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Disclaimer* I am not pro-LTTE or pro-Sri Lankan Army, but recent events have made me break my self-imposed hiatus and state my views.

mgrvpNow that LTTE Prabhakharan is dead and the Sri Lankan Army has triumphed every mainstream media channel is quick to dub him a “fascist, terrorist, warlord, zealot, etc.”  The same media which pronounces him a ruthless and dreaded terrorist, is however not interested in asking questions like “Who was funding him?” If Prabhakharan is to be called a terrorist, what about all the Indian politicians from MGR, Vaiko to Karunanidhi who initially supported him? Only after the political weather turned rough post-Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination did TN politicians deem it wise to  maintain a safe distance from the LTTE. What happened to Karunanidhi’s fond reference to the LTTE supremo as “Thambi (brother) Prabhakharan.”

Who gave military training to the LTTE? Would the LTTE have grown to this stature had it not been for India’s overt and covert support? What about the Indian Army, RAW and other Indian intelligence agencies which trained the LTTE on Indian soil? Who gave the LTTE its guns? How did the LTTE develop from a small guerrilla force into a formidable army with a  sea wing, air force, police force, a border security force and home guards? Where did the money come from?

What about the IPKF’s involvement in the atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils? Every media organisation is so quick to take a one-sided approach to issues. It was a war zone out in Sri Lanka! When the media can talk about Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, why is it not talking about the events (IPKF atrocities) that led up to the assassination?

When the media can talk about how the LTTE emerged as the only-Sri Lankan Tamil support organisation by killing leaders from other Tamil groups like TELO, PLOTE , why is it not talking about the Sri Lankan Army’s atrocities against Tamil civilians?If the Sri Lankan govt had never oppressed the Tamils, where is the need for the LTTE?

If the LTTE committed atrocities and violated human rights, it must be remembered that the Sri Lankan Army’s record and the Indian Army’s record is worse. The IPKF raped Tamil women in Sri Lanka. The Indian Army continues to violate human rights in J&K and in the North-East.  How can one ever forget this picture of women protesting naked in Imphal, cyring out “Indian Army men rape us”?

0719-01

(Naked women protestors shout slogans against the alleged rape, torture and murder of Thangjam Manorama by paramilitary soldiers in Imphal, capital of northeastern Indian state of Manipur, Thursday, July 15, 2004. In a highly unusual protest, some 40 women stripped naked and staged an angry demonstration outside the Assam Rifles base to protest the death in custody of 32-year old Manorama)

And India’s involvement even till date seems to be huge in the whole affair. Rajapaksa’s announced that the “LTTE has been defeated” right after the Indian Parliament election results were announced – Prabhakharan’s death was announced soon after – it is too fishy and doesn’t strike one as an accidental coincidence. It looks like they were biding their time for the announcement…..

One leading newspaper writes: “Prabhakharan ironically remains an inspirational symbol to thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils”…… after calling him a “Nazi-type dictator.” Why is it ironical?

If the Sri Lankan govt had never oppressed the Tamils, where is the need for the LTTE?

On the very same page in that newspaper there are pictures of Vellupillai Prabhakharan meeting MGR, Karunanidhi and the Editor of that newspaper. Why did someone who was feted and dined by Indian politicians and the press suddenly be labelled the “bad guy”?

The political opportunism that surrounds the sad, brutal tale of the LTTE is sickening to observe!

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antonia-and-wife1When the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair broke out, I remember being quite surprised at the lurid interest the Western media showed. The Indian media for the most part never concerns itself with the private lives of politicians. Other than for politician Amarmani Tripathi- suicide/murder-poet Madhumita Shukla, the Indian media really hasn’t hounded anyone for their sexual peccadilloes. In fact, there are many politicians here, who have flaunted their wives/mistresses on stage along with them and the media hasn’t batted an eye.

But in the West, apparently it’s a big deal for the media. Politicians can be let off bringing the country to an economic crisis, corruption or even war mongering (Iraq, Afghanistan) but never for flings. Seeing the recent controversy with Eliot Spitzer and Silda’s coming out in support of her husband, I couldn’t but remember Clinton.

Bill Clinton’s affairs with many women like Gennifer Flowers, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Sally Perdue and Dolly Kyle and sexual misconduct with Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky and Juanita Broaddrick had due “exposure” or should we say “coverage” from the media?

But when he was caught! Whom did he turn to for support? His wife – Hillary Clinton! Of course one can cynically say that she had her own political agenda, but no one can deny that she must have suffered deep humiliation, embarrassment and anger. Why do politicians, who have been caught in sexual scandals, feel it is necessary for them to parade them wives as a standing testimony of support at press conferences?

