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When son of an istriwala became the Vice President of a billion dollar company

Think Change India
23rd May 2016
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Bikash Chowdhury, the Associate VP of Treasury at JSW Steel grew up on a footpath in Kolkata’s Bhawanipore area. The son of a quintessential ‘istriwala’ (laundryman) who pressed the clothes of the family of Arun Lal, the former Indian cricketer, Bikash was the first in his family to study in an English medium school. Bikash was all of 12 when Debjani, Arun’s wife, offered to help Bikash with the language. Along with the tuition came a glass of refreshing orange squash. “I would go every day to study because she would give orange squash,” Bikash told The Economic Times.

Image : Economic Times
Image : Economic Times

A relationship that started with English intensified. The Lals, who don’t have kids, took Bikash under their wings and guided him to milestones. Bikash, splitting his time between the home of the Lals and his father’s pavement dwelling in Bhawanipore, went on to achieve BCom and MCom, after which he appeared for the CAT. In 2000, Bikash got into IIM Kolkata. Jobs with Deutsche Bank and Credit Agricole followed, including a stint in London for DB.

“I have two sets of parents, Mr Arun Lal and Mrs Lal and the other, my biological parents,” Bikash said. On his part, he has generously expressed his gratitude to the Lals. Bikash gifted the Lals a Mercedes, while he himself drives the relatively modest Volkswagen Vento and Renault Duster.

Bikash also financially aided the Lal family when they wanted to move from an apartment into a bungalow. As the ultimate tribute, Bikash and his wife named their daughter Arunima after Arun. A day earlier before his interview with The Economic Times, Bikash had planted trees. Prior to that, he had fed blind people. On the day of interview, he planned to feed stray dogs.

“I keep telling my wife Kamna that even if I am around 50 per cent of either of my fathers, I would have achieved something. I try daily to do a good deed. I have got a lot and try and give as much as I can,” stated Bikash.

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