News paper Boy who Became President

Several months back, after finishing an interview with Dr APJ Kalam, and just before leaving his Rajaji Marg residence he made me repeat these three words in a schoolteacher’s tone: perseverance, hard work and patience.This, he said, was alone the path to progress. Later, much later, I realised, that those were the very words he’s lived by all through his life. They are both philosophical and practical, quite like the world he grew up in as a boy in the island town of Rameswaram, in south India.

His father, a humble boat owner, Jainulabdeen, was a devout Muslim and a close friend of the Rameswaram temple priest. Kalam was brought up in a multi-religious, tolerant society; one with a progressive outlook. His father often quoted from the Quran to make the young Kalam see the world without fear. He had seven siblings, and a doting mother who, at times, made chappatis for Kalam, while the others were given rice as Kalam’s day would start at four in the morning and end at 11 pm.

His father wasn’t educated, but he wanted Kalam to study. Kalam would get up at 4 am, bathe, and then go for his mathematics class, which was taught by a teacher who took only five students in the whole session; and bathing before class was a condition he had laid to all his students. After his morning class, Kalam along with his cousin Samsuddin went around town distributing the newspaper. As the town had no electricity, kerosene lamps were lit at his home between 7 pm and 9 pm. But because Kalam studied until 11, his mother would save some for him for later use.

Being a bright student, Kalam always had the support of his schoolteachers. Schwarzt High School’s Iyadurai Solomon often told Kalam that if he truly, intensely desired something, he would get it. “This made me fearless,” said Dr Kalam. And outside school, Ahmed Jallaluddin, who later became his brother-in-law, and Samsuddin, encouraged Kalam to appreciate nature’s wonders. So at once, while growing up, he was exposed to a religious and a practical way of looking at the world.

The flight of birds had fascinated him since he was a boy, but it was years later he realised that he wanted to fly aircrafts. After finishing school, he took up Physics at St Joseph’s College, Trichi, but towards the end he was dissatisfied. When he discovered aeronautical engineering, he regretted having lost three precious years. But he was glad to have discovered Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy and F Scott Fitzgerald and other English poets in his college years.

At Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chennai, where Kalam studied aeronautics, he learnt an important lesson: the value of time. He was leading a project on system design, when one day the principal walked into the class to see his work. He appeared dissatisfied and told Kalam that he wanted the project finished in the next two days; else his scholarship aid would be withdrawn. That unsettled Kalam; years of his father’s hardships would come to naught. Kalam worked without food and sleep. On the last day, his professor came to check on his progress. He was impressed and said: “I was putting you under stress and asking you to meet a difficult deadline,” recounted Dr Kalam.

Although Kalam has led several projects in his professional life, he’s treated each like his last. Such was his passion. No wonder, he’s always led projects. His advisor, Major General R Swaminathan explained Kalam’s success as a leader. “He has this unique capability of being a boss as well as a worker. He can take on any role with ease.”

When Dr Kalam’s first major project SLV 3-failed the first time he was almost shattered. Also, around this time, Kalam’s childhood mentor, Jallaluddin, died. “A part of me too passed away…” said Dr Kalam. But he never thought of quitting after SLV-3. “I knew that for success, we have to work hard and persevere.” And so, SLV-3 was launched again, this time with success. He drew strength from philosophy, religion and literature to tide by his professional setbacks; also a life with few companions. In time, he also learnt to deal with professional jealousy and uncooperative team members.

Success followed Dr Kalam. Prithvi, Agni, Akash, Trishul and Nag missiles were huge successes. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna, and then he became the President of India; one of the few presidents who have touched the hearts of so many poor children in the country. Because he also came from a poor background, he knew the power of education in changing one’s future.

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Inspiring story of a blind media graduate

Meet Garima Goyal, who had to give up her dreams because of an irreversible and degenerating eye condition, went on to become one of India’s first visually challenged media graduates.

The day before her first history test in the tenth grade, Garima Goyal‘s mother walked into her room and said: “You have the same problem as bhaiyya.”

For a regular 15-year-old, this might have sounded like bickering about the mess in the room, her grades or some such mundane problem.

