A historian passes into history

Obituary of Prof Dwijendra Tripathi

Getting up this morning to the news that a cherished teacher passed away was not a happy start. Prof Tripathi wrote the Oxford History of Indian Business, the Oxford History of Contemporary Indian Business and the Concise Oxford History of Indian Business among many others. He wrote one of the earliest articles on Indian Entrepreneurship in the Economic and Political Weekly. He probably held the first ever chair professorship on entrepreneurship in India, the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Chair Professor of Business History and Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad. He was instrumental in setting up The Journal of Entrepreneurship and the Biennial Conference on Entrepreneurship – both of which can easily be seen as visionary acts.


Beyond all his academic accomplishments, Prof Tripathi was a wise human being. I don’t Picture 209think there was anyone who disliked him. Anyone who came in contact with him left improved by his wise counsel. I have been one of those lucky ones. I had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with him on many occasions. I particularly enjoyed my conversations with Prof Tripathi when I was writing an article building on his work. They helped me not only develop the article but also become a better human being.


History and him remained inseparable. As a historian passes into history, Prof Dwijendra Tripathi will be remembered fondly for a long time to come.


Meet Brajesh Singh – a passionate wildlife photographer

I am a teacher. I spend a lot of time with learners (of all ages), albeit mostly adults. Considering that they are pretty mature it is difficult to teach them. Hence much of my time is spent facilitating and inspiring these learners to manifest their learning. And since I teach and research – innovation and entrepreneurship, most of these discussions hover around “Passion“.

Most people believe they are passionate about something or the other. I don’t disagree, but often end up asking them to describe their passion. Many of them explain their interests and misunderstand that its their passion. So my suggestion to most such people is – “manifest your passion”.

And all of them ask – “How should we manifest passion?”

I met Brajesh Singh (http://brajeshsingh.in) recently in a Management Development Program (MDP) on Intrapreneurship. I was stumped when out of the blue he presented me a calendar. I thanked him and that night I realised that I saw the answer to the above question.

Here is a man who “manifested passion”. I spent much time that night looking and re-looking at the pictures in his calendar. Amazing is an understatement! It was his own calendar – the Brajesh Singh Calendar! Here is one photo of Brajesh Singh

BrajeshSingh Photo

So I spent the lunch next day (during the MDP) asking him so many questions. As he spoke I saw what “passion meant”. It was so easy to see that “wildlife photography” was his passion. Several colleagues of his joined us and appreciated his photographs and his passion. The way he spoke about wildlife and his reminisces of capturing photographs enthralled us. Sadly we had to stop and get back to our MDP sessions! But I had something to tell my students.

If you are passionate

  • clearly define it (Brajesh does not shoot any photo – he captures wildlife in the wild)
  • do something about it (Brajesh uses his camera, captures and shares it on his website – http://brajeshsingh.in)
  • take action and showcase it (goes on expeditions and captures photos; shares it on his website; joins other wildlife photographers; learns from those much younger than him)
  • create and share your passion in whatever way possible (Brajesh creates an annual calendar)
  • sustain it (Brajesh’s annual calendar is now in its sixth year)


Clearly Brajesh manifests passion. In today’s digital era, it is easy to manifest passion. So the next time you catch yourself talking about Passion – stop and take action! Manifest it.

I came away inspired. This is what happens when you meet a passionate soul. You can like his photography here too: https://www.facebook.com/BrajeshSinghsPhotography/

Thanks Brajesh! My passion is to teach and I took one more step in that direction by sharing your story with my students and readers. I manifested my passion!

If you (the reader) like reading this, do something about your passion now. Manifest it today!

Alvin Toffler – you will be remembered

How many of us have grown up hearing about ‘information overload’? This was the man who spoke about it first.

He wrote classic bestsellers such as ‘Future Shock’ and ‘The Third Wave’ – If you have not read them, read them now. If you are one of those like me who have read it, I don’t have to ask you to re-read it – just for the sheer joy of how a futurist indicates the future without predicting it.

