Before I go on, I thought I would tell you a short story which depicts perhaps what some people might see what I do. The story is of a man who goes into a shop to buy a parrot. He picks out a parrot and asks the shopkeeper how much it is. The shopkeeper says, “5000$.”
The man says, “Oh! That’s terribly expensive. What does this parrot do?”
The shopkeeper says, “Oh, he types in English with his beak.”
The man says, “That’s far too expensive. What about that parrot?”
The shopkeeper says, “Oh! That one is 10,000$ because he is proficient in 3 or 4 languages and he understands SAP”.
The man says, “Well, I really don’t want that, what about the last one there?”
The shopkeeper says, “Oh! That is 30,000$.” The man says, “What does he do?”. The shopkeeper says, “I really don’t know, but everybody calls him Chairman.”
And that I think is what some of the people in my organization would probably feel.
You head into the business world in India at a time when India has certainly come into its own, and is very rewardingly been seen by the world around as a country on the move, and that you all have an opportunity to play a role in the future of this country’s development.
In many ways I can only stand here and express my sadness for not being your age at a time like this because truly it is an exhilarating moment in time. Most of you would and should look at the coming years as years of great fulfillment and great participation in what stands in the future of this country. The responsibilities that you will have will also be very great. Many of you are going to be leaders of this country in the years to come. And in that role you will not only have to excel, which I am sure you will in your careers, but also you will have to demonstrate leadership to the people around you, the people whom you serve and the communities in which you operate.
I would hope that most of you will in fact strive for leadership in a principled manner with values, because that would be the foundation that this country needs to have if it is to take its place in the world. I would hope that each of you would lead by example and that each of you would live by the principles that you espouse…that you will have a sense of vision, because one of the things that this country has had has been an inability to look into the future, our business leaders have sometimes been followers rather than leaders.
For this you would need determi nation and a sense of belief in what you are intending to do and I believe on many, many occasions you would have doubts as to what you are pursuing would be the right thing. But if you do believe in what you are trying to do and you pursue it and stay with it in a determined manner, I am quite sure that you will succeed. All of you have a special role, I think, to succeed- it is your way of proving that the investment you have made or your parents have made in your education is the most valuable investment that you would have made in your life.
I would hope that as people who might take an elite position, would be considered amongst the elite in the country, you will always display humility in the manner in which you deal with your fellowmen, both in your company and in the country and you will continue to have passion in the areas in which you will work. While all of you have a great satisfaction in the kinds of salary placements and the value that has been attached to you which is quite justified, I believe that each of us have another responsibility and that responsibility is to play our individual roles, small as it may be, to lift the quality of life of the 6 or 700 million people in the rural areas. I hope that what you do, in some way or form, will directly or indirectly touch the lives of those people because that also will lead to the future development of this country.
Most of you I imagine will be deeply engrossed in your careers and I hope that each of you will have a tremendously exhilarating and rewarding life in the business community, but it is not business alone, I would feel that a class like yours would go into the world in India or elsewhere. That you would leave your mark not only amongst your colleagues in industry, but also for future generations who would look back on you and look to you at the contribution you have made that lives on after you. I would like to wish you all the very best and great success in the life that will follow shortly.