Archive for October, 2009

Burial of the Dead

Posted: October 15, 2009 in General

The Professional- by Subroto Bagchi

The Professional- by Subroto Bagchi

– from the bookThe Professional – by Subroto Bagchi

Subroto Bagchi is best known for co-founding MindTree in 1999 where he started as the Chief Operating  Officer. MindTree is among India’s most admired companies across industries. In 2008, Bagchi took on the role of Gardener at MindTree. Also you can read his great speech here

What are the chances that you work in an entry level position or even a middle level job in a hotel, a hospital, a software company, or a government organization? Or, for that matter, you could be a self-employed professional like a doctor, a lawyer, or a journalist. In all probability you are educated, know English, and are working in (or have interacted with) the corporate sector. Perhaps an MBA, or a student at an engineering college? You probably consider yourself a professional, or on the road to becoming one. Definitely your station in life is well above someone whose job is to bury unclaimed corpses from city hospitals.

I want to introduce the idea of who a professional is through a man whose life is dealing with dead bodies. Unclaimed dead bodies. This is not someone who is conventionally associated with the term ‘professional’. His name is Mahadeva. He came to Bangalore as a child when one day his mother simply walked out on her entire village and her own family in a huff. Mother and son lived on the streets; she worked to support him. Until the day she became very unwell. She brought herself and her son to the government run Victoria Hospital. There she was admitted in a state of delirium and her little son, Mahadeva, made the streets outside the hospital his home.

He found many playmates among the urchins there and soon that world engulfed him. It was the first time he had had anyone to play with. For little Mahadeva, it was his first experience of kinship and he lost himself completely in this new world. It was pure happenstance that one day someone told him his mother had died. Where had he been when that happened? Died? What was that? The hospital had been unable to wait for him and had disposed of the body. Now Mahadeva had nowhere to go. No family. A few people in the hospital ward where his mother had been admitted raised some money to help him go back to his village. He refused. Instead, he grew up running errands in the hospital. The hanger-on who had helped with his mother’s admission process and made a living by running errands for patients asked him to move in with him. He was an old man who had no one either. Mahadeva grew up under his tutelage; the hospital became his universe. And then, one day, the cops asked him to bury an unclaimed dead body and paid him Rs 200 for the job. This was when Mahadeva entered his profession and eventually became the go-to guy for burying the city’s unclaimed corpses. Every time the police picked up a dead body that had no claimants, Mahadeva was summoned. He had to do a turnkey job: Pull the stiff body from the morgue, hire a horse-drawn carriage, put the body in it and take it to a burial ground, dig the ground to bury the dead – all by himself, and for only Rs 200. After doing the job, he would hang around in the hospital to be summoned to dispose of the next unclaimed body. Mahadeva did his work with such dedication, focus, care and concern that soon he was very much in demand.

His work grew and he bought his own horse-drawn carriage, and between his horse and himself he was the undertaker to the abandoned.

One day, the horse died. People who had watched Mahadeva all these years came together and bought him an auto-rickshaw. The white auto-rickshaw, his hearse, carries the picture of the horse in memory of the animal who helped him take thousands of people to be laid to rest. It became the logo of his business and appears on his business card today.

Mahadeva has buried more than 42,000 corpses in his lifetime and his dedication has earned him phenomenal public recognition. Local petrol pumps do not charge him when his hearse is topped up and the chief minister of Karnataka felicitated him for his selfless service to the abandoned citizens of Bangalore. Mahadeva is proud of his work and business, and today his son has joined him. Mahadeva: the high performer, and a true professional.

What are the two qualities that Mahadeva has which differentiate a professional from someone who is simply professionally qualified? One is the ability to work unsupervised and, two, the ability to certify the completion of one’s work. Whenever Mahadeva got a call to reach the morgue, day or night, hail or high water, he arrived. Most of the time, it was a gruesome experience dealing with a dead body; there was no telling what had been the cause of death or state of decomposition.

In his business, Mahadeva does not choose his clients. He accepts them in whatever size, shape or state they come. He treats them with respect and care, with due dignity, covering them with a white sheet and placing a garland around their necks before burying them. The day he buried the man who had taken him home after his mother died, he had cried. He was special and Mahadeva had bought a garland as a mark of his respect. That day, it occurred to him that he should be garlanding all the bodies he buried, not just his benefactor’s. Everyone deserves respect and no one should feel ‘unwanted’ in death, even if life had treated them that way.