Hillary’s disappointment and humiliation could be seen in her eyes and her stiff carriage as she stood by her husband. And since it is not the first time Clinton was pulled up….with memories of the Paula Jones case hardly behind her…… She knew perfectly well that Clinton was not in the least bit sorry. If  he had really valued his family or had integrity, he wouldn’t have pursued/harassed or sexually assaulted women for two decades.

It seemed so fake those pictures of family unity – with poor Chelsea also been dragged in to show her support for dad. Hillary’s well-tailored, candy-for-the-masses book also totally ignored his sexual misconduct. She tries to pass it off as Gay Governor Divorceif it is the Monica Lewinsky thing had come as a shock to her and she had never known of his behaviour before the media’s expose.

About the Clintons, Craigs and Spitzers of this world, I am stunned at the arrogance and the assurance with which they tell their tales of remorse and “disappointment.” How do they expect people to believe their feigned “sorrow”?

Its bad enough that they have betrayed their wives. But to drag their wives to stand by them is sheer cruelty on their part. It is cruel and just not on board. Every one of these “caught-red-handed politicians” conduct confessional press conferences in which the poor wife has to tag along and give her silent support as cameras photograph for posterity her humiliation.

Why should the wife have to support her man, when he deserted her for more than 10 years as he went philandering? Both Clinton and Spitzer share many commonalities in this regard!

When Spitzer spent 10 years away from Silda, why should he drag her in suddenly because he wants an umbrella of support and protection? But these political wives lack guts or seem to be on the lookout for their own careers – because all of them as a rule, including Larry Craig’s wife chelsea2Suzanne -have shared in their husband’s well deserved public-hour-of-reckoning when they could have left him high and dry.

And even worse some politicians use their children as props and make them share their humiliation. At least the wives are adults and have made a choice, what have the poor kids done? Imagine being a teenager and having to face school/ college after reading about your father’s antics in the papers. Chelsea Clinton when campaigning for her mother Hillary at universities across the United States, was forced many a time to respond publicly to a question about her father Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

I used to feel so sorry for Price Harry and William when accounts of their parents’ love affairs always made it to the front page of every tabloid. It must have been hell and torture – their royalty I am sure did not protect them from taunts from their peers.

In office for only two years, NJ Governor Jim McGreevey would resign his post in 2004 due to an extramarital affair – an affair with one of his male aides, making McGreevey the first (openly-professed) gay governor in American history. The headlines for the say was his proclamation, “I am a gay American.” But his first confessi0nal press conference, of course had him towing his wife Dina Matos along.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, elected in 2005,  term in office has been marred by rumors of extramarital affairs, in particular with local television news anchor Mirthala Salinas. The scandal cost her, her TV job but Villaragosa is still in office with his faithful wife Corina in attendance. Corina might now be filing for divorce, reports say.

spitzer-and-wifeThere are so many who enlist the support of their wives to share their humiliation…the list includes, Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, who had a  sexual affair with his campaign manager’s wife.

When a person enters the public sphere as a politician, shouldn’t they realise the consequences of their actions? Every time they get caught in  compromising situations, its the family which has to come to their rescue.

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women_parkMy friend has tagged me!

And I am supposed to tell the www, the 10 most irritating things about me. I don’t pretend to be scrupulously fair or objective in recounting them 😉

Ok, here goes:

  1. In college, my friends wanted to beat me up when I prolonged class by asking inane questions.
  2. I chat online (instant messaging) while I’m on the phone with other friends.
  3. My friends say I keep sucking the straw even after the cup becomes  empty, sounding like a vaccum cleaner.
  4. I hate other people starting every conversation with “basically,” “initially,” “Honestly” and other such words. But my friends say I do the same.
  5. I rarely chew gum, but when I do, I can’t resist popping and smacking them.
  6. When I don’t want to answer a simple question, I go on a long-winded 10-minute ramble and do everything except answer the question.
  7. My mom used to often correct me. My mom: “You shouldn’t yell “on the light” you should request “please, switch on the light.” And don’t be such a lazy boots. You are younger than all of us here and you can very well do it yourself.”
  8. My English Lecturer used to correct us when we asked for permission to skip class. “You can of course leave the class, but I am not going to give permission for you to do so. The question is “May I leave the classroom?.” And this must be the 100th time I am telling you that Ms D Rachel Chitra!
  9. He also told me that my spellings were atrocious. I was always spelling “you’re” as “your.” and “they are” as “their.”
  10. My mom says,  she gets most irritated, when I take a packet of biscuits out of the fridge, finish it and put the empty packet carefully back inside.

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taj1

Indians abroad face very silly and annoying questions about India! Next time you get asked an annoying question on India, answer it like this…read on, it’s funny!

Q. What does that red dot on women’s forehead mean?
A. Well, in ancient times, Indian men used to practice archery skills by target practicing by aiming at their wife’s red dot. In fact, that is one of the reasons why they had many wives. You see, once they mastered the art of archery and hit the target….

