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April 23, 2001
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Rich tributes paid to Dewang Mehta

Priya Ganapati in Bombay

Hundreds turned up to pay their condolences to the late Nasscom president Dewang Mehta at the prayer meet organised by The Indus Entrepreneurs Bombay chapter on Sunday.

Tributes to Dewang MehtaCutting across political leanings and professions, people came in large numbers to pay their respects to the man who was undoubtedly the most vocal supporter and lobbyist of the Indian IT industry.

And the number of dignitaries on the dais was only rivaled by those sitting among the audience at Jai Hind College hall in Bombay.

Most of the IT industry's stalwarts had turned up. Spotted in the audience was Amitabh Kumar, managing director of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, Pravin Gandhi of Infinity Venture Capital and Ashok Advani, publisher of Business India.

Shammi Kapoor, the superstar of yesteryears, too was present on the occasion.

Maharashtra Chief Minister paying tributes to Dewang MehtaAnd sharing in their grief, were political bigwigs like Minister of Information Technology Pramod Mahajan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh, and Maharashtra Congress leader Murli Deora.

Dewang Mehta passed away due to a heart attack on April 12 at a hotel room in Sydney. The poster-boy of the Indian IT industry, Mehta was the president of National Association of Software and Service Companies, the industry organisation that lobbied ceaselessly in India and abroad to help India become the software superpower of the world.

The meet started at around 11.15 am with a speech by Rajiv Vaishnav, co-ordinator or TiE activities in Bombay. Vaishnav's eulogy was followed by a minute of silence to the memory of Dewang Mehta.

Taking over from Vaishnav, Murli Deora; Harish Mehta -- chairman of Onward Novell; Ashank Desai -- CMD, Mastek; and Atul Nishar -- chairman, Aptech and Hexaware, paid tributes to Mehta.

Shammi Kapoor"Just about three days ago, before his death, Dewang sent me a letter thanking me for all the help that I had extended to him. Nasscom had just completed 10 years and Dewang had written at the end of the letter '…and miles to go before I sleep.' I had then commented to my family that usually people write that line when they are moving to a different role. Then I could not even have imagined that he would move to this kind of role," an emotional Ashank Desai said.

Others were equally moving in their tributes. And what was most touching was people across different professions and parties came on a common platform only because of one man who they believed in because of his unwavering faith in the capability of the Indian IT industry.

While Dewang Mehta's death came as a shock to the industry, a few of his friends did realise that he had been undergoing a lot of stress.

"Two to three weeks ago we had dinner at Dewang's house in New Delhi. After that when he was washing his hands, he found that his nose was bleeding. Dewang's hands were covered in blood then. At that time, he said that because of high blood pressure he was having some health problems. I had advised him to meet a doctor I knew but Dewang was very busy. So we had decided to schedule it after his return from Australia," Murli Deora reminisced.

As the assembled crowd listened to the tributes, many were in tears. Dewang Mehta's greatness, perhaps, lay in the fact, that almost everyone in the room had a story to tell about him. From a software programmer to CEO of a technology company to a politician and even a journalist, everybody had a personal experience about Dewang to share.

Union IT Minister Pramod Mahajan"Most people in India are terribly pessimistic. They have usually lost hope and do not believe that the country has a very bright future. But Dewang was an undying optimist. And along with his ability to get things done, it was an unbeatable combination," Pramod Mahajan said.

Mahajan candidly admitted that he used to consult with Dewang almost on every matter relating to the IT industry. "Dewang was more the IT minister than me," he said.

The prayer meet also showcased a couple of video clips of Dewang Mehta talking at various conferences about his efforts, dreams and vision for the IT industry.

"It was quite touching to hear everyone speak of their personal experiences with Dewang. And most of the speeches there moved people to tears," said Prakash Advani, CEO of an IT company,

TiE plans to have similar prayer meets in Delhi, Calcutta, Madras and Bangalore.

"Since I was there with Dewang on that fateful day I want to personally go to all the condolence meets in these cities and pay my respects to him," Mahajan declared.

But as the meeting ended, a little over an hour later, hundreds stood in queue despite the sweltering mid-afternoon heat to sign the condolence book for a man, almost all believe is irreplaceable.

Dewang Mehta died of heart attack: autopsy
Nasscom chief Dewang Mehta is dead
Pay your tribute to Dewang Mehta
'I am so alone...'
'I am saddened. He was such a close friend,' says Mahajan
'Dewang Mehta is irreplaceable'
'Dewang personified what India's IT industry really needed'
Corporate India expresses shock at Mehta's death
Politicians pay glowing tributes to Mehta
Nasscom mourns the passing away of its leader
Mehta spent his last hours with cousin
Nasscom staff break down, hope against hope
President mourns death of charismatic tech evangelist: Reuters
'His passion increases every year'
'A hat-trick IT Budget'
'IT Bill will boost e-commerce'
Dewang Mehta is 'Global Leader of Tomorrow'
Nasscom 2001: The complete coverage
An interview with Dewang Mehta
Dewang Mehta's Home Page
India's software leader dead


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