It is sad that the world lost him. He was 87. You can read more about him, his life and work here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/30/books/alvin-toffler-author-of-future-shock-dies-at-87.html?_r=1

Thanks Alvin Toffler for helping us look at the world differently. I hope to re-read your books as a mark of respect to you and your thoughts. I am sure you have inspired number of budding scholars (me included) to study phenomena deeply and write daringly.

Recently Steve Case titled his book ‘The Third Wave’ and spoke about how he was deeply impacted by the ideas of Alvin Toffler too. Read this interview here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2016/04/06/steve-case-what-leaders-need-to-know-about-the-next-wave-of-tech/#139dc79b484b

Prof Alvin Toffler, you will be remembered.

Andy Grove – you will be remembered

On 21st of March 2016 Andy Grove passed away. He was many things to many people at many times. He was a technologist. He was a great manager. He was a great leader. He was an institution builder. He was a visionary. He was a PhD. He was an author. He was a thought leader. He was at the heart of the semiconductor revolution. He was once Time Person of Year. And many more…

Here is a column that captures his life in a page: ‘The man who put Intel Inside’ http://www.economist.com/news/business/21695361-mr-grove-who-died-march-21st-was-heart-computer-revolution-andy-grove

His book ‘Only the paranoid survive’ is a useful read for most managers. His earlier book ‘High output management’ was something I read, but was more technical than the latter.

I can only say one thing – you will be remembered. For every time a device boots up, it will be powered by a processor – the product and industry which you influenced the most.

Thanks for making our lives better. Thanks for also living your life inspirationally, for it will inspire a few of us to attempt such a life.

Maya Angelou – No more to read from you

I first came to hear about this poet and memoirist in the Life’s Work column of the Harvard Business Review. I even cite it often, especially if it is about someone from the domain of art. For example the interview with Zandra Rhodes – https://rajshankar.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/vedantic-wednesday-your-work-is-what-youre-there-for/

One of the many I have enjoyed reading under the “Life’s Work” column of HBR is that of Maya Angelou (http://hbr.org/2013/05/maya-angelou/ar/1). She has written numerous poems and memoirs that have fascinated and inspired millions. What inspired me most was the commitment to her writing. During the interview she speaks a lot about the importance of discipline and keeping to a ritual, a routine, so that we can beat our own laziness. What she actually meant was beating our mind which wrecks havoc and dissuades us from working towards a goal, in a repeated and disciplined manner. The way she does it works for her – the actual path is not important, that a path is needed is the real message.

The other thing I really liked from her interview and my limited knowledge of her works is that she was a keen and astute observer. How else can you actually be a memoirist? While it is easy to write one book based on interesting things that happened in life, it takes a lot more acuteness in observation and awareness to pen down volumes on life and living.

Today as we hear about her demise, let us draw inspiration from one more artist who lived her life for her work. Though her family will miss her it is comforting to hear that she had a peaceful death, something that every human being seeks but rarely receives, since it is blessing of divinity. May the divine give the family the courage and blessings to bear the loss.

The more I read about people who lived their lives fully, it inspires me to learn from it and share it. I do this routinely because the people I meet are entrepreneurs / entrepreneurial and they need to routinely spruce up their confidence and belief in themselves and their work.

Though I read poetry very little and very slowly, I hope to read more of Maya’s work, especially her memoirs! For all those who wish to know more about her work, you may look up here: http://mayaangelou.com 

Khushwant Singh – No more to read from you

I don’t read fiction. Hence I have never read a single work of Khushwant Singh which actually made him popular (his novels). But I still remain a fan of his writings for a few reasons:

– He wrote for the sake of writing (passion)

– He wrote from his heart (truth)

– He believed and took responsibility for his actions (responsibility)

– He stood for whatever he believed in much against what society felt he must be (conviction)

– He kept working, writing to almost the end of his life (calling)

Since I teach entrepreneurship, I constantly keep getting questioned if it relates to only starting enterprises. Over the last few years of constantly trying to find better answers to the same question, I believe today that entrepreneurship is all about ‘being entrepreneurial’. Because of this understanding my belief is that people can practice entrepreneurship in every facet of life.

