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'As Indians, we need to build self-confidence'
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July 23, 2008

He likes designating himself as the 'Gardener' of MindTree [Get Quote], a global IT and R&D company that he along with 10 other entrepreneurs formed in 1999. However, he is a recent convert to gardening. After nine successful years at the helm of MindTree as a co-founder and chief operating officer, Subroto Bagchi is now busy gardening and writing books.

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His first book, The High Performance Entrepreneur -- Golden Rules for Success in Today's World, released in 2006 was received with great critical acclaim. His second book, Go Kiss the World: Life Lessons for the Young Professional was released in 2008.

In an e-mail interview with, Subroto Bagchi speaks about India's youth, what they need to achieve success, why 'hire and fire' policies are not good for even Fortune 500 companies and about his life that began on a humble note in Patnagarh, Orissa.

Your journey from Orissa to co-founding one of India's most admired software companies MindTree?

The journey from Patnagarh in Orissa in 1957 to MindTree of 2008 has been a fascinating experience. As I have said in the book, ever since I was three, I have watched myself with the keenness of a photographer. When you behold the life you live, it becomes a wonderful experience. You develop the capability to not just live life, but to learn from your experience, you learn objectivity and build resilience.  

What important lessons did you learn through this journey?

My life's lessons are many and I keep learning. I believe we need to sharpen our capacity to observe and listen, to learn from "unusual sources". In life, I have learnt that it is very important to have a long view of time, to understand the inter-connectedness of things. I have learnt that we are people even before we are professionals. If we build our lives as good people, we would automatically become good professionals.

In life, success means taking people along -- without it, our achievements are not memorable.

What would be your message to India's youth?

Be world-class -- the Indian benchmark in most professions has huge headroom.

What inspired Go Kiss the World: Life Lessons for the Young Professional?

For the first time in history, the Indian professional is at the forefront. S/he will determine how India will be remembered a hundred years from now. It is a huge opportunity and a tremendous burden. So, I felt I would give to the young professional a few of my life's lessons so that we can 'Go, Kiss the World'

Why this focus on the 'Young Professional'?

Demographically, India currently has a huge advantage -- we have just one decade to make it work for us. It is a limited time opportunity.

How would you describe India's youth today?

It is the very first generation that will take India from 'who we are' to 'who we are meant to be'. This generation is politically and economically independent, but not intellectually independent.

Freedom of the intellect must come from within. But for that, we need to shake off the mediocrity of our socio-political system. The elders must understand the responsibility, rise above their pettiness and make way for it.   

Your comments on the 'hire-and-fire' policies that many MNCs and now even some Indian companies are employing?

Such policies do not pay, that is why the longevity of a Fortune 500 company is down to 10.5 years today.

As Indians, we need to build self-confidence and not hanker after so-called MNC jobs; it is the last vestige of a colonial mindset. Just because a company is from overseas does not mean it is a great company.

What could be the antidote to this policy?

Build great organisations from our soil, include the world in the effort -- build aspirational organisations that understand the philosophy that organisations are living things, as Arie Geus put it.

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