The cops do not supervise Mahadeva. He is not an employee of the hospital; he is the outsourcing agency the hospital has engaged for the disposal of all unwanted cadavers. He does not have a boss who writes his appraisal, giving him constructive feedback for continuous improvement. In most work environments, people who produce anything of economic value usually need supervision. A person who needs supervision is no professional. He is an amateur, maybe even an apprentice. Whenever Mahadeva picks up a corpse, it goes straight to the burial ground-no place else. He completes the task with the immediacy it demands. And he certifies his own completion of the task: between the dead and the living, there is no one to question him.


Subroto Bagchi
Subroto Bagchi

This is a great article I read ever. Everyone must read.

An inspiring Speech By Subroto Bagchi, Gardener and Vice Chairman at MindTree.

“I was the last child of a small-time government servant, in a family of
Five brothers. My earliest memory of my father is as that of a District
Employment Officer in Koraput, Orissa.

It was and remains as back of Beyond as you canimagine. There was no
electricity; no primary school nearby and water did not flow out of a tap.
As a result, I did not go to school until the age of eight; I was

My father used to get transferred every year. The family belongings fit
into the back of a jeep – so the family moved from place to place and,
without any trouble, my Mother would set up an establishment and get us
going. Raised by a widow who had come as a refugee from the then East
Bengal, she was a matriculate when she married my Father.

My parents set the foundation of my life and the value system which makes
me what I am today and largely defines what success means to me today.

As District Employment Officer, my father was given a jeep by the
government. There was no garage in the Office, so the jeep was parked in
our house. My father refused to use it to commute to the office. He told us
that the jeep is an expensive resource given by the government – he
reiterated to us that it was not ‘his jeep’ but the government’s jeep.
Insisting that he would use it only to tour the interiors, he would walk to
his office on normal days. He also made sure that we never sat in the
government jeep -we could sit in it only when it was stationary.

That was our early childhood lesson in governance – a lesson that corporate
Managers learn the hard way, some never do.

The driver of the jeep was treated with respect due to any other member of
my Father’s office. As small children, we were taught not to call him by
his name. We had to use the suffix ‘dada’ whenever we were to refer to him
in public or private. When I grew up to own a car and a driver by the name
of Raju was appointed – I repeated the lesson to my two small daughters.
They have, as a result, grown up to call Raju, ‘Raju Uncle’ very
different from many of their friends who refer to their family drivers as
‘my driver’. When I hear that term from a school- or college-going person,
I cringe.

To me, the lesson was significant – you treat small people with more
respect than how you treat big people. It is more important to respect your
subordinates than your superiors.

Our day used to start with the family huddling around my Mother’s chulha –
an earthen fire place she would build at each place of posting where she
would cook for the family. There was no gas, nor electrical stoves. The
morning routine started with tea. As the brew was served, Father would ask
us to read aloud the editorial page of The Statesman’s ‘muffosil’ edition –
delivered one day late. We did not understand much of what we were reading.

But the ritual was meant for us to know that the world was larger than
Koraput district and the English I speak today, despite having studied in
an Oriya medium school, has to do with that routine. After reading the
newspaper aloud, we were told to fold it neatly.

Father taught us a simple lesson. He used to say, “You should leave your
newspaper and your toilet, the way you expect to find it”.

That lesson was about showing consideration to others. Business begins and
ends with that simple precept.

Being small children, we were always enamoured with advertisements in the
newspaper for transistor radios – we did not have one. We saw other people
having radios in their homes and each time there was an advertisement of
Philips, Murphy or Bush radios, we would ask Father when we could get one.

Each time, my Father would reply that we did not need one because he
already had five radios – alluding to his five sons. We also did not have a
house of our own and would occasionally ask Father as to when, like others, we
would live in our own house. He would give a similar reply, “We do not need
a house of our own. I already own five houses”. His replies did not gladden
our hearts in that instant.

Nonetheless, we learnt that it is important not to measure personal success
and sense of well being through material possessions.

