Noted author and corporate guru Gurcharan Das (79) enlightened a largely college-going audience and a mix of middle-aged and senior citizens with his lessons from life.
Das spoke on the topic “Don’t just make a living, make a life!” at the International Centre Goa (ICG) on Tuesday morning. The event was jointly organised by Bika Utsav and the International Centre Goa.
Das began his talk by conducting a “thought experience” where he asked his audience to imagine they had just three weeks to live and asked them how they would live it. Das said, “It is important to ask ourselves, what the purpose of our life is, all the time.”
Das said that he was very fortunate to get a scholarship to study at the prestigious Harvard University in the USA at the age of 17, graduating with a degree in philosophy.
According to Das, the USA has a very good liberal education system, and he was introduced to subjects as varied as theatre, economics, Western classical music and philosophy.
Championing the need for education in the liberal arts in India, Das said that subjects like philosophy, psychology and literature ensured you had a life, while engineering, medicine and law only got you jobs.
“My father encouraged me to get a life, while my mother insisted on me getting a job and make a living,” Das added.
Das explained how the pressure of making a living forced him to join the company Proctor and Gamble as a sales trainee, selling medicines for cough and cold.
“However, even in my early 20s, I started writing plays and stories on the weekends, thanks to my father’s encouragement. This sowed the seeds of my present-day, writing career,” Das said.
Das was managing director (strategic planning) at the Procter and Gamble world headquarters at the relatively young age of 50 when he decided to quit and become a full-time writer.
“India had recently got liberalised, and I was extremely excited to support this movement,” Das said.
Das also narrated the fascinating story of his mentor Kamble, who was a Marathi speaking matriculate from a small village. Kamble joined Procter and Gamble as a security guard.
However, on the strength of his hard work, willingness to learn, high-level of integrity and cheerfulness, Kamble rose to the position of director at Procter and Gamble.
“Kamble’s biggest strength was his childlike fervour and passion. I learnt a lot from this man,” Das said.