Garima’s brother, Ashish, however was no regular teenager. After that morning, she wouldn’t remain one either.

It had been a few years since her brother was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an irreversible and degenerating eye condition.

Ashish Goyal was going blind. And now, so was Garima.

A little over 10 years since the day, the two siblings have lost most of their vision.

Ashish has gone on to become the first blind person to graduate from Wharton and is the first blind trader at J P Morgan’s London operations.

Garima is one of the first visually challenged media graduates from the Maharashtra State Board of Technical Education. She’s completed her course in social communications media from Sophia College — a major portion of this course involves a strong visual element.

She has around 20 per cent of her sight remaining.To be honest, at first, she didn’t seem like a visually challenged person to me either. Part of it, perhaps, has to do with the fact that Garima is so comfortable with her impediment, she’s learnt to overcome it superbly.

It was a senior in college who sensed this and offered to help.

“He challenged me to beat his scores. I said it was impossible, but since it is in me never to let my dear ones down, I did my best and graduated with flying colours.”

Garima counts her years in college as being some of the toughest.

Coping with her condition during her teenage years was not easy. She remembers jumping into extracurricular activities just to keep depression away.

“Ashish had suggested this. So I started participating in every committee in college,” she says. “It was a whole new world and I wanted to experience everything.”

At the time, Garima’s condition was in its nascent stages. She could still go about her daily routine without anyone noticing the difference.

But, since it would only be a matter of years, she decided to let her friends know.

When I asked her about the most difficult times in her life, she counted this as the first.

Overcoming depression during my early college years was tough,” she said. “That is the age when you want to be a normal teenager, but you get labelled dumb because you cannot complete papers. You try to fit in but you can’t.”

It took her three years to come out of that phase.

“I used to sit for hours doing nothing. Time and the fact that no one let me give up healed it, I suppose,” she says.

The second phase was when she was pursuing her Master’s course in Commerce from Sydneham College, Mumbai.

“I was figuring out what to do and was largely at home, learning music and taking some time off. That was when people began to take my presence for granted. Everyone assumed I was only waiting to get married.”

Around this time, Garima found solace in writing — she has two unfinished novels and a whole lot of poems — and asked herself what she hoped to do in the future.

“Media seemed to be the place where creativity and writing came together,” she says.

Garima joined Hindustan Times in Mumbai as an intern to get first-hand experience.

She remembers her first day — a friend came over early in the morning and helped her go through six newspapers.

For the next three months, Garima worked at their office, where she edited stories for the Metro desk with the help of special software they had let her load.

This was the first brush she had with the outside world. It gave her the confidence to step out of her comfort zone; it also gave her much-needed direction.

Three months later, Garima knew what she wanted to do. She applied for the social communications media course at Sophia College, Mumbai.

“The department had inhibitions as to how a visually challenged would pursue a high-pressure visual course. They communicated their reservations to me.

“As part of the course, we were supposed to make a film, design ads, go out and speak with people. It wasn’t going to be easy and I had no idea how I’d do it, except that I wanted to.”

Garima started off on what she describes as the third most difficult phase in her life.

Garima’s first assignment involved watching D W Griffith’s The Birth Of A Nation.

By now, Garima had lost most of her eyesight. But she hadn’t stopped going to the movies with her family and friends; she could still follow most of what was going on because of the dialogues and the music.

The Birth Of A Nation however was a different ball game altogether.

Released in 1915, the seminal movie belongs to the silent era.

“There were no dialogues!” she recollects, now laughing. “And it was a three hour movie!”

As she sat through the movie, Garima felt like a fool. “I wondered why I was even bothering to waste my time on this. I couldn’t see a thing. I couldn’t understand what was going on.”

By the time she went back home though, Garima had made up her mind to get around the situation. She searched online for information about the movie, read up on it, researched the hell out of the topic and came back to the next class.

In her semester exam, she would top the film paper.

Garima says the course made her push her limits. It was challenging and affected her health but, she says, it was worth the effort.

Along the way, Garima made friends — friends who stuck by her, didn’t mind being woken up in the middle of the night to talk to her or stop by just so they could do little things for her.

