The time has come to speak of many things, the past, the present and future things.
I made it to 75!!
And I thank all of you, my family and good friends, for taking the time to come and celebrate with me. I am very lucky to have good friends. I value my family that supports and cares for me.
I look back on my life and I realise how fortunate I am. My mother drilled ethics into all three of her sons. She also wanted us to conform to social rules. My father had a good sense of humour but rarely laughed. I inherited that trait.
I went to boarding school in Darjeeling at the age of nine and I am still in contact with some of the friends I made there.
The principal instilled into his students, that “privilege has a duty to those who are under privileged’ and “tell the truth or say nothing”. That sometimes got me into trouble.
When I went to university in the US, ( MIT), my whole world went topsy turvey. Cooking my own food was not the only thing I learned to do! (look up and smile).
I was studying mechanical engineering, but I also enjoyed liberal arts, philosophy, comparative religion, biology and what makes the world move.
I dived into Bertrand Russell, for his rationality and, of course, Gandhi had a great influence on me.
Back to India and business.
My hero was JRD Tata. He was the first to create the pension fund and recognised that companies also have social obligations. His companies ran very successfully with ethical practices. He created value and built an empire. He created something without destroying something else.
The man who shaped my economical and environmental beliefs was E.F. Schumaker. His book, “Small is Beautiful” opened my eyes to a new way of doing business.
Most big companies lose their humanity. Their sole aim is profit and damn the planet and the people!
My companies have a soul.
I founded 2 companies. One which produces herbal medicines for animals . We approach Ayurveda as a system to be validated by modern science. This company takes into account sustainability, ecology and the environment.
Thus Ayurvet was born.
Sanat Products Ltd, produces herbal extracts used in food supplements. The ingredients are identified and standardized.
These companies now need very little input from me.
Now what should I do at 75?
It is time to do what I am passionate about – and my passion is SUSTAINABILITY.
Polluted air from factory chimneys, car emissions and smoke from burning stubble after harvests – this is what we breathe.
Grains and vegetables are sprayed by insecticides. Chemical fertilizers in the soil are taken up through the roots and end up in the grains. This is what we eat.
Sewage is drained into rivers and lakes – which provide our drinking water. Chemicals are used to purify the water. This is what we drink.
I believe that education – and understanding – can reverse, stop, or at least, reduce the degradation of our soil, our air and our water.
Education is the only tool for understanding, and understanding the importance of sustainability will bring about change.
So EDUCATION is what I am going to do, now that I am 75.
(Smile as you say the next sentence)
In a few years I expect that all of you will send your children or grand children to my first school, in Coorg, where coffee grows and has no factories spewing poison into the air or water. Most importantly, students will be taught about sustainability. They will see it function in the school, and they will spread the good word.
I will build schools for children in rural areas. These students will also be taught sustainabilty and THEY will spread the word. In 20 years we could change India!!!
I hope to leave this planet a better place than I found it.
I would like to thank my pillars of support, my bhabis, Ashi and Indira. Without them, this event would never have happened. My others pillars are my son Chetan, his wife Pooja and my daughter Devika. I also thank my extended family, old and young, and all my friends who made it here.
किनारो पे सागर के खजाने नहीं आते,
फिर जीवन में दोस्त पुराने नहीं आते…
जी लो इन पलों को हस के दोस्त,
फिर लौट के दोस्ती के जमाने नहीं आते
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Now that I have told you about my past, present and future, I thank you for your patience – and I will stop talking now.