Archive for the ‘Icons’ Category

A detailed profile of Geet Sethi: the dominant player of English Billiards and notable Snookers player of India

Name: Geet Siriram Sethi
Birth: 17th April 1961 at Delhi
Family Status: Married to wife Kiran, has two children: daughter Jazz and son Raag
Education: Studied at St. Xavier’s School, Ahmedabad

  • BA from St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad
  • MBA from BK School of Management

Works for: Tata Oil Mills as the Manager


Start: At the members’ table – Managing Committee of the Gujarat Sports Club, Ahmedabad
Inspiration: Satish Menon, a very successful Billiards player of the time


1979: Won both the Junior National Billiards Championship and Junior National Snooker Championship
1982: Created a double in the National Billiards, when he won the Junior National Doubles Billiards Championship and defeated Michael Ferreira to win the Senior National Billiards title
1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988: Won both the Indian National Billiards Championship and Indian National Snooker Championship
1997 and 2007: Won the Indian National Billiards Championship again
2008: Runner Up in the Indian National Billiards Championship and entered the Top-16 Round in the Indian National Snooker Championship



1984: Won the International Snooker Professional-cum-Amateur Championship in England & the International Billiards Amateur Championship in Windsor
1985, 1987 and 2001: Won the IBSF World Billiards Championship 
1986: Won the Asian Billiards Championship
1989: World Amateur Snooker semi-finalist‚ Asian Snooker Championship number 3
1992, 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2006: Grabbed the World Professional Billiards Championship
1996, 2003, 2005 and 2008: Runner Up in the World Professional Billiards Championship
1998: Double Gold Medal at the Bangkok Asian Games collaborated with Ashok Shandilya
2002: Busan Asian Games – won a Silver Medal in the Doubles event and a Bronze Medal in the Singles event
2006: Bronze Medal in the Doubles event at the Doha Asian Games in partnership with Ashok Shandilya. Also, won the USA Senior Team Snooker Championship in partnership with Devendra Joshi and BVS Moorthy
2007: Won the Irish Open Billiards Championship and a Silver Medal at Indoor Asian Games English Billiards tournament
2008: Won the English Billiards Open Series held at Prestatyn, Wales and finished as a Runner Up in the World Pro Billiards Championship held at Leeds


  • Winner of eight World titles including five World Professional and three IBSF World Billiards Championships
  • Featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first amateur in the world to compile the maximum 147 break in Snooker in 1989 at National Snooker Championships held at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
  • Made a break of 1276 in the 1992 World Professional Billiards Championship, a World Record. This is the highest world championship break of the last 50 years
  • Padma Shri (1986)
  • Arjuna Award (1986)
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (1992-93)
  • KK Birla Sports Foundation Award 1993


  • Co-founder of Olympic Gold Quest, a program of Foundation for Promotion of Sports and Games
  • Authored a book ‘Success v/s Joy

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From being a University dropout, to having his own University, Gautam Adani is the first billionaire from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. We have heard of success stories of people with the highest degrees, hierarchy of business, monetary power or a healthy circle of friends and family. But if we observe keenly, the supreme success stories are tagged ‘rags to riches’. Similar is the story of Gautam Adani, the 6th richest person in India, with a personal wealth of US $10 billion.


Gautam Adani was born to a Gujarati Jain family of Shantaben and Shantilal Adani on 24 June 1962, in Ahmedabad. The family had migrated to the city from the smaller place called Tharad in northern Gujarat, in search of means to earn a decent living for their eight children. Needless to say, the monetary situation was very tight. Gautam had a few hundred rupees on hand at the age of 18, when he set out to the land of dreams, Mumbai in search of a living.

Gautam was a student of Seth CN Vidyalaya and later dropped out of the Gujarat University, where he was pursuing second year for his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. He started his career as a diamond sorter at Mahindra Brothers in Mumbai. After working for two years, Gautam set up his own diamond brokerage unit at Zaveri Bazaar, the biggest jeweler market of the city. It was here that he earned his first lakh.


In 1981, one year later, his elder brother Mansukhbhai, bought a plastics unit in Ahmedabad and asked Gautam to run it. This marked his advent in the field of global trading as he started importing polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a key raw material for manufacturing plastics.

After the economic liberalization in India, the import duty on various goods was slit. This had a positive impact on the profits of Adani Exports, then the flagship company of Gautam Adani. Today, the Adani Group has transformed into a multibillion-dollar business empire. Under the leadership of Gautam Adani, the Group has emerged as a diversified Energy and Logistics conglomerate with interests in Power Generation & Transmission, Coal Trading & Mining, Gas Distribution, Oil & Gas Exploration, along with Ports, Special Economic Zones et al. The Group also runs the Adani Foundation, started in 1996 as a part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The foundation is involved in various activities such as rural development, education and health.

