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Perfection, Positivity, Perseverance – The Mantra

May 16, 2010

The one elusive thing to a good proportion of people is success. While it is true that the parameters that define success are different, there is no denying that the difference between those who make it in their field and those who do not has to be something tangible. Those who succeed must be doing something different to be where they are. Yet this cannot be some secret that is difficult to fathom. There are some commonalities between those who succeed – what I call The Mantra. One axiom that goes without saying is the importance of honesty and values. But not all honest people and those with awareness succeed.

I was watching an interview with Bill Gates the other day that he gave to one of the Indian TV channels. Mr. Gates is on a trip to India for his foundation and he found time to talk to this TV channel. Gates on his visit to India went to two of the poorest states – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. His foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing some remarkable work in the field of healthcare. The focus of his foundation is to help in the immunization program being carried out by the government here in India besides other things. He went to Amethi with Rahul Gandhi and then went to a remote village in Bihar. The village in Bihar was so remote that he had to get off his vehicle, take a boat ride to cross a river and then trudge a kilometer to reach where he wanted to reach to see the results of an immunization program his foundation had initiated. And this in the heat of May in North of India!

One of the first questions that the interviewer asked him was why his foundation was investing in some of the most backward states of the country where it is said nothing moves – the so called BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states. The interviewer also pointed out that in Hindi BIMARU means ‘sick’. Gates looked at him and said that this was not entirely true as Bihar had achieved an immunization rate of 50% from a mere 11% and this was done in the last four years only!!! That Mr. Gates observed was quite impressive. The interviewer was stunned into silence. I do not know whether he realized that he was talking to a man who was the most successful man in the world and had created an organization from scratch. Bill Gates has earned his money the hard way, through a lot of sweat and tears and if he has gotten into philanthropy it is to be expected that he would be as much of a perfectionist now as he was when he first started Microsoft. He knows what he is doing and he will be damned if he throws around his money on meaningless projects as was being suggested by the interviewer. The man must have spent some considerable time and resources in fact finding before embarking on something in a remote corner of India where many of us Indians have never been to and perhaps have no intention of going ever. What do you call such a man? That is what separates Bill Gates from others. The man is a perfectionist and it shows.

The other thing that stood out from this little tee a tee is that those who excel have a positive outlook towards life. It was very easy for Bill Gates to have rejected any projects in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh as one that will have no impact. But Mr. Gates is made of a different stuff. He believes that there is always hope and that there is an innate goodness in human beings and therefore it is not wise to give up on anyone just on hearsay. He found out and the results were impressive enough for him to contemplate investing in the health of the people of this backward rural hinterland where few venture. His positivity is infectious and such people are a source of inspiration to those around them.

Mr. Gates was not content with finding out that there was scope in rural Bihar. He wanted to see how things were going first hand and what more could be done. So he chose to fly down to India and have a look for himself. It was important for him to see for himself that the work was being done well enough and that there were some results on the ground. In the heat of May he travelled to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and oversaw the work his foundation was doing. His perseverance is remarkable. He could have very easily sat back home and ‘monitored’ through all the latest technology that is available nowadays. The richest man in the world went out in the slush and mud in sweltering heat and saw first hand the work being done there. It takes a Bill Gates to be that dogged about things that he believes in.

Bill Gates is just an example and what he is doing is truly marvelous. His friend Warren Buffet has given a good portion of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and two of the richest men have come together in causes that are close to their hearts. Mr. Buffet is an investment banker and tracks his money closely. Goes to show the kind of respect and affection the two enjoy for each other, and that is not limited to the frequent games of bridge that they play together.

If I close without mentioning Rahul Gandhi I would be doing a disservice to the young man. Mr. Gandhi is another of those achievers who has made his mark and again the three P’s are there for all to see. He is meticulous in his planning and goes about things with long term perspective. This lad is the one to watch out for on the Indian political landscape.

The Mantra can also be seen in the Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar. Mr. Kumar has done such a transformational work in Bihar that this backward state which was thought of as one where there was no hope is now the second fastest growing state in the country despite the fact that Bihar has been bifurcated and the mineral riches have all gone to Jharkhand. His positivity is inspiring and his perseverance something to emulate. FICCI feted Nitish Kumar at one of their functions and his inimitable humorous side came to the fore. His honesty and integrity is unquestionable and his drive for achieving results for his state insatiable.

In this age and time there are many such heroes that one can emulate. I could mention only three in this small write up. Suffice to say that The Mantra is something that they follow instinctively – and that is the only way to go about things.

There is a fourth P that should be a part of The Mantra – philanthropy, especially when corporate India is doing so remarkably well. Sadly this is one word that has yet to make it to the lexicon of most Indians.

Update 18.05.2010: A courier company in Mumbai which employs only deaf workers is playing a major role in changing social perception that those who can’t hear need charity to survive.

Aiming to empower the hearing impaired, who are unable to land jobs due to social ostracism, the company Mirakle Couriers has been offering to employ them in a pick up and delivery service in Mumbai. Source :

There are companies that have social programs. Like Godrej run schools for the poor as does AIRTEL of Sunil Mittal. The Tata’s have a long history of philanthropy. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is doing some work for the visually impaired. There are many others who are doing social work as a part of their business enterprise. But in a poor country like ours where philanthropy should be a way of life, I regret to say that the social awareness is not quite as pronounced as one would expect.

Update 17.06.2010: Investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced on Wednesday that they are asking hundreds of billionaire Americans to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity. They are having a series of meetings with American billionaires to try and convince them to donate for charity. Many have decided to give half or more of their wealth to philanthropy.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2011 1:45 pm

    Hello Ullas in India. I found your page as I searched for a quote by Bill Gates on the subject of perseverance.

    What an interesting blog. I have subscribed and look forward to more of your insights and news.

    Christina Lee in England

    • sharma24 permalink*
      February 5, 2011 2:27 pm

      Hello Christiana in England,
      Glad you found my blog interesting. Thanks for subscribing to my blog.

  2. SLSY permalink
    May 21, 2012 9:36 am

    Great and inspiring!


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