Looking back at her achievements, Garima is content. She is currently working with her guru, Balaji Tambe, who runs a holistic healing centre in Karla near Pune and is translating his works into English.

She has never learnt Braille and says technology has helped her get by without much difficulty.

Her phone and laptop have screen reading software that help her read and write.

When I ask her if she’s ever felt alienated because of her condition, she tries to think back. “Maybe when I was 16 or 17.” After a little while she adds, “I do not recall. The more you collect things, the more difficult it is to move on.”

Life may not have dealt Garima a fair chance, but it isn’t something she is complaining about; she prefers to focus on her future.

The one lesson she’s learnt though is to be true to herself at all times.

Initially, people are sceptical of you. Then, when they see you work, they are proud. Later comes the phase when they begin to expect the best from you. When people tell me how I’ve changed, I only smile. All along, I have been the same person they were unsure of.”

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Muhammad Ali inspires Indian Cricket Team

Look who’s helping Team India realise their biggest dream; Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest living sportsman.

The American boxer’s quotes figure in a 125-page document handed out to India’s World Cup team in their journey to regain world cricket’s greatest prize. The manual, entitled ‘Let’s Make Our Dream Come True’ is put together by chief coach Gary Kirsten, mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton and explorer/adventure traveller, Mike Horn. Ali’s quotes appear in a section called, Heroes who can motivate:

>> Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your whole life as a champion.

>> Champions are not made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.

>> Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Nobody can beat you.

Sachin Tendulkar, who is playing his sixth World Cup, is featured in the manual as an inspiration: “Desire backed up with tremendous talent makes Sachin Tendulkar a noted strength.”

Legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong is cited as an example of excellence. Here’s what appears under ‘Lessons from Lance Armstrong’:

A. Clearly define your goal

B. Don’t start without strategy

C. Pick a great set of coaches and then listen to them

D. Pick the right team and trust them

E. Pick the right equipment

F. Use state-of-the-art techniques

The down side is not ignored in the manual. Under the sub head, ‘Threats’ appears the injury factor: “Injuries before the WC to quite a few players do give a scare and if they (players) carry the injury to the tournament, then it will surely affect the team’s balance.

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Success story of Suhas Gopinath

A CEO when he was in his teens? Suhas Gopinath, founder of Global Inc., attributes his entrepreneurial success to his never-say-die spirit.

It was probably a co-incidence that a huge billboard of the film “The Social Network” stood tall above his office but, minus the lawsuits, Suhas Gopinath could be considered a local Zuckerberg. It does not matter that he does not have a degree, because Suhas is the CEO of Globals, an IT company he started when he was a gangly teenager with a powder moustache.

“I started working to buy myself a computer, and I wound up with a company,” says Suhas, who comes from a middle class family that believes business is for those who are poor at studies and who have no other choice. “I have always been impatient and aggressive; when I want something I have to get it. It’s this drive that has helped me achieve most of what I have,” he says, admitting that he picked up his leadership skills on the job.

Suhas started his career in an Internet shop; he worked there and also designed websites for Western companies. “They underestimated my capabilities. To be able to prove yourself you need to have the appropriate educational qualifications, and I had not completed my engineering,” says Suhas, who still holds Bill Gates as his muse.

Unfazed by failure

Another thing that motivated Suhas was failure, “I just got more aggressive with failures, but I was never afraid of taking risks. I went with the flow and never questioned my abilities,” he says. He started when he was 14, along with his friend who is in the U.S. We operated out of his flat there. In fact, it was the Western companies and the media there that recognised me initially and helped me move ahead.”

Luckily for Suhas, he could cross the seas sitting in his Internet café in Bangalore. “We did most of the work virtually, besides building solutions to help people minimise travel,” says Suhas. About how he tried to catch up with academics, the self-professed workaholic who has survived on less than four hours of sleep says, “The time difference between America and India worked for me because I would attend classes during the day and work through the night.”

Suhas, however, does not queue up outside elite institutions to pick the cream of the lot. “We do recruit from institutes such as IIMB, but for our research and development, and engineers, we do not focus only on the big names. As long as they have the skill set and practical knowledge, it is fine,” he says.