Today, the flagship of his Rs 27,000-crore empire, Adani Enterprises Ltd., has been rated among the 50 top performing Asian companies by Forbes magazine. His three listed companies – Adani Enterprises, Adani Power and Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone have a combined market capitalization that places the group among India’s top 10 business houses.
Listed by the Forbes in March 2011, Gautam Adani is also the proud owner of two private jets – a Beech craft jet purchased in 2005 and a Hawker purchased in 2007.


Gautam is happily married to Mrs. Priti Adani, a dentist by profession. She heads the Adani Foundation as the managing trustee. The couple has two sons, the elder one, Karan Adani, is 20 years of age and the younger one, Jeet Adani, is 10 years of age. The elder son is presently pursuing his Business Studies in Management at the Purdue University, USA.
Adani Group has been a generous contributor to Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). Also, Gautam has proximity to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. It was speculated that Adani bid for the Ahmedabad franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament at Modi’s urging, though the bid failed.


Gautam Adani is an icon of unwavering focus and continuous learning. He has set up milestones in his journey towards a strong and energy-sufficient India. Gautam has proved that the best learning comes from the most unconventional real-life situations, where everyone has to learn to first survive before achieving success.

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First Chief Minister of Gujarat, pioneer of Medical Education in India, pioneer of Hospital Organization in India, personal doctor to Gandhiji – Dr. Jivraj Mehta. He was the architect of not only his own life, but he lent a new direction to the medical science of India.


Jivraj Narayan Mehta was born on 29th August 1887 in Amreli, a small town in Saurashtra in Gujarat. His family struggled to make two ends meet. But this could not obstruct the goals and the spirit of Dr. Mehta. This spirit was further shored up, thanks to the strong influence of his grandmother, a woman of drive and determination, and to the encouragement of his schoolteacher Apte Sahib. He often studies under the streetlights. He also gave tuitions to supplement the family income.
Dr. Mehta took up medicine with the inspiration from Dr. Eduljee Rustomji Dadachandjee, a civil surgeon in Amreli. He secured admission into the Grant Medical College and Sir J.J. Hospital, Bombay. His medical education was sponsored by the Seth VM Kapol Boarding Trust. He was also endowed with the Jamkhande scholarship -a scholarship that was reserved for the poorest of the freshly admitted students.
Dr. Mehta topped his class in medicine. In his final year, he won seven of the eight prizes open to his batch and shared the eighth prize with his hostel roommate Kashinath Dikshit. He further, acquired a prestigious fellowship from the Tata Education Foundation and pursued masters from London Hospital Medical College. Mehta lived from 1909 to 1915 in London. He was the president of the Indian Students Association in London where he studied medicine and did his FRCS there. He was a junior doctor in the Out-Patients Department of The London Hospital before working in The London Hospital Pathological Institute as Pathological Assistant. He won University gold medal in his MD examinations in 1914. Later, in 1915 he had been made a member of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians of London.


Following his British education, he returned to India and entered into private practice that was quite rewarding. After leaving London, Dr Mehta returned to India, where he married Hansa, kin to the Diwan of Baroda. Meanwhile, he came in touch with Gandhiji and served as his personal doctor. He served many positions like:

  • The first ‘Dewan’ (Prime Minister) of the erstwhile Baroda state in free India, sworn-in on September 4, 1948
  • Director General of health services
  • Secretary to the Ministry of health
  • Minister of public works, finance, industry and prohibition for the then province of Bombay
  • First Chief Minister of the newly formed Gujarat state from April 1960 to September 1963
  • Indian high commissioner to the United Kingdom (1963–66)


Dr. Jivraj Mehta was the founder-architect of Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College and King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. He devotedly served the cause of these institutions in the unenviable post of their first Dean over an eventful period of 18 years (1925-42). He was thrice elected president of the All India Medical Congress and president of the Indian Medical Association.
Dr Mehta’s suggestions, based on his London Hospital experiences, for the organization of the new hospital were radically different from the traditional design of teaching hospitals in India, where each department tended to be located in isolated blocks. He suggested that the whole medical college be housed in one building, encouraging co-operation between different departments. Also at Dr Mehta’s suggestion, the KEM Hospital was the first in India to have the Out-patients Department housed within the main hospital building. Here the first heart transplant and the birth of the first test-tube baby in India were to take place and the medical school became one of the most successful in India.

When Dr. Jivraj Mehta died in 1977, aged 91, a hospital in Ahmedabad was named after him.

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Karsanbhai Patel – the man who shattered all the business theories, to rewrite new ones. He is the legendary behind the hugely successful brand, Nirma. He is the driving force behind a large number of companies and institutions in India under this banner.


Dr. Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel was born in 1945, into a farmer family from Ruppur, Mehsana, North Gujarat. At the age of 21, he completed his B.Sc in Chemistry. Karsanbhai started his career with the New Cotton Mills of the Lalbhai Group, in Ahmedabad, as a lab technician. He later joined the Geology and Mining Department of the State Government.


Karsanbhai started Nirma as an after-office business in the backyard of his house in 1969. The name came from his daughter Nirupama’s name. Nirma was a benchmark.

• The detergent was phosphate free.

