Quotes from “I too had a dream”, by Verghese Kurien

I am excerpting some paragraphs from Dr Kurien’s biography. I encourage all to read about his amazing journey!!

Quotes from “I too had a dream”, by Verghese Kurien

“….choosing to lead one kind of life means putting aside the desire to pursue other options.”

“ I have often spoken of integrity as the most important of these values, realizing that integrity – and personal integrity, at that – is being honest to yourself. If you are always honest to yourself, it does not take much effort in always being honest with others.”

“Life is a privilege and to waste it would be wrong. In living this privileged “Life”, you must accept responsibility for yourself, always use your talents to the best of your ability and contribute somehow to the common good.”


“…failure is not about not succeeding. Rather it is about not putting in your bet effort and not contributing, however modestly, to the common good.”


“Most of us compare ourselves with someone we thin is happier – a relative, an acquaintance, or often, someone we barely know. But when we start looking closely we realize that what we saw were only images of perfection. And that will helps us understand and cherish what we have, rather than what we don’t have.”


“…. If we are brave enough to love, strong enough to rejoice in another’s happiness and wise enough to know that there is enough to go around for all, then we would have lived our lives to the fullest.”


“Working with Tribhuvandas and Kaira’s dairy farmers, I saw that when you work merely for your own profit, the pleasure is transitory; but if you work for others, there is a deeper sense of fulfillment and if things are handled well, the money, too, is more than adequate.”


“The greatest satisfaction and joy came from the priceless reward that comes when farmers whose lives depend on your efforts appreciate what is being done for them.”


“I began to see then that when the government enters business, the citizens of India get cheated. The greatest repercussion of the government entering business is that instead of safeguarding people from vested interests, they themselves become the vested interest.”


“..with adequate support, confrontation at the right time pays off.”


“Our belief at Anand has always been: let the people’s energies be unleashed.”


“What, therefore, is a government at its best? It is a government that “governs” least and instead finds ways to mobilise the energies of our people.”


“I opted to remain an employee of farmers all my life ….I did it because I realized I had a job which gave me the greatest pleasure, the greatest satisfaction. The idea of working for a large number of farmers translated itself into the concept of working for social good. I soon realized that money is not the only satisfaction that one can seek, that there are several other forms of satisfaction and all of these were available to me at Anand.”


“In every crisis, if you look carefully, you will spot an opportunity. My insistence on finding and seizing that opportunity has often been a source of annoyance for many of my collagues because it means that unlike most people, I never try to sidestep a crisis. Rather, the more monstrous the crisis, the more I am tempted to rush at it, grasp it by the horns and manoeuvre it until it gives me what I want!”


“The cooperative structure never encourages huge bureaucratic systems, for it knows that mammoth bureaucracies cannot be sensitive to the needs of people.”


“We need the bureaucrats to look after the interests of our people. The tricky part has always been: how do we educate the bureaucracy to be truly public servants – servants of the people – rather than the bosses most of them continue to be?”


On ICAR: “Then I would ensure that the researchers got not more than 5 per cent of their research funds from government coffers and the rest would come from the industry. This way they would be answerable to the industry and would also get rewards for their good work from the beneficiaries.”


“ Our bureaucracy today is too bloated and therefore it is burdensome.”


“Basic social and economic change needs to brought about gradually and the more carefully and thoughtfully it is effected, the more permanent it will be.”


“True democracy will emerge only when we allow the people to manage. And only when the people begin to take control of their lives will rural development gain momentum, when goods and services produced by rural areas will get better terms of trade than goods and services produced in the cities. Only when our farmers are involved in the processes of development will they be able to command their destiny. True development is the development of women and men.”


“The bottom line is that the government must govern, in every sector. The government need not nationalize banks but government must see that banks do not defraud people. The government need not run dairies but the government must ensure that the private sector puts out good quality milk at reasonable prices. That is governing. So, let the government get out from places where it should never have been in the first place.”


