‘What can you do for this country?’ – Gandhiji
The morning is pleasant, and sitting on the lawn of the Great Lakes Institute of Management campus is the school’s founder and dean, Dr Bala V. Balachandran. I begin my video shoot for a book project, and ask him to talk about the words that inspire him.
“The most important and the only word I know, among all the words I know, came to me when Mahatma Gandhi asked me, when I was three or three-and-a-half-years-old, near Pudukottai, when he visited my uncle Sathyamurthy (freedom-fighter),” begins Bala.
“Putting me on his lap, Gandhiji asked me a question, ‘Son, what can you do for this country?’ All the words did not make sense to me except one word, and that word was country. What can you do for this country? Three-year-old-kid cannot think too much. So, I said right away, on the spot, ‘I will die for the country,’ in English. And Gandhi hugged me and cried. I can’t forget that powerful scene. From three-and-a-half years on, it is in my mind, in my body, in my soul, and that has the highest impact. I am not a patriotic person, but I want to serve the country. That’s it.”
“So, the second word, if you want to ask me, the most important word after country, is ‘serve’. I want to be a servant always, servant to God, servant to the country, servant to somebody, servant to some great friend of mine, servant to hero, I want to serve Sathyamurthy. Not only did I serve, but also a 19- or 20-year older person, Kamarajar, also served here. A lot of things I learned by pure service, unquestionable service. Even folding his shirt, I got a pleasure out of it. Similarly, I served as a chief volunteer in Avadi Congress to the one and only Jawaharlal Nehru. That was in 1955, in Avadi. Some guy by name Captain Perumal was in charge of the volunteer force to be in the house, as a sort of an intelligent assistant. I was doing my bachelors degree from Pudukottai, so I was assigned to serve Jawaharlal Nehru. He was not there completely; whenever he came there, I was there, and Morarji Desai also used to be there. So, again serve is essentially this. People say, you are a leader etc.; no, I am a servant. Service leadership is so transformational.”
And the list of words continues. Below is the inspirational video that opens with the Gandhiji story.
As an entrepreneur, are you able to relate to some of these words? Do you have a list of your own inspiring words, words that mean a lot to you? Feel free to post your ‘words’ and comments.
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