• The packs were handmade.

• They were delivered at the doorstep by Karsanbhai, on his bicycle while going to his work place, which was 17 km from his home.

• They were sold for Rs. 3 per kg, which was one-third of the then least priced popular detergents.

• Even at this price, he managed to give a money back guarantee with every pack that was sold!

• The detergent was environment friendly too.

• The process of detergent production was labor intensive and this gave employment to a large number of people.

Also, the story of Nirma has become a classic marketing case study. Karsanbhai identified a massive market segment that was starving for a good-quality detergent at an affordable price. Nirma became a huge success. During that time, the domestic detergent market was limited only to the premium segment and there were very few companies, mainly the MNCs, which were into this business. And so, Karsanbhai could successfully target the lower and middle income groups.


It was after three long years that Karsanbhai felt confident enough to quit his job for the further development of Nirma. He set up a shop at a small workshop in an Ahmedabad suburb. Later he said: “The lack of any such precedent in my family made the venture fraught with fear of failure. But farmers from North Gujarat are known for their spirit of enterprise.”
And within a decade, Nirma was the largest selling detergent in India. It gave the bigger established brands like Unilever and Procter & Gamble, a run for their money and soon occupied the top market share. In the 1980s, Nirma moved ahead of Surf, a detergent by HLL, a giant in the field.

After establishing its footprints in the economy-priced detergents, Nirma entered the premium segment, launching toilet soaps: Nirma bath & beauty soaps and a premium detergent, Super Nirma. The company also ventured into shampoo and toothpaste, but were not as successful. On the other hand, the edible salt Shudh is doing well.

Nirma beauty soap is one of the leading toilet soaps, behind Lifebuoy and Lux. Overall Nirma has a 20% market share in soap cakes and about 35% in detergents. The company got listed on the stock exchanges in the year 1994.

Today, Nirma has entered the neighboring countries’ markets as well. In the national market, Nirma’s soaps and detergents sell through two million retail outlets. In 2004, it expanded into pharma by acquiring an IV fluid factory in Ahmedabad. The company also acquired US based Searles Valley Minerals to become one of the top producers of soda ash in the world.
Karsanbhai’s two sons and his son-in-law are now at leading positions in the Nirma organization.


Along with being a noted businessman, Karsanbhai is a philanthropist as well. He has established one of the premier institutions of higher learning in Gujarat, the Nirma University of Science & Technology in 2003. Apart from this, Nirma Education & Research Foundation (NERF) that came up in 1994, runs these various educational institutes. Nirma has also set up Nirma labs in 2004, which prepares aspiring entrepreneurs to face different business challenges effectively. Nirma also runs Nirma Memorial Trust, Nirma Foundation and Chanasma Ruppur Gram Vikas Trust as a part of their efforts of a socially responsible corporate citizen.


On this path to success, Karsanbhai has won himself many accolades, along with people’s acceptance and love.

• Padma Shri Award for the year 2010.
• In 2001, Karsanbhai was awarded an honorary doctorate by Florida Atlantic University.
• In 1990, the Federation of Association of Small Scale Industries of India (FASII), New Delhi, awarded him the ‘Udyog Ratna’.
• The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce has felicitated him as an ‘Outstanding Industrialist of the Eighties’.
• He has served twice as Chairman of the Development Council for Oils, Soaps and Detergents.

The company that started as a one-man-army, today employs more than 15000 people, has a turnover of more than $ 500 million, sales as high as 800000 tonnes and the man’s net worth as per Forbes in 2005 was $ 640 million.

Challenging established multinationals needs extreme courage and to win in the long run needs foresight and skills. Karsanbhai has fulfilled this challenge and he made the multinationals to follow Nirma and introduce substitutes such as Wheel. He is a man to be followed. He teaches us a lesson that entrepreneurs can build their empire on gut feeling too, rather than just following the classical patterns taught in business schools.

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Posted: November 18, 2011 in Icons, The NamoLeague Times
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137 years down the memory lane, his life and work are still alive in people’s hearts. Sursinhji Takthasinhji Gohel – A renowned Gujarati poet known by the pen-name of Kalapi, meaning a peacock, needs no introduction.

Kalapi was born to a royal family in Lathi – Gohilwad of Amreli district in Saurashtra. He lived a very short but inspirational life of 26 years. He was born on 26th January, 1874 and expired on 9th June, 1900. He had his primary and secondary education with English medium at Raj Kumar College. He was sent to England but returned back within a year. Kalapi was handed over the kingdom when he turned 21.

Kalapi was a follower of The Swaminarayan Sampraday founded by Lord Swaminarayan.

Kavi Kalapi’s personal life reflects his intense love story that was the ultimate reason behind his poetry and romanticism.