A2: In the olden days there were no traffic signals in India. So vehicles were supposed to stop the minute they saw a married women cross the road.

(And again the bindi is considered the prerogative of Hindu women. When I sport a Bindi, people keep on asking me if I have converted to Hinduism. “If Hinduism is ok with atheism, I wouldn’t mind,” I reply. Actually I think Hinduism is not too concerned about atheism…can’t catch hold of the exact quote…but its supposed to be only a “way of life” not organized religion)

Q. You’re from India, aren’t you? I have read so much about the country. All the wonderful places, the forests, the snake charmers, the elephants. Do you still use elephants for transportation?
A. Absolutely. In fact we used to have our own elephant in our house. But later, we started elephant-pooling with our neighbors, to save the air. You see elephants have an “emissions” problem…..

Q. Does India have cars?
A. No. We ride elephants to work. The government is trying to encourage ride-sharing schemes.

(This question is now replaced by “Do you always travel by hand-drawn rickshaws?” My answer: “Definitely not! Hand-drawn rickshaws were banned in Tamil Nadu as early as the 1970s. Its only in states like West Bengal, which constantly keeps harping on human rights and Left politics, can you find hand-drawn rickshaws or govt-approved prostitution in Sonagatchi.”  Ok, Before everyone hailing from WB is up in arms, I am not anti-WB or anything. Just teasing!)

Q. Does India have TV?
A. No. We only have cable.

Q. Are all Indians vegetarian?
A. Yes. Even tigers are vegetarian in India.

(They might really believe this one as the only Indian authors they can recognise are R K Narayanan and Salman Rushdie. It might prove dangerous if they really believed everything that A Tiger in Malgudi has to say about a tiger’s food habits)

Q. How come you speak English so well?
A. You see when the British were ruling India, they employed Indians as servants. It took too long for the Indians to learn English. So the British isolated an “English-language” gene and infused their servants’ babies with it and since then all babies born are born speaking English.

A variation to the above is a compliment —
“You speak very good English.”   Response: Thanks. So do you.

Q. Are you a Hindi?
A. Yes. I am spoken everyday in Northern India.

My variation on this question is: “Are you a Madrasi?” Answer: “Are you a Golti/Mallu/Firangi or whichever place the questioner is from?” I’d be the last person to fan sectarinism, but the Madrasi question has been asked too many times for it to fail to irritate. And another thing I don’t get is why people from Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh also have to be clubbed as Madrasis. Must be a hangover from the pre-Madras Presidency and pre-Chennai name change era.

taj21Q. Do you speak Hindu?
A. Yes, I also speak Jewish, Islam and Christianity.

Q. Is it true that everyone there is very corrupt?
A. Yes, in fact, I had to bribe my parents so that they would let me go to school.

Q. India is very hot, isn’t it?
A. It is so hot there that all the water boils spontaneously. That is why tea is such a popular drink in India.

Q. Are there any business companies in India?
A. No. All Indians live on the Gandhian prinicples of self-sufficiency. We all make our own clothes and grow our own food. That is why you see all these thin skinny Indians – it is a lot of hard work.

Q. Indians cannot eat beef, huh?
A. Cows provide milk which is a very essential part of Indian diet. So eating cows is forbidden. However in order to decrease the population of the country, the government is trying to encourage everyone to eat human meat.

Q. India is such a religious place. Do you meditate regularly?
A. Yes, sometimes I meditate for weeks without food and drink. But it is difficult to keep my job, because I have to miss work when I meditate like that. But the bosses there do the same thing. That is why things are so inefficient there.

Q. I saw on TV that people there walk on burning coals. Why do they do that?
A. We don’t have shoes. So we burn the bottom of our feet to make it hard so that we can walk.

Q. Why do you sometimes wear Indian clothes to work?
A. I prefer it to coming naked.

Someone once asked my friend, “Are women in India allowed to go to school?”

She replied: “No! They had to get a special dispensation for Indira Gandhi, so she could take over after Nehru died.”

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computer2Do you remember that a few posts ago, I had protested against a Christian Wife Disciplining (Domestic abuse) book on Amazon.

I had said that I was shocked to check this link posted at TW. The stories written by Leah Kelly are truly sickening! Any idea on how to petition Amazon to stop selling such books?

Today, I check out Amazon to read the reviews on Kite Runner and I find that books of grown men spanking women appears as search history. And Amazon heads off that section with “You might like this…..”

Ugh! First thing I am annoyed that Amazon should record my search history and secondly the header is “You might like this….” Nauseating!

I am really not for these hidden cookies that are there on every site, which record your history. Its supposed to make your online experience better, but somehow all this electronic-spying freaks me.