“I was just twenty-eight years old when Tribhuvandas made me the General Manager of Amul. It is an age when one believes nothing is impossible and one is ready to take on challenges. I believed in entrusting professionals with responsibilities at an early age, encouraging them to take initiatives, and correcting them when things went wrong, instead of penalizing or condemning them.”


“While integrity and loyalty are core values, there are other values, too, which are a prerequisite to achieve success in any field. For example, the leader has to set a personal example and make others understand in what ways “change” is going to be useful.”


“I believe that professionals working in our organisations must have clarity of though combined with a passionate pursuit of mastery of their subject. I have always emphasized that large endeavours are only the sum of many small parts and, therefore, we must keep in mind not just where we are going but how we are going to reach there successfully.”


I also believe that a person who does not have respect for time, and does not have a sense of timing, can achieve little.”


“What is the primary job of an efficient manager? In my book, it is to bring in and groom the right people on the team. Once this is done, the manager must then groom the successor most appropriate for the institution.”


“My attitude towards money has always been a very realistic an utilitarian one.  …. it is terrible to have too little money because you will not even have enough to eat and appease your hunger. But it is far, far worse to have too much money because then you will surely get corrupt.”


“I may be old-fashioned in my thinking but I have always believed that it is only when you get less than you are worth, that you can look for respect; if you paid much more than you are worth you will get no respect.”


“ It was only much later in life that I realized the tremendous benefits of this classic game of strategy. Chess has taught me the skill of how to always remain a few moves ahead of my opponents.”


“….my friend Vikram Sarabhai who often said to me: When you stand above the crowd, you must be ready to have stones thrown at you.”


“Pitroda is his address, that startled some of my colleagues, said, “In order to get things done you have to be a bit mad.” And then pointing towards me continued, “You have an example in front of you of a man who came with a dream – a bit mad – and today we are all reaping the benefits of his vision, his ideas. We don’t have to agree with him on everything or admire every little thing he does but the fact remains that what he has created is a dream that we all like to share. We need more and more people like him to create more dreams for our people.”


“ …each one of us has a responsibility, as a member of our nation’s privileged elite, to help bring about that stage. That responsibility is both to criticise and to correct. We must take responsibility for our nation’s future; we must hold ourselves accountable for that future. It means that we must act not only as advantaged individuals but as concerned members of our society. It means that in all that we do, we must be aware of its effect for he greater good.”


“ I have often claimed that I have had but one good idea in my life: that true development is the development of women and men.”


“… there is no doubt in my mind that as a people we stand second to none. Among us are people of great intellectual ability; people of the highest moral and ethical attainment; people of great tenacity and courage. The challenge is to put our talent, morality and courage to the right purposes, in the right direction.


Bureaucracies do not exist only in government. Tragically, most institutions, given time and allowed to grow big, tend to get bureaucratized. When employees begin to believe that the institution exists for them, rather than that they exist for  the purpose and ideals for which the institution was built, then clearly, that institution has mutated into a bureaucracy. The revolutionary in me would demand that such an institution be broken down unabashedly, and built again anew.”


Tips on writing good resumes

Typically, a resume is meant to excite sufficient interest and open doors for you or get you an interview call. It is not meant to be too detailed but needs to point the reviewer to all the reasons why you should be noticed. For example,

  • Somebody may feel that their academic performance is the highlight of their background
  • Somebody may wish to highlight the institutions where they have been trained because the reputation of these institutions might be very high
  • Somebody else may wish to highlight certain specific achievements and recognitions/ awards
  • Somebody else may wish to highlight their leadership activities

Here is the exercise to do when evaluating whether a resume has shaped up well and will do its job for you:

  • Give your resume to somebody who does not know you (preferably somebody who is representative of the kind of people who might be evaluating your candidacy)
  • Give the person 30 seconds (max 60 seconds) to scan the resume
  • Take back the resume and ask the person to write down (or tell you) what ever they remember from the resume.
  • If they put down all the points that a) you wish to showcase and b) are your strengths or that make you stand out, then your resume is headed in the right direction.