At the age of 15 years, he was married to two princesses – Rajba-Ramaba, the princess of Kach-Roha and the second was Kesharba-Anandiba, the princess of Saurashtra-Kotada. Ramaba was elder to him by 8 years, while Anandiba by 2 years. The twist came at the age of 20 years, when Kalapi realized his love for Monghi called as Shobhna. She was a maid who had come along with Ramaba when she got married and then stayed back in Lathi to serve her. She was smart, beautiful and innocent. She would keenly listen to Kalapi’s poems and showed deep interest in literature. All these caught Kavi Kalapi’s attraction. He gave his heart to Shobhna when she was just 12-13 years old.

Kalapi could never love his wives. But at the same time, he never stepped back from his duties of a husband. His love for Shobhna led to many differences and he constantly had to face the conflicts with his heart, mind, love, laws and responsibilities and to add to that, Ramaba’s deceptions. Ramaba tried her best to separate the lovers. Kalapi was even sent away to Bombay on the pretext of state business.

However, Shobhna remained the inspiration and topic of his love and inspired him to write innumerable stanza in praise of her beauty and their marital separation.

Kalapi’s life is the greatest example that nothing can be a barrier. He lived for a short span of 26 years, but it was enough for him to earn the admiration of the people for his poetry. He has penned down 259 soul stirring poems including 15,000 verses.

Apart from poems and verses, he has also given a number of prose writing. His 900 letters to his friends and wives help the readers peep into his personal life. He not only used Gujarati language as a medium to elaborate his own creation but also translated English novels to Gujarati. Kalapi was also an avid reader. He had read more than 500 books in Gujarati, English, Farsi and Sanskrit.

Kavi Kalapi has also written poems in various Chhands of Gujarati language. Mandakranta, Shardulvikridit, Shikharini etc. were the foremost. He is the only Gujarati poet to write the maximum number of poems in these Chhands. Even today, his work is smooth, lovely to sing and unmatched.

Kavi Kalapi was an inspiration to many budding poets of his time. They were the ones who carried forward his style of writing. The most prominent example was Kavi Lalitji, who was about the same age as Kalapi, and already an established poet. He was deeply influenced by Kalapi when he was invited as a tutor for the royal children of the Lathi Darbar. Kavi Lalitji later became the Rajya Kavi of Lathi.

The most striking point is that all these creations, reading, study and achievements were packed by him during the period of his age from 16 years to 26 years i.e. in a span of just 10 years.

After Kavi Kalapi confessed his love for Shobhna, things were torn between his relations. When he was forcefully sent to Bombay, Shobhna went missing. He could never find out the whereabouts of the love of his life. For many years, he wrote letters and poems in her memory. It was rumored that Kalapi’s death was scammed by his own wife, Ramaba. It was not an accidental death but due to poisoning.

Kalapi was an excellent poet in Saurashtra’s history, and will always remain the glory of Gujarat.

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Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, popularly known as KS Ranjitsinhji or Ranji was regarded as one of the finest batsmen of all times. He was the Jamsaheb of Nawanagar and represented India on the League of Nations after the First World War in 1920. In 1932, he became the Chancellor of the Indian Chamber of Princes. He was knighted in 1917, 1919 and 1923. One of the greatest tributes to Ranjitsinhji is the National championship in India, Ranji Trophy that is named after him, though he never played for India. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala initiated the tournament in the year 1935.


Ranji was born on 10th September, 1872 at Sarodar in Gujarat. He belonged to a royal family and his clan, the Jadejas, was that of the Kshatriya rulers and warriors. Jadejas are said to be descendents of Lord Krishna.

He was educated at the Rajkumar College in Rajkot and then at the Trinity College, Cambridge University in 1891. Though Ranji could not gain the degree, he acquired a reputation in the field of cricket, wherein he had no experience of playing an organized game.


He was named ‘Black Prince of the Cricketers’. Ranji started playing first-class cricket for the Cambridge University and gained a cricket ‘blue’ in 1893. Later, he moved on to play county cricket for Sussex, after he completed his academics. His first county match was at the Lord’s in May 1895. Then he scored 77 and 150 runs.


Ranji never looked back and set a benchmark for all the cricketers of India. Ranji made his debut in Test Cricket with a match played between England and Australia on 16th July, 1896 at Manchester. He was the first Indian to play for England.

• He scored 62 and 154 (not out) becoming the second batsman after WG Grace to score a century on debut for England and the first batsman to score 100 before lunch (on the third day, moving from 41 not out to 154 not out in just over 2 hours).

• Ranji scored 175 in the first innings of his first overseas Test, also against Australia in 1897 (then the highest score that had ever been made for England in Test cricket).
• The feat of scoring hundreds in debut home and away Tests was not imitated by an England player for 107 years, until Andrew Strauss in 2004.

• During a trip to Australia in the year 1897-98, he scored 1157 runs with an average of 60.89 runs.

• Ranji captained Sussex for a period of 5 years during 1899-1903, returned to India in 1904 and resumed his game from 1908 to 1912.


Ranjitsinhji made some remarkable contributions to the world of cricket. In the meantime, he also broke records to create his own.

• He brought a new style to batting: Previously, batsmen played forwards; Ranji played elegant strokes off the back foot, and his invention of the leg glance is perhaps the most famous.

