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Thursday, 28 May 2015

History!

(Statutory Warning: History wasn't made in a day. Neither can it be written in 400 words. Indulge me!)

Part I

My hands shook. A shiver ran down my spine as I signed the documents without the usual flourish. The deed was done and the company was now my baby. As I shook hands with it erstwhile 'owners' I suddenly remembered Tobay Maguire mouthing "With great power comes great responsibility"! A smile escaped me as I recollected the difficult hand that fate had dealt me, "No power, only great responsibilities"!

My father had started the company a few decades ago. Despite the cliche, it was a story of rags-to-riches. A poverty stricken school dropout who pushed ice candy vehicle to make both ends meet, through hard work, determination and a dose of luck ended up creating one of the largest and well respected ice cream companies in the region. As often is with the mollycoddled children of self made men, I had no enthusiasm to assist him in the business or succeeding him on the same. Despite his objections, I packed locks, stocks and barrels to peruse my heart around the globe promising never to return. As often is with self made men who have achieved whatever they wanted to and retire to sedate life, my father leased out the company to a prominent businessman in the city and entered into a virtual sanyasam.

Nothing enthused me to look back in life or the home I had left behind and nothing could. Or so I thought. Till one day I was summoned back by my frantic cousin upon the unfortunate murder of my recluse father. Even the bohemian in me could not stop me from returning home. A son after all has to perform his father's kriya-karam. At least that's what the religion said so. However what prompted my journey back home more was the intrigue behind the murder of someone who had no enemies; nay couldn't have any enemies. Not my father! As I boarded the flight the only thoughts I had was to lay my father to eternal rest and to get to the bottom of the mystery and bring the culprits to justice.

The first part was easily done albeit among tears that I thought I was incapable of shedding. The second part was however a nightmare. Like a thriller novel or a Bollywood potboiler, the more I learnt about the murder the less I knew about the truth. From corrupt policemen to professional mercenaries. Greed, double-cross, threats, money power, muscle power, political interference. I encountered everything.

The lessees had double crossed my father. The lease of the Ice Cream factory was nothing but an excuse to usurp the prime factory land for profiteering by diversifying into real estate. The existing and thriving business was first drained of its equity. Product quality was sacrificed. Productions was gradually reduced. Payments to suppliers of raw material were delayed leading many to go bankrupt. Customer complaints fell to deaf ears. Even as the once robust business was being bled to death, its workers reduced to penury, the lessors kick started the plans to develop the factory compound into a township. Excellent public relation skills backed with greasing of the palms that mattered ensured them the bragging rights of being knights in shining armour! Till they came face to face with the hitch, my father. He was still the owner of the company! Nothing could progress on the diversification front without his consent. When requests, allurements and threats proved futile, a plan was hatched to murder him and do business instead with his bohemian son, me!

While nothing could finally be pinned on any of the perpetrators or their sponsors, a long and messy legal skirmish later, I rightfully got back the ownership of the company, with its dwindling assets and mounting liabilities, further compounded by the terms of settlement with the lessors to vacate.

Part II

The only overriding theme of the next few month is best summarized in two words: NO MONEY! No money to pay the suppliers, no money to pay the workers, no money to modernize the factory, no money to produce, no money to revamp the brand, no money to win back the customers, no money to fight the competition! Impatient suppliers threatening to sell the company's assets to recover their dues, immature albeit impoverished workers threatening to go on strike for their rights, carpetbaggers hovering around in the vicinity to profit from misery and destructively selfish competition indulging in below the belt warfare to expand their new found turf. As the situation threatened to turn turtle, my cousin dived headlong into the cesspool to bail me out, to assist me, to save me. My Cousin! My partner, my brother-in-arms, my saviour! As I got down to first rescue and then resuscitate the factory, the product, the production, the building blocks of the business, He managed the warring workers, the greedy suppliers and the nasty competition. Together we set about to bring back the company to its pristine glory. Together we invested every minute of our time, every unit of energy and every penny we had as mortgage to raise capital from banks as well as shylocks.

Gradually the wheels started turning. A new plant replaced the earlier ruins. Fancy variants were dumped and the core products which acted as food supplements given a fillip. Impromptu tactics were dumped for long term organized growth. Innate suppliers were given the confidence to invest in the company not for immediate profits but for life long gain. The need for mutual cooperation for immediate survival and a promise of future prosperity rallied the workers around. Responsible and meritorious candidates were identified, promoted and the market was approached with a single minded determination to win back the customers, consumers and market share. However just when things seemed to have turned for the better tragedy struck. My partner, my brother, my right hand died!

