A role model from Manapad

A role model from Manapad

I was in the middle of my training programme for the final year students of a reputed engineering college, when my mobile rang. It was my brother. He informed me that a businessman-uncle of ours had passed away. His funeral had been scheduled two days, which gave me enough time to visit his house and offer support to the bereaved family.

My training programme that day was about motivation and entrepreneurial skills. My experience of over four decades in teaching and banking usually comes in handy when speaking of real success stories of my students-turned-entrepreneurs or bank customers-turned-businessmen to kindle the passion in the hearts of such future entrepreneurs.

The rags-to-riches stories of renowned business icons like Dhirubai Ambani of Reliance, Narayana Murthy of Infosys, Ranganathan of Cavin Care, the Panneerdas Brothers of the VGP Conglomerate, the self-made Sivanesan of the Premier Group of Companies and the like, help me motivate the students.

The clarion call of P B Shelley, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”, the proclamations of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Men may come and men may go but I go on forever!” and other similar quotes gush at the appropriate time to boost their sagging morale. The inspirational life of these winners and the immortal lines by the literary greats always help me tell the youth that ‘success is never final and failure never fatal!’

While my thoughts lingered around such great names who would spice-up my talk, the success story of my deceased businessman-uncle occurred to my mind in a flash. He hailed from Manapad, a tiny coastal village in the pearl fishery coast of Tuticorin. With no experience in business and only a paltry sum in his kitty, but with a heart full of hope and aspirations, he landed in Madras in the late 1950s.

Though a novice in the garment trade, he ventured into it with a vengeance to engage himself not only in the local business but also in the export of garments. The initial days were beset with several challenges, all of which he brushed aside with absolute confidence and calculated risks. Years flew by and his business expanded, making him a globe-trotter. Soon, he set up an unparalleled kingdom of his own in his trade.

As I reminisced his struggles and victories, I felt sad that while much deliberation goes around about the triumphs of the Ambanis, Birlas and Tatas, the enviable achievements of simpletons like the hero of my story never touch board and pale into thin air.

Enlightened, I named him a role model, too, for all aspiring entrepreneurs and
used my sessions that day to make him a well-sung hero. When finished, I walked out of the lecture hall a contented person, knowing well that I had impressed on my students the legacy of this common man, who blossomed into a business magnate solely because of his perseverance, in the most effective manner.