• In scoring 3159 first-class runs, average 63.18, from 58 innings for Sussex in 1899 he became the first man to score over 3,000 runs in an English first-class season.

• Throughout his Test Cricket career, Ranji played 15 Test matches and scored 989 runs including 2 centuries and 6 half-centuries, with an average of 44.95 runs and a high score of 175 runs.

• He played 307 First Class Cricket matches during his career and scored 24692 runs including 72 centuries and 109 half-centuries, with an average of 56.37 runs and a high score of 285 runs (Not Out).

• Ranji was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1897, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year; and in the same year, he published ‘The Jubilee Book of Cricket’.


Ranji was declared the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar on 10th March, 1907. He was a progressive ruler and statesman and set an example by the simplicity of his personal life. He modernized the capital of Jamnagar, developed the seaport of Nawanagar, and built roads, railways, and irrigation facilities.

Neville Cardus described him as ‘The Midsummer Night’s Dream of Cricket’. Ranji’s sporting success is even more remarkable given the fact that he suffered from bronchial problems, which affected his ability to play. He died in his Jamnagar Palace, aged 60, on 2nd April, 1933.

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It is said that the difference between a winner and a loser is that a winner tries ‘one more time’. Fed up with the Government Creamery that had no challenges, in dusty Anand, Verghese Kurien had almost thrown up his hands. It was May in 1949. Around the same time, a small co-operative dairy was fighting its freedom battle from a privately owned one. Young Kurien volunteered to help this dairy set up a processing plant. This marked the birth of AMUL; and there was no turning back!


Credited with this title, Verghese Kurien is also called ‘The Milkman of India’. He set up an army of milk producers, which stands over 9-million strong today.

The small co-operative dairy was the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union (KDCMPUL) that was fighting for freedom from the Polson Dairy, which was privately owned. Kurien helped the then Chairman of KDCMPUL, Shri Tribhuvandas Patel in this battle. Shri Patel was assigned the task of providing good facilities to the Kaira farmers and setting them into a co-operative unit by Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Since then, Kurien has built this organization into one of the largest and most looked up to institutions in India. He ushered in a concept of co-operatives where dairy farmers could own and manage profitable agri-business enterprises with their produce, however small it may be.

Kurien is also credited with being the brain behind the largest dairy development program of the world – Operation Flood. Operation Flood ran under Kurien’s leadership in 3 phases for 26 years, with 3 principal objectives:

  •  Making dairying India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment programme
  •  Bringing India close to self-sufficiency in milk production
  •  Trebling the nation’s milk production within a span of two-and-a-half decades to make India the world’s largest milk producer

He is the architect of the Anand Model of Co-operative Dairy Development and hence the engineer of White Revolution in India.


Verghese Kurien was born on 26 November 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala. He graduated with Physics from Loyola College of Madras in 1940. He pursued his BE (Mechanical) with honors from the Madras University in 1944. Further, Kurien joined the Tata Iron and Steel Company Institute at Jamshedpur, Bihar, in February 1946 to complete his special studies in engineering. Success does not come easy; Kurien underwent a specialized training of nine months in dairy engineering at the National Dairy Research Institute of Bangalore.

Kurien earned himself a Government Scholarship and moved on to the Michigan State University in the USA to earn his Master of Science degree with distinction in 1948.

Verghese Kurien returned to India and joined the Dairy Department of the Government. He was posted as the Dairy Engineer at the Government Research Creamery, a small milk-powder factory, at Anand, in 1949.


The Creamery did not turn out to be a satisfactory job for Kurien and he resigned 7 months later to become the Manager of KDCMPUL.

Such was the success of the organization, known as AMUL today, that the then Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri decided to replicate the model. Under the leadership of Verghese Kurien, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was created in 1965. Meanwhile, AMUL brand name (acronym for Anand Milk Union Ltd) became a global role model for dairying as an instrument of rural development.
Kurien went on to establish the GCMMF (Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation) in 1973 to sell the products produced by the dairies. However, after a disagreement with the organization’s management in 2006, he quit the post of Chairman.

Verghese Kurien heads the Viksit Bharat Foundation, a body set up by the President of India. He is also the Chairman of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand’s (IRMA) Board of Governors in India.

Apart from these, Kurien is the proud owner of Fellowships for advanced training in dairy plan design and dairy engineering in New Zealand and Australia, which were awarded to him in October 1952. He was an official Indian delegate to the International Dairy congresses held in Rome in 1956 and Copenhagen in 1962. He is a member of both the Dairy Science and the Dairy Education committees of the Government of India. As a nominee of the Industrial Finance Corporation of India, he serves as a Director of Tensile Steel in Baroda and Air Control and Refrigeration in Ahmedabad, and is a member of the Gujarat State Electricity Board.


A leading figure in the dairy development of the country, Verghese Kurien has been a remarkable agent of social change. His work is acknowledged globally and a plethora of awards has been conferred on him.