Government houses seldom came with fences. Mother and I collected twigs and
built a small fence. After lunch, my Mother would never sleep. She would
take her kitchen utensils and with those she and I would dig the rocky,
white ant infested surrounding. We planted flowering bushes. The white
ants destroyed them. My mother brought ash from her chulha and mixed it in
the earth and we planted the seedlings all over again. This time, they

At that time, my father’s transfer order came. A few neighbors told my
mother why she was taking so much pain to beautify a government house, why
she was planting seeds that would only benefit the next occupant. My mother
replied that it did not matter to her that she would not see the flowers
in full bloom.

She said, “I have to create a bloom in a desert and whenever I am given a
new place, I must leave it more beautiful than what I had

That was my first lesson in success. It is not about what you create for
yourself, it is what you leave behind that defines success.

My mother began developing a cataract in her eyes when I was very small. At
that time, the eldest among my brothers got a teaching job at the
University in Bhubaneswar and had to prepare for the civil services
examination. So, it was decided that my Mother would move to cook for him
and, as her
appendage, I had to move too. For the first time in my life, I saw
electricity in Homes and water coming out of a tap. It was around 1965 and
the country was going to war with Pakistan. My mother was having problems
reading and in any case, being Bengali, she did not know the Oriya script.

So, in addition to my daily chores, my job was to read her the local
newspaper – end to end. That created in me a sense of connectedness with a
larger world. I began taking interest in many different things. While
reading out news about the war, I felt that I was fighting the war myself.
She and I discussed the daily news and built a bond with the larger

In it, we became part of a larger reality. Till date, I measure my success
in terms of that sense of larger connectedness.

Meanwhile, the war raged and India was fighting on both fronts. Lal Bahadur
Shastri, the then Prime Minster, coined the term “Jai Jawan, Jai Kishan”
and galvanized the nation in to patriotic fervor. Other than reading out
the newspaper to my mother, I had no clue about how I could be part of the
action. So, after reading her the newspaper, every day I would land up near
the University’s water tank, which served the community. I would spend
hours under it, imagining that there could be spies who would come to
poison the water and I had to watch for them. I would daydream about
catching one and how the next day, I would be featured in the newspaper.
Unfortunately for me, the spies at war ignored the sleepy town of
Bhubaneswar and I never got a chance to catch one in action. Yet, that act
unlocked my imagination.

Imagination is everything. If we can imagine a future, we can create it, if
we can create that future, others will live in it. That is the essence of

Over the next few years, my mother’s eyesight dimmed but in me she created
a larger vision, a vision with which I continue to see the world and, I
sense, through my eyes, she was seeing too. As the next few years unfolded,
her vision deteriorated and she was operated for cataract. I remember, when
she returned after her operation and she saw my face clearly for the first
time, she was astonished. She said, “Oh my God, I did not know you were so
fair”. I remain mighty pleased with that adulation even till date.

Within weeks of getting her sight back, she developed a corneal ulcer and,
overnight, became blind in both eyes. That was 1969. She died in 2002. In
all those 32 years of living with blindness, she never complained about her
fate even once. Curious to know what she saw with blind eyes, I asked her
once if she sees darkness. She replied, “No, I do not see darkness. I only
see light even with my eyes closed”. Until she was eighty years of age, she
did her morning yoga everyday, swept her own room and washed her own

To me, success is about the sense of independence; it is about not seeing
the world but seeing the light.

Over the many intervening years, I grew up, studied, joined the industry
and began to carve my life’s own journey. I began my life as a clerk in a
government office, went on to become a Management Trainee with the DCM
group and eventually found my life’s calling with the IT industry when
fourth generation computers came to India in 1981. Life took me places – I
worked with outstanding people, challenging assignments and traveled all
over the, world.

In 1992, while I was posted in the US, I learnt that my father, living a
retired life with my eldest brother, had suffered a third degree burn
injury and was admitted in the Safderjung Hospital in Delhi. I flewback to
attend to him – he remained for a few days in critical stage, bandaged from
neck to toe. The Safderjung Hospital is a cockroac infested, dirty, inhuman
place. The overworked, under-resourced sisters in the burn ward are both
victims and perpetrators of dehumanized life at its worst.

