Friday, September 11, 2009

The Thread Of God In My Life

R.M Lala's impressive career spans journalism, publishing, philanthropy and writing books, including the best-selling biography, Beyond The Last Blue Mountain: A Life of JRD Tata. Lala's direct and almost conversational style gives a vivid portrait of the times he has lived through, allowing the reader a glimpse into his intensely personal memories, his experiences, as well his encounters with the personalities who shaped twentieth century India-from J.R.D. Tata to Mother Teresa; from Vinoba Bhave to Morarji Desai.

The book is informed throughout by the author's deep and enduring faith in God, a strength of belief which has supported him through two serious illnesses, healed a broken marriage, taken him from financial adversity to financial security and guided him through four careers over two continents. This moving autobiography illuminates R.M Lala's essential philosophy-the acceptance of what cannot be changed; a positive effort to live by certain standards; and above all, the joy of living in the presence of God.


"I am not important but what has happened to me and what I have learnt from it may be" says the author in his opening words.
"The book has been called 'an autobiography with a difference because it is presented in two parts, the first, is the story of my life and secondly the values I have learnt from it. F.S. Nariman says that the latter part is 'scincilating'."
Some excerpts from Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam's speech:
"When I read the book I found that the book is a book of books. Why I am saying that, bacause you feel every page is scholarly and touches the heart. Many authors appear in the book; many poets appear in the book; many scriptures appear in the book."
"Every page of the book of Russi Lala indeed breathes the spirit of faith, self confidence and hope".
"Throughout the book, the message of Rig Veda is ringing. What is that message? It says: Let not the thread of my song be cut when I sing; Let not my work get over before fulfilment."
" The book continuously shines."
"Russi Lala's book revealed to me: That beauty in the charater is possible and harmony in the soul is possible and order in the nation is possible and peace in the world is also possible, but one thing we need and that is righteousness in the heart."


Books written by R. M. Lala:

· The Creation of Wealth – Tatas from the 19th to the 21st century

· The Heartbeat of a Trust – 60 years of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust

· A Touch of Greatness (Encounters with the Eminent updated and eight personalities added)

· Beyond the Last Blue Mountain – a life of J.R.D. Tata

· Celebration of the Cells – Letters from a cancer survivor

· In Search of Ethical Leadership

· The Joy of Achievement – Conversations with J.R.D. Tata

· For the Love of India – The Life and Times of Jamsetji Tata

· The Romance of Tata Steel – (centenary edition)

Books available at bookshops
Penguin Books India
11 Community Centre
Panchsheel Park
New Delhi 110 017.

Tel: 26494401 - 5


Meet the people profiled in this book who have lived in our or our parents’ lifetime – personalities who demonstrate what one can live for and live by:
Azim Premji –
“Honesty is good for the company. It is good for the customer. It is good for the staff. It is just good business.”

Dr. Banoobai Coyaji –
“People like me are not great people but we are all meant to leave the world just a little better than we find it.”

B. P. Chaliha –
“If the North-East disintegrates, it will be lost to India.”

C. Rajagopalachari –
“Elections and their corruption, injustice and the power and tyranny of wealth and inefficiency of administration will make a hell of life as soon as freedom is given to us. Men will look regretfully back to the old regime of comparative justice, and efficient, peaceful, more or less honest administration. The only thing gained will be that as a race we will be saved from dishonour and subordination.”
Diary 1922.

C. N. Vakil –
“I learnt the art of dealing with students not only in their academic work, but also in their personal lives and career.”

The Dalai Lama –
“I want to be remembered just as a human being – perhaps a human being who laughed often.”

Fr. Henry Heras –
“The history of India is not the history of a nation, it is the history of a continent in which many peoples have been fused together ……. it is the history of a constant desire to seek truth through the centuries, a desire that impelled the sages to withdraw into the forests, that invited kings to renounce their thrones, that dictated to the philosophers such metaphysical ideas as are not to be found in the most renowned civilizations of the ancient world.”

H.T. Parekh –
“Financial corporations should become the springboard for the country’s further development in new areas of social progress.”

Jayaprakash Narayan –
“My interest is not in the capture of power but in the control of power by the people.”

J. B. Kripalani –
“There is no greater courtesy in a man than to be non-violent.”

J. R. D. Tata –
“I do not take myself too seriously.”

K. Kamaraj –
“Regionalism is going up, nationalism is going down.”

K. M. Munshi –
“I have climbed, no doubt strenuously, but laughing, playing, running.”

Lal Bahadur Shastri –
“This is my country’s call, please do not ask me to ignore it.”

Minoo Masani –
“The fight for bread and freedom has of course to be waged simultaneously. We want both for our people – we want bread through freedom because it is the only way to get it.”

Morarji Desai –
“My father’s death when I was fifteen, was also a blessing…. Because I would have never ceased to be a coward if my father had not gone.”

Mother Teresa –
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

M. S. Subbulakshmi –
“Any raga has the purpose of directing the minds of the listeners towards God and his manifestations.”

M. S. Swaminathan –
“People are poor because they have no knowledge or skills. Give them that and they lift themselves from degradation to an honourable existence.”

Nani Palkhivala –
“Surely something is basically wrong with our economic philosophy and political ideology if Indians are able to enrich foreign countries but are not allowed to solve the problem of poverty at home.”

N. R. Narayana Murthy –
“My wife and I want our children to appreciate the importance of simplicity, hard work and money. We do all our household work ourselves – cleaning, washing clothes, shopping.”

Sam Manekshaw –
“I take orders from only two ladies….. my wife and the Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi).”

