The Catalyst, an unsung stimulant of chemical reactions, also has a beautiful meaning in the deeper human world: As a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.’ — (Dictionary.com)
Meet Professor Vijay Swamy Rao, the Catalyst in my life who has been both a comforting friend by my side and a powerful influence on my life.
Thoughts of Professor K C Janardhan, Edited and Curated by Aarthi R Nandakishore
Some windows of opportunities open up unexpectedly through casual encounters in life. If you are grounded and focussed walking through every bit of this journey, you pick up some beautiful human contacts and many essential lessons for life. The Savouring Serendipity seed of our blog Saptha Beej is a celebration of such catalyst influences and memorable moments in my life so far.
November 18, 2020: Professor Rao completes 81 years. For me, he is a huge man, beyond all known measures and achievements. He is much more than what my trainee Aamer Ahmed described me in Connecting Dots of Student Spotlight. His birthday this week makes it the apt time to celebrate the man, his achievements, and our friendship over the years. It also reminds me of some important life lessons I learnt by just watching him.
Here is a little prelude to meeting my biggest living influence on human Dynamics’ – Professor Vijay S Rao with excerpts from a detailed interview this Diwali 2020:
When powers are not given to you, you simply grab it!
In his early 20s, this radical approach detailed in human history helped Professor Rao finally get a job on his 26th interview. He was ‘bright’, ‘well-educated’ and had a good command over the English language. He also spoke many European languages yet, he failed the previous 25 interviews. Reason: He lacked British job experience. Besides, those were also the days in England where the experience was ‘without a house, you got no job’ and ‘without a job, you got no house.’
So, what changed drastically on this 26th interview? Ask him this and quickly comes his reply in his classic slogan style:
“The Tongue is but only three inches long, it can fell a man, even six feet tall,” said Socrates. I only had to ask them the right question as an answer which I did finally after 25 rejections – “Isn’t 150 years of the British rule in India and being an Indian, enough British experience to get this job?”
This one question changed his life for the better, and the best of opportunities followed him thereon. Later on, he also became an undefeatable speaker in various fields and Human Dynamics when not much was known about it.
His first job in Wiggins Teap (that belonged to the BAT – British American Tobacco company) involved marketing Security Papers (Currency and Passport papers) to the world. This work had him meeting up with Ministers and Secretaries of Finance and External Affairs Ministry across various countries every day.
Later, as the Secretary of India League under the patronship of Lord Mountbatten, he also fought for the legal immigration of Indians into England. In this process he crossed swords with the then British Prime Minister James Callaghan and Harold Wilson, winning the case in favour of the legal Indian. He also fine-tuned the hobby of writing letters to many famous personalities and meeting them in person.
He has attended the British Parliament several times, lobbying for India. His experiences and achievements are extremely motivating and inspiring. Back in India, he also had a steady friendship going with many captains of the Indian Industry like J R D Tata and S P Godrej to mention a few. He had a patron in bureaucrat P N Haksar and good senior friends in V K Krishna Menon and M C Chagla. He was the promoter of joint Indian National Public Speaking Forum inaugurated by Nani Palkhivala.
His achievements in the UK and Europe from the 1960s was unimaginable. He was a UNESCO Scholar who addressed several Rotary Clubs in Scandinavia. His real entry into Human Dynamics Training happened when he got into the extensive workshop mode in the late ’80s. When on stage, Professor Rao was an erudite and eloquent speaker on the subject in many Indian and European Languages. He could talk continuously from 6.30 am to 8.00 pm and literally opened up the fire to make a point and eased you in raptures of laughter, speaking on the subject, anytime and anywhere. Many admired him as he made a big difference in their lives.
How did We meet?
We first met face-to-face inside a classic ambassador car in 1991. He was here to train BEL Executives on Human Dynamics and I was training the engineers on handwriting. I was introduced to him by a common friend Mr Jagadeesh Prasad, DGM Human Resources at BEL while driving to the BEL Executive Canteen for lunch. The same evening we hit it off very well while travelling back to his Hotel. His command of the subject and language held the listeners spellbound. I accepted him as my guru in Public Speaking.
We remained in regular contact. He made me his partner in the Training business and we even maintained a joint bank account in Bangalore. I organised and coordinated his programmes on many platforms in Bangalore. He comes from an orthodox family and has five brothers. Today, I take pride in not just knowing him in person but also having earned his love and affection as a ‘privileged younger brother’. Having handwritten his profiles many times and in different ways, me talking about Prof. Rao will also run into pages which you will eventually find in my detailed Autobiography, coming soon.
Looking back, it could be my association with Prof.Rao that also got me into the traditional letter-writing mode to various dignitaries and diplomats across the globe. I was indeed privileged to invite Prof. Rao to the British Houses of Parliament in 2013 and 2014 when I co-ordinated a few programs in the capacity of the Vice-chairman, British South India Council of Commerce (in photo). Both these years I also spent his birthday with him at his home in London and later in Cambridge.
Back in India, he also helped the Maharashtra Institute of Technolooy (MIT) organise a series of national debates on “The Indian Education System & Need for Change” in Pune and Bangalore under the patronage of P. N. Haksar. He also organised the World philosopher’s meet as the Director, International Relations of MIT, at Pune and Geneva.
Having conducted extensive workshops on Human Dynamics across various public sectors, corporates, banks, Government of Orissa, Government of Karnataka officials, and even the Indian Defence Forces, he stayed active at work until his 70s.
Presently leads a quiet retired life at Cambridge with a vacation base in Bengaluru. Despite fragile health after two major heart surgeries and failing memory, he still hasn’t forgotten to ask the right question before we wind up:
“Why are you talking about my past? What use is my History? I don’t remember much of it…”
We thankfully had an answer that convinced him: “History repeats because looking back continues to give us answers. Maybe that’s why history remains a regular subject in schools.”
Happy Birthday Professor Vijay S Rao! Here’s wishing you the best of health and memories ahead.
K C Janardhan
THE SEED GYAN
Memory Lanes & Mutual Respect
“The first thing that struck me about K C Janardhan was that ‘this man’ was dealing with a subject (calligraphy) that was indeed very difficult to market. His progress over the years is both impressive and interesting. I have myself attended a couple of his workshops and deeply admired the way he engraved the subject and deep interest in the audience. He so effortlessly blends management with his beautiful handwriting. He is a self-trained master. I do not doubt that the people who follow him in this art will sure do well. If the attitude is right, the altitude will be high. That is what Human Dynamics is all about.” – Professor Vijay S Rao