A Touch of Greatness


Year First Published: 2001


In his capacity as Founding-Editor of Himmat Weekly for 10 years the author met a wide spectrum of India’s celebrities. The short sketches give an insight into the personality’s thinking and the elements that enabled them to reach the level they did. Meet the people profiled in this book who have lived in our or our parents’ lifetime – personalities who demonstrate what one can live for and live by:

Azim Premji – “Honesty is good for the company. It is good for the customer. It is good for the staff. It is just good business.”

Dr. Banoobai Coyaji – “People like me are not great people but we are all meant to leave the world just a little better than we find it.”

B. P. Chaliha – “If the North-East disintegrates, it will be lost to India.”

C. Rajagopalachari – “Elections and their corruption, injustice and the power and tyranny of wealth and inefficiency of administration will make a hell of life as soon as freedom is given to us. Men will look regretfully back to the old regime of comparative justice, and efficient, peaceful, more or less honest administration. The only thing gained will be that as a race we will be saved from dishonour and subordination.” Jail Diary 1922.

C. N. Vakil – “I learnt the art of dealing with students not only in their academic work, but also in their personal lives and career.”

The Dalai Lama – “I want to be remembered just as a human being – perhaps a human being who laughed often.”

Fr. Henry Heras – “The history of India is not the history of a nation, it is the history of a continent in which many peoples have been fused together ……. it is the history of a constant desire to seek truth through the centuries, a desire that impelled the sages to withdraw into the forests, that invited kings to renounce their thrones, that dictated to the philosophers such metaphysical ideas as are not to be found in the most renowned civilizations of the ancient world.”

H.T. Parekh – “Financial corporations should become the springboard for the country’s further development in new areas of social progress.”

Jayaprakash Narayan – “My interest is not in the capture of power but in the control of power by the people.”

J. B. Kripalani – “There is no greater courtesy in a man than to be non-violent.”

J. R. D. Tata – “I do not take myself too seriously.”

K. Kamaraj – “Regionalism is going up, nationalism is going down.”

K. M. Munshi – “I have climbed, no doubt strenuously, but laughing, playing, running.”

Lal Bahadur Shastri – “This is my country’s call, please do not ask me to ignore it.”

Minoo Masani – “The fight for bread and freedom has of course to be waged simultaneously. We want both for our people – we want bread through freedom because it is the only way to get it.”

Morarji Desai – “My father’s death when I was fifteen, was also a blessing…. Because I would have never ceased to be a coward if my father had not gone.”

Mother Teresa – “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

M. S. Subbulakshmi – “Any raga has the purpose of directing the minds of the listeners towards God and his manifestations.”

M. S. Swaminathan – “People are poor because they have no knowledge or skills. Give them that and they lift themselves from degradation to an honourable existence.”

Nani Palkhivala – “Surely something is basically wrong with our economic philosophy and political ideology if Indians are able to enrich foreign countries but are not allowed to solve the problem of poverty at home.”

N. R. Narayana Murthy – “My wife and I want our children to appreciate the importance of simplicity, hard work and money. We do all our household work ourselves – cleaning, washing clothes, shopping.”

Sam Manekshaw – “I take orders from only two ladies….. my wife and the Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi).”

Sucheta Kripalani – “Gandhi said if you remain unhappy it will oppress Kripalani; so you must marry someone else.”

Vijay Merchant – “My philosophy is leant from cricket; the better batsman takes care of the weaker one if your side is to win.”

Vinoba Bhave – “I know no other technique but love for I do not believe in force.”

Zakir Husain – “I shall do my utmost to take our people towards what Gandhiji strove restlessly to achieve – a pure life, individual and social, an insistence on the means being pure as the end, an active and sustained sympathy for the weak and downtrodden, and a fervent desire to forge unity among the diverse sections of the Indian people.”


Buy it online – A Touch of Greatness: Encounters with the Eminent