Self-made man!

I met a very interesting man yesterday. He was introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance at the joggers’ park, where many of my neighbors meet every evening.

This new comer to the park is a new resident to the colony and has just moved to Pune after retiring from his own business in the Middle East. When I asked him as to how one can retire from one’s own business, he explained that he has sold his interest in the business to a relative who is also in the Middle East and who wants to expand.

Introductions over and preliminaries done with, I asked him to tell me something about himself and he started off by telling me “I am a self made man.” He then proceeded to tell me the story of his life, which is not what I wish to write about.

I do however wish to write about this business of being a self made man! Firstly, logically, it is not possible to make one’ self. Despite being a Vedantin of sorts, I cannot imagine some one being the maker, the material and the made, in human terms. Self-made persons do have mothers and fathers responsible for their birth. There must have been a lot of others in that person’s life to mould his character, and perhaps even his physique! There must have been people and events, which would have influenced him one way or the other.

Assuming however that what is meant by this phrase is that the individual concerned, did not get any assistance from his family and friends in his rags to riches story, this again is next to impossible. While he may indeed have not received any support from his family, every single person that he came across in his path to growth would have contributed to his existence, growth, experience etc.

I believe that our own Dhirubhai Ambani was once introduced as a self-made man and he took serious objection to this. He clarified that there were a number of people in his life who helped him along and participated in his life and growth and therefore he could not be called a self-made man. What humility!

Marketing Maladies – communication

This story starts with me receiving the following email. I have edited out the names for obvious reasons, but everything else about the story is exactly as it happened.

“Dear Ramana
This is to let you know that your copy of the above was sent through XYZ Couriers yesterday. The air waybill number is 12345678.

With regards

I replied as follows:

Dear Ms. Raipure,

I am indeed grateful that you have sent the book off. Thank you. I am also impressed that you have informed me about the despatch and having given me the waybill number etc. I thank you once again.

I am an Indian. I am 65 years old and in our culture I am at an age where I am revered. I do not know how old you are, but even if you are close to retiring, I am still too old for you to take the liberty of calling me by my first name. I am offended.

I write this not because it will in any way reduce the sense of outrage, but to convey to you that it is the custom, even in the land of the most informal, the USA to get some one’s permission before addressing him by his first name. I hope that with this mail, you will be able to appreciate our customs and values, and will refrain from this obnoxious practice of calling strangers by their first names.


I received the following mail in response:

Dear Mr Rajgopaul
I apologise. It was never my intention to offend you.

With regards


The background.

A leading newspaper advertised a new book and offered it for sale online. I quite liked the contents of the book and placed an order online for the book. After the book was dispatched, this exchange of correspondence took place.

My observation on the event.

I suppose that modern ways of communicating with customers are different from the way we were taught to communicate. I feel sad. Perhaps I am an anachronism, fit only to live in the past. I somehow cannot believe that the apology is genuine. Neither the tone nor the brevity of the message suggests it.

Cartoon depicting Reality!

R K Laxman needs no introduction. Nor his timely comments through his cartoons.

This morning’s cartoon, depicts the common man listening to a man reading the newspaper and exclaiming, "Things are getting better. In the whole paper today, there are reports of only two murders, one bank robbery…."

Today’s Headlines cover a famour case where two young students murdered a perceived threat to their romance by poisoning him. Both got life sentences.

The next prominent front page news was one major robbery in the local electricity distribution board’s collection center from which about a lac and a half of rupees were robbed at gun point.

Not many other criminal cases inside. Things are certainly improving!!

India unifying?

My friend from Tirupur shared a problem that he faces in the new factory that he has put up at Coimbatore. He is unable to get employable workers! He personally went to some villages around Coimbatore to recruit some apprentices but was unable to. He was amazed at the response from women of these villages who were willing to come to learn and work in his plant if some kind of hostel accommodation was provided but the men were simply not interested. The reason? The various schemes given out by the government for the unemployed gave them sufficient funds to enjoy themselves without working.

Normally, I would have written off such comments as prejudice from armchair pundits. This friend however is not prone to exaggeration nor is he capable of untruth. He sincerely wished to create wealth and provide employment to people from the underprivileged background but this is what he found.

He further went on to say, that his is not an isolated instance, and other small and medium scale entrepreneurs too were faced with this problem. Both at Coimbatore and Tirupur therefore, increasingly, women from Kerala and men from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are being encouraged to come to work. I have first hand knowledge of the imported labour from Bihar and UP in the North Western states of India as well as in Gujarat and Maharashtra and its political dimensions.

Is this now Nature’s way of unifying India? Consider the additional fact of Haryana and Rajasthani men not finding brides locally due to female infanticide etc, going to Kerala, Orissa etc to bring back brides, this certainly seems to be so!

The minus side to this development however is the fact that the women involved in all this simply slog, and the men folk of their families enjoy themselves at their expense. About that development, more in a future blog.