For the technologically challenged, Suhas and his team build applications for Facebook, iPhones, Blackberry and Android phones. They also develop web portals and auction sites and engage in other such technologically advanced activities. “We are now focussing on the bottom of the billion, doing extensive work to improve the education and healthcare systems in Africa and India,” says Suhas, who claims that if he were not CEO he would rather be a veterinarian.

“When I started out, I devoted all my time to work, but I paid the price, I lost out on friends and fun. Which is why I try my best to minimise my workload on weekends these days,” says Suhas, whose last vacation was over a year ago at Bandipur.

For someone who did not know the meaning of the term ‘entrepreneur’ when he started out, Suhas has come a long way. He sailed through the recession without even a bruise, in fact, turning it around to his advantage. He scaled up his operations in Europe, while the rest of the world reeled under the crisis. He now serves on the board of the World Bank and has been recognised as a young global leader. Next on the agenda is marriage. “Now, that I have established myself in my career, my parents feel I am ready to get married.”

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Inspiring Success story of FaceBook

Mark Zuckerberg’s father said in a radio interview Friday that an early exposure to computers inspired his son’s interest in technology, and he encouraged parents to support their children’s strengths and passions with a balance of “work and play.”

“My kids all grew up around the office and were all exposed to computers,” said Dr. Edward Zuckerberg, a dentist. “There are advantages to being exposed to computers early on. That certainly enriched Mark’s interest in technology.”

Zuckerberg said he computerized his offices in 1985. His son Mark Zuckerberg, co founder and CEO of Facebook, was born in 1984 and was raised in the house where his father’s dental offices are located in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., in suburban Westchester.

The dentist spoke for an hour on Westchester station WVOX in an interview with Paul Feiner, supervisor of Greenburgh.

The dentist said his own computer science background was “limited” – he majored in biology in college – but he said he’s “always been technologically oriented in the office” and “always had the latest high-tech toys,” including an early Atari 800. “It came with a disk for programming,” he said. “I thought Mark might be interested and I imparted that knowledge to him. From there it took off.”

He said Mark got a book on programming, but “ultimately his ability to program was self-taught.”

Feiner and a number of callers to the live radio program asked Zuckerberg for advice on parenting.

“Probably the best thing I can say is something that my wife and I have always believed in,” he said. “Rather than impose upon your kids or try and steer their lives in a certain direction, to recognize what their strengths are and support their strengths and support the development of the things they’re passionate about.”

Zuckerberg said he “didn’t believe in physical discipline” but added that certain behaviours require parents to let children know “right there on the spot, this is a behaviour that will not be tolerated. If you impart your dislikes about certain negative behaviours early in their lives, they will learn to understand what your feelings on certain matters are.”

Zuckerberg said he doesn’t want to portray himself as an expert on child rearing, but he said: “I think that extremes in any form in parenting are not good. Children need to be well-rounded. There’s a place for work and a place for play.”

He described Mark as “a good student” with “a special affinity for math and sciences,” as well as a “very quiet guy” who “doesn’t like to boast about his accomplishments.” He said that when Mark was named Time magazine’s person of the year, his famous son remarked that “it must have been a really slow year. He’s very humble.”

“I’m proud of his accomplishments and the accomplishments of all my kids,” he added. Mark’s sister Randi is marketing director for Facebook, his sister Donna is a Ph.D. candidate in classics at Princeton, and the youngest, Arielle, is a senior at Claremont McKenna College with a minor in computer science. Her dad said “she’s doing a job search right now.”

Asked by a caller whether his wife, Karen, worked when their children were young, he said, “My wife was a superwoman. She managed to work and be home. We had a unique situation because my office was in the house. I highly recommend it if it works for your occupation. It did afford the ability to work and be home with the kids at the same time.”

Karen Zuckerberg is a psychiatrist but she helps out in her husband’s office. Zuckerberg said he uses Facebook to promote his dental practice and spends about an hour a day on the site. He also still does Mark’s “routine dental care.”