  • 1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership
  • 1965 Padma Shri
  • 1966 Padma Bhushan
  • 1986 Krishi Ratna Award
  • 1986 Wateler Peace Prize Award (from Carnegie Foundation)
  • 1989 World Food Prize
  • 1993 International Person of the Year (by the World Dairy Expo, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)
  • 1999 Padma Vibhushan
  • 2003 Godfrey Philips Bravery Award
  • 2007 Karmaveer Puraskaar Noble Laureates by iCONGO -Confederation of NGOs

Along with this, Kurien and his team were the pioneers in inventing the process of making milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo’s milk instead of cow’s milk. This was the reason AMUL became so successful and competed well against Nestle.


Verghese Kurien has done groundbreaking work in the field of dairy development. India that faced the scarcity of milk in the ’50s and ’60s was turned to a land of surplus in the ’70s. Around 10-million grassroots milk producers walked the path of prosperity. Today, India has the largest cattle population in the world. It has overtaken the US and has become the largest producer of milk in the world.

Every morning when the producers must be walking to local milk collection centers with their pots full of milk, they would be blessing Kurien with their true hearts. And it would surely be the happiest hour of Kurien’s day!

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SARDAR – The leader, who united India at its most trying times after Independence, amalgamated nearly 550 princely states within the Union of India. He played a major role in the freedom struggle of India and in its integration as a cohesive and independent nation. He was first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was renowned as the ‘Iron Man of India’ in the country and across the world.


Sardar Patel was born on October 31, 1875 in Nadiad, a small village in Gujarat. His father Jhaverbhai was a farmer and had served in the army of Rani Laxmibai. His mother Laad Bai was a simple, deeply religious person. Sardar Patel’s early education took place in Karamsad. Thereafter he joined a school in Petlad. After two years, he joined a high school in Nadiad. He passed his high school examination in 1897, at the age of 22.

Vithalbhai, Sardar’s elder brother, was also a well-known patriot and the Chairman of the Indian Legislative Council.

When he was 18 years old, Sardar’s marriage was arranged with Jhaverba, a young girl of 12 or 13 years from a nearby village. The couple had 2 children – a daughter Maniben, born in April 1904, and a son Dayabhai, born in November 1905. Jhaverba died in January 1909.


Sardar Patel had a cherished ambition of becoming a barrister. He could not let the family’s poverty be a hindrance. So he himself designed a plan – he would study to become a lawyer, work and save funds, travel to England and study to become a barrister. In those days, a candidate could study in private and sit for an examination in Law. Sardar borrowed books from a lawyer of his acquaintance and studied at home. Occasionally he attended courts of law and listened attentively to the arguments of the lawyers.

He passed the Law examination with excellence within 2 years.

Sardar Patel then set up his household at Godhra and began his practice of law with absolutely no facilities. He hired a room, borrowed money from friends and furnished the room with some chairs and mats. The young, confident and honest Sardar made name as an eminent lawyer within a short span of time.

As per the plan, Sardar started saving a plenty of money to fulfill his dream. When he applied for a pass and a ticket for England, they arrived in the name of “VJ Patel” at Vithalbhai’s home. The elder brother, who bore the same initials, expressed his concern of going to England first and without any hesitation, Sardar Patel allowed and also financed his brother’s stay and began saving again for his own goals.

After his wife’s death in 1909, he journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London. Finishing a 36-month course in 30 months, Sardar Patel topped his class despite having no previous college background. Returning to India, he settled in Ahmedabad and became one of the city’s most successful barristers.


Sardar earned as much as 8000-10000 rupees a month and planned to expand his practice and accumulate great wealth to provide his children with modern education. He dressed like the English and sometimes even ridiculed politics, non-cooperation movements and sacrifices for the country.

So was the nature of Sardar Patel until he met Mahatma Gandhi at a political conference in Godhra. Being impressed by Gandhiji’s victory over the British in Champaran, he started adopting his views. The relationship between Gandhiji and Sardar Patel was concretely defined when Gandhiji was elected the President of the Gujarat Sabha and Sardar the Secretary, in 1917. Sardar undertook the leadership of the Satyagraha of 1918 when rains destroyed the crops in Gujarat. The farmers in Kaira District were particularly in distress. The Government demanded the payment of the revenue taxes to the last pie. The farmers turned to Gandhiji as their refuge and Sardar assumed the responsibility of the entire struggle. He gave up his western clothes, and began to dress like the poor and humble peasants.

The farmers revered and admired the barrister so much that one word from the Sardar and they were ready to lay down their lives. The Government had to give up.


1920 – Sardar Patel gave up his practice as a barrister and joined the non-cooperation movement of the Government. He founded the Gujarat Vidyapeeth to educate the children to grow up to be patriots.

Sardar Patel was elected Ahmedabad’s municipal president in 1922, 1924 and 1927. During his terms, Ahmedabad was extended a major supply of electricity and it underwent major education reforms. Drainage and sanitation systems were extended all over the city. He participated in the Nagpur flag Satyagraha from May to August in 1923 to protest against the stopping of a procession, which carried the national flag.