Today as the world mourns the death of Khushwant Singh, author and journalist, who passed away at the age of 99, I think his is a life of entrepreneurial thinking in practice. I managed to read a few of his non-fiction works in recent times. His writing was inspiring for me as a young writer and author. His works and experiences were inspiring as a person wanting to do what I love in my life.

As I advice entrepreneurs I always point them to people who have lived their lives fully. One such life is that of Khushwant Singh. Not that his life is without controversy or questionable acts, not that his life was without joys and sorrows – but in and through all of these that most people go through in life, he continued to live his calling – to write! Every entrepreneur must learn from such examples – irrespective of whether people accept and acknowledge your work; whether you see rewards and appreciation, the most important thing in life is to live what our calling is. To do this without expectations of rewards, recognition and returns, is what makes a life lived well.

I don’t have access to this man, just like I didn’t have access to Steve Jobs and Peter Drucker and JRD Tata. But it is through their works that I gained access to their decisions and their lives. They remain inspirations and today as India loses a great writer, I wish to acknowledge that he is one to be read, reflected and remembered for inspiration.

Alvida Mr Khushwant Singh – you truly inspired a few (quite a few) of us along the way!

The Joy of Giving

As I was driving down for a meeting today, I saw festive lights and christmas decorations adorn many shops on the road side. This xmasgot me thinking around christmas, the spirit around the season and so many heart warming anecdotes that one gets to hear. It then stuck me that there was this one incident that I had the good fortune to witness first hand.  I had written about it in my forum during this very month couple of years ago. A story that touched many reader’s heart and spirit. So I thought it is a good time to share and spread some cheer! So I did some work… dug up the story from my archives and here it is for you….

I stay in a fairly large residential colony. Some houses witness Christmas decorations and red stars can be seen hanging outside a window. Apart from that and the plum cake that makes its way into my house, I have been isolated from Christmas celebration. But what I was fortunate to witness yesterday not only gave me the inspiration for the blog, but a new perspective of how we can view the Joy of Giving. I was walking back to an empty home for the night, so was not hence in much of a hurry!

As I entered my colony, I saw a rather thin Santa Claus walking into the first floor house of the opposite building into a house which I knew belonged to a old Hindu lady living alone. Her Children are NRI who visit her once in two years. Normally a cheerful lady, she was getting older by the day and quieter. So I was intrigued by this Santa who stood outside her door, shaking a bell in one hand while knocking with the other. Some others who were also drawn by this unusual scene gathered along. Out of our deference for Santa did not brow beat him into asking his identity but joined him outside the lady’s door. Reassured on seeing us along with this stranger Santa, the lady opened the door and the lone Santa burst into a merry song..IN TAMIL!!

When Santa opened his mouth to sing it was hard to conceal the identity. It was our iron man (istri wala)..who had borrowed a Santa Costume from his customer. He had heard the lady tell him casually how much she misses her children and how every function is an ordeal reminding her of her loneliness. And this reminded him of his parents back in village all alone by themselves. He wanted to do something to make her feel better. And hence the disguise.

 The lady was swept with emotions and gave a bear hug not only to Santa but almost to all of us who had assembled. We were all pulled instantly into the mood of wishing good luck to each other. The whole celebration lasted all but 10 mins but left a night long warmth from having been a part of something good from the bottom of the heart! Going by my emotions, everyone who was a part of the spectator crowd felt as much happy as the lady for whom the visit was staged!

Today the spirit of Christmas often conjures up in one’s mind decorated Christmas tree and presents. Underneath the presents, we seem to have buried the true spirit of “Giving”. If only we can extend the true Christmas spirit to our every day life – it would be so enriching every time we give; not presents – but our time and our attention. A selfless gesture motivates many more in the person who performs it and inspires the receiver to do it unto someone else. It is like a flywheel that picks momentum with every turn.

While we set ourselves ambitious targets in personal and professional life, can we set a simple target for acts of selflessness to be done if not daily – at least weekly? If you have a ward in scouts you can see them going around with good-deed book where they have to authenticate from the receiver an act of good will they have performed. As adults – where is our good deed book?

As we all cross another Christmas season – maybe it will be of value if we can put ourselves to believe: “Christmas is a state of mind – not a date. Christmas is in the heart – and not under an Xmas Tree!!”