Power lessons from an old boy
CHANDREYEE CHATTERJEE July 7: He flew down from London to witness his alma mater spread its wings. The inauguration ceremony of St.Xavier's University in Rajarhat wrapped up, industrialist L. N. Mittal interacted with Xaverians past and present.
Metro attended the session in an amphitheatre- style classroom in the academic block, named The Lakshmi and Usha Mittal Foundation Building in acknowledgement of the generous donation for the wing. Excerpts:
Always a Calcuttan
It is always a great pleasure to come back to Calcutta. I was telling my wife, ami Kolkatar chhele ( I am a Calcutta boy), but I can't speak Bengali as well as my wife. She corrects me whenever I speak incorrect Bengali. Today was a great day for Xavier's. Father Felix Raj and I have been dreaming of this day for some years now.
When we met in London we discussed about this and now it has become a reality.
On behalf of Father Felix Raj, I have asked chief minister Mamata Banerjee for more land. I told her that for our Jaipur institute we've got 100acres, here we have only 17acres. Since she is an honorary Xaverian and comes to Xavier's all the time, you should ask her for more land every time. I met the chief minister today for the first time and I am impressed because she has Bengal in her heart.
That is really important. She does her best and she understands the problems of Bengal.
I have always felt very close to my professors. When I completed my degree and went to collect my mark sheet, Father Joris asked me to teach the first- year students. It was a great moment for me. I am glad and I am sad. I am sad because if I had done that I would be sitting there ( pointing to where Father Felix Raj was sitting). I still feel that I haven't learned enough. If there is any regret I have it is that I haven't studied enough. I still want to study more but that age has passed.
The world is changing. Every day you hear about different kinds of disruptions. And every day our learning is being unlearned because of the disruptions.
We have to continue to learn so that we meet the challenges of disruptions.
Importance of failure
The world is cruel. You see me here as a businessman, employing so many thousand people in so many countries, but you don't see my failures.
For me, my failures are more important that my successes, that's how we learn. You always have to do something better and better. Life is very challenging, don't be discouraged by failure. It is important to put in passion and dedication and hard work, but you also need to do things differently.
I had to work hard to get admission to St. Xavier's. Father Joris was the one who challenged me, for his own reasons.
I was a student from a Hindimedium background and Father Joris did not want to admit me because I didn't speak English and the lessons were all in English. I promised to learn English and keep up with the class. He put me in a class for weaker students. I worked very hard in the first year. I used to study and I also used to work with my father. I remember taking the 5.10am bus from near my house. It would drop me off at the Park Street crossing at 5.35am and I would walk to college. Once I finished, I would go home, take a shower, go to the office and work with my father. There was one thing at the back of my mind — I had to prove to Father Joris that he had not made a wrong decision.
I am not a powerful man ( on being asked by a student how it felt to be on the Forbes list of the world's most powerful men). It is all a myth. You and I, there is no difference. The difference is in our responsibilities.
If you become a housewife, you become the most powerful person in the house.
If you are running a global business, you are responsible for so many people, you touch their lives. If you are a class leader, you become the most powerful leader in the class.
Power does not come just like that. It comes with your own deeds and by your own leadership, and your own choice in how you influence others.
Unless you think differently you will not be successful. You need to take risks, but the risks cannot be uncalculated ones. You need to differentiate yourself from your peers or you will never stand out.