While there are points you wish the reviewer to notice, there are also points which you do not want the reviewer to assume, and for this some precautions are necessary:

  • Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors indicate sloppiness, laziness, lack of attention to details and lack of thoroughness.
  • Poor english and poor style of writing indicate not only poor communication skills but also lack of experience and depth  in english communication.
  • Poor structuring and formatting of the resume indicate lack of ability to organise your thoughts, lack of comfort with document processing software and computers etc. To me it also sometimes indicates lack of attention to certain aspects which will save the reader some time. It also indicates an inability to “sell” one self.
  • For scientists and engineers, lack of attention to how scientific  references are quoted indicate incomplete higher education and poor research training. Similarly, lack of attention to units and metrics while stating achievements may indicate lack of in-depth understanding.
  • Hyperbolic claims (especially with certain superlatives) and an excessive focus on certain indicators of success (ex: h-index, financial success etc) can back-fire depending upon the audience.
  • Emphasis on the ” wrong”  points may indicate lack of perspective and/or understanding of the evaluator’s priorities. For example, over emphasis of sporting talents or religious interests for an academic program/job.

That said, it is sometimes important to put down aspects of one’s background which can be relevant. Here is where good judgement is required. For example,

  • If you have excelled in anything at all, it may be worthwhile mentioning it. When I see somebody who has excelled in anything — be it sports, music, art etc — I take that into account because it tells me that the person knows that it takes dedicated and continuous (sometimes for several years) efforts to excel, is capable of putting in the necessary efforts to excel and the person values excellence as a value.
  • If you have done something which showcases your leadership qualities esp in taking initiative, conceptualising and initiating activities, mobilising groups around what one considers important, pro-active efforts etc, it is a good idea to point that out. I find this a useful indicator of the person’s abilities and interests in leading efforts.

Sending resumes to people:

  • Try to write a professional (means, no “hi”, abbreviations, slangs, sms-type of language) cover letter or email
  • Keep the letter very specific by addressing it to a specific person and keep the letter specific. Do not send bulk mail. Do not send email templates with obvious cut-pastes from websites. Write your own letter or email —- avoid copying your friend’s letter or email.
  • Sincerity, simplicity and seriousness is always appreciated in the covering letters.
  • Highlight a few key points about yourself that stand out in the letter itself.
  • Be sensitive to the reader’s limitations when sending out attachments. Nowadays, many people  use mobile devices to read email. So, it may not be a good idea to send a word file as attachment. Send text over email or attachment as pdf.
  • Have a professional email address from which you send out resumes. Avoid strange or funny email addresses.

How to choose a company name (in India)?

How to choose the name of your company? Here are some suggestions:

  • Chose a name that would be simple, short and memorable/ recognisable
  • Avoid the names of founders in the name of the company (It is easier for employees, other share holders etc to identify with the company if one person’s name does not stand out)
  • Avoid complex acronyms and abbreviations
  • Avoid narrowly describing scope of activities of the company by inserting text that describes nature of activities. For example, words like “trading”, “travel”, etc in the company name specify the nature of work or industry. What if your focus changes as the business idea evolves?
  • Check to see who else is using such names or has already blocked it. See links below.

Here are sites which new and budding entrepreneurs in India can use to arrive at their company’s name.

Websites to use for checking availability of names:

Update on 23 May 2018: See how Flipkart chose its name.


On choosing the name Flipkart

In 2010, Sachin and Binny spoke about the problem they were solving and why Flipkart was called Flipkart. They shared with YourStory:

“An attractive neutral name is what we looked for. Good domain names were hard to get. We were looking at names that did not just speak of books alone, but one that could suit any category of products that we may add in future. Also, we wanted to have a catchy name with high recall potential. Flipkart could, in simple terms, mean ‘Flipping things into your Kart’.”