In December 1994, I stayed at the Tata Steel Plant at Jamshedpur in connection with a Joint Plant Committee meeting. The two days’ stay was very well organised by TISCO. Apart from the meeting, visits to the plant, township, social activity centres, etc., were also arranged. In fact, the social welfare aspect of the Tatas is worth seeing and gives an indication of the philosophy as well as the vision of the founder Tatas. At Jamshedpur, a museum named “Russi Modi Centre of Excellence” has been recently established. It gives a complete picture of the history of the Tatas. I liked this place most and it left a deep mark on my mind. At this centre, I came across a biographical work on J.R.D. Tata and subsequently a copy of the book was presented to me.
We all generally know about the great men and women of the nation and the world. However, going through their autobiographies and biographies one understands the real depth of their personalities. Somehow I like going through such works. I keenly glanced through the book on that day and subsequently read it closely. Naturally I learnt many things about the Tatas which were not known to me earlier. One such fact is that JRD had no child of his own. Despite this he had developed such a broad vision that this loss was hardly reflected anywhere. Occasionally in private conversation, he used to refer to this aspect of his life. But in no way did it constrain his vision or thinking. On the other hand, he treated all his employees as his family members and never considered his huge empire as a personal possession. As a matter of policy the Tatas provided suitable employment for at least one of the wards of their employees. This act developed so much feeling of belonging in the employees that they put their head and heart for the organisation and it is small wonder the Tatas have contributed so much in the field of industrial development. Not only this, they paid equal attention to the social side. Many prestigious institutions of the country in the field of fundamental sciences, medicines, engineering, management and social sciences were the result of this attention.
I was overwhelmed by this aspect of the Tatas and it made me draw some deep lessons which I am going to share in this write-up. It reminded me of an interaction of mine with a very senior officer who had retired from the Indian Administrative Service. He is a highly spiritual person and has played a great role in shaping my thinking.
One day I asked him whether at any time he had missed his wish in life and if so how he took it. I was conscious of the fact that missing one’s wish was something common and so was more interested in the second part of the question. To this he gave a very interesting reply. He said that on several occasions he did not get what he wished for but what he got in turn was better than what he had wished for. Then he added one condition, that the wish should be selfless and natural. The above principle applied only in case of such a wish. I was quite satisfied with the answer and found it greatly true in my life too.
It is commonly seen that many good people suffer for no apparent fault of theirs. Their natural wishes are also not fulfilled, be it getting a job, getting married, begetting a child, owning a house or winning a promotion. None of them are unnatural wishes. Everyone has a right to get them. But it does not always happen so. There are many instances when deserving persons miss these things in life. What to do in such a situation? One easier but of course defeatist way is to fret and fume over the missing part of the life. People may listen to them in the beginning but they end up making themselves as pitiable objects. They hardly find any helpers. At best, some people may show sympathy but most of them will turn out to be rejoicers.
The other way is to accept the reality gracefully and to grow larger than the wish. Such are the people who end up getting more than their wish. They expand their vision so much that their own problem becomes too small. They find delight in seeing others getting what they missed themselves. There are numerous examples in the history of mankind when great persons rose above their narrow personal problems to pursue a higher cause.
In fact, all great men and women, we talk of, passed through such situations. J.R.D. was, of course, one of them. The fact that he had no child of his own did not stop him from expanding his vision and looking at the entire mankind as his children. No wonder he laid so much emphasis on the welfare of his employees. He must have always seen them as his children, getting delight in their growth. Who can say that he had no child? After all, one wants a child mainly to keep the family name going. By this criterion he has numerous children as the family name is not only going but is running smoothly. In fact, the holding company of the Tatas is named Tata Sons.
So when you miss your wish, expand your vision and rise above the wish. Surely you will end up getting more than what you had wished for.