On Facebook again, there might be walls. But I am not sure that I want all the 80 people on my friend’s list to read what I have been doing, who I have been chatting with and what latest games I played. Facebook, Orkut and Myspace collect and store personal information to increase the “user’s experience.” But then what is not often mentioned is that they are ok with sharing this information to google, other websites and SMS services.

Why should my age, occupation, gender and the fact that I like Asterix & Obelix, be made available for the general edification of the public at large? When asked, Facebook has stated that it wants to provide a “more personalized service that will increase our enjoyment.”

And what happens if Facebook or Orkut are taken over by another company? Well there is a transfer of all the information owned by these organizations to the new owner.

And again people do all kinds of stupid things on Orkut. They give their cellphone numbers; they give their home addresses; they even fix up dates via their scrapbook. If you made a fool of yourself when you were 14, would you like Facebook or Orkut, carefully storing that information so that they could “maximize your enjoyment” even after you were 21?

Google privacy policy forms part of signing up on YouTube. So if you have signed into your account, you will have YouTube happily storing away everything about you.

Let me see, what was the last video I saw on YouTube…….. it was this horrid video of T Rajender spouting his usual nonsense and insulting a fellow-member of the press.

So, will YouTube now take this as proof that I am a big fan of T Rajender?

I have never used Yahoo’s services. But reading their privacy terms didn’t really tempt me to sign up. They say, ‘Once you register with Yahoo! and sign in to our services, you are not anonymous to us.’

What is this whole ‘user experience’ that they use as justification? Well, its basically hidden cookies that track every website we visit and every product we see, so that they can jam our inbox with spam.

And then there are your friends. Some of my friends have no problem downing drinks in front of the cameras. Though a teetotaler, there have been many parties I have attended where the drinks were freely flowing. Now, I find that some of these pictures have been uploaded onto my friends’ social networking sites. I find that irritating to say the least! Even if you are very private and not given into sharing personal information on the net, you will find that you are on someone or something’s database.

And so far I am just talking about image-consiousness. What about more serious threats like that of sexual predators?computer13

I am also not for large corporations or government bodies (in particular the US) having access to my entire Internet history. What if a guy had been through sex abuse as a kid and hence reads up a lot on that subject. If he mails his CV to Amazon, what if they decide to look up his search history? They will no doubt dub him a “weirdo” or think he has bad taste and dump his resume.

One must never forget the moral behind the Quechup expose. This social networking site used the email addresses on its database for a spamming operation.

Basically this means “Invasion of Privacy.” And I am dead against it!

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sms-talk1Google’s Official Blog says:

Here at Google, we’re committed to helping build a clean energy future and reducing our carbon footprint. And now Google Talk is part of the solution. We don’t know about you, but we were surprised to learn the inconvenient truth that every character (byte) we send in a message results in about 0.0000000000000000034 metric tons* of CO2 being released into the atmosphere! So if we can reduce the number of characters we send when we chat with all our friends, we can help the environment at the same time.

Teenagers (and some adults) must be aware of this, because they already reduce their character usage by abbreviating words and dropping vowels when they send IM and SMS (text) messages. We think this is a great idea. If all our millions of users started using IM-speak, we’d save hundreds of millions of wasted (and environmentally damaging!) characters.

For example, if we want to say:
As far as I'm concerned, you can give me the twenty dollars you owe me when I see you later.

You could save more than 50% in wasted characters by saying:
AFAIC, U can gve me the 20 $$ YOM whn I CUL8R.

In honor of Earth Day (3 weeks from today: April 22, 2008), on that day our Google Talk servers will start automatically sending your conversations using IM-speak instead of normal words. But you can help save some computing power (and more wasted energy!) by shortening your conversations yourself.

And here I was thinking that people were killing the language by resorting to “SMS talk.” At least my friend Hari will be happy. He always says girl-textthat the purpose of speaking or writing is to communicate. I have always taken exception to the fact that he writes his blog, like he was text messaging his friends. Now it looks like he’ll have a good defense 🙂

For me the problem is unconsciously this language seeps in, even when you don’t want it to. I remember as a sub, I was proof-reading a page to find that someone had written “know” for “now” and “ur” for “your.” Such mistakes usually escape the eye, because its the phonetics that register.

My English professor says that you will find such spellings even in project reports and assignments. For instance, this becomes dis, sorry becomes sari, what is becomes whatz, because becomes coz, should becomes shud, take care become tc, okay becomes K, My becomes mah, How are you becomes howzzit and For becomes fer.

Americans I think should be held responsible for this dumbing down of language. If everyone started spelling phonetically, then we might as well use sign language.

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Tata & Infosys

A true story with a twist 🙂

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

jrdtataI 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.

jrdzAfter 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.

sudha-murthy_26(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.)

I came across this story at RA‘s blog and wanted to re-post it. I found it interesting, despite Sudha Murthy’s attempt at poetic praise.

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