By Dev Nadkarni
Recent weeks have clearly belonged to Indians who achieved the impossible. For a country whose psyche seems almost hardwired for underachievement, these three-in-a-billion citizens shine like beacons ever so bright. Giving us a simple message: It can be done –even in India. And nothing in recent times has lifted up the Indian spirit as the doings of these three amazing men.
Late last month, we lost the portly son of a schoolteacher who rewrote the rules of entrepreneurship to be unequivocally acclaimed as India’s greatest entrepreneur ever. That he built the country’s largest business empire almost seems incidental. We have a boatman’s shimmering-haired son whose family pawned its jewels so that he could pursue his higher studies as President of the world’s most populous democracy. And we have a railway ticket collector’s wiry son who led India to a near-impossible one-day victory in the Nat west cricket tri-series.
Fine instances of where a laboriously ground, delectably delicious masala of sheer grit, hard work, charm and timing can take the underdog in an environment as loaded against risk-taking, swashbuckling entrepreneurship and the under-privileged class as India. The stories of these three men have been incredible profiles in courage. They began life like one billion of us Indians: going out there to bat on the field of life with no score to our credit. Just the dream of winning and experiencing the evanescent thrills of life’s fours and sixes whenever we can steal them. The difference between the rest of us and these three is that they won. The odds that they could get to where they are today would have been stupendously Himalayan. They blazed scorching trails. May be it’s a little premature to club the cricketer with the other two given his young age and just a couple of successes; but given the status of cricket in Indian pride, the young man certainly stands up to be counted.
Everyone loves a real-life rags-to-riches story, a real-life fairy tale. Much has been and will be written about these three men, their humble beginnings and the way they charted their own personal courses to success. The way they did India proud against seemingly impossible odds, to become legends in their own lifetimes. Such stories are far more common in countries that have always encouraged capitalistic free enterprise. Not in regimes like India. Which is what makes their achievements so much more cherished.
Sure, there will be those who will not be impressed by these success stories. There will also be those who will attribute unfair methods, underhand deals, clever politicking, playing the religious card and the benign smile of lady luck to their great success. No matter. None of these detractions can take away anything from these super-achievers. As for luck, we have always known that god helps them who help themselves. Irrespective of that god’s denomination.