out it was a typical 'Indian Ocean' kind-of song. But then, the video was even more convincing..

The video (MediaPlayer streaming link), shot in an Indian pilgrim city(probably Varanasi) shows, a small girl, touring around a mela, grabbing her father's hand. Suddenly, another poor kid grabs her toy and runs away. The girl runs behind her, but is unable to catch hold of her. Now, she raises her head to look at the diverse kind of people present at the mela. She now starts realizing the fact that she is lost in the crowd. In the next frame, a man throws some food on the ground and four poor kids fight on the road to get hold of it. The girl's expression says it all at this moment. She can't understand, why anyone needs to fight for food. Someone knocks off the ice-cream she held, but she is still motionless. She later starts crying and walks in search of her father. The video ends with the members of the band taking her to her father and an ecstatic smile on her face.

But more than the video, the interpretation that I guessed, disturbed me very much. Did the director/band try to portray the universal truth from the innocent eyes of the young girl. Picture this: Every one of us is smiling and care-free in the happier times of our life. The moment we happen to lose any of our closest possessions, we engage in an endless chase for it. If we fail to find it, we retard, tired and helpless. But then, when we look at the world around us, we find so much pain and suffering; that our loss seems to be miniscule. We start realizing, the ordeals, others have to go through, for even a grain of food. We feel that all our possessions are just namesake and are no more than ornamental. And at this dividing line of the world and the self, we find ourselves helpless. But, most of the time, this realization is momentary, only till we return to the material world. The big divide of the whole world no longer makes sense to us, as we embrace our new-found happiness in objects of desire. And this is what the song probably means, when it says, Ye murdon ka gaanv..

Surely, songs like these-though may not be part of popular trend (should I say Himesh!), are very much thought-provoking. Reminds me of the lines from Indian Ocean's Bharam Bhaap Ke - "Jang ka rang sunehra samjha, Lekin baad mein gehra samjha. Janga ka rang toh kaala re..."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sweet dreams..

Just to let you know that I have not digressed into writing only the below-mentioned kind of poems :). This one always reminds me of one of my sweetest dreams, after which I would never want to wake up that morning..

I see a thousand colours painting the sky,
The sun hiding at the horizon, pleasing my eye,
Feel a cool breeze, and roses, my hands running through,
To live this dream forever, I want to...

Meri kalam se...

With the absence of posts for a long time, I think you would have understood the importance I attach to reader requests, by not continuing on the tech-blog lines. (Oh! how much pain it was, to resist my fingers from typing so many significant tech-news that I read these days..) But, on the insistence of some of my close friends, I began writing some more Hindi four-liners. Only that this time these were with a 'different' purpose. Here, I have some lines with an 'imaginary ('virtual, pseudo, whatever you may wish to call it!) person in the context..

My imagination running wild, on the day Mumbai faced pleasant blink-and-you-miss-showers last month or so...

Yeh thandi hawa jaane kahaan se chali hain,

Mitti ki ye khushboo, dil ko choo gayi hain,
Baraste boondo se chehre pe nami hain,
Jannat hain ye, bas tumhari kami hain.

And when the train stops till eternity (or so it seems) on an almost-empty station, I could think of nothing but this...

Aaj in nazron ko dekhkar, ye mehsoos hua,
Waqt tham jaaye, to koi gham nahi.
Is muskurate chehre ko dekhkar ye mehsoos hua,
Dil ka dhadakna ruk jaaye, to koi gham nahi.

And one more, local train-window seat setting-- an ideal scenario for a person like me :)

Woh zulfe teri, aur woh nigaahen nazar aati hain,
Chehak si hansin kaanon mein bas jaati hain.
Jaanun har kadam, pehchaanta hoon har aahat,
Jab dhadkanein meri tez ho jaati hain.

Let's give a poetic end to it (or should I ??)

Har raat yehi sochta hoon,
Aankhen band kar, tumhe yaad karta hoon.
Aur usi yaad mein jo do shabd gun-gunaata hoon,
Duniya mein ek shayar kehlaata hoon.

Just a request...Please do not compare it with all the great Hindi shayaries that you have heard till date. And, if you have read the first 3 lines of this post, you will never ask me about the reason for these lines. Or so, I assume..

PS: Whoever got the idea of me contributing to a book [hehe..haha..I didn't start this :)], only I can understand how difficult it is, to maintain readership of even a simple blog like this. (Look at the kind of posts I have resorted to !)