Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata (popularly known as J N Tata and who lived between 1839 to 1904) was one of India’s greatest business-industrialist icons. A patriot, philanthropist, and visionary, he is credited with laying the foundations and largely consolidating the position of Indian Industry and enterprise. It was in the year 1892 that he set up the JN Tata Endowment. The main objective of the endowment was to encourage young people to take up higher studies at some of the best universities in the world. It is the first Tata benefaction in the field of education, and possibly the first of its kind in the world. Persons receiving this loan scholarship are known as ‘Tata Scholars’ and more than 4700 people have been awarded this scholarship till date. It is a matter of pride that I also received this scholarship in 2009 to pursue my Master’s program at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University. Getting the scholarship was something that I can never forget. I had secured admission to Harvard in 2008 but could not go, as I did not have the required funds to do so. Disappointed, I had approached Justice M N Venkatachalliah to seek his advise and he was the one who mentioned to me about the Tata scholarship. It was then that I had applied to the J N Tata Endowment and was happy to learn after my interview with the committee at Mumbai that I had secured the maximum that the Trust gives out. Apart from a loan component, it also included a travel grant and this is what gave me the confidence to set sail to the US. Securing the scholarship was also a matter of joy for a very sentimental reason. It was in the year 1893 that Swami Vivekananda had met J N Tata and inspired him to build a school of science and technology in India. He had later asked the Maharajah of Mysore to grant land for this Center, which is today known as the Indian Institute of Science. Getting a scholarship from an endowment instituted by J N Tata was to me special and I felt that maybe it was pre-ordained too. This year is the 175th birth anniversary of J N Tata and the entire Tata group is celebrating the same. It was in this connection an alumnus meet was organized at Mumbai by the Endowment. This kind of meeting was being organized for the first time and nearly 162 people from around the world had gathered at the Crystal room at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Mumbai. This hotel was also another Institution set up by J N Tata and it was only fitting that the event was being held here. As part of the celebrations, the Endowment had prepared a video titled ‘Lasting Legacies’ and I felt happy that I was one of the six Tata scholars to have been featured on this video. The entire program was very well organized and the different events were seamlessly interspersed amidst a very sumptuous dinner that was served. I was truly overwhelmed and humbled to be here amidst the company of some extraordinary men and women. People who were not only highly qualified but with extraordinary achievements. People like Dr J J Irani, Dr Jayant Narlikar, Dr M R Srinviasan, Dr Renganathan, and Mr Ratan Tata . Being in the presence of and interacting with such extraordinary men and women, of great achievements in different spheres of human endeavour by itself was an intellectual treat. I was also deeply impressed with the humility, the quiet presence and the dignity with which Mr Ratan Tata carried himself. Such a charismatic and special person, that one felt very comfortable in his presence despite he being who he is. I was one of the few people who were asked to speak and share our stories. I spoke last and mentioned about the onerous responsibility of the Tata Scholars in making this world a better place and the speech was very well received and appreciated. It would be no understatement to mention that the 28th of February was not only a special day for me, but has left me with many fond memories of being in the company of truly great and extraordinary men and women. Now I understand that being a Tata scholar is not just a ‘brand’ or a tag that one carries, but the responsibility of being both a global citizen and a humanist in letter and spirit. -Balu
A development activist, public policy advocate, social innovator and leadership trainer
Science, Spirituality, and Service are three pillars that shape our understanding of the world and our role within it. Science, with its empirical methods and logical inquiry, has been instrumental in unravelling the mysteries of the universe. It encourages us to question, observe, experiment, and draw conclusions based on evidence. Spirituality on the other hand, invites us to explore the dimensions beyond the material world. It encourages us to delve into our inner selves and reminds us that there is more to existence than what meets the eye. Service, in its essence, is a profound expression of compassion and empathy.
Despite being the largest democracy with a huge population, Bharat only had a marginal place in Global blocs and alignments. Our voice was hardly heard and usually got crowded out by so called ‘large economies’. The last many years has seen Bharat begin to regain her rightful position in the comity of Nations. Like Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Bharat will occupy her resplendent throne where she rightfully belongs’. Global leadership is not about being a large economy, not about the largest army or the most technologically advanced. It is about being a nation that seeks prosperity with peace, it is about
It is now a little more than 4 decades since i first read the 8 volumes (now they are nine) of ‘The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda’. So much water has flowed under the bridge, so many experiences that have added to my understanding of his message and so much still left in this ever continuous learning journey. Listening to the radio interview today morning (broadcast by Akashavani, Mysore FM 100.6) brought back many of those moments when one keeps doing what one believes is correct. There is a sense of urgency and importance in the actions that are driven