15th June 2017, the day of my 17th birthday and I received a gift which rarely anyone of my age could even think of. I was given the opportunity to meet Mr. Ratan Tata, the most “humane industrialist” world has ever seen.
A month back I had been introduced to him through my speech at Seven Hills Hospital to commemorate 23rd Genocide Day Kwibuka. The speech was on my visit to Rwanda last September to study the genocide that took place in 1994 and its survivors. After hearing the speech, from one of my mom’s patient Mr. Vitin Karkera who works closely with Mr. Tata, he immediately decided that he wants to meet and know me personally. He also made it a point that we spoke for a while before meeting face-to-face and then I was invited as soon as my exams got over.
Ever since I knew that I will be meeting Mr Tata in the future, one thing all legends on him held common was that he is crazy on punctuality. This was one of the reason we were at his office at 11.20 even though it is an Indian thing to reach late everywhere. The time slot given to us was from 11:50am to 1pm. To my surprise, he remembered that my exams were getting over on the 8th of June and so obviously our meeting started with him asking how my grades were.
We spoke for about 1 hour 15 minutes and I believe he completely opened new opportunities for me. He respected my passion and didn’t think of me as a “16 year old” but rather as “someone with incredible and admirable passion at a young age”. This is when I realised who I was really talking to.
He asked me what i wanted to do in future and i told i him that for now i want to major in general biology and then minor in economics. He was quite surprised because he has heard on biology with maths (bioinformatics) and biology with physics (bioengineering) but not of biology with economics…yet.
I realised that the problem of scarcity arises because of our inefficiency of upscaling production, and equal distribution. There shouldn’t be any reason for people living in drought conditions to have a sudden income drop to zero when we can grow tomatoes without water. income drop is one of the reasons for the increase in sugarcane farmer suicide in Marathawada. While respecting my opinions, he subtly warned to not believe everything i read in the media: stories are from third perspective and hence are never complete. According to him the farmer suicide is more because of social conditions than the drought situation. The social pattern is what primarily needs to change for the benefit of a common man.
Our world is a beautiful place but also a world that is filled with mystery, and with mystery comes intentions. HIV positive men rapped normal women during the Rwandan Genocide as passing on HIV and getting infected with AIDS would mark the end of their race. African continent is more than just “heart of darkness” as described by Joseph Conrad but people fail to realise how fast these nations have recovered after a series of imaginable stories of the past. Mr. Tata agreed that people need to learn the art of changing perspectives.
He warned me than in future there will be many who will resist the change I want to make so I need to have the courage to stand up for what I think. Standing up doesn’t mean being loud, it requires skills to crawl into ones mind like a worm and implant the idea and making it grow. He promised to watch over me until I bring the two areas of Biology and Economics together as a new area of interest and new area of development. He said he would help me in whichever way possible and I cant wait to work with him!
Neysa Sanghavi – ‘Pura Vida’ Pure Life
Student IBDP 11, Singapore International School
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