In 1928, Sardar Patel once again came to the rescue of the farmers, this time it was in Bardoli, in Surat. The Government increased the tax on the land. He urged the farmers not to pay, declaring the hike unjust. He prepared the farmers for Satyagraha. In retaliation, the Government confiscated their land, cattle and crops and arrested hundreds of farmers. The non-violent war lasted for about 6 months. Sardar was an active part of the Dandi March and the Quit-India Movement.


Sardar Patel handled the integration of all the princely states into the Indian Union with great expertise. Under the Cabinet Mission, all the princely states had the right to join Pakistan, India or remain independent. The Sardar declared, “We are all knit together by bonds of blood and feelings. Therefore, it is better for us to make laws sitting together as friends.” Sardar Patel dealt with Hyderabad and Junagadh firmly when these states tried to join Pakistan or remain independent.

Sardar Patel formed the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and other Central Services to assist the process of nation building. The ‘Iron Man of India’ died in Bombay in December 1950. He left behind a unified India.

Sardar Patel reminds of India’s and Indians’ potential. Knowing him is not enough; we need to follow him!

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The dazzling Mallika Sarabhai is a combination of many qualities and all of them vie for excellence. She is the pride of Ahmedabad, Gujarat and the daughter of the dancing legend Mrinalini Sarabhai and the renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai. One of the leading exponents of Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi, Mallika is also a noted filmmaker, internationally known choreographer, an actor, a TV anchor, an editor, a publisher and a social activist. She is a representative of India for CIOFF (an internationally acclaimed organization for folk dances).


Born on 9th May 1954, Mallika began her film career when she was only 15. She started dancing, as they say, before she even learnt to walk. She completed her MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in 1974 and Doctorate in Organizational Behavior from the Gujarat University in 1976.


Mallika started with a few Gujarati and Hindi films. She first came to international notice when she played the role of ‘Draupadi’ in Peter Brook’s ‘The Mahabharata’ for 5 years, first in French and then English. After completing her graduation, Mallika entered the world of performing arts. She stared at thousands of Indians from the small screen, daring them with “maley soor jo tara maro…” and has wowed audiences from all six continents with her performance as Draupadi. She followed the footsteps of her mother and dancing became her first love. “Bharat Natyam is like a Banyan tree with great roots. You can bend it, turn it, do whatever you want, but its roots remain strong. And how many more love varnams can I do? I want to take dance further, to use it as a language, as an agent of change,” says Mallika in an interview.


Always an activist for societal education and women’s empowerment, Mallika began using her work for change. In 1989, she created the first of her hard-hitting solo theatrical works, Shakti – the Power of Women. Since then, Mallika has created numerous stage productions which have raised awareness, highlighted crucial issues and advocated change. Her other experiments include compositions like Draupadi, Sita’s Daughters, Itan Kahani, Aspiration, Ganga, Surya etc.
In 2009, Mallika Sarabhai acted in Bertolt Brecht’s Indian adaptation of ‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ (Ahmedabad ki Aurat Bhali-Ramkali) directed by Arvind Gaur in the 34th Vikram Sarabhai International Art Festival.


Mallika, along with her mother, administers the functioning of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, which is located at Ahmedabad. It is a unique centre for arts which has performed all over India and abroad. Today the academy has many faces. There is Darpana for Development, which makes performing arts modules for development issues; Janavak, an authentic Indian folk dance group that aims at folk revival; Chitrakathi, a film unit that prepares educational films and TV material; Mapin Publications that publishes books on Indian heritage; Kritikranti, a trust for interdisciplinary work in the arts and crafts; Jagruti, a project for environment empowerment; the Value Project that familiarizes children with moral dilemmas; Parivartan which seeks to bring about changes in the life of Bhil women; and Centre for Non-violence through the Arts.


Mallika’s college days saw her wearing mini-skirts, dating men, even going in for a live-in relationship. She recalls her mother’s horror when she first started living with somebody, “I explained to her why it was important for me to find out if I wanted a permanent commitment or not.” But the best part is that she has always done things without hiding them.
Mallika met Bipin Shah during her college days and eventually married him. They were divorced 7 years later. They have 2 children, a son, Revanta and a daughter, Anahita.


Mallika entered into the field of politics and announced her candidature against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, as an independent candidate. She described her candidature as a Satyagraha against the politics of hatred. She eventually lost by a huge margin and forfeited her election deposit in the process.


The first award she received was in 1977. However, the award closest to Mallika’s heart is the one she received in Paris, a few years ago, for Best Soloist Artist, after being chosen from among 400 dancers from 25 countries. She was the proud recipient of the French Palme D’Or, the Highest Civilian Award conferred by the French Government, among many other awards.
Playing roles as diverse as a mother and a choreographer, and pursuing her interests like writing and social service, Mallika is known to always put her best foot forward. She is a strong character with her own ideas and she feels that dance is a living language which you can interpret the way you think best.