Sucheta Kripalani –
“Gandhi said if you remain unhappy it will oppress Kripalani; so you must marry someone else.”
Vijay Merchant –
“My philosophy is leant from cricket; the better batsman takes care of the weaker one if your side is to win.”
Vinoba Bhave –
“I know no other technique but love for I do not believe in force.”
Zakir Husain –
“I shall do my utmost to take our people towards what Gandhiji strove restlessly to achieve – a pure life, individual and social, an insistence on the means being pure as the end, an active and sustained sympathy for the weak and downtrodden, and a fervent desire to forge unity among the diverse sections of the Indian people.”

THE CREATION OF WEALTH – The Tatas from the 19th to the 21st Century

Foreword By J.R.D. Tata

Epilogue by Ratan N. Tata

Not many books are in demand a quarter century after its first publication. The Creation of Wealth is. The 4th Edition updates the Tata Story upto over a decade of the stewardship of Mr. Ratan Tata.

There is a difference

between making money

for oneself and creating

wealth for others.

This is the story of a House

that has created wealth for a Nation.

It is the story of struggle,

anxiety, adventure,


An unfinished story…………”

Late Mr. J.R.D. Tata in a Foreword to the book writes:“Books written on the history of large industrial or business concerns usually suffer fro a lack of credibility or reader interest, or both. I am glad that Russi Lala has successfully avoided both these pitfalls. Not only has he narrated the Tata story in a highly readable form which arouses and maintains the reader’s interest in what might have been a dull subject in less skilful hands, but he has brought out into the open important and controversial issues which needed to be clarified in the context of the great changes in thought and attitudes towards the world of industry and business that have taken place in the past fifty years or so, not always for the better.”

The Epilogue by Mr. Ratan Tata concludes:

“I would hope that my successors would never compromise and turn to soft options to meet their ends, and never allow the Tata group to join the growing number of companies in India which have shed their values, forgotten about their integrity, and closed their eyes to maintaining ethical standards. If Mr. J.R.D. Tata was able to uphold the values of the firm and if I have been able to carry on that tradition through my tenure, I hope the future generations in Tatas will recognize these traditions as being critical to the fabric and the fundamentals on which our group was built and grew so successfully for over a century.”

The Commonwealth Lawyer, Journal of the Commonwealth Lawyer’s Association, writes:

“Lala captures the ethos of the Tata business approach with striking vividity. What emerges from the book is a remarkable story of wealth creation for the public which, in our increasingly cynical stage, might yet open a few eyes to the highly beneficial potential of ethical capitalism.

FOR THE LOVE OF INDIA – The Life and Times of Jamsetji Tata

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was born in 1839, and in his lifetime India remained firmly under British rule. Yet the projects he envisioned laid the foundation for the nation’s development once it became independent. More extraordinary still, these institutions continue to set the pace for others in their respective areas. For, among his many achievements are the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, which has groomed some of the country’s best scientists, the Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur, which marked the country’s transition from trading to manufacturing, his pioneering hydro-electric project and the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, one of the finest in the world.

In these as in other projects he undertook, Jamsetji revealed the unerring instinct of a man who knew what it would take to restore the pride of a subjugated nation and help it prepare for a place among the leading nations of the world once it came into its own.

The scale of the projects required abilities of a high order. In some cases it was sheer perseverance that paid off – as with finding a suitable site for the steel project and the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

In “For the Love of India”, R. M. Lala has drawn upon fresh material from the India Office Library in London and other archives, as also personal letters, to portray the man and his age. It is an absorbing account that makes clear how remarkable Jamsetji’s achievement truly was, and why, even now, one hundred years after his death, he seems like a man well ahead of the times.

‘He sought no honour and he claimed no privilege. But the advancement of India and her myriad peoples was with him an abiding passion.’

- The Times of India, 20 May 1904.

‘I will always remember Jamsetji …. as a man who helped a nation believe in itself.’

- Azim Premji

‘Jamsetji changed India’s industrial and economic character.He was a visionary far ahead of his time.’

- N. R. Narayana Murthy


We seem to live at a time of first class problems and second class leadership. The old order has changed yielding place to a far more exacting, insecure, rushed and dangerous world.The importance of right means to achieve the right ends is brought out in this book, from history and biography. Be it Emperor Cyrus, Asoka or Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi.

There are three broad aspects to the study of leadership – of techniques, of behaviour, of motivation. This book concentrates on the last two. Behaviour is normally studied through in-depth analysis of case histories. Mr. R. M. Lala has attempted to study behaviour through brief instances under various themes. Each theme is an aspect of leadership.

The themes covered are:

Communication: Awakening the Hidden Will

Compassion: Beyond Pity

Competence: Difference Between

Courage: “Grace Under Pressure”

Decision-Making: Judgement can be Developed, Not Acquired.

Humility: A Recipe for Success or Failure?

Integrity: Are Ends and Means Separable

Man-Management: Making Others Great

Purpose: “This One Thing I Do”

Stamina: Unremitted Effort Risks Health and Creativity

Teamwork: When Purpose Wakens, Teamwork Falters

Training: Teaching Ten Others

Vision: Beyond the Excitement of the Moment

Conclusion: The Need for a Reference Point

There is a profile of an Ideal Leader: Kim Beazley Sr. who spearheaded the movement for justice for the Australian Aborigines

This is the second edition of the book “In Search of Leadership”. It carries an Appendix on ‘The Business Ethics of J.R.D. Tata’ and a piece on qualities of leadership by Azim Premji.

‘The book not only a great book but an education. We need tall people, high-thinking people and this book by Russi Lala is a fine example of what must be prescribed and taught in high schools and universities’.

- Fali S. Nariman at the book launch of the second edition.