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Captain Gopinath shared his experience on how he overcame several hurdles to become a successful entrepreneur in his new book that experts deem ideal for management aspirants, reports Shilpa CB

Shilpa CB

It was an event that celebrated a milestone in an entrepreneurs journey, that of Captain GR Gopinath. The stalwarts of the IT citys business world came out to get the uninitiated curious about the inspiring story of the man who gave wings to a billion Indians. The story is chronicled in his book, Simply Fly: A Deccan Odyssey, which was launched on Saturday.

“This book must go to every single Indian home where a child is being raised today. It is a story of a million possibilities,” said Subroto Bagchi, author, vice chairman and gardener, MindTree Ltd, while speaking on the book. Captain Gopinath succeeded in an environment where many others have failed.

So why is it difficult to start a business in the country? Why is our culture spermicidal to the idea of enterprise, Bagchi asked NR Narayana Murthy, founder chairman and chief mentor, Infosys Technologies. The answers lie in our post-colonial mindset, Murthy replied. “Those who govern, continue to be oppressors. That is the story of every post-colonial country,” he said. However, on a positive note, he added that he was hopeful that things would change in the next 50 years. “Entrepreneurs will face different problems than the ones Captain Gopinath faced in the 80s and 90s,” he said.

Talking warmly about the book itself, fellow author Murthy said, “After reading the book, I felt nice about the world. It gave me a feeling that all is not lost.” He drew the audiences attention to parts of the story that talked about Captain Gopinaths days in a tent when he took to farming, the days he spent on hope. “It made me realise that we have to learn a lot about positivism,” he said. Bagchis question about what made Murthy laugh or agitated was answered with “I took the book very seriously, not as something that will merely evoke laughter.”

Calling the book a “wonderful travelogue”, Pankaj Chandra, director, IIM Bangalore, said that educational institutions should ponder on how they can provide the rich and varied experience that Captain Gopinath had to our children. Terming the story “rural, rugged and robust,” that he read with “a pen in hand and underlining countless lines” Chandra pointed out that Captain Gopinath was able to identify opportunity based on need. “When he was making deals, there were things in it for everybody. He was distributing the benefits,” he said. Gopinath put together the team first and then went about looking for the money, Chandra said recommending the book to management students and MBA aspirants.

The author himself, best known for starting the countrys first low-cost airline, answered questions with a romanticism that belied his struggle. “Have the courage to follow your dream. There is no formula, no golden rule. Live life intensely, be passionate, be compassionate,” he told the audience. While the rich are cynical, the poor are resentful, felt the Captain. “How to get them out of resentment that is almost bordering on hate? The fact is, you can be poor but still be in love with life,” Captain Gopinath said. It is not a book with management lessons, he said, offering reasons for why he could not put down a few points at the end of each chapter, as suggested by the publishers. “It is all about loving life, loving your people,” he said. The book itself is the result of suggestions from people he had met at the countless varsities, conferences and meetings where he was invited to talk about his experience .

Responding to Bagchis question on whether the book is one mans story or the story of a million possibilities, actor Suhasini Maniratnam, who was among the panel members said, “It is not the story of an entrepreneur but the story of a human being. The film Slumdog Millionaire, for me, represented the fearless spirit of India. Similarly, this book reminded me of Motorcycle Diaries.”

Elaborating on an anecdote about the difficulties that Captain Gopinath encountered before opening an Udupi restaurant, she said: “The head cook did not turn up at all but Captain Gopi still managed to run the restaurant. In the book he also adds details about waiters, offering insight into trials of common people.” It is these elements that appealed to her the most, she said.

The story seemed more French than Indian to the award-winning artiste. The actor, cinematographer, screenplay writer admitted to finding the “lyrical” book full of imagery, film-worthy, piquing the interest of the audience in the title. “The first sentence itself would be the climax of the movie.”And who would play the lead role? “Mammooty is middle-aged. Maybe his son, if he has one?”


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