Saturday, September 18, 2010

A LETTER FROM A GIRL TO JRD TATA IN 1974 (Worth a read..)

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.
(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 .

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Nettech Experience – Tough, yet Fulfilling

Enrolling myself for the Network Management Summer Training, I knew that it won’t be an easy one after going through the students feedback and the blog maintained by the Nettech team. Expectations were high as always as the wait finally ended and classes began.

One of the most challenging times of my life and also the most fulfilling one as I realised how tough professionalism is. I realised that it was easy to learn the subject but tough to implement the subject unless proper discipline was maintained. Learning the concepts is somewhat easier. Doing it on time and performing in groups rather than working alone is the mantra here.

The results showed that people who individually underperformed in individualistic tests came out in the top 10 because they maintained a good team effort and put on a harder labour and discipline while working in teams.

Daily T10 tests that required completing a 10 marks paper (theory and lab both) were rather challenging and tested an individual’s awareness, discipline, accuracy and time consciousness. The timer that constantly ticked off towards the zeroth second increased the palpitation of the heart and raced the mind towards the most possible solution, only later to realise that there was a slight mistake in what we did;most of the time this was the case. On realising that most of us had failed was fun but later afterwards when I thought about the same, it was real pain.

I must confess that one particular day when I had failed and secured zero in all the 4 tests I almost broke down. It was very painful to realise that I was not getting where I wanted to be.

The Project Day was an enriching experience with the whole team of 5 with a name (in my case it was Mars 2 and team members consisted of me, Sourajyoti, Bappi, Anushka and Sandeep) and working simultaneously on 4 servers to host a website for a company and providing it necessary management permissions.

The Re-test Day was a day of high tension. It was like the last chance since only those failing to secure 50% were being given the last chance, it comprised of about 80% of the students. In the first round most of us failed as unexpected. Every time we thought that we were correct, there was Swapan Sir and Bagheswar Sir, ready to prove us as wrong and label us as ‘failed and zero’. The bamboos rocked us off all the confidence we had earlier. The last round we had easy questions and almost all got themselves correct but I feel that like me almost everybody were thinking hard about the probability that they would get their soultions wrong. THANK GOD I WAS CORRECT. Seemed that all the lost ground was mine. I heaved a sigh of relief, stretched my arms and thanked God as I left the Lab with a hurried sense of ‘enough of disasters,no more staying here’.

The Summer Training signed off with a DJ-cum-Food party at the I-Lounge at Hiland Park.

The last day, 31st July when I finally got my Successful Certificate in my hand I realized something. I dont know how much of the subject I have learnt but more than the subject what I learnt was how to manage myself and my resources, how to maintain deadlines, what I lack and what I need to inculcate in myself for the future. What Perfection is all about I had heard before, till I joined Nettech where I was taught what it meant and its importance. I should also add that the Successful Completion Certificate has further inspired me to further study about Netowrking Mangament.

These 15 days will be clearly etched in my mind and heart forever for these were the days where I learnt life’s most important protocols. Thanks to the Swapan Sir, Bagheswar Sir, Neha Ma’m, Sunayana Ma’m and my my mates Sourajyoti, Bappi, Anushka, Sandeep, Abhishek, Sourav, Kunal, Arnabi for making it memorable.

The purpose of Nettech is served. It’s the Nettech team that deserve all the accolades, for it has achieved what it had set out to do.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Indian Rupee - An Era Begins

India today got a symbol for the Rupee, denoting the strength of its economy, and joined a select club of countries whose currencies have a unique identity which includes US dollar, British pound, European euro and Japanese yen.

The symbol was designed by D Udaya Kumar, who is with the Department of Design at IIT Guwahati. Explaining the significance of the design, he said it is based on the Indian Tricolour.

"My design is based on the Tricolour with two lines at the top and white space in between. I wanted the symbol for the Rupee to represent the Indian flag," said Kumar.

The cabinet approved the symbol - an amalgam of the Devnagiri 'Ra' and the Roman capital 'R' without the stem and two parallel lines running at the top. The parallel lines symbolise the equal to sign. "It denotes the robustness of the Indian Economy",said Ambika Soni,Minister of Information and Brodcasting.