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Losing limbs but not hope

June 17 morning, Rajesh Laxman Pille was a tad nervous. The monsoon had arrived in Mumbai. Just a day ago Rajesh, like all soccer-crazy kids in Mumbai, had played a match of soccer with his friends, knowing that life after June 17 may not be the same again.

Like thousands of students who had written their school-leaving exams in Mumbai, Rajesh too was awaiting his results.

At around 3 pm, one of the teachers at SUPPORT (Society Undertaking Poor People’s Onus For Rehabilitation), a non-governmental organisation that rehabilitates Mumbai street children, told him he had secured 71.82 percent.

Rajesh, who has no hands, had written all his papers algebra, geometry, science and technology, English, Hindi, Marathi, history and geography by holding pen, pencil, and the geometric compass by the toes of his left leg.

That he plays soccer (his favorite is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who he desperately wants to meet), carom and chess, though incidental, is amazing too.

Overnight, Rajesh went from oblivion to limelight.

I was very scared of my results. Though I had studied sincerely I expected about 60 percent,” says Rajesh, 18, who only joined school when he was 7, in fluent Marathi.

Though he speaks good Hindi he is in a spot of bother when somebody uses a difficult word. When you ask him about his mother tongue, Rajesh is not too forthcoming. While his last name ‘Pille’ suggests he is from south India, his fluent Marathi makes you think otherwise.

Rajesh doesn’t remember his age when he was crippled.

“I was running after a kite. I accidentally touched a live electric wire with both my hands. That was it,” he says with a shrug of his shoulders.

Though he lived with his parents when tragedy struck, he doesn’t say how he ended up on Mumbai’s streets, addicted to cigarettes, for which he begged at the city’s famed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, home to scores of abandoned street children.

But then Rajesh, who was born July 26, 1992, remembers what he describes as his rebirth, which happened sometime in 1999. He eagerly narrates that story.

Sujata Ganega, one of the founder trustees of SUPPORT, who Rajesh today fondly calls ‘mummy’, saw the limbless 7-year-old smoking a cigarette, holding it in his leg. She immediately wondered: If this boy can smoke with his leg, he can surely write using the same technique.

After completing the legal formalities and ascertaining that Rajesh was an orphan, abandoned on the streets, she brought him to SUPPORT’s office in Vakola, Santacruz, north-western Mumbai, where 180 street kids get detoxified, educated, de-addicted and then rehabilitated.

“There was nobody on the streets who helped me to get over my smoking addiction. But here the volunteers and Mummy gave me affection, warmth and confidence to abandon my bad habits and achieve what I have done today,” says Rajesh.

“For the first few days at SUPPORT I would just throw tantrums, refuse to eat food, and abuse the volunteers with expletives [he knew plenty of them]. The pangs of tobacco addiction was just too difficult to ignore,” he says.

It took almost three weeks of detoxification, counseling, medicines and persuasion about the fruits of good life that helped Rajesh wean himself away from his addiction.

It was just the beginning.

The next challenge was to learn to write using his leg.

It took almost three years of dogged perseverance before Rajesh could write legibly. The real fun, he says, was learning to draw geometrical sketches using a compass. One day, when he was in Class 6, Rajesh saw Sandeep Kashyap, a teacher at SUPPORT, use a compass to draw geometrical figures for his pupils. That set the ball rolling.

In the beginning I’d hurt my legs because of the pointed needle. After practicing for two days, for more than seven hours, I managed to draw a smooth circle. My confidence soared,” he recalls.

Rajesh would need a lot of this confidence when students ridiculed him about his handicap and taunted him for being favored for his disability.

“I studied in the Vakola Municipal School till Class 6 and always stood first,” he says proudly. “However, some students would often ridicule me and taunt me for this. They suggested the teachers gave me good marks out of sympathy.”

All those bad memories are part of Rajesh’s past. The present is he has scored 72 percent marks in his school-leaving exams and has dreams for a bright future.

He plans to become a psychologist some day. “When I was a kid I wanted to become a ‘scientist’,” he says. “Actually I wanted to become a psychologist but thought that those who read and analysed people’s behavior were called scientists. Mummy and other volunteers here helped me understand the difference between a ‘scientist’ and a psychologist,” he says with a grin.