One morning, while attending to my Father, I realized that the blood bottle
was empty and fearing that air would go into his vein, I asked the tending
nurse to change it. She bluntly told me to do it myself. In that horrible
theater of death, I was in pain and frustration and anger. Finally when she
relented and came, my Father opened his eyes and murmured to her, “Why have
you not gone home yet?” Here was a man on his deathbed but more concerned
about the overworked nurse than his own state. I was stunned at his stoic

There I learnt that there is no limit to how concerned you can be for
another human being and what is the limit of inclusion you can create.

My father died the next day.

He was a man whose success was defined by his principles, his frugality,
his universalism and his sense of inclusion. Above all, he taught me that
success is your ability to rise above your discomfort, whatever may be your
current state. You can, if you want, raise your consciousness above your
immediate surroundings. Success is not about building material comforts –
the transistor that he never could buy or the house that he never owned.
His success was about the legacy he left, the memetic continuity of his
ideals that grew beyond the smallness of a ill-paid, unrecognized
government servant’s world.

My father was a fervent believer in the British Raj. He sincerely doubted
the capability of the post-independence Indian political parties to govern
the country. To him, the lowering of the Union Jack was a sad event. My
Mother was the exact opposite. When Subhash Bose quit the Indian National
Congress and came to Dacca, my mother, then a schoolgirl, garlanded him.
She learnt to spin khadi and joined an underground movement that trained
her in using daggers and swords. Consequently, our household saw diversity
in the political outlook of the two. On major issues concerning the world,
the Old Man and the Old Lady had differing opinions.

In them, we learnt the power of disagreements, of dialogue and the essence
of living with diversity in thinking. Success is not about the ability to
create a definitive dogmatic end state; it is about the unfolding of
thought processes, of dialogue and continuum.

Two years back, at the age of eighty-two, Mother had a paralytic stroke and
was lying in a government hospital in Bhubaneswar. I flew down from the US
where I was serving my second stint, to see her. I spent two weeks with her
in the hospital as she remained in a paralytic state. She was neither
getting better nor moving on. Eventually I had to return to work. While
leaving her behind, I kissed her face. In that paralytic state and a
garbled voice, she said, “Why are you kissing me, go kiss the world.” Her river was nearing its journey, at the confluence of life and death, this
woman who came to India as a refugee, raised by a widowed Mother, no more
educated than high school, married to an anonymous government servant whose
last salary was Rupees Three Hundred, robbed of her eyesight by fate and
crowned by adversity – was telling me to go and kiss the world!

Success to me is about Vision. It is the ability to rise above the
immediacy of pain. It is about imagination. It is about sensitivity to
small people. It is about building inclusion. It is about connectedness to
a larger world existence. It is about personal tenacity. It is about giving
back more to life than you take out of it. It is about creating
extra-ordinary success with ordinary lives.

Thank you very much; I wish you good luck and Godspeed. Go, kiss the world.”

Adam Khoo

Adam Khoo

Hi Friends,  I read some articles from Adam Khoo, a real inspiration(al). I liked it very much, so I shared it here… I hope you too like this!!!

direct from Adam Khoo:

[[Adam Khoo Yean Ann (born April 8, 1974) is a Singaporean entrepreneur, best-selling author and peak performance trainer. A self-made millionaire by the age of 26, he is one of the youngest millionaires in Singapore, and owns and runs several businesses in education, training, event management and advertising, all with a combined annual turnover of S$30 million.]]


This is a comment that some people always seem to make whenever they read about my success story. Some people will always go on to say… I can ever be as successful as you because I am not as lucky. I am not so lucky to have your talent for speaking and writing. I am not so lucky to have such great partners like you do to help you build your business. I am not so lucky to have gone for NLP courses when I was young etc…

After listening to these comments again and again, I decided to really ponder and reflect if it is really because I was just LUCKY. Is what they say true? Did luck have a big part to play in my achievements? Hmmm…

After thinking about it for a while, I realized that there are two kinds of luck that have played a part in my life. #1 The Luck of where and when we are born and #2 the luck we experience after birth, during our life’s journey.

#1 The Lucky Birth

I must admit that I was born pretty lucky. I was born in a country where there are equal opportunities regardless of race/religion. I was born with a healthy body with 5 fingers and 5 toes. I was born with two parents who had the means to send me to school, give me 3 meals a day and provide shelter for me.