The need for the symbol had become necessary because of the Indian economy's rapid growth, which has propelled it to become one of the largest economies of the world.

The symbol will distinguish the Indian currency from currencies of other countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia which also use the word "rupee" or "rupiah" to identify their respective currencies.

Other than giving Indian Currency a new look and an International recognition, it won't help Indian economy any further. It may result in wastage of less paper and it may save time but other than that it won't do wonders.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FIFA World Cup Football 2010 –Immortalised

1. South Africa

The host nation had many experts criticising the country for its past and many apprehended that the World Cup won’t see its days but the Africans proved everybody wrong and made it the most memorable World Cup ever

2. Zakumi

Aged 16 and the Official Mascot of the FIFA World Cup 2010. He is a cheerful and sporty leopard with green hair and introduced for the first time in Africa to raise the excitement of the Tournament.

3. Waving Flag and Waka Waka

Waving Flag by K’naan and Waka Waka by Shakira were the top chart busters throughout the World Cup and highlighted the cause and celebration in the World.

4. Vuvuzela

Irritating and buzzing like a swarm of bees these plastic blowing horns were the craze as well as the criticised lot. Love it or hate it, the vuvuzelas are here to stay and anybody following the World Cup would miss them.

5. Jabulani

The Adidas made Ball used during the World Cup was the centre of controversy with goalkeepers and players finding it difficult to understand its movement and messing it up on several occasions.

6. Octopus Oracle Paul

The psychic Octopus kept in the Aquarium in Germany almost stole the spotlight from the World Cup with its predictions. It made 8 predictions including the 7 games of Germany and also the final. Surprisingly all its predictions came true which included Germany – Serbia game where it predicted Germany’s loss. Not to forget Germany – Netherlands match where Germany was the favourites and Paul predicted Netherlands to win. In a nutshell, Paul is the hero this World Cup.

7. Ghana

This African nation was the head turners. With no expectation from any quarters this nation almost made the Semis unless Suarez made the deliberated handball when the ball was travelling to the nets. The immediate penalty from the handball was missed as it hit the crossbar.

8. Luis Suarez

The VILLAIN. The Uruguayan footballer was subject to worldwide criticism and overnight became the ‘pet hate’ of Africa when he deliberately prevented the ball from going to the nets after he stuck out his hand deliberately from a corner kick of Ghana.

9. Diego Forlan

With five goals in the tournament this Uruguayan striker won the Golden Ball award beating out Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Spain striker David Villa each with five goals in their kitty.

10. Spain

The World Cup Champions!!! 76 years and 19 World Cup Tournaments is what it took the Spanish Armada to win its FIRST EVER SOCCER WORLD CUP. Iniesta scored the first and winning goal of the Final in the 116th minute after both the teams, i.e., Spain and Netherlands failed to score in the stipulated 90 minutes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friendship – Something Ideal OR Mere Politics In Humanity

Friend and Friendship – two words with the word ‘friend’ in both; the latter being a word to describe ship in which both ‘friends’ can travel together.

Friend is a very ideal word and friendship an ideal concept. Think about it for some time and then relate it to your life. You will find that friend and friendship is not as ideal as it is shown to be.

Reality is always a bit dark and friend and friendship is no exception.

If friendship means being together always, ask yourself that if you are a professional how many friends from your college days you have kept contact with. If you are a College student ask yourself how many friends from your school days you are in tough with and the answer will give you an insight in why I am telling so. You may argue that it’s because life is fast and there’s no time. I will ask you if there is no time and you need somebody then won’t you approach him/her for help.

It’s not ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ but it’s ‘a person in need is a friend indeed’

It’s a sort of human politics to keep what he needs and discard what he does not need.

There are several incidents from each one of our life which will show that friendship is not something serious, but a mere tool for time pass.

Aman Ki Asha – Let’s Be Friends and Let Peace Be Crowned

As The Times Group of India and The Jang Group from Pakistan are trying to restore peace among the two most hostile nations in the subcontinent, support has poured from all quarters ranging from musicians to poets and most importantly the citizens of both countries. This wonderful initiative has proved so far that though politicians are politicians and they will never change, the people of both countries are very much eager to forget the past and march on to the future with pillars of peace and friendship and with feelings of brotherhood that existed before the politicians played spoilsport.

