satya nadella

Horlicks or Bournvita? What did Satya Nadella drink as a child?

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The entire last week has gone to Satya Nadella, despite headline-creating Arvind Kejriwal and the headline-hungry media. Although Satya Nadella, along with Sundar Pichai, has been creating a flutter for quite some time, the euphoria hit a crescendo the moment Satya Nadella’s anointment was announced.

I read with considerable interest the news headlines proclaiming that Jamshedpur MP Dr. Ajay Kumar has congratulated his school-mate Satya Nadella on his being appointed as the new CEO of tech-giant Microsoft. And also that he intends to invite him to Jamshedpur to promote IT sector as well as to inspire young people.

In ordinary circumstances, the proclamation would have seemed to be a clever name-dropping exercise. But the circumstances were not ordinary. Satya Nadella had suddenly made his alma mater Hyderabad Public School a household name in the country. And now we know that Dr. Ajay Kumar too shares his alma mater with him. A hero in his own rights, especially in Jamshedpur, Dr. Ajay Kumar has every right to be happy about this. However, thanks to legendary non-governance in Jharkhand, the IT sector is non-existent in Jamshedpur. Satya Nadella would find it difficult to come up with an appropriate advice to promote IT sector in the city.

In India, we love to create stories about every successful man or woman. So everyone was trying to know the stories associated with this new icon. Where was he schooled? Which college did he go to? What were his achievements? Which state he came from?

In our country, success has always had many fathers. And failure none. But despite the hype being generated here, the fact remains that Satya Nadella’s success has not much to do with India.

It owes everything to the country and the system that has allowed him to excel and pursue his dreams as a technocrat and as a leader. And I fully agree with veteran journalist R Jagannathan when he writes: “If Satya Nadella had remained in India, he would probably be working as a coder in Infosys or TCS. Earning a high salary no doubt, but an unlikely candidate for CEO.”

In a country where merit is always given a short-shrift, while other considerations take precedence, it is very difficult to do what you want to do and to do it the way you want to do. While we should be happy about a fellow Indian’s stupendous success, we should focus more on creating a system that would churn out such leaders in our country too.

Satya Nadella’s family is humble enough to downplay his feat. As reported in the media, his father did not like the hoopla being created around his son’s latest success. However, we do not care much about his nonchalance. We would continue to create stories around him. And, at the same time, we would continue to ignore the shortcomings that make our system completely incapable of producing Satya Nadellas on our own soil.

Being Indians,  we are still trying to draw the wrong lesson from Satya Nadella’s success. While the US continues turning ordinary citizens and migrants into real achievers, we are busy in trying to know which caste he belongs to.

And don’t be surprised if  someone comes out with a news-story revealing whether, as a child, Satya Nadella drank Horlicks or Bournvita.

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