“I have the ability to read other people’s minds from their behavior, body language and the words they speak. I want to harness this strength by getting an academic qualification.”

He is confident that his disability will not impede his future.

He always sees two scenarios. One where he is handicapped and the competition easily excels over him because of his disability. The other where he sees himself as handicapped but winning over the competition through his grit and gumption.

“It is all in the mind,” he says. “Without doubt I love the situation when I imagine myself as better than the best.”

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Inspiring Lessons to learn from Sachin Tendulkar

Tendulkar’s truest talent—the one that has just seen him hit his 50th Test hundred and brought him close to a 100 international centuries— is not his ability to see the ball early or to pick spin out of a bowler’s hand or to hit through gaps in the field or to pace his batting. It is his ability to want to do these things over and over again, to better how he does them even when he has seemingly perfected them.

This is the talent that helped him avoid the pitfalls in any lengthy career. When this particular ability is called hunger, it sounds grand and magnificent. The more accurate word—discipline— is also the less sexy word. Discipline involves tirelessness and incremental improvement, and how can that be worthy of awe and admiration?  Yet, over the last two decades, if Tendulkar’s batting has shown us anything, it is the sheer virtue of discipline—of the extra half-hour spent in the nets, even after younger, spryer colleagues have hit the bars. That discipline is why, even at 37, Tendulkar can pile up 1,500 sublime runs in a calendar year, enjoying a purple patch that eludes not only freshly blooded youngsters but even comparable peers like Ricky Ponting. Such is Tendulkar’s effect, in fact, that for many of us who have watched him over his international career,his discipline is even more attractive than his straight drive; the latter is only the mastery of a cricket ball, after all, while the former is the mastery of a formidable mind and body.

The sheer longevity of Tendulkar’s career offers an object lesson in staying focused. His 22-year-long career, with 50 test centuries and 46 one-day international tons, is not just a source of joy for his fans and followers, but can also be veritable handbook on excellence, leadership and management for businesses.

What are the lessons Tendulkar offers? We spoke to some cricket crazy CEOs for an insight.

“The most important lesson is the fact that talent without discipline is useless tinsel. It takes you nowhere.. Companies and entrepreneurs who do not bring in a certain discipline and rigour can never succeed. Tendulkar is maniacal about his preparation for every single innings he plays be it a crucial test match or an inconsequential ODI,” says K Ramkumar, executive director and HR head,

He recollects watching him during the 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan at Centurion Park when Tendulkar sat alone with his gear perhaps visualising the match-winning knock of 98 he eventually played.

“When Australia toured India in 1998 with Shane Warne at his peak, Tendulkar realised that his ability to counter the legspin coming out of the rough would be crucial. Several weeks before the tour began, he got the former India leg spinner L Sivaramakrishnan, who had retired by then, to bowl around the wicket and into the rough in the nets,” adds Ramkumar.

Although Tendulkar’s two stints as captain proved joyless, he now seems to lead the team through his performance without being designated as a leader. “Cricket is a game that involves decision-making in the shortest possible time between the time the ball leaves the bowler and reaches the other end in a fraction of a second.
Sachin has honed his skill at taking decisions to the finest possible level. It is a quality essential for successful leadership. Also leaders need to have capability to have more than one solution to a given problem. Sachin has many, says Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG Enterprises .

“The first and foremost lesson for entrepreneurs is to start young, as Tendulkar did. You give yourself that much more time and opportunity to succeed. And if you can remain focused and humble, the sky is the limit,” says Raghavendra Rao, the CMD of Chennai-based Orchid Pharmaceuticals.

“Tendulkar epitomises the mindset of wanting to grow from scratch even after achieving the greatness threshold. He never tends to cool his heels. Companies and CEOs too must always think of starting from scratch even when they hit their targets of say $1 billion revenue. His greatness is that he does the same thing that he has been doing for the last 25 years, but with greater passion every time he takes the field. He has never tried his hand at anything other than cricket. He feels most secure in his 21/2 square foot home called the batting crease,” explains R Suresh, CEO of the executive search firm Stanton Chase .