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A gentle revolutionary – is what best describes this icon of Gujarat: Elaben Bhatt. A hard-core follower of the Gandhian philosophy, Elaben is one of the most remarkable forces for empowerment at the grass root level. She has dedicated her life for the development of women and improvement of the quality of life of India’s poor and most oppressed section of people. The soft voiced, simple, cotton-saree clad Elaben has been true to the spirit of her country and her inspiration, Mahatma Gandhi. She has followed his ideals all her life.


Elaben was born in a well-educated, middle-class family on 7th September 1933 at Ahmedabad. She spent her childhood in Surat. The inspiration for Gandhiji probably came from her grandparents, who worked with him in the non-violent struggle for Indian Independence from the British. Her father, Sumantrai Bhatt, had a successful law practice. While her mother, Vanalila Vyas, was active in women’s movements.Elaben attended the Sarvajanik Girls High School in Surat from 1940 to 1948. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from the MTB College in Surat in 1952. She stepped in her father’s shoes and joined the Sir LA Shah Law College in Ahmedabad. She worked on the Hindu Law and received her degree with a Gold Medal in 1954.

Elaben started her career as an English teacher at the SNDT University in Mumbai. But later, in 1955, she shifted to the Textile Labor Association’s (TLA) legal department at Ahmedabad. TLA was founded by Gandhiji, who had deep respect for the textile producers of India.

Elaben got married to Ramesh Bhatt in 1956.


In 1968, Elaben was asked to head the women’s wing at TLA. While working here, she found that women were doing many labor-intensive tasks needed in textile production, as well as in other fields of work. However, as workers, they were invisible.

TLA sent her to Israel for 3 months. She studied at the Afro-Asian Institute in Tel Aviv and received the International Diploma of Labor and Cooperatives in 1971. Back to India, she decided to protect the self-employed women. She saw that there were rights and laws by the State to protect the interests of the industrial workers but none for the self-employed. This thought lead to SEWA – Self Employed Women’s Association. With the co-operation of Arvind Buch, the then President of TLA, SEWA was born in 1972 with Buch as the President and she herself as the General-Secretary.


Elaben pioneered the idea that people themselves, no matter how poor or uneducated, are able to solve their own problems if they organize together to do so. This idea took shape in the form of SEWA, which is one of the best grassroots programs for women in the world. SEWA has also become a model for micro-finance programs that other parts of the world can follow. A trade union, SEWA grew continuously from 1972, increasing in its membership and including more and more different occupations within its fold.

This was a bold step by a woman in a society where men ran the show. Elaben broke away from the grip of an established mind-set and created her own paths and methods of organization. Even today, instead of using the political system to effective lobbying or struggle for better rights for working women, Elaben has chosen to limit her field of action even while she shares her ideas and experience across the globe.


Elaben was angered by the fact that the workers especially women and home-based workers were the least visible of all. The workers in the informal sector had no rights. They had to work in difficult conditions and the contractors often exploited them. These women included vegetable sellers, rag pickers, bidi rollers, incense makers, cleaners, laborers, cart pullers, and silk and cotton workers. SEWA bridged this gap and works to organize better working conditions and proper pay. It helps workers at the lowest level of the society become empowered to take control of their lives. SEWA has offered retirement accounts and health insurance to women who never had a safety net, lent working capital to entrepreneurs to open beauty salons in the slums, helped artisans sell their handiwork to new urban department stores and boldly trained its members to become gas station attendants – an unusual job for women on the bottom of India’s social ladder.

To cope up with the issues of money and banking, SEWA registered its own bank in 1974 with 4,000 members. When money had to be raised to register the bank, the women, saying, “We are poor but we are so many!” raised the needed Rs 100,000 within six months. Elaben encouraged the habit of savings among women, provided loans through the bank and pioneered the idea of micro lending. The idea was that very small amounts might be all that is needed to make a difference!


In a meeting at Johannesburg, South Africa, on 18 July 2007, Nelson Mandela announced the formation of this new group, The Elders, in a speech he delivered on his 89th birthday. “This group can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken,” Mandela commented. “Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.” Elaben is one of the founding members of The Elders.

Her other work areas and recognitions include:
• Founder and chair person of Sa-Dhan (the All India Association of Micro Finance Institutions)
• Founder-chair of the Indian School of Micro-finance for Women
• Member of the Indian Parliament and of the Indian Planning Commission from 1986 to 1989
• Chair for Women’s World Banking, the International Alliance of Home-based Workers (HomeNet) from 1980 to 1998, and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing, Organizing (WIEGO)
• Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation
• Honorary Doctorate degree in Humane Letters by Harvard University in June 2001
• The civilian honor of Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1985
• The Padma Bhushan in 1986
• The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1977
• The Right Livelihood Award in 1984
• Chosen for the Niwano Peace Prize for 2010 for contribution to uplift poor women in India

Elaben has always said, “There are risks in every action. Every success has the seed of some failure. But it does not matter. It is how you go about it. That is the real challenge.”

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