Though much remains to be done in this regard, I personally believe that most in India and Pakistan feel the same bond for each other. The initiatives are golden and thus so far have produced golden results.

But this initiative won’t work out if the Governments of both countries don’t talk peace. The recently held peace talks are of no use since they are busy trying to enforce his own idea on the other, and this way even after 100 years we will remain where we do today. Though one can’t disagree the amount of politics involved in every word they say, the amount of thoughts spent on America whenever they utter a sentence; it’s high time they do the same with the word countrymen and neighbours replacing America and politics.

On the part of The Times Group and The Jang Group, they need to carry on what they are doing and time will give out better results. One suggestion to them – if they can involve both the Governments then success will come sooner than expected.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rouvanjit Suicide – An Analysis

It’s sad and horrifying to see a life wiped away before it attained maturity. Rouvanjit today is no more.

But since the time of his death what started is nothing but a blame game – blame on the Principal and the school and a game to try and prove him guilty.

If a kid is unruly and mischievous and his tantrums disturb the class often the teacher is bound to punish him keeping in mind the decree and decorum of the class and most importantly shaping up his character that will lead him to become a better person later on in life.

It might have been wrong for the Principal to cane him, but many will feel that the caning is justified since the child was given repeated warning and he failed to rectify himself which left the Principal with no other choices.

Again, just because he was beaten or caned does not mean that he was depressed and had to take that drastic step. This shows that the child was pampered at house. At the same time he felt that his concerns could not be addressed by anyone near and dear to him; thus showing that he was lonely.

I too studied from a Christian Missionary school and time and again I or my friends were caned. But we never had such thoughts in mind at such tender age. We never thought of committing suicide.

Thinking hard, I feel that the family is to be blamed rather than the Principal and the school since Rouvanjit was exposed to the worldly pleasures of life including alcohol and his parents, it seems never ever tried to educate him of a few harsh realities that life offered at such ages.


As the World rejoices in Football Fever in South Africa, a nation that has always been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons like AIDS and poverty, Indians everywhere have one question lurking in their mind – that is, when we will get a chance to see India playing with the likes of Messi, Torres, Beckham, etc.
The question of ‘when’ will be answered only when we can give a proper explanation to ‘why India isn’t there’. Let us look into the football scenario in India and where football is actually placed by the sports administrators.
It’s not that football is an unacknowledged game in India. It is the next most acknowledged game here after Cricket. Though the rest of the games like Chess, Hockey, Badminton, and Tennis that rank behind football have provided players in the World class level and many-a-time we have seen India shining at the World stage, football remains the only game that has eluded India.
Schools and Colleges have Football tournaments but most of the time we find students participating actively and that too bare-foot; the same reason why India could not participate in the Football World Cup in the year 1952. Though at times an endeavour is made to make shoes compulsory, it felt on deaf ears. We are more accustomed to play when we have no sports gear and fail to match the same level when sports kit is made available to us.
Another and one of the biggest reasons why a 1.2 billion population is not being represented in the World’s most awaited and celebrated sports event is that the IFA lacks vision and mission. Indian football fraternity lacks a clear vision and mission. They are satisfied with the 130+ ranking that India has. They are satisfied to realise that under their guidance major football tournaments at the National Level are being accomplished and they are getting enough media reports.
‘India playing at the World Cup Football Tournament’ - such a vision is absent. The vision has to be there and then will the mission start. Without such a vision that mission stands as aborted.
Now and again almost daily we see that 95% of media coverage regarding the game is about the imported foreign players joining clubs or swapping clubs. Media is not at fault for that is the scenario in the Football Clubs. Millions are wasted on them without anybody thinking that these players won’t represent India at the International level. Then why make such a fuss of them. IFA should know that if India is to play at the World Level these foreign players are of no use. If it’s India who is to play then it should be Indians playing at National level Tourneys. Foreign players are talented no doubt, but that does not serve India and Indian football in the long run.
If you want India to excel at the International Level, then ask the IFA bosses to
1. Develop a vision and mission for the year 2022
2. Reducing the participation of Off-shore players gradually to NIL.
3. Develop proper infrastructure which includes better fields and stadiums
4. Try and get deals to play football with Major football clubs like ManU, Chelsea, etc