If there was a time to cry, this was not that time. Not beyond the two tears shed in private. The world couldn't be allowed to see me in distress, shouldn't be. Not when the dark clouds were still surrounding us. Confidence should not be allowed to deflate. Confidence of the workers, the investors, the customers, the stake holders! I buried my anguish and dived headlong again into troubled waters. I now had to complete the journey that we had started together. Alone! And I must reach the destination. For me and for him, for us!! I tried to double up for him too. I sincerely tried. I was successful sometimes and not so on others. But I kept trying, kept plugging.

As years rolled by things gradually started to improve for the company. Gone were the initial years of self doubts, the fear of failure, the clouds of total disintegration and  demise. Replaced as it was with a confidence of a survivor graduating to that of a winner. Reinforced was the sense of belonging, of ownership. Belts were tightened for the long haul. Temporary setbacks taken into strides and every success cherished and celebrated. New milestones replacing the ones achieved earlier. Though the company still has miles to go, as I bid good bye to this world, I go in peace. I know I have laid the foundation for the generations to follow. To build an impregnable company which will bring prosperity, security and happiness to everyone associated with it. Despite warts and glitches that we will continue to come across, the fundamental values of the company are in safe hands, its stake holders!


Part III

Long years ago we made the tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge........... At the stroke of midnight while the world sleep, India will awake to life and freedom!...... My hands shook. A shiver ran down my spine as I signed the documents without the usual flourish. The deed was done and the company was now my baby......

Indian nationalism is the nationalism of an idea of an ever-ever land, emerging from an ancient civilization, shaped by a shared history by pluralistic democracy....... My father had started the company a few decades ago.....

In 1612, James I instructed Sir Thomas Roe to visit Mughal Emperor Jahangir to arrange a commercial treaty that would give the company exclusive rights......The mission was highly successful.......... my father leased out the company to a prominent businessman in the city.......

The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company on 23, June, 1757. The Battle established the Company rule in Bengal which expanded over much of India..........The lessees had double crossed my father. The lease of the Ice Cream factory was nothing but an excuse to usurp the prime factory land for profiteering by diversifying into real estate.......


thriving business was first drained of its equity

The Indian Independence Act 1947 received Royal assent on 18 July, 1947 India came into being on 15 August..... a long and messy legal skirmish later, I rightfully got back the ownership of the company.....

The Partition of India led to the creation of Pakistan.......further compounded by the terms of settlement with the lessors to vacate......

On 22 October 1947, Muslim tribal militias and irregular Pakistani forces crossed the border of the state.........carpetbaggers hovering around in the vicinity to profit from misery and destructively selfish competition indulging in below the belt warfare to expand their new found turf.........

Sardar Patel will be remembered as a great captain of our forces as a tower of strength which revived wavering hearts.......And just when things seemed to have turned for the better tragedy struck. My partner, my brother, my right hand died.......

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION...... I buried my anguish and dived again headlong into troubled waters. I now had to complete the journey that we had started together. Alone! And I must reach the destination. For me and for him, for us........

Since 1947, the Indian economy has been premised on the concept of planning. This has been carried through the Five-Year Plans, developed, executed, and monitored by the Planning Commission.....  Impromptu tactics were dumped for long term organized growth........

      A new plant replaced the earlier ruins!
meritorious candidates were identified!

He spoke to the doctors who attended on him for a brief while and almost immediately Nehru collapsed. He remained unconscious until he passed away. His death was announced to Lok Sabha at 14:00 local time on 27 May 1964......Though the company still has miles to go, as I bid good bye to this world, I go in peace. I know I have laid the foundation for the generations to follow........

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PS:Those were extraordinary times! They were extraordinary men. Extraordinary yes, but men nonetheless!

Glossary:
Sanyasam : Renunciation
Kriya-karam : Last rites.



8 comments:

  1. That's a wonderful piece ! A perfect analogy blending fiction with history and contemporary Nation.
    Kudos mate, need more fiction from you - more often!
    Guess you are too good at long reads, and need to do more of them!

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  2. Thanks Mate. Will try to make "Your wish is my command"! Thanks for the help too!

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  3. whoa!!! what an imagination... what an analogy? very unique!!

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  4. great piece, you should do much more

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  5. Well written.. great finishing.. Keep it up

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  6. Impressive ...you getting better with every post looking forward to your next cheers

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  7. Awesome script. Well done. Looking forward for more

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  8. Wow! Awesome writing. . .great fiction. I forgot that your posts will have a twist in the end. Completely enjoyed reading it. :-) keep writing!!

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