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Studied +2, But Now World leader in Cloud Computing

Suresh Sambandam seems to have a knack for being present at the right place at the right time and more importantly, with the right set of skills to make full use of opportunities life throws at him. Today, Sambandam runs a software product company, OrangeScape – the only Indian firm listed in Gartner’s Global Top 10 ‘cloud specialists’ along with giants like Microsoft and Google. The journey to the clouds was not without twists and turns.

After class 12, Sambandam’s father gave him two options: join a medical college (with a burdening capitation fee of 5 lakh), or join the family’s realty business. He hated medicine. So opted to help his father. “I used to go to the registrar’s office as a 17-year-old to get some work done, only to get puzzled looks from them,” says Sambandam.

With evenings free, he joined a neighbourhood institute to learn typewriting. The year was 1990. It’s at this institute where he first came in contact with computer.  He was hooked when he started learning D BASE 3+, a database management system. He went to the institute at odd times to access the only PC. “

I bought McGraw Hill DBASE 4 book from Puducherry at a huge cost of 800 in 1992 and learnt it on my own, finishing 100 pages a day. I loved computers and had a feeling that this was going to be something very powerful,” says Sambandam. With the self-acquired knowledge, he made a small demo of airline reservation system which baffled his friends and teachers. And he realised his future lied in computers.

Soon afterwards, Sambandam started his own software training institute. “My father gave 25,000, but he did ask me when will I return the money,” says Sambandam, smiling. After couple of years, and with the business not picking up, he quit, returned his father’s investment and headed for Bangalore in search of a job.

In 1994, Bangalore was yet to get the IT tag and he landed a tech job for 5,000 per month. In the two years with the firm, he picked up Java, a programming language, and that helped him get a call from industry giant Hewlett-Packard. “They (HP) were looking for someone who knew Java. I can say that I learnt everything from HP. It was here that I was introduced to Rulebased computing that was going to play a major role later,” says Sambandam.

In 2000, he left HP to join Selectica, a new Silicon Valley company. Within an “open and free environment”, Sambandam rose from a position of software analyst to director of e-insurance product division in a matter of two years. “Here I got the experience of building up a company. Also, I met Ayee Goundan, whose support has been extremely crucial in my journey,” says Sambandam. They made an insurance product which was considered one of the finest then.

The product was soon bought by Accenture. But the IT biggie made the mistake of acquiring only code and not the team behind the project. “I knew right then that an opportunity was staring me. This was the best chance to star a company,” says Sambandam. As expected, Accenture came back and made a deal worth half a million dollars for the ‘insurance team’.

From the 50 people who worked with Sambandam on the project, he hand-picked six of them for his new company, which he named Orangescape. “My idea was to bring Rule engines, which have been traditionally used in complex enterprise projects, to the masses. Of the six people I asked, four agreed to join me,” says Sambandam. One of the four, Mani Doraisamy, has made such an impact that he is currently the chief technology officer and also referred to as founder within the company.

Orange scape, today, is recognised as a leading company in cloud computing globally and No. 1 in India. OrangeScape has more than 50 customers including global brands like Unilever, Citibank, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Fullterton, among others. OrangeScape has also been featured as ‘India’s Rising Tech Stars’ by Forbes magazine. “After India, we have set our sights firmly on the US and the UK. We should do great,” says Sambandam.

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Success stories of small town girls in Asian Games.

Women were the big reason behind India’s impressive show of India in Asian Games, bringing ten of the team’s 11 medals and also four of the five golds.

Incidentally, the medals were brought by India’s small town girls, who fought through poverty and poor facilities to rise to the fore.

Preeja’s story is a classic case. Her father died when she was very young and her elder brother had to discontinue his studies after the eight standard and work as a carpenter at Rajakkad in Kerala’s hilly Idukki district. And her mother had to slog in nearby homes on daily wages.


Kavita, who also won the Commonwealth Games bronze, is from a tribal belt near Nashik and took to running only because it could be done barefoot without spending a penny.