I figured that no matter where you are in life, there are always going to be people luckier than you are and people less lucky. I can always bitch and complain that I was not born with the looks and talent of Robbie Williams & Brad Pitt (or in a girl’s case, Britney Spears) or the money and political connections like the son of a tycoon or politician. If only I could be the son of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Lee Kwan Yew, Ong Beng Seng, Khoo, Ng Teng Fong or KHOO Teck Puat (unfortunately, not related to me).

At the same time, no matter how unlucky you think you are, there are millions more who are less lucky. There are people born in third world, impoverished countries with no food or water. With no money to buy clothes, let alone go to school. There are millions more with illnesses and disabilities. There are so many born with no parents, abused and neglected.

So, I learnt to really be grateful with wherever I am right now.

#2 Luck That Comes Along in Life

Then of course we have the luck that comes to us in our journey of life. Indeed, I was very lucky that at age 13, I picked up the book ‘Unlimited Power’ written by Anthony Robbins that introduced me to the world of success psychology and NLP (Neuro-Lingusitic Programming). It was that book that made me want to attend motivational courses and NLP courses when I was a teen.

Without that knowledge, I would not have been able to totally transform myself from a lazy person and lousy student to a super confident and top student. I would just be another ordinary person today. So I was LUCKY that that event happened in my life.

But then again, I know many other people who attend the same motivational courses and read inspiring self-development books but they never used it to change their life and become successful. So, in other words, an event can only be lucky for you IF YOU TAKE ACTION on it.

I came up with this formula:


Yes, reading the books and attending the courses was the OPPORTUNITY. But, without me taking action and applying it (which many others did not), the luck would not have happened.

Creating Opportunity

Some people may say that life never gives them any opportunity at all, so they can never be lucky.

I believe opportunities are out there every single day. They come and go very quickly. The trouble is that many people NEVER SEE those opportunities. The reason is because opportunities never look like opportunities. Opportunities always come DISGUISED as PROBLEMS.

For example, the opportunity came for me to learn NLP as a teen because I was a lazy, unmotivated slow learner who got kicked out of school in Primary 3 and was rejected by 6 secondary schools. It was because I was such a lousy student that made me want to change my life and learn the strategies for success.

The opportunity came because of a problem. It was this same problem of being a lousy student before that gave me the opportunity to write my best-selling book ‘I Am Gifted, So Are You!’ to inspire ordinary students to become top achievers. If not for my problem, I could not have the opportunity to write such an inspiring book and create my famous ‘I Am Gifted’ program for students.

Nick Vujicic (who I talked about in my earlier post) had the opportunity to speak to and inspire millions of people BECAUSE he had a huge ‘problem’. He was born with no arms and no legs. He turned his ‘problem’ into an ‘opportunity’. Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Computers) had the great opportunity to start Pixar Animation studios and create the revolutionary iPod, iMacs and iPhones because he was earlier fired from Apple. The problem of being fired gave Steve the opportunity to start a new company (Pixar and NeXT) and innovate these groundbreaking new products!

So, do not fear problems. Problems are nothing but opportunities in disguise. Recognize them and turn them into luck.

No Opportunities? Create Them!

Even if there are really no opportunities given to you, then create your OWN opportunities. If your boss does not offer you a promotion, ask for one! If you don’t get it even if you deserve it, start your own business or work for a better company. If the woman/man of your dreams does not approach you, go out there and meet people!

People have asked me where I first got the opportunity to start speaking and training, thereby building these skills over the years. The truth is NO ONE gave me the opportunity when I was 21 (when I first started). No body wanted to hear me talk. I had no experience, no degree and no credibility. So I created my own opportunity by writing books to build my name and gave free talks to community centres, schools and churches until I became a speaker.

You Need to Prepare to Be Lucky

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Gary Player, Former Top Ranked Golfer.

Some people say that President Obama was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. Because former President George Bush screwed up so badly, Americans wanted total change and were willing to vote for him (a young, African American President instead of an experienced white one).

However for Obama to have taken advantage of the OPPORTUNITY and TAKE ACTION, he had to be PREPARED. He had to have all the knowledge and skills to do the job. It took him 40+ years to prepare himself to be lucky. If you know his life story, he set the goal of become the US President at the age of 5, when he was studying in Jakarta. Since then he studied very hard, took on leadership roles, volunteered for community service, went to Columbia University and Harvard University where he studied Politics, International Relations and Law.

