Like all of you, I too was keenly watching the Champion’s Trophy finals between India and Pakistan. Though I learnt that many of my friends lost interest and switched off after losing Virat Kohli’s wicket, I stayed on till the Pak team went around the Oval to acknowledge the cheers of their fans and supporters.
It reminded of an anecdote that happened with me many years ago. I was invited by the Dean of a Polytechnic institute as a Guest of Honour on their Annual Convocation Day. When I went to Dean’s office, he was enthusiastically waiting to receive me. He took me to his chamber where four students of his institute were eagerly waiting to show me the Winner’s Trophy and Certificates that they won in a tech competition. It was heart-warming to notice the spark in their eyes when these diploma students informed with a richly-deserved pride that the team from IIT was the runners up.
At NASSCOM, I travelled to every corner of the country to connect with students as I was enthusiastic about developing new IT-ITeS destinations in the country, and fostering platforms for Industry-academia interactions as I believed, these were the two most critical requirements for the Indian IT industry to maintain its globally advantageous position. I visited even tier III and IV locations like Aurangabad, Sangli and Satara, Trichy, Thrissur, Vellore, Kozhikode, Indore, Raipur, Lucknow, Jorhat in Assam, Rajkot and Surat, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Siliguri and many such towns of India.
I have seen and experienced that these students have two distinct characteristics. They are “angry” and they are “hungry”. They have a common complaint (anger) that despite their potential, there is no consistent and systematic support from the industry, they were unable to utilise start-up / entrepreneurial schemes and its benefits. Their struggle to glory has too many roadblocks. At the same time, they are ‘hungry’. They want to strive hard, absorb every ounce of knowledge and mentoring that they get on their way to success.
When DNA – English Daily News Paper was launched in Mumbai, the hoarding would carry a picture of a young man or a women who with folded arms full of determination, looking into the camera, the caption read – ‘So what if I am not from IIT?’ or ‘So what if I am not from IIM?’ This “So what?” attitude that we could find in the Tier II and III locations, is hard to find in the elite institutions. With three and a half job offers in their pocket, most students of such prime institutions are missing the point of ‘being an entrepreneur’. To me, and as I have said often, a true entrepreneurial spirit is depicted in this couplet –
“falaq ko zid hai jahan bijlee girane ki,
hume bhi zid hai wahin aashiyan banane ki.”
(I am determined to build my castle where the sky has decided to strike its lightening.)
Indian Cricket team had everything that any dream team would desire. They were the defending champions, had the best batting line up, world class seamers and spin bowlers, sharp fielding acumen and a favourable mind-set as they had defeated Pakistan in the first match by a huge margin of 124 runs. Experts had evaluated Oval’s pitch as good for batting, playing conditions were good, Fakhar Zaman could score a century, Hardik Pandya could play at will, Amir, Hasan and Shadab appeared lethal but our formidable batting line-up and bowlers failed to make any impact. There was no passion, no application and no desire to win, unfortunately what appeared was even no regret of loss when we succumbed. As you will recall, Bangladesh was also in a similar situation where their top four batsman were out with individual score of 0, 3, 8 and 14 runs at 4-33 in the 12th over. Then Shakib Al Hasan (114) and Mohammad Mahmudullah (102*) added 224 runs of partnership and the 5th wicket fell on 257 in the 47th over to win the evidently lost game against New Zealand.
When we look at start-ups, sometimes we over-emphasize the educational qualifications and institutions from where the founding teams are, but miss the point to observe and evaluate their “angry kya? Hungry kya?” attitude. Despite the best possible score on the competence index, such start-ups fail to deliver due to their lack of self-belief and application of knowledge with passion….and they are deprived of real hunger to WIN.
To an entrepreneur, I would say –
“woh aur honge jo tujh me dhoondhate hain masumiyat,
hume to dekhana hai, tu kis kadar qaatil hai.”
(they may be others who look for conformity in you, I want to see how disruptive you are!)