And Ashwini, who began hurdling only about six months ago and also figured in gold-winning runs in the 4×400 relay teams both in the Delhi Commonwealth Games and at Guangzhou, is from a farming family from a small hamlet in Karnataka’s Udupi District.

As the TV sets flashed the news of Ashwini’s Thursday victory, Gensale villagers made a beeline to Shetty’s residence, which is now flooded with water on all its four sides due to incessant rains in the region. The only approach keeping the house from becoming an island is a rattling and half-submerged bridge woven with paddy stalks.

Her parents could not watch their daughter’s victory in the CWG event as there was no power at home and the cable network had also been disrupted.

They remembered the tough days when the athlete used to practise barefooted at her middle school, about three km from their house.

She used to run barefoot all the way to the school, unmindful of the rough surface. Our financial condition was also not good. All we could manage for her nourishment was vegetables, ganji (rice porridge), and occasionally fish. We wondered from where she got all the energy from,” said Ashwini’s parents.

Not many gave them a chance of winning golds in Guangzhou but they proved that they had the will and the power to carry the country forward when the going got tough.

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Rags to Riches story of Lawrence Rajendran

It is the kind of stuff fairy tales are made of. From being raised by a single mother who was a government teacher, studying in a government school in the suburbs of Chennai and graduating from a college in rural Tamil Nadu to winning the most prestigious Breuer award for research in Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 35, Lawrence Rajendran has indeed come a long way in life.

Lawrence, who did his schooling and college in Chennai and is currently working as a co-director and assistant professor at the University of Zurich has won the Hans and Ilse Breuer Award worth 100,000 euros for research in Alzheimer’s in Germany.

The clich?, rags to riches, fits aptly in the case of Lawrence. A rewind into his childhood reveals an alcoholic father who abandoned his wife and three children, one of them Lawrence, who was just five. “My mother single-handedly brought us up and ensured that we got quality education,” says Lawrence.

Lawrence‘s interest in molecular biology and biochemistry began in Class X when he was introduced to it by a professor at the Madras Christian College whom he had met by chance.

“I decided to do my graduation in biochemistry. But back in 1995, there wasn’t a single college for men in the city which offered the course and enrolled for it at the Sri Sankara College for Arts and Science in Kancheepuram,” he says.

Rajendran who received the award for successfully deciphering that specific part of the brain which is the source of the Alzheimer’s disease and designing a drug which addresses the problem says he had always been fascinated by the biological aspects of the disease and wanted to pursue his research in this field.

“It was in 2004 that I decided to pursue my research in Alzhemier’s after my guide found out the connection between high cholestrol and Alzheimer’s. The disease fascinated me and from then on I have been doing research in Alzheimer’s,” he says.

Lawrence, who was a gold medallist both at the under-graduation and post-graduation level has been funded by stipends and scholarships all through his student life. “Thanks to all the grants and stipends I received I have been able to achieve so much.”

And now, its Lawrence’s turn to stretch out a helping hand to bright students from economically weak backgrounds. Three years ago, Lawrence started the Research Awareness in Student Environment (RAISE) programme to assist undergraduate engineering students from Tamil Nadu’s rural areas who have a passion for research and also to create awareness on research.

Five students are selected each year who are then sent to study in Zurich and Max Planck Universities. These students are funded by the universities and Lawrence. “I got the German Neuro Science Society award for 25,000 euros which I have set aside to fund students who are selected through RAISE,” he says.

Looking back, Lawrence has a lot to be thankful for, especially his mother and sisters who are all praise for him. “He is a gifted and brilliant child. He is a great actor, singer, dancer, orator and writer. He has varied interests and is a voracious reader. You will never find him without a book,” says his sister Florence Rajendran who works as a clinical researcher.

Lily Rajendran, his mother, is extremely proud of her son’s achievements. “Being a teacher I know the importance of education and wanted to give all my children the best education. Lawrence showed great potential even as a child and was excellent in studies as well as extra-curricular activities,” she says.

Though Lawrence only visits his sisters and mothers twice a year, family has always been his first priority, says Lily. “It is because of his hard work, determination and God’s grace that he has achieved great heights,” she said.

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