This is why …

If you do not constantly prepare yourself by building your knowledge and skills through reading and attending regular courses, you can NEVER be lucky. People say I was very lucky to have bought stocks during the financial crisis that allowed me to make lots of money when the stock market recovered.

Again, to many people, the financial crisis seemed to be a PROBLEM. I saw it as the greatest investment OPPORTUNITY and took ACTION by investing and writing the best selling book ‘Profit from the Panic’. Again, I was lucky because I was PREPARED to invest. It took me many many years to learn the strategies of finance and investing to create my luck

So, start making your own LUCK today by looking out from problems and see them as opportunities. Keep building your knowledge and skills by taking courses of leadership, wealth creation, public speaking, sales etc.. Finally, take action!

Adam khoo

Adam khoo

Power of Money-by Adam Khoo (Singapore’s youngest millionaire at 26 yrs) …

Some of you may already know that I travel around the region pretty frequently, having to visit and conduct seminars at my offices in Malaysia , Indonesia , Thailand and Suzhou (China). I am in the airport almost every other week so I get to bump into many people who have attended my seminars or have read my books.

Recently, someone came up to me on a plane to KL and looked rather shocked. He asked, ‘How come a millionaire like you is traveling economy?’ My reply was, ‘That’s why I am a millionaire. ‘ He still looked pretty confused.

This again confirms that greatest lie ever told about wealth(which I wrote about in my latest book ‘Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires’ ). Many people have been brainwashed to think that millionaires have to wear Gucci,Hugo Boss, Rolex, and sit on first class in air travel. This is why somany people never become rich because the moment that earn more money, they think that it is only natural that they spend more, putting them back to square one.

The truth is that most self-made millionaires are frugal and only spend on what is necessary and of value. That is why they are able to accumulate and multiply their wealth so much faster.

Over the last 7 years, I have saved about 80% of my income while today I save only about 60% (because I have my wife, mother in law, 2 maids, 2 kids, etc. to support). Still, it is way above most people who save 10% of their income (if they are lucky).

I refuse to buy a first class ticket or to buy a $300 shirt because I think that it is a complete waste of money. However, I happily pay $1,300 to send my 2-year old daughter to Julia Gabriel Speech and Drama without thinking twice…

When I joined the YEO a few years back, (Young Entrepreneur’ s Organization is an exclusive club open to those who are under 40 and make over $1m a year in their own business), I discovered that those who were self-made thought like me. Many of them with net worth well over $5m, travelled economy class and some even drove Toyota ‘s and Nissans, not Audis, Mercs, BMWs.

I noticed that it was only those who never had to work hard to build their own wealth (there were also a few ministers’ and tycoons’ sons in the club) who spent like there was no tomorrow. Somehow, when you did not have to build everything from scratch, you do not really value money. This is precisely the reason why a family’s wealth (no matter how much) rarely lasts past the third generation

Thank God my rich dad foresaw this terrible possibility and refused to give me a cent to start my business.

Then some people ask me, ‘What is the point in making so much money if you don’t enjoy it?’ The thing is that I don’t really find happiness in buying branded clothes, jewellery or sitting first class. Even if buying something makes me happy it is only for a while, it does not last.

Material happiness never lasts, it just give you a quick fix. After a while you feel lousy again and have to buy the next thing which you think will make you happy. I always think that if you need material things to make you happy, then you live a pretty sad and unfulfilled life..

Instead, what makes me happy is when I see my children laughing and playing and learning so fast. What makes me happy is when I see my companies and trainers reaching more and more people every year in so many more countries.

What makes me really happy is when I read all the emails about how my books and seminars have touched and inspired someone’s life.

What makes me really happy is reading all your wonderful posts about how this blog is inspiring you. This happiness makes me feel really good for a long time, much much more than what a Rolex would do for me.

I think the point I want to put across is that happiness must come from doing your life’s work (be it teaching, building homes, designing, trading, winning tournaments etc.) and the money that comes is only a
by-product. If you hate what you are doing and rely on the money you earn to make you happy by buying stuff, then I think that you are living a life of meaninglessness.