As my car was entering the MindTree campus yesterday, I saw a motorcycle coming right behind me. In the rear view mirror I could see the two young riders wearing the MindTree badge. But they did not wear helmets. As they were about to overtake my car, I signalled them to pull up. Instinctively, the two knew what was coming and without my asking, said sorry. I asked them why they were saying sorry to me. No answer. Then I asked the one driving the bike, how many siblings he has.
“I am the only child”, he said very sheepishly.
“If something went wrong, who would be there to say sorry to your parents?” No answer.
In India, every year 120,000 people die and 12, 70,000 sustain serious injuries due to road traffic accidents.
According to estimates, there is 1 death on the Indian road every 6 minutes. This is a conservative estimate because many deaths occur post discharge. We have 1% of the world’s vehicular population but 9% of death due to road accidents. Even per conservative estimates, death due to road accidents in India is twice as high as death due to HIV AIDS, Cholera and Malaria put together.
To all my dear young blog followers, please wear the seat belt each time you take out the car and on the bike, please wear the helmet, even as you may ride pillion.
Ashok Soota and I go back a long time, close to 25 years!
I have worked in his business unit at Wipro for 10 long years, though not directly with him. When that time and the opportunity did come, I got bumped to Chairman Azim Premji’s office instead.
Then of course, in 1999, we co-founded MindTree with eight others. And finally, I got a chance to report to him as the COO of the company.
In the quarter century of knowing him, I have always looked up to him as a role model, a mentor, captain of the ship and lighthouse in hours of darkness and turbulence. That is how a year ago, when he published his intent to move on from MindTree, it wasn’t easy.
I always tell my leaders, there is never a good time to say goodbye to a good man. This one was worse. It was wrenching. For him, and for us.
Steve Jobs said you can only connect the dots looking at the past. Someday, maybe we will.
For now, Ashok has his start-up to run and we have to take MindTree beyond where he took us. Only that would be a tribute to the man.
In the meantime though, men must find a reason to meet.
To know more about that, please go pick up the Forbes India edition due to hit the stand coming weekend.